Saturday, December 10, 2005

Advent Platypus

"O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace."

God be with all the sons of Adam
and daughters of Eve. Forgive us
our sins, for they are many.


Even so, come Lord Jesus, come.

Until next year, I and the Platypus wish you Peace.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

In memoriam, Robert Maurice

The Crossing of the Bar
By Tennyson

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For through from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.

Goodbye Grampa. May we meet
again when I too have crossed the

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

World Traveling Platypus

I will be in Africa from December 12th to around January 13th. As such, the Platypus will be taking a month-long sabbatical from posting. Fortunately, the Truth is still the Truth whether the Platypus is there to say it or not. In the meantime, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Platypus Prays

A Prayer For Iraq

God heal you, land of Abraham,
Land of the two rivers.

God heal you, ancient heartland,
Craddle of civilization.

The God who knew your Father,
Make your many peoples one.

May He beat the swords to plowshares,
And grant your children peace.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Seasonal Platypus

Life moves in seasons.

I was reminded of this when a friend that I hadn't seen in a while asked what I was up to. What was I up to? A year ago, I was finishing my first semester in grad school, burrie under a mass of paper work and trying feverishly to keep pace. Two years ago? I was in my last semester of college and my grandparents were getting ready to fly out for my graduation. I hadn't seen them in almost five years. Now? I'm in the middle of my master's thesis and working on the final preparations for a trip to Africa this December.

Life moves in seasons.

Now is a season of furious activity. It's a time for putting a life together. Childhood is wrapped up and adulthood is working into full swing. There are career moves to be made. There are finances to be husbanded and calculated with an eye to a future life. It's a time of appartment living and bachelor parties. There are roomates and communal bills.

Life moves in seasons.
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven."

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Platypus and Jack's son

So I just finished reading "Jack's Life", a biography of C.S. Lewis written by his step-son, Douglas Gresham. I highly enjoyed it, and learned a lot about a remarkable man. The book itself is rather odd. Critics can dismiss it as mere hagiography (c.f. the New Yorker's piece on C.S. Lewis). Having heard Gresham speak about it last Friday, though, I think it warrants much more attention. Douglas isn't trying to white-wash his step-dad's story, he's writing a spiritual biography of a man who changed his life. It's amazing and odd, but then again both Lewis and his stepson are rather odd. The rub of it is that there's something undeniable humbling about both men. Rarely do I encounter someone who makes so me immediately feel that I ought to sit down and shut up because I might learn something. Gresham is like that in person, and Lewis through his writing. Somehow, they're men who make you a bit humbler and a bit more human for having crossed their paths.

"Quid est veritas?"
It is before you.

Je suis sans mots. -and that's how it should be.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Comparative Platypus 2.0

Aristotle's ethics consisted of the quest for the golden mean. That is to say that virtue is an intermediate position between opposed vices. Courage is the mean between cowardice and foolhardiness.

G.K. Chesterton's ethics consisted of what might be called a golden tension. He claimed to find in orthodox Christianity a system for keeping great passions in tension. The Christian is to hate sin with unmitigated passion and yet love the sinner with equally unmitigated charity.

The question is, are these views opposed, compatible or differing statements of a similar principle? I wonder if it isn't the first, but I require more thought before I come to any conclusions. The Platypus, of course, knows the truth of the matter, but he's too busy preparing a cup of tea at the moment. Oh well. Maybe when he gets back...

Friday, October 28, 2005

Comparative Platypus

Marcus Aurelius:
"Ceaseless flux and change make boundless eternity ever young."

"The way that can be named is not the eternal way, which is inconstant."

"Thy works unfathomed and unending proclaim the first day's splendor still."

"Let the great world roll forever down the ringing grooves of change."

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Platypus rhymes


The old word doctor lost his mind,
You see he tried to find it.
He might have faired quite differently
Had he only looked behind it.

Mr C. and Mystery go walking hand in hand together.
Here shall ye see no enemy, save winter and rough

Monday, October 17, 2005

Pumpkin Platypus

Autumn Notes:

Nothing quite says Fall has arrived like eating fresh pumpkin pie with a nice cup of tea in a darkened house during a rain storm.

I made a little arrangement for our coffee table the other day with a small pumpkin, some Autumn leaves and two gourds.

The air is so much more fresh and wholesome after a rain storm. I just love the breath in the scent of wet leaves.

Each season has its glories but by far the Platypus' favourite is Fall.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Platypus and Freedom

National Banned book week is coming up. All over the country, people will be gathering together to read books currently banned by the U.S. government in support of Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press. The slogan in one college newspaper runs: "Exercise your Right to Freedom of Speech". And I realized that a shift in our understanding of freedom has occurred. For Locke and the American Founders, Freedom was about being left alone to pursue life, liberty and property. Today, our understanding has changed. Freedom is no longer a state of governmental non-interference, but an action, an assertion of will. Do you catch the shift? It has moved from a negative, a lack of governmental interference, to a positive, asserting one's "rights". It has turned from "let me be" to "I will". The Founder's view is simply the Founder's view. I am not asserting that since it is prior, it is on that basis "correct". What interests me is the shift and what it bodes for our nation. What does a society look like that reveres freedom and understands freedom as the action of pushing against any boundaries that inhibit the will? It is a society in perpetual revolution, perpetual revolt. It is a society defined by doing, not by being. It is progress for progress' sake.

"I held it truth with him who sings to one clear harp in diverse tones, that men may rise on stepping stones of their dead selves to higher things, but who can so forecast the years and find in loss a gain to match, or reach a hand out as if to catch the far off interest of tears?"

The world is much larger than politics.
Then why does the wind howl so loud?
It is the illusion of movement.

The wind blows wherever it pleases
you hear its sound but you cannot
discern where it has come from or
where it is going -so is it with everyone
born of the spirit.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Platypus Musings: Gates and Gardens

There is a door in the wall. -old and wooden, with an iron bolt and lock. The wall is high and made of dark grey stone overgrown with moss and ivy. I've always wondered what was behind that door. Was it a garden? -overgrown and tangled with disuse? What would you find there; briars and nests for wild animals? When I was young, I had no way to draw the bolt and get in; now that I am old, the wall and its door have passed and I cannot find my way back.

"Thus spake the old Sir Bedeviere to those with whom he dwelt; new faces, other minds."

The angel stands with fiery sword before the garden door, looking out upon the waste.

What was behind that wooden door?
In the morning mist,
In the morning of the world?
Where God once walked with man,
and held his hand like a little child's.

I don't know.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Il pluer et le Platypus chantes

On the Rain:

"All Thy works with joy surround Thee, earth and heaven reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee, center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain, flowery meadow, flashing sea,
Chanting bird and flowing fountain call us to rejoice in Thee."

Thunder breaks forth like heaven's laughter
And rain falls like mercy, making the world new.
Come and wash us, Lord. Renew your weary world.
Change all the clours that we take for granted
until the world seems strange again and we can
experience it like little children.
Make our joy to bubble up like a child's, for we
have sinned and grown old.
Ancient of Days, let your grace break forth
in newness of life.


Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Platypus in Autumn

Tonight I read Calvin and Hobbes. No Gnostics, no source-criticism, no Crossan or Finkelstein or Pagels, just a funny little kid running through Autumn leaves with his tiger. And life is wonderful. Praise God.

"Beyond all shadows rides the sun and stars forever dwell, I will not say 'the day is done' nor bid the stars farewell."

The Platypus rests.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Platypus and the Neo-Gnostics

Neo-Gnostics. The new synchratists. It's the best way I can find to describe the work of scholars like John Dominic Crossan and Elaine Pagels and popularists like Dan Brown. What makes a Neo-Gnostic? First, there's the insistance that the Bible makes sense only if you have a special knowledge. For instance, the Church was wrong for 2,000 years about the account of Jesus' resurection and crucifixion. The authors never intended it to be undestood litterally, merely "prophetically". Christianity is really supressed goddess worship, wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Second, an attempt to reinvigorate the the Gnostic writings in order to create a "special knowledge" that serves as a key for decoding or even flat out re-creating a new Christianity. Funny how the new Christianity that's found always harmonizes so well with the spirit of the age... We've seen these sort of attempts before, and the fact is that however well-intentioned they are, they die out the minute the fashions of the age change. Only orthodoxy marches on, refined by the passing ages, now swerving this way, now that, but always there just when we think we've seen the last of it. You can follow the documentation of 2,000 years and come to your own conclusions. The Platypus reads on.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Platypus and the Patristics

So I picked up a copy of the Gnostic Gospels today. I've been skimming through it and so far I'm thoroughly unimpressed (I will read them through patiently next week or the week after). They're quite obviously an attempt to syncratize Apostolic Christianity with the prevailing winds of Grecco-Roman popular religion and pop-philosophy; something that was a matter of course in the Ancient World. Read Plato, Plotinus, Epictetus, The Apostolic Fathers, the Gregories, Origin, Athanasius and it all makes pretty obvious sense. The only religious value of the gnostic gospels seems to be for modern syncratists who want to create a neo-gnostic Christianity that can be harmonized with American pop-culture, pop-philosophy and pop-religion. Historically speaking, they are a treasure-trove of data about the world of late antiquity and its attitudes toward religion. The Platypus recommends reading the Patristics if you want an accurate understanding of the evolution of early Christianity. Whatever your religious commitments, you will find much more of what you're looking for there.

Friday, September 02, 2005

T.S. Platypus

Have you seen the eyes of fire, burning in the night?
Have you felt the gods clashing over windy Troy?

We are the whisperers, those who dwell in shadow.

A man can move to higher things
To grasp the stars
To dance the dance
And raise his voice a song to sing
To fight the fight
To dance the dance
Send up his thoughts upon a wing
To grasp the gods
To dance the dance
And all comes down a tumbeling.
For we've forgotten how to dance.

Delenda est Carthago
Deleta est Carthago

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Post-Modern Platypus

"I think, therefore I am". -Descartes

Hume kant locke descartes, he doesn't have the key!

"Sophisticated Age of Scorn" I found that term on the dustcover jacket of a G.K. Chesterton book. We live in an age where intellect is displayed not through construction, but destruction. It is an age of decoding, debunking, demystifying. In spite of our towering technological achievements, the overall tenor of our times remains one of negation. "I can't be taken-in". "I won't be made a fool of". "I can see the man behind the curtain". And so our circle shrinks, our beliefs shrink, our world shrinks until we can be bounded in a nutshell and count ourselves kings of infinite space; and if we have bad dreams, we prefer them because at least they're as cynical and morbid as we are. Such is the true road to nausea: that thought which stops all thought.

"Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage". What you say is true, but the cage is of your own making.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Pensive Platypus

The movie "Trainspotting" opens with a soliloquy wherein the main character justifies his heroine addiction. After watching him debase himself in all sorts of highly unpleasant ways he reminds you of a simple truth, his techmarion argument if you will: "We wouldn't do it if it wasn't fun! We're not that stupid, after all". Fun... Fun worth stealing and getting thrown in jail? Fun worth watching your best friend die; the one you got hooked because you needed the cash? Fun seeing someone's child die because they were too strung out on heroine to remember to feed him. I could go on; the movie does. Of course all that's not fun; and that's the point. It's the high that counts, you can make it through the rest of it, living in a crack-house in abject poverty, because hey the next hits' coming and then you won't care about any of this. Such a simple choice: Fun is more important. Sure, other things are important too, but what's the good of it if you aren't having fun? "Trainspotting" seems to me a dark and cold example of what happens when we pursue something as an end in and of itself. When we set "fun" as our highest good, we loose it because we disregard and set at naught the people, joys, and community that creates "fun" in the first place. Then "fun", no matter how we derive it, becomes just another "hit" and the consequences are every bit as devastating though they may not be as readily and blatantly apparent.

The Platypus does not recommend "Trainspotting". It is a well made film, but highly graphic and rightfully and purposefully disturbing. Watch at your own risk.

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Platypus goes ever on and on

...down from the door where it began... Monday I will be heading back to CSUF to finish off my last year of study. It's time for the Master's Thesis! After a year of colonialism, modernity and post-modernity, it's time to head back to the Greeks. The Greeks are strange to me, but there is so much to learn from them. I went back through the Odyssey this summer and I've been busy with Brenard Knox's preface to Fagles translation of the Iliad. To truly understand the Ancient Greeks, one must understand these two works. That is a task! But it's the job that never gets started as takes longest to finish, as Sam Gamgee would say. The platypus tends to agree.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Poetic Platypus 2.0

Then Dagonet sang from the broken music of his mind, the shadow of the song that Tristam had made:

In the plume of foaming splendor,
past the fecund water reads,
Shot the bark of fair Ettaine,
Lilly-lady-fair Elaine,
Whom the people of that region,
Where the lady lost her reason,
And never came to her full season,
Called the maid of Astolat.

Through the fair idyllic splendor,
past the fields of verdant green,
traveled sorrow without measure,
in the bark of maiden-treasure,
that with its solemn passing,
put end to all their laughing,
and to their joyous dancing,
upon Mid-Summer’s Day.

To Caer Leon the river wended,
through the forests of the king,
where the silent beasts bore witness,
In the woods unbroken stillness,
through the vaulted gloom,
a picture of the tomb,
that swollen like a womb,
waited for the lily maiden.

Through the gates of Merlin’s marvel,
past the straining crowds of men,
went the sullen barge of sable,
as Lancelot beneath the gable,
spoke with his loyal queen,
and told her where he’d been,
how in Astolat he’d seen,
that very same young maiden.

On the quay King Arthur pondered,
as the sullen barge went by,
carrying its vacant cargo,
to be interred upon the morrow,
and called his loyal knight,
who marveled o’re the sight
and swore with all his might
He’d never wronged the maiden.

Upon the high and kingly forehead,
sat the shadow of a frown,
and Lancelot his eyes did lower,
fearing Arthur’s eye’s would glower,
but the rebuke never came,
his eyes remained the same,
but Lancelot in shame,
left upon the morrow.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The Platypi

Sartre said that humanity's problem is that we are not heavy enough for reality. Pain, guilt, persecution, these things break through the illusions of comfort and hope to expose the power of the naked will. But I wonder... What would you give if an angel came down from heaven this morning and told you the secret of life: that we are too heavy for true being; we must grow light again! Joy, Hope, Comfort, Love must break forth in a riotious torrent until we are more good than good and more real than real! We have become so heavy with our pain, our endless see-sawing between self exaltation and self flagelation that we have sunken straight through reality, as surely as Dante's hell stands at the center of the earth while his heavens encompass the cosmos. What if he told you that the ultimate reality was not the stillness of an abandoned cathedral but the laughter after the punchline of a truly good joke shared between old friends long parted? What if he declared with joy and certainty: I have come from being Himself and this is His offer "come and have life, and life over-flowing". Would you not fall down before such a liberator, would you not pay any ammount to hear those words and know them to be true?

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Abbot Platypus

I'm almost at the end of a delightful novel, Jane Austen's "Northanger Abbey". With her characteristic flair for making the mundane absolutely fascinating, Austen sets forth a comical (in the Shakespearean sense) drama of the interplay of perceptions and imagination with reality. Writ short, that's watching a seventeen year old girl let her imagination run away with her turning a typical "meet the parents" into her own personal gothic novel. Ok, so I guess that wasn't writ short... just writ differently. It makes you wonder, though, how often do I treat people like typed characters in some sort of book? This person has this quality we've observed so they must be motivated by "x" and hold "y" opinion about "p". She's a Republican, she must be stingy. She's a Democrat, she must be a bleeding heart liberal. He drives a flashy car, he must be compensating for something. He leaves the party when his wife asks him to go, he must be whipped. They hold "x" opinion, they must be ignorant, or fanatics, or have some hidden motive. That's just the way humans think. It saves time. -fills in the blanks. Our imaginations may not convert innocent widowers into diabolical murderers, but they do make fictions out of real people each day. Oh, and if you want to know, the Platypus has already moved on to Bronte.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

This is the first draft of a fellow-poem to the "Wanderings of Vivian". It's in wrough shape, but the basic story is the journey of Elaine, the maiden who died for love of Lancelot, on her death barge to Caer Leon. It's couched as a song sung by Arthur's jester, Dagonet, in thoughtless mimic of a darker peace composed by the false knight Tristam in mockery of Lancelot and the Queen's guilty love. As Dagonet's mind is broken, so is the rhyme pattern, but there's an underlying logic in the images that betrays (hopefully) the fool's sense. Like I said, it's rough... ;-)

Then Dagonet sang from the broken music of his mind, the shadow of the song that Tristam made:

In the plume of foaming splendor,
past the fecund water reads,
Shot the bark of fair Ettaine,
Lilly-lady-fair Elaine,
Whom the people of that region,
Where the lady lost her reason,
And never came to her full season,
Called the maid of Astolat.

Through the fair idyllic splendor,
past the fields of verdant green,
traveled sorrow without measure,
in the bark of maiden-treasure,
that with its solemn passing,
put end to all their laughing,
and to their joyous dancing,
upon Mid-Summer’s Day.

To Caer Leon the river wended,
through the forests of the king,
where the silent beasts bore witness,
In the woods unbroken stillness,
through the vaulted gloom,
a picture of the tomb,
that swollen like a womb,
waited for the lily maiden.

Through the gates of Merlin’s marvel,
past the straining crowds of men,
went the sullen barge of sable,
as Lancelot beneath the gable,
spoke with his loyal queen,
and told her where he’d been,
how in Astolat he’d seen,
that very same young maiden.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Public Platypus

All those speeches in the "Odyssey"... Ever wonder why Telemachus and Penelope are able to get away with openly berating the suitors? In fact, everyone in the "Odyssey" airs their feelings, hostile or friendly, out in public. The world of the "Odyssey", even in the home, is a public world. At first I thought this was simply an literary, "larger than life" embellishment, then I learned that there are cultures that do work like this. In these cultures, it's good form to rebuke someone in public and the height if shame to rebuke them in private. Deals and gifts are done in public for all to see. This seems to be the cultural atmosphere of early Iron Age Greece. Special thanks on this one goes to Lasselanta. Literature, History, Intercultural Studies: they all intermingle and enhance our understanding of humanity. The Platypus has loads of thoughts on humanity. Being surrounded by humans day in and day out will do that.

Monday, July 25, 2005

The Platypus Speaks Truth

Consider the Platypus

a noble creature, indeed
the regal bill, the thickened tail
fierce piercing spines
moving gracefully through the mud
slurping up the minnows and creatures
that inhabit the briny waters
a faithful friend
courageous when confronted
loyal through all circumstances
consider the platypus
ponder his wisdom
a noble beast

Friday, July 22, 2005

The Platypus Reads Calvin

Calvin and Hobbes that is... I have finally completed my long and arduous quest to collect all the Calvin and Hobbes treasuries with the exception of the "Lazy Sunday Book". My last acquisition was made last night and I am now the proud owner of "Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat". But what will happen when I finish that long sought after tome? Vanity of vanities saith the teacher! Shall my long quest prove a pyrrhic victory? Well... What did you expect for six bucks and a few trips to Borders? The Platypus stopped in at Daphne's along the way. He says the detour had deep, existential meaning. Well, for his tummy at least.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Busy Platypus

Platypi spend 90% of their lives under water. Hmmm. That sounds good right about now. Living in a nice warm hole by the river; swimming around each night when it's nice and cool out. -ordering out for pizza... I've been extremely busy this past week with work. It's been a good busy though. So that explains the lack of posts. I would have gotten the Platypus to post for me, but webbed paws and key boards don't mix. Instead, I think he's been revisiting Goethe and Calvin and Hobbes. The platypus has plenty of new thoughts, but they'll have to wait until I can type them. In the meantime, I think I'm going to sleep. Platypi are nocturnal. The Platypus wakes!

Monday, July 11, 2005

If Odysseus Had A Platypus

Ever wonder? At least he'd have had someone to talk to twenty years, and how could Penelope refuse such a courteous and civil house-guest? (Platypi are very civil.) So maybe you haven't ever wondered that, but taking another read (or a first-time read) through the "Odyssey" is well worth the effort. I've just been touring back through Robert Fagles translation in preparation for the new semester. I'm going to be focusing on Ancient Greece now, as opposed to Colonialism, so what better way to start than with the "bible" of the Ancient Greeks. What made the Greeks tick? The answers are on ever page of this book. And no, there are no platypi in the "Odyssey". More's the pity...

Friday, July 08, 2005

The Platypus Reads Goethe

Sun proclaims his old devotion
in rival song with brother spheres
and still completes in thunderous motion
circuits of his given years.

Angelic powers uncomprehending
strengthen as they gaze there fill
thy works unfathomed and unending
proclaim the first day's splendor still.

solemn earth with mind-appalling
swiftness upon itself rotates
and with the deep night's dreadful falling
it's primal radiance alternates.

High cliffs stand deep in ocean weather
white foaming surf roars out and in
and cliffs and seas rush on together
caught in the globe's unceasing spin.

And turn by turn the tempest raging
from sea to land from land to sea
builds up in passion unaswaging
chains of furious energy.

The thunder strikes, its flash is faster
it spreads destruction on its way
but we thy messengers oh master
revere thy gently circling day.

And all of us uncomprehending
strengthen as we gaze our fill
thy works unfathomed and unending
proclaim the first day's splendor still.

C.S. Lewis describes his ideal life in "Surprised by Joy" as one of quiet contemplation and study. He says that there is nothing wrong with such a life except that it is completely selfish; that is directed toward improvement of the self and not others. There is a kind of sanctified grace in the business of each day in so far as it forces us to come into contact with other people. There is a kind of rest that is not far from the icy pit of Dante's hell. As Mephistopheles discovers, man is restless till he finds his rest in God. It is not a cessassion, but a consummation; not the end of motion, but the fullness of motion. To the degree that our business keeps us restless, to the degree that it forces us to consider the needs, even the very existence of others, it is a mercy that keeps us from the powers of perpetual negation.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Poetic Platypus

There was a song, oh how it ran,
Marred somehow with strange discord,
That sang of fire, wrack and sword,
But that was not where it began.

Perchance, it had its root in something good.
Though I, having come in mid-way
And unable for the end to stay,
Could not discern it if I would.

So benumbed I stood while that strange song,
Through all my living members worked
The provinces of my mind turned Turk
And all I was was overrun.

Yet mid-way at the middle-most,
As if at one great point transfixed,
The tumult parted and betwixt,
There came a sound as of a host,

Of angles slipped from heaven's hall,
To whisper in men's ears strange words,
To speak of things not seen or heard,
To shout 'Redemption!' from the fall.

At that one cord my soul awoke,
It's chains and bonds offcasting well,
Set free from that discordant hell,
In which my mind and spirit choked.

My ears, now freed, through discord heard,
Those first few notes that set me free,
And so the song awoke in me,
The song that began in the immortal Word.

I strained my ears and soon perceived
That other voices all around,
Did strain with that same holy sound,
And into it the discord weaved.

So grew the music until at last,
In one great-glorious resounding note,
Sung as if from one clear throat,
The discord and its tumult passed.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Platypus Fantastique

Je ne sais pas que vous dit, mais le porte de ma couer est ouvre maintenant; et tout le monde est different. Perhaps Lewis would forgive my broken French, but I've been reading through George MacDonald's "Phantasties" and that seems to be as best as I can describe what both Lewis and MacDonald say in so many of their works. Tout le monde est different. Je parle a les intelligents. Il qui ne sais pas, pour il, mon esprit est blanc. In the dark and tangled woods of Fairy Land we pursue the thing as it is. The vale is drawn back and the metaphor found to be more real than what we thought it represented, for we are in Fairy Land if we have the eyes to see it. Beren and Luthien still dance through the moonlit glades where once a quiet Oxford don and an English country-girl walked hand in hand beneath the hemlock umbels tall and fair. I have been there. I know. There it is ever Autumn and the Platypus sings his songs by the river in the moonlight. If you go there you may see him in a forest glade where he dances the harvest dance for the Lady of Autumn and her knight.

Platypus At Mid-Morning

It's almost ten o'clock. Do you know where your platypus is? He's probably still sleeping, considering that platypi are nocturnal. Anyhow, I should probably try and say something profound, like musing about the war in Iraq. Hmm... It's all about the rise of the E.U. Nope, that would take too long to articulate. Maybe if I think real hard, I can come up with something funny or enlightening that's happened to me this past week. Oh, wait, it's only Tuesday. Hey, I could review a movie! Except that I haven't seen any since Star Wars... Well, it's too early in the morning for a rant, so I guess you all are on your own today. Have a great day! The platypus certainly will... Once he gets up, that is.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

The Platypus Waits

I have a tennis game at 11:00. "Tell the Dauphin that when we have played a set we shall strike his father's crown into the wager..." Ok, so I couldn't resist a little Henry V. Interestingly enough, tennis was already all the rage among nobles and spreading to the wealthy commons in the 14th century (100 years before Prince Hal). In many ways, that's what you might call the beginning of the modern era. Of course, in history, claims for the beginning of the modern era keep creeping backward until Ulysses' Trojan horse is the marker. That probably should tell us something about the unchanging nature of man in spite of his changing circumstances. Whatever the scene, man is the great spectacle, as G.K. Chesterton would say, and all of heaven clamours "let him play again!" Most of us resist that thought instinctively, but Chesterton actually makes it compelling. Goethe does that as well with his "Faust". These are the things I think of when I'm waiting. The Platypus just reads "Calvin and Hobbes".

Friday, July 01, 2005

Uzbek Platypus

So there are no Platypi in Uzbekistan either... Doesn't matter. The Platypus still likes Ploff and Russian Chocolate. So I made Ploff and Shashlik today. What is that, you ask? Read: piloff and shishkabobs. It's the Uzbek version of the rice piloff and kebob you get at Daphne's. Mmmm... pan Agean-Turkish cuisine... I cheated a bit and used Rice-a-Roni piloff, but I did grate in the carrot and slice up the steak. No nan (soft white bread) to go with it this time, but all in all it was a pleasant international lunch. Thanks to my friend "Kolya" who's getting ready for another year of TESOL in Uzbekistan. Lots of luck to you! The Platypus likes ploff, he's eating the left-overs as we speak...

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Productive Platypus

I was asking about what I should blog tonight and the answer has come back to me "blog about getting jobs". Hmmm... Well, having gotten several in my life, including the one I'm currently employed in, I think I must have at least some idea of how to do that. Connections seems to be the big key. Every job I've gotten but one I've gotten through connections with employees; everything from teachers to college buddies. In the world it's who you know as much as what you know. Wow, that sounds like a Willie Lowman tirade... The Platypus is not a Willie Lowman.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Platypus D'Arrington

I have a book to recommend for all you history buffs and fans of the mediaevals out there: Barbara Tuckman's "A Distant Mirror, the Calamitous 14th Century". Tuckman's history is a little dated in terms of theory, so take her portrait with a grain of salt, but the work is intriguing and a good practical background for how the ideas of the mediaevals played out in actual society. Above all, Tuckman doesn't seek to set down a definitive picture of the 14th Century, but rather to show the tensions and competing forces that framed it. 'Sides, the books just plain well-written and fun. The Platypus gets medieval, but only if you try and take his Pizza first...

Monday, June 20, 2005

Platypus Ponderings

I checked Bubbs today and in the prayer section there was a post with a series of excerpts from different Bible verses. All of them emphasized trusting in God to provide and the refining nature of patience. Patience is a kind of moral strength. Like building a physical muscle, patience grows with work and practice. Have you ever noticed how incredibly strong patient people are? Have you seen the kind of moral force they exude? Ever wonder how they got that way? God teaches us patience not just for patience sake, but so that we can have the moral strength to do His will. With patience comes peace, with peace comes wisdom and with wisdom comes right action and right attitude. Praise God for opportunities to cultivate patience. The Platypus is patient... except when it comes to food. Beware the hungry Platypus!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Do Platypi Dream of Disembodied Talking Heads?

I like the idea of disembodied talking heads. -especially if they're spinning. I wish I had Colonel Sanders' floating head following me around (I think Fred Sanders likes his head where it is). Wouldn't that be cool? Weird Al has that in one of his songs: "Everything You Know Is Wrong". I can't remember what album that's on. It's one of his earlier ones. Anyhow, I'm sure all my friends are glad that I don't have a disembodied floating talking head. My own head seems to be quite enough. Besides, the Platypus might get jealous...

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Platypus Returns

I've been busy (to say the least) over the past few days. My travels are not quite over yet as I still have to return from seeing my brother graduate in Thousand Oaks. In the meantime I've been to Thousand Oaks, Santa Barbara, Fresno, Yosemite, La Mirada and back to Thousand Oaks again. Hopefully, as my travels wind up I will be able to go back to regular posting. I hope you have been able to enjoy the posts that are already up there over the past few days while I've been away. In the future, I may be putting up more devotional thoughts if it interests you all. In the meantime, the Platypus knows what the travel is all about, but he's keeping quiet. Good Platypus, nice Platypus...

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Platypus Expectant

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up;
do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert, and streams
of water in the wasteland.

Isaiah 43

God moves with the inexorability of a flood; a flash flood in the desert that cuts channels through plains, shatters hills and breaks mountains. Aeschylus knew this. He saw the power of God roaring like a lion, and gathering like distant thunder. He understood that He was the wild one: the one who is truly free from all restraint because he is Law Himself. Awesome, inexorable, his thunder-strokes beat against desert of the human condition and in their violence transform a wasteland into a fertile plain. If only Aeschylus had know that it was so much more than pain. If God is awesome in His judgment, how much more so in His grace! He makes things flourish where once there was nothing; and who shall stop Him? He pardons the sinner whose sins are unpardonable; and who shall gainsay Him? Look there and you'll see it! Oh be attuned to Him by His grace or you shall miss it! Was there sorrow yesterday? Did all your hopes seem thwarted? Turn away from the past, for He makes all things new. Something exciting is afoot... Pass on the secret. Cry it out from the hilltops. Look where it comes! Have you ever seen anything like it? That is the work of the Wild One! His laughter is the deepest bliss of His children and the terror of hell for His enemies. Look there while you can, for the day is coming when no one will be able to miss it!

Sunday, June 05, 2005

The Platypus Stresseth Not

Come to me, all you who are weary
and burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn
from me,
For I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.

Matthew 11:28, 29

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus and what is the first thing He says after declaring this? There's not lists of demands, no threat of apocalypse (though that cannot be ignored) but a wonderful call: "Come to me and I will give you rest." He has the authority to declare a Sabbath rest for God's people. These are the words of the Prince of Peace. Break time has come, the holiday is near at hand. Throw down the tools of your enslavement! Turn aside from the burdens of a dying race inhabiting a dying world. Here is water, here is food, here is the wonderful secret behind the whole cosmos that has been forgotten by the silent planet: the ultimate reality is JOY! Here is your Christ! Here is no uber man, but God become Man, the One who tears back the vale confusion and breaks the chains of the will to self! No more! No more are we to be trapped inside our own head! No more the petty tyrannies of demons and empty philosophies! No more the endless rules and proscription by which the ancients in vain sought to bring man to the heavens! Heaven has come down and pitched His banner upon the earth! Come to Him, you thrals of sin, as deserters from a tyrant usurper flee to the true King. Leave your concentration camp for the day of your liberation is at hand. Heap no more the piles of slag amidst the dark satanic mills. Come to Him, and He will give you rest, for He alone has the authority and the power to do it. To Him be the glory! Amen.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Platypus in the Morning

Give ear to my words, O LORD,
consider my meditation.
Hearken unto the voice of my cry,
my King, and my God:
for unto Thee will I pray.
My voice shalt Thou hear in the morning,
O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer
unto Thee, and will look up.

Psalm 5, KJV

"Thee" is the familiar in KJV English. Something to think about next time you're singing an old hymn. The Platypus is particularly fond of Wesley. I agree and would add Isaac Watts, Jocham Neader (sp?) and Fanny Crosby (once a resident of Bridgeport CT) to the list. The Platypus agrees with that too, of course.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Ich Ben Ein Platypus

So if you've been reading along, you've probably noticed by now that every post has "Platypus" in the title. Why is this? Does James really think he's a small, aquatic, poisonous mammal? In point of fact, no. He might wish he was a platypus from time to time, but he is quite human. The Platypus is a different thing altogether. This site pays homage to the noble Platypus, the Platypus of Truth. He is ever in opposition to the Poodle of Lies and has no part in the Hippo of Shame. When the Platypus speaks, many are they who listen. The Platypus, of course, is much too modest to say such things himself. Besides, he finds it hard to type with webbed paws...

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Platypus Rants

I asked for a title for tonight's log and was told "Write about there being too many idiots". Hmmm... tempting. I was almost annihilated today as someone swerved into oncoming traffic to take a left turn while their lane was waiting at a red light. Don't ask me how that works! So much for my chance to land a big lawsuit and pay for grad school... Still, I like having the use of all my limbs; except when I sit down in the park and my legs fall asleep... The Platypus doesn't have to worry about such things. All hail the Platypus.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Star Platypus

So I finally saw Star Wars Episode III tonight. It was pretty dark and violent for Star Wars. You understand just what sort forces it took to forge the world of the original trilogy out of the fairy-tale idyll of Episode I. Hmmm... The jury's out to lunch on this one folks... It was epic and powerful, to say the least. It also sheds a lot of light on stuff that's going on in the original three. I'm sure all sorts of questions will be buzzing through fans' heads for years to come. The Platypus has answers, but he's keeping them to himself.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Question The Platypus

I seem to remember something about Blog etiquette that had to do with not posting long quotations on a blog. Hmmm... Ok, so everyone still gets to enjoy Schiller's "Ode to Joy" and the Hymn of the same title: "Joyously, as his suns speed Through Heaven's glorious order, hasten, Brothers, on your way, as a knight in victory." "Be embraced, all ye Millions! Take this kiss for all the world! Surely we've a loving Father dwelling there beyond the stars. Do you sink before him, Millions? World! Your Creator sense! Seek him then beyond the stars! Where He dwells beyond the stars." I like Goethe too, especially the angelic hymn at the opening of "Faust". Try singing it to the tune of the German National Anthem! Anyhow, this is a weekend for the Romantics. The Platypus goes on his way rejoicing, like knight in victory! Sans "Storm and Stress", of course...

Friday, May 27, 2005

The Platypus Rejoices

Joy, fair spark of the gods,Daughter of Elysium,
Drunk with fiery rapture, Goddess,We approach thy shrine!
Thy magic reunites those Whom stern custom has parted;
All men will become brothers Under thy gentle wing.
May he who has had the fortune To gain a true friend
And he who has won a noble wife Join in our jubilation!
Yes, even if he calls but one soul His own in all the world.
But he who has failed in this Must steal away alone and in tears.
All the world's creatures Draw joy from nature's breast;
Both the good and the evil Follow her rose-strewn path.
She gave us kisses and wine And a friend loyal unto death;
She gave lust for life to the lowliest, And the Cherub stands before God.
Joyously, as his suns speed Through Heaven's glorious order,
Hasten, Brothers, on your way, Exulting as a knight in victory.
Be embraced, Millions!Take this kiss for all the world!
Brothers, surely a loving Father Dwells above the canopy of stars.
Do you sink before him, Millions? World, do you sense your Creator?
Seek him then beyond the stars!
He must dwell beyond the stars.

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee,
Praising Thee their sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!
All Thy works with joy surround Thee,
Earth and heaven reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee,
Center of unbroken praise:
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Blooming meadow, flashing sea,
Chanting bird and flowing fountain,
Call us to rejoice in Thee.
Thou art giving and forgiving,
Ever blessing, ever blest,
Well-spring of the joy of living,
Ocean-depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother,
All who live in love are Thine:
Teach us how to love each other,
Lift us to the Joy Divine.
Mortals join the mighty chorus,
Which the morning stars began;
Father-love is reigning o'er us,
Brother-love binds man to man.
Ever singing march we onward,
Victors in the midst of strife;
Joyful music lifts us sunward
In the triumph song of life.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Platypus and the 10,000

Ever read Xenophon? He's a Greek historian. I've been working my way through his "Anabasis", a story of how he helped lead 10,000 Greek mercenaries stranded in the middle of the Persian Empire to safety. Even though it almost 2,500 years old, the book reads like a novel. Someone seriously needs to do a film adaptation of it... You also get a really rich picture of what it meant to "be Greek". It's a great book for teaching a crash course in the mindset of the average Greek, as opposed to Plato and Aristotle. You also come away with the impression that Greeks are such barbarians compared to the Persians. Xenophon didn't see it that way, but a little reading between the lines makes it quite apparent. The Platypus recommends Xenophon. Obey your Platypus...

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Chinese Platypus

No, there are no Platypi in China. Well, at least Platypi aren't native to China. So I'm down to my last paper. This one is on the Chinese response to European colonialism. I've been reading bios of Chinese reformers, revolutionaries, and treatises by Qing loyalists. Guess where the lion's share of my books are coming from? They're coming from Biola's library. The books evacuated from Biola's Chinese seminary are a snapshot of an age of intense turmoil and transition in China. Someone needs to do a serious scholarly study of that collection. It would actually be a meaningful contribution to the historical field. I guess Biola would have to find someone who speaks French and Chinese to get started though. French is as far as I've gotten and Latin and Greek have to come next. The Platypus speaks French. You can ask him about it the next time you see him...

Friday, May 20, 2005

The Platypus Rests

Today was my day of rest. I haven't had one in months. Why am I resting? Because I've got one more paper to go and then I'm done for the semester. I want to finish off strong. Isn't it funny how rarely you hear about the importance of rest? Not leisure... We have enough of that. I'm talking about simply resting, turning away from labor so that you can recharge and refocus. What a concept: doing less work may help you to do more work in the end. Today, the Platypus rests. Ahhhhh.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Platypus In Force

Tonight marks the end of an era: the last Star Wars movie is out! I won't be seeing it tonight, nor for many nights after due to school work. Sigh. The life of a grad student is fraught with peril. It all ends Tuesday. I hope... Anyhow, what began in the summer of '77 when my parents first started dating is now ending in the summer of '05 when... Oh never mind... My parent's first date was Star Wars, so you might say I'm a child of the force. That was before the Platypus. Will there be a day after the Platypus? I don't know.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Sasanian Platypus

So today's paper is on Persian stereotypes in Greek literature. Those would be Achaemanid Persians, not Sasanian Persians. The question I'm dealing with is how Greek prejudices played into their portrayal of Persians in the Greek histories. It might not be such an important question if we weren't almost entirely reliant on the Greeks for any information about Persia during the Achaemanid Dynasty. Sources of non-Hellenic origin include Daniel, Ester, Ezra and Isaiah. It's not often that you get to use the Bible as a primary source in a history class.

Meantime, I'm still getting the hang of this blogging thing... When I have a genuinely profound thought, I'll have to post it. As of this date, scholars concede that there is no evidence that the Sasanians had any contact with Platypi. The Platypus knows better and he's got the hat to prove it.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Power to the Platypus

So I just finished an eight page paper that's serving as my Russian History take-home final. The question? Why did the Soviet Union collapse? Hmmmm... Aside from the economics? It's an interesting thought experiment if you think of it. Why does a regime collapse? How many factors does it take to bring down a nation? Was the Soviet collapse inevitable based on fundamental flaws within the system? Plutarch said that History was Philosophy teaching by example. If that's true, what lessons might we learn from the fall of the Soviet Union?

In other news, today is my birthday. Happy birthday to me! I've been alive for a year less than a quarter century. The Soviet Union was dead and gone by the time I was ten. Most of my adult life has been lived in a post-Soviet world where the U.S. is the unchallenged hegemon of humanity. I am a scion of privilege and I really had nothing to do with that. It doesn't make me feel guilty -I might equally have been born poor and destitute. What matters is what I do with what's given me. To whom much has been given, much more will be demanded. That's the great equalizer.

Those are the thoughts for the day. Until next time, the Platypus speaks truth.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Platypus For the Masses

In the interest of appeasing the masses I think I have come up with a thought. I just saw "Naussicaa of the Valley of the Winds". It's an anime by the creator of "Princess Mononoke", "Spirited Away" and "Grave of the Fireflies"; all of which I've seen and highly enjoy. I have to say that I enjoyed "Naussicaa" as well. It's a great post-apocalyptic high fantasy in classic Miyazaki style. The evil queen and her flunky are reminiscent of Lady Eboshi from "Mononoke" and Naussicaa has much in common with "San". Still, "Naussicaa" isn't merely a re-cycle of "Mononoke". Of particular interest is the very strong Persian aesthetic. The man in blue appears almost as a sort of Ahura-Mazda or a Magi from the Achaemenid tombs (Sorry, won't attempt to correctly spell the place name). If you've got time, this one is worth it. The film clocks in at just under two hours. It's not fast-paced, but I wouldn't call it slow-moving either. That's all for tonight. Remember: The Platypus Speaks Truth.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Platypus Speaks

I suppose I should post something on this blog. I'm not much of a journaler and therefore not much of a blogger. The main reason I have it is so I can contribute to the Flinters Blog. Um... So let's see... By way of an announcement, I've been asked to submit a paper on Greek literature for publishing. We'll see how it goes. I'm excited. As soon as I can marshal a deeper thought, perhaps I'll post it. Until then, the Platypus speaks truth.