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...