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.