Saturday, November 28, 2015

Platypus Overhaul

I'm attempting a slight aesthetic overhaul here at Platypus of Truth. The eclectic content will remain the same, but the blog site is getting a much needed update. Let me know what you think.

In other news, things have gotten a little sluggish here of late following my surgery, but I am back on the mend and hopefully that will mean an increase in meaty content (especially once Christmas Break comes around). I don't have anything specific in the works, but we'll see what I can come up with in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, remember: the Platypus speaks Truth.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Platypus Festivities

Happy Saint Pompion's Day! Long live the City on a Hill. Qui Transtulit Sustinet.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Back to the Greeks: The Platypus Reads Part CCLXXXVIII

It's been a long time since I last taught the history and literature of Ancient Greece. I'm used to being a consultant on the subject for other teachers, but this year I finally find myself back in the saddle again. We've just finished a tour through Homer's Iliad and are set to discuss Book III of the Odyssey next week. The method I use to discuss the books is rooted in the master of key concepts/terms; a college level way of teaching the books that my colleague and I adapted for use in high school. Thus, we go hunting in each book of the Iliad for Menos, Arete, Kleos, an Aresteia, an Agon, Kratos, The Best of the Achaeans, a Geras, The Burial of the Dead, Hubris, and discuss the material in light of these concepts. The result has been highly fruitful and the students made much better sense of the Iliad and its world than the last time I taught the book. I've taken up the approach in my own notes, and now my teacher's edition of the Odyssey is pleasantly filled with references to Xenia, Agon of Logoi, Nostos, Metis, Oikos, Compound Your Pains, Fathers and Sons, Mothers and Sons, Divine Protector, Divine Antagonist, and the like. This practice (paired with proper reading of the secondary sources) has dramatically increased my own understanding of the underlying structure of the Odyssey as well as shifting some of my notions of the book's key concerns.

So what does all this add up to? As a teacher at a Classical School, the three stages of Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric can become a sort of fetish. Grammar becomes a thing for K-6th, Logic for 7th-8th, and Rhetoric for those uppity high-schoolers. This is to woefully misunderstand the Trivium (which was a course of study mainly created for the mastery of the Latin language). Every subject has its Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric. We don't pass through these as three stages, but wield them as three tools: Ms. Sayers' "Tools of Learning". When my students seek to understand works as remote and complex as the Iliad and Odyssey, it makes no sense to ignore the necessary grammar simply because they're Rhetoric students. In fact, if Ms. Sayers' op-ed is right, then it's a fatal mistake. Instead, students must begin with the basic grammar of these works, look for how these key concepts logically relate to each other through class discussion, and then in discussion, written essays, speeches, and creative compositions, articulate their thoughts and findings as rhetoric.

So that's what I've been learning this semester. Class dismissed.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

A Little More Lovecraft: Platypus Nostalgia

My wife and I have been enjoying our $10 copy of "Elder Sign: Omens" over the past few weeks. I have to say, I wasn't sure at first how well a table top game would port to the PC. I mean, who really wants to play risk on their computer? I'm glad we gave it a whirl though. "Elder Sign: Omens" is another triumph for Fantasy Flight games. It's much cheaper than the boxed game and is disproportionately creepy for what you'd think could be supported by the game mechanic. We've also found it to have great re-play value and a number of extra investigators and Ancient Ones that can be unlocked by completing investigations. Each game lasts between thirty minutes and an hour, so it's also much easier than breaking out a table top behemoth like Eldritch Horror. If you're into Lovecraft and computer games, this is a great one to pick up.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

The Silver Key: Creative Platypus

Michaels was having a terrific sale so I broke down and bought some Prismacolors. Sketching around to get the feel of them produced this second take on H.P. Lovecraft's "The Silver Key". My first attempt was in pastels which seem to work better on this particular paper. The colors are lovely, however, and I found the pencils very easy to work with. I look forward to trying them out again when I have more time.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Red Bull (Cont.): Creative Platypus

Taking another shot at the Red Bull from "The Last Unicorn" with my toned paper this time. The figure of the Red Bull is one of the most fascinating symbols in the book. What is its range of meanings? Is it the disenchanting force of greed? of reason? of secularism? It seems as though the Bull is Fire and the Unicorn is Water, but what does that mean? As with all fairy tales, we don't need to know for the tale to speak to us. As Tennyson said of the Three Queens in his "Idylls of the King": "They are Faith, Hope, and Charity, but they are also more than that". If the Bull is a true mythic symbol, then it means more that any one meaning we could reduce it to.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Lady Amalthea Vs. Mabruk (Cont.): Creative Platypus

Here I am putting my brown paper to its proper use. This is a sketch for what will hopefully become a pastel drawing on black paper of the Lady Amalthea and the wizard Mabruk from Peter Beagle's The Last Unicorn.

Lady Amalthea Vs. Mabruk: Creative Platypus

Sketches for a pastel composition of Lady Amalthea confronting the wizard Mabruk in Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn.