Tuesday, November 29, 2016

so. many. black. ships.

As noted earlier, I finally finished Moby Dick (which is often hyphenated, but only the title) It brought me many a night of peaceful winding-down before bed. I read maybe a couple of pages at a time, with the luxury of not actually having to remember anything; I can scarcely fathom having to read it for school. I never did, and it's easy to see why English teachers wishing to awaken a love of literature in their students would shy away from what is surely one of humanity's greatest examples of soporific exuberance in art.

I said the Iliad "isn't long," which is...not exactly true. For the past few nights, it has helped J get to sleep if I read from the poem, and I've started to feel the rhythms Robert Fagles put in. Since I'm not actually a poetry person at all, this also gives it an exotic feel that seems fitting. I read aloud about 10 lines per minute, and the poem is over 15,000 lines long, so...not short.

I mentioned this to Anna and her techie brother over Thanksgiving, and it turns out her techie brother studied Homer in Greek at Harvard, as one does. Her other brother wrote a senior thesis on Classical Greek, and could read the New Testament in the original, so...that's a thing. He describes the original New Testament text as being in color, while all the translations are in black and white, so I was wondering what the Iliad sounds like in the original. Of course, we live in The Future™, so it's on YouTube.

Unless you know Greek, this is a sequence of mostly-meaningless syllables, which is why you should read this comparison of four different translations, and suddenly it's clear why the poems have lasted 3500 years.

The reason the Iliad itself interested me, since I've already consumed a lot of that era's history, is this fantastic Radiolab segment about Homer's deeply weird use of color (a total lack of "blue," for example).

I'm reading the interviewee's book, Through the Language Glass, and it is super interesting.

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