Thursday, November 09, 2006

Lit Crit -- Again

I may not know why people read about cats but I'm sure God learning why people write about them. If the other 3000 or whatever bloggers doing this are anything like me, I'm expecting that Maggie is about to sell a lot of books. I can't bring myself to the cat thing, but I'm thinking about buying a goldfish so I can write about that.

Let's try another tack. I think I read the Iliad four or five times before I began to get anything out of it; I kept going because pretty much all of Western civilization insisted there was something in there, but for the longest time it was just Round One of Europe invading the Middle East and people trying to stay out of the gods' way. But at some point it did hit me (spoiler alert!): Achilles is confronting the dead body of his best friend and realizing that he is screwed. Though he is the mightiest man in the world, he too is going to die, and without any expectation or even imagination of a heaven or a christian salvation, and he's got nothing inside himself but to inflict the same fate on everyone in his path until he gets through the man who killed his friend. He's alone with all this, and he doesn't see any way out. And that pagan moment is so common that it's at the base of every writer in the West -- Christian, Jew, Renaissance, the Enlightenment, all of them at least until we stopped reading Homer.

Maybe I'd better go read it again.

[This was originally posted 8 November 2006. Click that picture up there if you don't believe me.]


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