Thursday, July 29, 2010

Definition of hero

Odysseus has just been challenged by Alkinoos as to why the gods have not made more of a spectacle of him. Odysseus is slightly annoyed and replies as follows:

Alkinoos, let something else be in your mind; I am not
in any way like the immortals who hold wide heaven,
neither in build nor stature, but only to men who are mortal.
Whoever it is of people you know who wear the greatest
burden of misery, such are the ones whom I would equal
for pain endured, and I could tell of still more troubles
that are all mine and by the will of the gods I suffered.
But leave me now to eat my dinner, for all my sorrow,
for there is no other thing so shameless as to be set over
the belly, but she rather uses constraint and makes me think of her,
even when sadly worn, when in my heart I have sorrow
as now I have sorrow in my heart, yet still forever
she tells me to eat and drink and forces me to forgetfulness
of all I have suffered, and still she is urgent that I must fill her.

From 'Odyssey' by Homer translated by Lattimore, p. 116-7

A hero is someone who takes all that the gods throw at him / her and keeps going. Odysseus surely took more than his fair share and he didn't spend his time trying to change things, he accepted it and all he wanted was a quiet life and a good meal.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Boxed in

There is a particularly good article on the boxer Shane Mosley in this weeks edition of the New Yorker. 

Boxed in

It is quite a balanced article on the 38 year old boxer, his life and his training methods and follows him as he goes to fight Floyd Mayweather. The trainer Richardson describes boxing as something far more than mere physical strength - 'Shane's power is more confidence than actual power, this motherfucker believe in that shot so much, to where that shot is like that.' he goes on - 'The gorilla is the strongest motherfucker in the zoo, but you ain't never seen that bitch walk by with the keys.'

Then Larry Merchant (HBO boxing commentator since 1978) captures the show with the following quote: "Floyd Mayweather is usually the most exciting fighter before the first bell, Shane Mosley after the first bell."

In the end Mayweather perfects the style of boxing and wins - the name of the sport, is also the name of the style.

Mosley trains in Big Bear Lake, California, where most of the interviews take place, hence the location of this post.

William Temple and his message

William Temple was an Archbishop from the start of the last century. He was interested in Christian Unity and Social reform. I have written about him before and have always found him interesting. I found a book about him on Saturday and it describes one of his earliest influences when he went to visit a missionary doctor in Bermondsey (Abbey Street):

 "The doctor's own methods were highly individual. The first time I visited the Club was during my second year at Oxford. I was taken to a basement room, where a crowd of some twenty people sat on benches round the wall; one corner was screened off. The doctor stood in the middle with myself just behind him, and preached with great directness for about five minutes. Then he turned abruptly and dived into the corner behind the screen, beckoning me to follow. We found a rickety table and three uninviting chairs. I sat on an end one and was given a pencil and a writing tablet; the doctor sat in the middle; on the other chair sat the patients, one after another. With each a conversation took place on the following lines. "Put out your tongue ... Where did you go to church last Sunday? ... Open your mouth ... Why not? Say ninety-nine ... Well I'll give you some medicine, but mind you say your prayers and go to church in the future." The gaps represent inarticulate replies, the patient being in an attitude prohibitive of speech; but the doctor knew the answers without hearing."

Going to doctor has changed now, can't help feeling this way would have been quite good fun.

Monday, July 19, 2010

John Henry Newman

Cardinal Newman was much more than a reluctant saint

Good to see this book review in the Daily Telegraph to see a new look at Newman.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Friday, July 16, 2010

Jacques Prévert

See his webpage.

Worthy of note, for example the following poem:

To paint a bird's portrait

First of all, paint a cage
with an opened little door
then paint something attractive
something simple
something beautiful
something of benefit for the bird
Put the picture on a tree
in a garden
in a wood
or in a forest
hide yourself behind the tree

Sometimes the bird arrives quickly
but sometimes it takes years
Don't be discouraged
wait for years if necessary
the rapidity or the slowness of the arrival
doesn't have any relationship
with the result of the picture

When the bird comes
if it comes
keep the deepest silence
wait until the bird enters the cage
and when entered in
Close the door softly with the brush
then remove one by the one all the bars
care not to touch any feather of the bird

Then draw the portrait of the tree
choosing the most beautiful branch
for the bird
paint also the green foliage and the coolness
of the beasts of the grass in the summer's heat
and then, wait that the bird starts singing

If the bird doesn't sing
it's a bad sign
it means that the picture is wrong
but if it sings it's a good sign
it means that you can sign

so you tear with sweetness
a feather from the bird
and write your name in a corner of the painting.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Talkin' Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues

Just thought you might like to read these lyrics. Quite funny by Bob Dylan. If anyone wants to listen to the song, I can send them the mp3.

Talkin' Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues

I saw it advertised one day
Bear Mountain picnic was comin’ my way
“Come along ’n’ take a trip
We’ll bring you up there on a ship
Bring the wife and kids
Bring the whole family”

Well, I run right down ’n’ bought a ticket
To this Bear Mountain Picnic
But little did I realize
I was in for a picnic surprise
Had nothin’ to do with mountains
I didn’t even come close to a bear

Took the wife ’n’ kids down to the pier
Six thousand people there
Everybody had a ticket for the trip
“Oh well,” I said, “it’s a pretty big ship
Besides, anyway, the more the merrier”

Well, we all got on ’n’ what d’ya think
That big old boat started t’ sink
More people kept a-pilin’ on
That old ship was a-slowly goin’ down
Funny way t’ start a picnic

Well, I soon lost track of m’ kids ’n’ wife
So many people there I never saw in m’ life
That old ship sinkin’ down in the water
Six thousand people tryin’ t’ kill each other
Dogs a-barkin’, cats a-meowin’
Women screamin’, fists a-flyin’, babies cryin’
Cops a-comin’, me a-runnin’
Maybe we just better call off the picnic

I got shoved down ’n’ pushed around
All I could hear there was a screamin’ sound
Don’t remember one thing more
Just remember wakin’ up on a little shore
Head busted, stomach cracked
Feet splintered, I was bald, naked . . .
Quite lucky to be alive though

Feelin’ like I climbed outa m’ casket
I grabbed back hold of m’ picnic basket
Took the wife ’n’ kids ’n’ started home
Wishin’ I’d never got up that morn

Now, I don’t care just what you do
If you wanta have a picnic, that’s up t’ you
But don’t tell me about it, I don’t wanta hear it
’Cause, see, I just lost all m’ picnic spirit
Stay in m’ kitchen, have m’ own picnic . . .
In the bathroom

Now, it don’t seem to me quite so funny
What some people are gonna do f’r money
There’s a bran’ new gimmick every day
Just t’ take somebody’s money away
I think we oughta take some o’ these people
And put ’em on a boat, send ’em up to Bear Mountain . . .
For a picnic