Michael Silk’s New Things about the Iliad

Iliad

Reading Michael Silk’s interpretation and critical analysis about Homer’s epic Iliad, I find that some points he actually emphasizes deserve to be given a considerable time to ponder on.  He starts his discussion about the epic by giving us the feel of the milieu of the ancient times, from which he first raises a significant observation that Homer is not made of a singular entity, but Homer is presented as a ‘multiple author’ with ‘different voices’.  One of the characteristics of an epic includes the fact that it came from oral tradition, and so Silk emphasizes in his analysis that because of this the oral transmission must have changed overtime, and when it was finally written down there might have been some changes. The oral-improvisory technique is possible for these alterations.

Another relevant remark that Silk lays out is the fact that Iliad is not a tight, organic structure in Aristotelian terms, or organically whole like Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex.  The actions do not follow a causal logic, but the epic is organized into a circular structure referred as ‘ringform’ – “it begins with a ransom and argument and ends with a comparable sequence in reverse” (the A-B-A shape).  It’s a full circle, sort of.  Also, there are sections in the narrative where there’s a tendency towards autonomy, that defiled the Aristotelian concept of ‘organic whole.’

The epic poem also embraces the structural technique which the critic calls as ‘illusionist’, where readers are given a kind of illusion of the length of time.  With regards to style, the poem employs extended simile, but the use of metaphor, according to Silk, is largely absent in the Iliad.

In terms of themes and heroic ideology, the character Achilles is presented as the embodiment of the ‘poet’s theme’, the warrior who fights for glory.  In a section that discusses about the character Achilles, Silk highlights that Achilles is the only character that can be considered as a ‘round’ character (with depth) in a modern sense.  Other characters are only defined through stock epithets and were differentiated in their own capabilities, but generally not considered as ‘men with multiplicity of traits and interest’, and therefore considered as static.  These characters show no capacity for development and are not affected by any subsequent experience. They are contrasted with the character of Achilles, which becomes the focus of interest in the poem mainly because even though there have been times when divine interventions affect him, there are also times when he had the chance to reveal himself – his true qualities without the external pressures (like war and divine intervention).

Silk observes that for all the battle scenes, heroic deaths and defeat, the epic poem’s emotional flavors are restrained due to the author’s style.  Homer wrote objectively, and so in terms of emotions, the readers may feel distant.  Homer’s characters does not expressed their feelings explicitly but conveys them either through the observations of other people or through detailed descriptions in things.  The latter can be associated with Eliot’s objective-correlative technique, which is a modern day concept.

Lastly, the critic states that the epic is primarily celebratory, not exploratory.  It presents to us the experience of certain types of people, and lacks the in-depth emotional exploration (with exception to Achilles) of some characters.  Silk likens reading the Iliad as watching sports, him (and the readers) as an spectator.

To further explore more about the Iliad, read Michael Silk, on The Iliad.

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Happy Endings

Up, up, and away, and off to the land of opportunity, I think to myself. The land of happy endings.
from Happy Endings, L. J. Katigbak

 The book Happy Endings written by Luis Joaquin M. Katigbak is a collection of short stories that revolves around different interpersonal relationships between people, where these people are impelled to believe the idea of ‘happy endings’. The book showcases the different stories of different people when dealing the nature of love and relationships, and exploring self-identity that may lead to self-realizations. The story reflects a lot of things: love, bewilderment, fear, and pain, represented in the various facets of character personas of high school teenagers, college students and young adults. Perhaps, one of the most distinct underlying theme that holds the collection comes from the reflection of the “I” narrator (named Emil) of the short story entitled Happy Endings:

[…] I think about all of us, speeding and lurching or trudging towards our individual endings, catching glimpses of them now and then, planning for the future, wishing, hoping, never really knowing for sure whether our endings will be happy or tragic […]

Indeed, most of us, inevitably, would dream about happy endings, only to find out that not all things end this way, and that our speculations and assumptions are far from what’s real. That is what makes the book really interesting, as the writer was able to extract specific details of experiences, wherein he coupled them with vivid characterizations and an effective prose style to present to us realistic situations of life.

The book has ten short stories. In Renegade Eyeballs, a college student faces the usual problems in a university, dealing with his friends and his girlfriend, and flunking exams and subjects. In between times, he finds leisure in daydreaming, which is a momentary suspension of reality due to his emotional insecurities with the people around him, and at the later part of the story, he ends up thinking of himself as a lunatic sharpshooter with his cheap toy gun, but only for a moment, for in the end he realizes that everything still remains the same. In Postcards, a girl mysteriously receives postcards from nowhere, and she ends up transporting herself into the other world. There, she meets the older and the other self of her who happens to be the one who sends her the postcards. In this story, the theme of self-identity echoes in the other girl’s statement, “To let you know that you have yourself to thank for your happiness.” In Happy Endings, a fresh college graduate named Emil works in an advertising company wherein he is able to distinguish the different desires and ambitions of the people around him, and reflect whether the things that they are doing would eventually lead into their desired happy endings.

In Birthday, a young man forgets his self-identity, and ends up wandering around the place hoping to find it. Along the way he speculates his own nature, and when he has the chance to know his true self (through his lost wallet), he detains the idea for a while, and told himself that today is his birthday. In What the World Was Waiting For, a group of high school student researchers are working for a thermoacoustic engine as a scientific project. A high school boy secretly develops feelings for his best friend who was going out for somebody. In the short story Away, the young woman daydreams of happy endings with a co-worker, and assumes that they both have the same feelings for each other, only to find out that the man is ‘too far away from her’. In Document, two special friends share a word processor, and the young man is confused whether there is something deeper between them.

In the story Kara’s Place, two long-termed college friends Eric and Kara meet one day in Kara’s place, and they talk about Kara’s problem about his professor who tried to harass her. To their surprise, they end up hugging and kissing each other in a moment, and they part from each other, leaving a sense of confusion to both of them. In Rain, Rachel, and a Wednesday Afternoon, a 28-year old man named Dodong looks back at the memories with a girl named Rachel fourteen years ago – memories in the rain and at that memorable Wednesday afternoon when they first met. Now, Dodong reflects on the present time: Rachel is already married and she has a beautiful daughter, and through this, it is questioned, whether he is trapped in the past. In the final short story, The End, the main character Anton becomes the herald-messenger of the end of the world which will happen in seven days. Here, we see, how Anton struggles with the pressure of the responsibility, but amidst this distress, he comes to appreciate the value of love in a life already marked with brevity.

In a closer reading of the short stories written by Luis Joaquin Katigbak, it is notable that the strength of the writer lies in his vivid descriptions of the mental and emotional states of his characters. By relaying to us the emotional and mental processes of his characters with utmost subtlety, we readers are able to see more of their human and sympathetic aspects. The writer was able to push the plot of the stories to subtle sentimentalities, mainly because his characters are ‘human’, believable and credible characters. In this way, we readers are able to participate in the story by relating ourselves to the feelings and mental states of the characters. Indeed, these characters have the quality of verisimilitude and universality.

The book Happy Endings is heavily laced with irony that life is not purely all about happy endings. The stories reflect unique interpretations of the inability of humans to decode what the future holds for each of us. The writer highlights the idea that humans are not perfect, and they have occasional shortcomings, and these mistakes are bound to stain the happily-ever-after thoughts. But eventually through these mistakes, humans can achieve clarity about their own selves, and to some extent, self-realizations. This theme is subtly exemplified in each stories of Katigbak – it resonates all through out the book with deeper significance. Luis Joaquin Katigbak has that creative finesse in using that artistic emotional restraint of which he used extensively and effectively in each stories, and that is why Happy Endings is one of my personal favorites.

One Half

2nd Opening Theme
By Kawamoto Makoto
Samurai X – Rurouni Kenshin

Romaji Lyrics

senaka ni mimi wo pitto tsukete dakishimeta
kyoukaisen mitai na karada ga jama da ne
dokka ichai-sou na no sa
damatte’ru to chigire-sou dakara, konna kimochi
hankei san ME-TORU inai no sekai de motto
motto hittsuitetai no sa

kawaribanko de PEDARU wo koide
ojigi no himawari toorikoshite
gungun kaze wo nomikonde, sou tobe-sou jan
hajimete kanjita kimi no taion
dare yori mo tsuyoku naritai
attakai RIZUMU
niKO no shinzou ga kuttsuite’ku

kuchibiru to kuchibiru me to me to te to te
kami-sama wa nanimo kinshi nanka shitenai
aishite’ru Continue reading

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (The Movie!)

Along with my favorite Harry Potter series, I also like the Narnia series of C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia. I already completed the whole series, which, like the Potter series, has seven installments. My personal favorite book in the Narnia series is The Horse and His Boy, but I can’t deny that I also like Prince Caspian book.

I’m so happy because following the first Narnia film from Walt Disney and Walden Media, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Prince Caspian movie adaptation will be premiering this June 4 in the theaters. This is very good news for the fans of the Narnia series.

I first read the series when I was in high school, and finally completed them when I just started my first year college. I admit that it was really hard to be involved in the story readily (unlike Harry Potter) but later on, as you pursue reading the other books, you’ll find that you just can’t help but love the Pevensie children and their adventures. But the exciting thing about this is that there is something deeper in the whole Narnia series, and I noticed that when I finally read the last book. C.S. Lewis is really good and very subtle in injecting his ideas in the children’s books. If I’m going to look deeper through the character of Aslan, then it feels like he is like God. To critically analyze this, is a very good idea. Ha-ha! The rest of this exciting mind work will be your quest. 😉

The movie was directed by Andrew Adamson.

Looking Into the Future

I saw National Geographic Channel’s feature about Nostradamus in Nostradamus: Is it Real and was utterly surprised to saw the same topic again in Discovery channel in Nostradamus: the Truth at least two days after. It was weird, but maybe that’s how competition goes. Ha-ha!

Well, almost everybody knows about Nostradamus, who was extremely famous for his prophecies. It was said that his book of prophecies was sold in very large numbers, and widely circulated all over the world. In both features, they tried to present if these prophecies were really real, or just purely coincidental. His glimpses to the fate of mankind were mostly depressing views of the world, written in different language of French, in a style that depicted clearly the raw visions of his mind.

To give you a background story about how I got acquainted with Nostradamus, I was told off when I was 10 to get ready for the end of the world. Whoah! I was really scared back then, because in that coming year (that was 1999), there would be complete darkness to hover all over the world and widespread hunger where the King of Terror would descend to the Earth. We all panicked there, (hehe, the kids in the neighborhood and old people) about the coming of what we believed as The Judgment Day. But nothing happened. There was no darkness for the coming years, there was no such thing as end of the world (though there was still widespread hunger in other parts of the world and a few eclipses) but still life went on. Now, its year 2008, and everything is running in its usual course. So what the heck just happened at that time?

Did Nostradamus make a very grave mistake OR did we make a huge mistake in interpreting his prophecies?

***

A famous historical event that we can associate with Nostradamus is about Catherine d’Medici and King Henry II ofFrance. Catherine read the book of prophecies of Nostradamus, and summoned him to look into her king’s fate. And Nostradamus predicted the death of her husband – a one quatrain that troubled the queen that tells about King Henry II’s death. And it did happen. It was said that that was the first time that Nostradamus successfully looked into the future.

But there was more: the predictions about the Great Fire of London in 1666, the rise of Hitler, the atomic bombs dropped inHiroshimaandNagasaki, and the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Although there were seemingly perfect matches, science does not support it. Although many people believe that Nostradamus might have acquired divine inspiration or paranormal abilities, scientists still believe that it is utterly nonsense.

There were also few misinterpretations of the prophecies, some dates written in the quatrains were recalculated, and we cannot deny the fact that because of manual ‘publishing’ of the prophecies, people involved might constantly and unintentionally change the words which only added errors. Then, the original quatrain might have been misprinted by hand, and this is also because of the mistranslation of Nostradamus’s complicated French. He was so careful in anything that he said in the prophecy because of the height of the Inquisition.

But this is my take: the language that Nostradamus used in his prophecy is ambiguous, generally, and this vagueness, I personally think, is responsible for the increase of probabilities. What I think is that he was not looking into the future, but referring back to historical past events, knowing that the astronomical patterns involved in his passion for astrology, would always follow the same historical pattern.


Honey and Clover Manga

I finished downloading the manga Honey and Clover, but I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for the continuing chapters in season 2. Probably, the Shoujo Magic hasn’t finished scanlating it, well, no wonder, it is hard to translate such difficult series.

However, if you have the full copy of the season 2 (and so on) scanlated manga, please let me know! I only got three chapter- scanlated copies of the volume two, that is from chapters 10-12, but since it is still ongoing (whatever happened, please do continue Shoujo Magic!) I’m still waiting here!

I love the Honey and Clover manga. And I’ve also seen its season 1 and 2 anime version that premiered on Animax. However, I haven’t seen yet the live action series (or is it movie?).

I made a summary out of the season one Honey and Clover manga because I love it so much. If you planned to read the manga and wishes not to get spoiled here, DON’T READ BEYOND THIS because it might Continue reading

Where Are We Heading?

After I took an Astronomy subject in high school, I was plagued with terrible questions about the earth, the sun, or any heavenly bodies. I think that’s normal. But I was also preoccupied whether someday in the future all inhabitants in the earth can cruise in the nearby planet (Mars, probably) and stay there for a week or two. I would love that.

I watched an episode in NASA channel entitled Destination Tomorrow. It was interesting because space scientists are working to investigate suitable landing sites in Mars that are scientifically interesting and potential for proofs of interest. NASA developed the MRO, or the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (I dunno if I got the words right but it sounded just like that) to look for potential landing sites in case there would be success of human flights at Mars in the near future.

The MRO has high resolution cameras to produce high profile detailed pictures which will be evaluated to search for potential sites. It has also telescopic cameras to capture the planet’s surface features by photographing the planet. In this way, the scientists can relay and send information by communication platform for robotic missions and about the weather patterns in Mars. In this way the space scientists can also look for water. By its self surface radar, they would know the weather patterns, and any detailed information to expand the knowledge about the planet.

MRO would took seven months to journey to Mars and 27 months to orbit it.


Dr. Faustus

 

“If we say that we have no sin
We deceive ourselves, and there is no truth in us.
–Faustus to himself, Dr. Faustus

 

 

No one can deny Dr. Faustus remains to be one of Christopher Marlowe’s famous plays. Personally, I think the play The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus is far better than any plays of Shakespeare and can be equated with the standards of Oedipus Rex by Sophocles.

The story is about Dr. Faustus, a famous scholar in Wittenberg, whose obsession was to know more, and whose passion geared towards studying necromancy, or conjuration of the spirits of the dead. While he was still in his study, the good angel and the bad angel went to him. The good angel persuaded him to stop his ambition to become a necromancy practitioner and fear God, while the bad angel persuaded him that by studying necromancy he could be rich and powerful above all. Things got really dark when Faustus told Mephistopheles that he was ready to surrender his soul to his master Lucifer in exchange of luxurious life and power for 24 years. And so, Faustus made a pact with Lucifer, and for 24 years he traveled the world with evil in his mind. Some of these were drugging the Pope’s ministers with a sleeping potion, convincing the Pope to condemn a man named Bruno, performing annoying tricks to some people, and most of all, condemning the existence of God.

After 24 years, Lucifer and Mephistopheles were now ready to take Faustus’s soul. Although throughout the play he was bothered with repentance and fear of damnation, it was in the end that he finally realized the folly of his actions. But it was already too late for him.

What’s good about Dr. Faustus is that Marlowe incorporated the conflict of the good and evil in the form of good angel and bad angel, and this conflict became Faustus’s internal struggle. But due to his insatiable desires and thirst for more knowledge and supreme power, Faustus is bound to be damned. The readers would feel his moments of contrition, but since he always ended up choosing evil in the end, then we also feel that he should be doomed. He was too driven with greed and ambition.

Meeting the Sandman

“I enjoyed nothing better than reading or hearing horrible stories of goblins, witches, pygmies, etc., but most horrible of all was the Sandman, whom I was always drawing with chalk or charcoal, on the tables, cupboards, and walls, in the oddest and most frightful shapes.”

-Nathaniel in The Sandman by E.T.A. Hoffman

It would be really traumatic that at such a young age you were told that there is one person in this world that exists only to steal eyes in children who wouldn’t go to sleep, only to feed them on his own.I think every child (that includes me, when I was once), had their shares of frightful experiences.When I was young, I used to imagine scenes in my mind from the sounds that I heard, and sometimes, those mental images that I created haunted me in my dreams.Or maybe there might be some instances when your parents (or anyone older) would scare you off with something (or someone) just to make you do something you wouldn’t want to do, like sleeping in the afternoons or eating your vegetables.I, for once, have been told that the old man living three blocks away from our house kidnaps children who wouldn’t sleep in the afternoons.I’ve believed that with all of my heart, and that old man (who happened to be a noble retired soldier) became my object of fear for quite a long time.

At some point we find it hard to distinguish the thin line between reality and fantasy. Continue reading