Friday, June 17, 2011

Gore, Fire, and Random Updates: A Collection of Thoughts

For politicians in the United States, Friday is affectionately known as "take out the trash day." The reason for this is that media outlets have some number X column inches to fill and if you give them one story on Friday (as less people read the headlines over the weekend) they will fill it with that, but if you give them five stories, each story is only X/5 column inches. So, in general, politicians dump their negative stories in the Friday trash.

In that tradition, I thought I would jumble a bunch of stories together for today's post. This is just because I have a couple of things on which to follow-up as well as some general thoughts and I have been rather busy in the last few days as there is now a deadline for transition in my life: I am going back to school in the Fall. I now am trying to prioritize what i need to do before beginning school.

Gore: By "gore" I mean the noun version of "gory" rather than the former vice-president. Last night I spent a while typing up a preliminary version of my reading list for my graduate school applications. Many of the grad schools require that applicants send a list of all of the texts that they have read in the original classical languages. As I was hunting down syllibi and typing up my list, I realized that I have little memory of any of the texts that I read for my Latin Civil War class. I was stressed and tired during my final semester in college and poured myself into my thesis more than anything else. I also had terrible insomnia because of all the stress and my memory became very poor. I almost think it's insincere to write down the whole number of pages I read in this class. My original solution was to reread it. But then I remembered: I also really did not enjoy the reading. The class itself was ok. The teacher was great and I remember loving her military diagrams. However, we read Caesar and Lucan's account of the civil war in Rome. Caesar's account is a complete bore and the battle plans are often hard to follow (hence the military diagrams). Lucan's account is interesting for about the first 200 lines until he starts talking about the civil war. At that point it becomes so melodramatic and gory that it's just completely joyless to read. For context, Lucan the nephew of Seneca the Stoic philosopher, and a writer in Nero's court. Lucan was one of Nero's contemporary and rumor has it that Nero sentenced Lucan to death because Lucan was a better writer than the emperor. To be fair, Lucan was probably involved in an attempt to depose Nero. Furthermore, Lucan's Latin is tough: he writes Silver Epic and the commentaries are almost completely useless except for intertextual references. This is partially because no one likes Lucan: his content is overblown and his hexameter is boring. I may reread excerpts or read them in English so I don't babble like an idiot when asked about them.
Civil Wars (Loeb Classical Library) Lucan: De Bello Civili I (Bcp Latin Texts) (Bk. 1) Lucan: De bello civili Book II (Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics)
Fire: There was an interesting article about Mercury today in the New York Times.

Random Updates: If you have been following my blog, you probably remember that last semester I took a Calculus class at a local community college for fun. I enjoyed most of the class, but I found some of the relearning more difficult than I had expected. Worse, when I showed up for the final, half of it was completely foreign and I left feeling dejected, as I had spent a long time studying. To my great surprise, I actually did well on the final and got fairly good grade in the class. Woohoo! I am even considering taking the next calculus class when I get the chance.
Calculus: The Classic Edition

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