Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Notes from our presentation (Group 6)

So I'll just post the outline to our presentation to help everyone study for the final exam:

Whose Myth Is It Anyway?

-Michael Drew Carey Sexson (Ben) walks on stage to introduce the show, where the points and grades aren’t worth anything and the only thing that’s important is the myth.

Today’s skits include: The Preliminary Mythic Dating Game
The Party of the World, Century, Age, Aeon, and Eternity
A Drunken Beer Pong Symposium
A Buddhist Song of Suffering and Salvation

Today’s Improve Actors Include: Sam Roloff, Heather Kahly, Shoni Schipman, Liz Riley, and Kris Drummond

Let’s get started!!


Bachelorette #1- Antigone
Bachelorette #2- Lysistrata
Bachelorette #3- Ovid Characters.

(Bob Barkeresque) Hello folks and welcome to this evenings broadcast of….The Dating Game! APPLAUSE(I am going to make an applause sign to hold up for the class to clap to). Tonight, three lucky ladies will have the once-in-a-lifetime chance of winning a date with tonight’s sexy bachelor. APPLAUSE. Before we meet the contestants, a quick review of the games rules. APPLAUSE. Three contestants are asked three separate questions and based on their answers our lucky bachelor will decide the winner….Alright ladies and gentlemen, lets get the ball rolling! APPLAUSE.

Lets meet our bachelor! His name is Sam. He’s a handsome 19year old undergrad at Montana State University. Sam is a full time student looking for full time love! When he’s no reading poetry, he enjoys making microwavable eggrolls and has a deep appreciation for scented bath oils! Alright Sam, lets meet your three lucky ladies, but remember, you can only pick one!

Are you ready Sam?!
Let’s do it.
Let’s DO IT!

Alright Sam, Question #1 for Bachelorette #1.

Q: Bachelorette #1, who is your favorite TV celebrity and why?
A: I would have to say Jack Bauer. He’s constantly fighting for what he believes for and stands up for what is right. Plus he’s cute.
Alright Sam, Question #2 for Bachelorette #2.

Q: Bachelorette #2, if you could be one part of the body, which would it be and why?
A: Easy. I would be a dick because I could have all the fun and wouldn’t have to suffer any of the consequences.
Alright Sam, Question #3 for Bachelorette #3.

Q: Bachelorette #3, if I were to be late to our first date, what would you do?
A: I would turn you into a donkey.

Alright, all 3 are very lovely and attractive girls but which one will you choose Sam?!
Drumroll please……(make a sign that says “drum lightly on desk please”) and the winner is……BACHELORETTE #1! Congratulations you two, we here at The Dating Game wish you all the best in life. Until next time, goodnight America. APPLAUSE.


Need a volunteer to host the party and guess the characters! (Pick a student)

Partygoers include:
Echo – Liz
Narcissus – Kris
Hermes – Ben
Demeter – Shoni
Ovid / Ted Hughes / David Malouf which morphs into a velociraptor – Sam

(After student is brought down to the stage, we’ll blind fold them, while I distribute cards with the names of each character to the group; we’ll walk along the front of the classroom and show the class our cards, then begin the party)

(Arrange table and cups quickly)

Characters include: Ignorant Peleus – Kris
Philosophical lover – Ben
Bacchus, ‘love is a battlefield’ – Sam

(Begin lines as pong game starts)

K: the girlfriend’s giving me grief for not using the L word.
S: Why don’t you? It’s just a word.
K: Because she’s trying to control me! If I tell her I love her, than I’m done for, stuck forever!
B: Not necessarily, you just have the wrong understanding of love.
K: Huh? What the hell are you talking about? Always rambling your theories; I bet you got a theory for love too.
B: well it’s not exactly a theory. I heard it from a friend who heard it from his stepfather, who heard it from his father, who heard it recited by an elderly woman at some conversation.
S: Nice! Now this is my kind of theory!!
K: but how do you know it’s true or even remembered correctly since it’s been displaced from the source so far.
B: that doesn’t necessarily matter either, because it’s been tweaked and refined each time it’s been told and recollected.
K: Ok, whatever, let’s just hear it.
S: Hell yeah!! I love theories of love!!!
B: Well, what it boils down to is that you shouldn’t feel restricted by love because you can love anything: a cloud, a tree, a pebble, or even a snail. You must begin small, to try and love a tree and desire to find it beautiful, for a tree certainly is a good thing. Once you’ve found the everlasting possession of the good in a tree, and want to find it beautiful, want to love it, and for it to always remain good, you can move on to loving the beauty that is everywhere, in nature, life, and especially women.
K: Oooooookay?...?.. You’re starting to sound like that Pluto guy.
B: His was Plato, not a planet. But if you proceed in this manner to learn how to love, you’ll realize how flexible love can be; and in no time at all you’ll be able to tell your girlfriend you love her too.
S: Hurray! Hurray for Plato, Pluto, love and life. I love you guys! Drink!!!


(Everyone needs to develop their verse. Theme is ‘all is fleeting, all is suffering.’ Make it witty and pertinent to the past possesses the present theme of the class. Have fun and be creative so we can finish with a bang!)

Final comments from Michael Drew Carey Sexson; Thanks for watching ‘Whose Myth is it Anyway!!!

The father of comedy

It is times like these, late in the week leading up to finals, that the work of archetypes such as Aristonphanes can be fully appreciated. As we all know, we laugh to keep from crying, and based on my outlook for the next few days, I could definitely use a few good laughs. I decided I may as well start by writing a blog about the original comic, Aristophanes. According to wikipedia, it was said that Aristophanes could re-create the life of Athens more convincingly than any other author. This really makes me wonder about the type of society that Aristophanes was so "accurately" describing... especially if Lysistrata is included within this accuracy.

As obscene as Lysistrata seems to a 21st century reader used to the boy-girl cheesey romance comedies, it also sheds a new light on the culture of ancient Greece as a whole. Before this class, my perception of classical literature was that it was old, boring and inaccessible. However, this couldn't have been further from the truth. The fact that such a vulgar and opinionated work could exist more than two thousand years shows the considerably progressive nature of the Greeks. Reading Lysistrata, it hardly seems possible that such a story could have been created at all, let alone thousands of years ago. Although I'm sure some of the meaning was lost in the translation process, I feel that Sarah Ruden did a commendable job capturing the essence of the intended meanings implicit throughout the play.

Ah, a little refresher course through Lysistrata was actually all I needed. Reading over it a second time, I found myself laughing more frequently than the first time. This could be a result of a greater comprehension, or more likely the result of the sleep deprivation. Either way, I have to say, I owe a great deal of gratitude to Aristophanes. If it weren't for comedy, life would be absolutely tedious. If there were no laughing to get us all through the day, we would cry more frequently to say the least. Humor is the basis of almost every single one of my friendships. I think that if I had to take life seriously, I would go crazy. So here's to aristophanes.


As I mentioned in an earlier Blog, I noticed that the Greeks seem to have a god for every distinguishable emotion. I found it interesting when I looked up Dionysus and found that he was considered to be a late comer among the twelve olympians.

"In classical mythology, Dionysus or Dionysos (Greek Διόνυσος or Διώνυσος; IPA: /ˌdaɪəˈnaɪsəs/), is the god of wine, the inspirer of ritual madness and ecstasy, and a major figure of Greek mythology, and one of the twelve Olympians, among whom Greek mythology treated Dionysus as a late arrival. The geographical origins of his cult were unknown to the classical Greeks, but almost all myths depicted him as having "foreign" origins: typical of the god of the epiphany, the god that comes."

This quote from wikipedia really made me wonder, why is it that Dionysus was the late comer of the gods? Perhaps human beings were hesitant to acknowledge intoxication as a valid, naturally occuring feeling. Maybe they tried to exclude this feeling but realized that the desire for intoxication was not determined by the existence of a god reflecting those values.

Thank you

As I sit here at 6:25 am, nearing delerium after a sleepless night, I feel the theme of the class weighing down my eyelids. "All that is past possesses our present." I have always been a procrastinator, and probably always will be until the day that I die. I have no organizational skills whatsoever, and it's times like these that I regret it the most. My procrastination problem has led me to put off writing about all those concepts I wanted to develop just a little further. Just one more class period worth of discussion, and I would have been able to blog my heart out. But that extra class period never seemed to come, and each day I would find myself immersed in a new and equally interesting topic, with all my ideas from the previous class slowly fading away. Well, this all-night blog marathon brought back all those memories, and in doing so has made me realize how much I got out of this class. Not only did I attain a greater understanding and appreciation for classical literature, but also a much greater peace of mind in general. I learned more about myself and others than I have in all of my other university classes combined. The combination of Dr. Sexsons' amazing teaching and the warm receptiveness and participation from the class created a real, genuine desire to attend every single day. Not just because we were held responsible for the information covered, but because the information that we were given contains value above and beyond any single letter on a transcript. In taking this class, I realized that Dr. Sexson was right, college isn't about getting a degree, it's about getting information and increasing knowledge. In my opinion, this class was the epitome of what every college class should be. It should work toward a degree, but more importantly it should provide information which transcends the utility of any degree whatsoever.

When I go to sell my books back at the beginning of next week, I won't be recieving my full refund. I plan on keeping all the books from this class, just in case I start to forget that the keys to my present day problems are probably contained somewhere in one of them. Although I won't be getting all my money back, the lessons I learned from these books and Dr. Sexson this semester are more important than any material goods. As Dr. Sexson said, "The seeds have been planted." Now it's up to us to simply remember what we learned and let the seeds flourish.


Karma. It's eveywhere, all at the same time. It's on tip jars, whiteboards, commercials, and even ski gear. It's an accessible concept, one that to most, seems like an idealistic figment of the imagination used as a synonym for the golden rule. Yeah, even 10 year olds kids can vaguely grasp the idea that their actions have consequences. To Western society, the concept of karma seems pretty cut and dry, sitting on the same level of feasibility as Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. However, to devout Budhists and Hindus, karma is a never-ending cycle of spiritual cause and affect. According to wiki, Karma is: "(Sanskrit: कर्म kárma (help·info), kárman- "act, action, performance"[1]; Pali: kamma) is the concept of "action" or "deed" in Indian religions understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect (i.e., the cycle called saṃsāra) originating in ancient India and treated in Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Buddhist philosophies.
In these systems, the effects of all deeds are viewed as actively shaping past, present, and future experiences. The results or 'fruits' of actions are called karma-phala."

Through my own personal experiences, I can clearly see how so many people are unquestioning believers in some sort of karma system. Personally, I feel that certain quirky things happen in such a way, at unexpected times, that the happening was too strange to be a coincidence. Perhaps it's only a placebo effect from the misplaced pride that stems from the seventy five cent tip at the coffee bar. I guess it doesn't really matter, because the end result is the same. In my own life, the concept of karma keeps me consistantly striving to do my best and achieve to my full potential.

What the Bleep Do We Know?

Recently, on the advice of my friend, I rented the movie called What the Bleep Do We Know? Almost instantly, I knew that the concepts contained within the movie would correspond perfectly to this class. Based on the study of quantum physics, the movie basically goes through a scientific explanation of a concept we became familiar with through classical literature. Discussing the theoretical nature of matter and the interconnection between all universal entities, WTBDWK plays havoc on the mind by providing real, important questions regarding the nature of reality. Though it delves much deeper into the science of reality, the general ideas contained within the movie fit in perfectly with many of the works we have read this semester.

The first connection that comes to mind is the wild child from David Malouf's An Imaginary Life. The wild child doesn't understand the concept of ego. In his eyes, all things are simply equal pieces of a whole, responding to the universal life force. This concept is also stressed in plato's symposium and in the budhist concept of reincarnation.


At the begining of this class, I was very confused concerning the matter of death. OK, to be honest, I was downright terrified. Having no relgious background to speak of, and little to no experience reading tragedy, I maintained sanity by merely pushing any thoughts of death, my own or others, out of my mind. I felt that ignoring death until it forced me to pay attention was the best route to take. Every now and then I would have a mild existential crisis and find myself consumed by frightening thoughts regarding my own mortality. However, on that first day when I walked in and heard "the past possesses the present," I was hooked. I had to know more. I didn't know what this class was going to encompass, but I felt the potential of finding the answers I had been unconsciously groping for in other areas of my life. At first, the connections didn't come quickly or easily, but gradually it got easier. Finally, while we were discussing the concepts of tragedy and and catharsis, it hit me. "It" being the overwhelming understanding of the power of literature to heal.

Previously, any mention of the D word would launch me into a nostalgic bout of reminiscence, calling to mind the few close friends I have lost in my lifetime. And by few I do mean three. I have been extremely lucky thus far, and the fact that death had such a stranglehold on my daily consciousness scared me. However, when we began to read tradgedies like Antigone and The Trojan Women, and our readings were combined with some crucial lectures by Dr. Sexson, the imminent reality of death didn't seem so intimidating anymore. To my amazement, when I read our tragic works with the concept of catharsis in mind, I found that my long-standing fear transformed itself into the begining stages of understanding.

My transformation or metamorphosis was complete when I heard Dr. Sexson say "Death is the mother of beauty." Finally, after all these years, after all that irrational fear, I actually understood. Life, every waking second, would not have any significance if it were endless. The fact that our time in this world is so brief is what causes matters of beauty to carry any significance. I realized that by ignoring death and keeping it out of my mind at all costs, I could never really appreciate what I was doing. Since that time, my personal philosophy has done an abrupt about-face. By trying to feel my own mortality every day, by acknowledging death as a quickly approaching deadline, I have at the very least begun to gain an actual appreciation and understanding of the beauty of existence.

Term paper

Kris Drummond
Dr. Sexson
English 213-01
5 April 2009
“By Jupiter!” I exclaimed loudly, “the chances have GOT to be one in three.”
“Uhm, excuse me,” replied the officer, “but you were going seventy in a twenty five and you just ran over a dog. Now I’m going to ask again, can I see your license and registration?”
Noting the lack of a please, and sensing the disdain dripping from the officer like the perspiration off of his mustache, I took my sweet time retrieving my information. I must admit, my patience with my eternal return to this stupid situation was wearing thin. Handing over my tattered license and slightly outdated registration, I settled back into my seat to try to revive the revelation which had led me to this mythical situation in the first place. Before the anamnesis could occur however, the portly senex was back at my window, and he wasn’t happy.
“Listen here son, you went too far this time. Your blatant disregard for the law combined with your previous speeding record is making me think you need some real punishment! That dog back there was someone’s pet, and now because of your irresponsibility, it’s dead.”
“Ah, Dr. Sexson was right,” I thought to myself. “The past truly does possess the present.”
At this point, I knew I had two choices. Suck up, play nice and go home with a speeding ticket, OR let Hermes take over and see what would happen.
Recklessly taking the second option, I smiled at the prospect of flyting with the officer and let loose.
“Quit singing your goat song sir, if the dog is really bothering you that much, why don’t you just go home and blog about it, you will feel much better. He shouldn’t have been running around the intersection of Willson and Main Street in the first place.”
Uh oh. With a swift motion, the officer utilized his taser, shooting me directly in the chest. Sarvam Duhkam indeed.
Upon waking, I soon discovered the error in allowing Hermes, instead of Prometheus, to possess my sense of enthusiasm. Looking around, my eyes took in not the pleasant scenes of my own room, but instead, I found myself trapped in a dreary jail cell commune with 10 men who, upon my first glance, seemed immanently bent on sparagmos. Again, Dr. Sexson was right. The best remedy for this situation would have been to never have been born, because the second best option at the time seemed like a terrible way to begin my personal journey of metempsychosis.
Upon seeing my conscious state, the impatient chorus broke into a heated stichomythia about what I can only assume was over who got to establish the archetype for their very own phallic ritual. I had to laugh, because I knew if I started crying it would seal my fate as their concubine. Seeing my laughter, the chthonic group became all the more frenzied in their obscene advances. Suddenly, I had a polytropic stroke of anamnesis, the very remembrance I had been hoping to achieve back on Willson Street.
“Stop it, NOW!” I shouted, with a vehemence I didn’t know I possessed.
Confused, and not wanting to wake up the guards, the mob of unruly degenerates halted. Not wanting their daze to expire, I quickly recalled the whole revelation which had put me in this Hades-hole in the first place. Being stupefied by my miraculous attainment of boldness, the chorus actually became curious about what had so possessed me.
“Ok buddy, you’ve got our attention, what can you possibly tell us that would somehow save you from your fate?”
When I replied, the words seemed to fall out of my mouth with no regard for clarity or presentation.
“Ttt-trust me fellas you guys are ignorant right now and believe me I mean that in the best possible way but honestly you don’t know anything and you have to agree that it’s better to know something than to not know something am I right or am I right?”
Zeus, it sounded so much better when Dr. Sexson said it. Despite my bout of stage-or cell-fright, I knew that the show had to go on. As I gauged their befuddled expressions, I continued on the pretence that I must have been right.
“I’m going to tell you a story about myself, but it really doesn’t have anything to do with me, because the experience I am about to share has been felt and understood since the beginning of time, over and over and over again. My friends, in illo tempore, the story I’m about to tell was easily understood by young and old, and rich and poor alike. However, these days…”
“Shut up, you maypole riding son of Athena!” shouted one of the larger members of the cell. “Skip the symposium and tell us the news already!”
“Ha, well it’s actually the eternities, but alright, here we go…”
Calling to mind the introduction to my term paper for English 213, I began softly:
At the beginning of my college career, a mere 18 months ago, I didn’t know anything. Every single day seemed like a frivolous exercise in uninhibited progress towards an unnamed, unknown goal. Ha, the “progress” part would be more accurately described as a subtle stagnation. I knew the information I was learning and regurgitating had no real, practical application to my life. I didn’t know what actually did have any meaning to me on a deeper level, but I had the vague sense that I hadn’t found it yet. This feeling of wandering, of “going through the motions” brought me no satisfaction, and although I achieved very respectable grades, the only impression made was upon my parents. The culmination of 3 consecutive semesters of purposeless, meaningless work perpetuated itself within my mind until I found myself stuck on the verge of an existential frenzy of stress and confusion. I needed an answer badly, and I was quite unprepared for the unexpected nature with which one presented itself.

I’ll never forget that lonely October morning. As far as I was concerned, I was the only person on campus, accompanied only by my battered ego. As I marched dejectedly to Montana Hall, I tried to find some sort of consolation in the fact that I was finally declaring my major. However, none would come. I was dropping a class, Calculus to be exact, and the experience of giving up was too much for my inflated sense of self to handle. I guess by declaring English that day, I was acting in desperation, declaring a major that by conventional standards, namely those of my father, had “no practical application to the real world.” At the time, I believed him, and consequently prolonged my declaration to study the subject which actually interested me the most. As I embarked on my journey into the realm of literature, I had no idea how “practical” the information I was to learn actually was.

Sitting in English 213 the first day, my initial reaction to the unusual introduction/quote recitation was one of surprise, followed shortly thereafter by utter confusion. The past possesses the present? For a newly declared English major used to the drudgery of 100 person lectures and power point presentations, this was a shocker to say the least. Over the course of my first few weeks in an English centered curriculum, the need to dramatically upgrade my attitude and perception of school became alarmingly apparent. Having resolved to devote more time to school, I dutifully dove headfirst into the Homeric Hymns, and thus my metamorphosis began. At first, I was overwhelmed trying to find meaning in ancient texts depicting imaginary stories, and as far as I was concerned, they all chalked up to elaborate fairy tales. However, this point of view wouldn’t last long. As the class lectures by Dr. Sexson continued to amass, my understanding of the texts also grew. I believe it was while reading Plato that my first real sense of what the class and our readings were all about. “[…] And will search out and bring to the birth thoughts which may improve the young, until his beloved is compelled to contemplate and see the beauty of institutions and laws, and understand that all is of one kindred, and that personal beauty is only a trifle; […] Until at length he grows and waxes strong, and at last the vision is revealed to him of a single science, which is the science of beauty everywhere (Plato 33).”

Not only does this quote epitomize the central theme of the class, but it also alludes to the answer I had been searching for all along. In my previous life, I had been on a consistently selfish search to discover my own individual purpose in the great scheme of things. Circumstantially bound. I simply didn’t see that I, like every other organism on the planet, am subject to the same ever-present force; the ignored reality that life goes on with or without my existence and that my experiences and feelings are far from unique. When I was finally able to grasp an abstract comprehension of this universal connection, I found myself consumed. I searched for signs everywhere, and the more I looked, the more I saw. Starting with Plato and meticulously moving through all the assigned texts, I made it my goal to find within each the “life force” and “universality” which had fully captured my attention. It was in Diotima’s quote and it was in the wild child, but I wanted proof that this vague and overarching theme applied to matters outside the walls of Wilson Hall.

It didn’t take much searching before I found that Dr. Sexson was indeed correct. Plato called it love, the Hindus called it the Brahman, and the Christians called it “peace of God which passeth all understanding…” (Isherwood 2). Having no formal religious background, the title or specific doctrine was of little personal significance. All that mattered is that I saw and understood exactly what Dr. Sexson was talking about in all those abstract lectures about eternities and metempsychosis and reincarnation. Whether these concepts are only metaphors for a spiritless physical occurrence or not doesn’t matter. What matters is truth.

When a close family friend died a few years ago, I was completely shocked, saddened and confused. The only solace to be found was in the vague and obscure hope that perhaps someday we would be reunited in some idealistic form of “heaven.” Now, five years later, I have finally found the solace which has eluded me for so long. I realized it’s not the physical existence of heaven that matters; Life and death will continue to happen whether I like it or not. What matters is whether or not I see the “past contained within the present.” My friend has continued to live within me even though she is physically departed from the world. Her kindness and generosity always amazed me, and I know when I feel those same feelings it is her “past” teachings becoming apparent in my “present” reality. In a way, my friend’s spirit has been reincarnated within myself, and when I display those virtues which were instilled in me so long ago, she presents herself to the world once more.

Knowing what I know now, I feel completely confident that I could go back to my dad and talk for hours about the practical application of my English study. Sure, I haven’t learned about the complex equations which “predict” economic outcomes, nor have I learned the principles of business marketing. What I have learned is that ultimately, these things don’t matter. Through my metamorphosis this semester, I have gained an acceptance and appreciation for life which I once believed to be unattainable. By reading the past work of others who have a far greater understanding of life than my own, I have seen the terrible occurrence of tragedy beautifully transcribed into poetic works of literary catharsis. It is this “power of the originary” which allows us to circumvent our own personal tragedies to some extent by exhibiting to us that the issues of love and loss which were present in illo tempore, will always be with us. Though death is a haunting and rarely discussed experience, by reading and writing, and by laughing rather than crying, we rob death of its power to do us harm.

Plato and The Symposium

Thinking back on the semester over all the works we have read, the one that sticks out the most in my mind is The Symposium because of how well it exhibits the concept of the past possessing the present. I feel like I experience my own version of the symposium every single weekend. It never fails that near the end of every good friday or saturday night, there will inevitably be a deep conversation regarding the concept of love. Although these days, such discussions are more commonly referred to as "heart-to-hearts," the general concept is the same. People gather, they drink, they continue you to drink, and at some point, love makes its way to the surface. I find it funny how alcohol always seems to be a precursor to discussions of love, because it's the one concept that is almost universally desired by all beings. Plato must have known when he was writing the Symposium exactly how timeless his work would become. Based on the diologue contained within the play, I believe that Plato completely understood the power of love to transcend all other human emotions, making The Symposium as relevant today as when it was written. His understanding of love goes much deeper than the commonly held contemporary view of love being a one-dimensional feeling relating only to human relationships. Using the character Diotima, Plato beautifully describes exactly how complex love actually is:
"For he who would proceed rightly in this matter should begin in youth to turn to beautiful forms; and first, if his instructor guide him rightly, he should learn to love one such form only--out of that he should create fair thoughts; and soon he would himself perceive thatthe beauty of one form is truly related to the beauty of another; and then if beauty in general is his pursuit, how foolish would he be not to recognize that the beauty in every form is one and the same!"

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Greek Gods

In reading the Homeric Hymns earlier this semester, I noticed a key difference in the religion of the early Greeks and the dominant religions of contemporary society (Christianity, Islam, Judaism). It seemed to me that the Greeks created a god for every distinct human emotion that they observed, with the importance of the god depending on the importance of the value or emotion which that god represented. This had significant implications in the fact that humans were socially able to express their appreciation for ALL of their naturally inherent feelings. Intoxication and sex included, the Greeks acknowledged many if not all of the features of human consciousness through their metaphorical descriptions of various gods. Mischief-making, intoxication, and sex were represented by the gods Hermes, Bacchus, and Dionysus. To me, the fact that these naturally occuring emotions were so accepted in Greek culture was difficult to grasp. I realized that this surprise stemmed from the fact that religion serves an entirely different purpose these days than the days of ancient Greece.

Popular modern religions seem to be a strict set of rules that stress the importance of living in such a way as to achieve the vague goal of spiritual perfection and thus gain admitance into heaven. Unlike the Greeks, western religions restrict the acceptable range of human behavior. Instead of celebrating each aspect of individual persona, Christianity provides a brief list of feelings deemed to be acceptable, with everything else cast aside as sin.

I guess what I'm getting at with all of this is that the Greeks celebrated themselves as humans while relgions these days seem to hold the human condition as one of weakness and inferiority under God's rule.

The literary experience

To an outside perspective, the pursuit of an English degree often seems to be a frivilous use of time. When meeting new people, the conversation always goes something like this:

"Hey, I'm Kris, it's nice to meet you."
"Yeah, I'm ________, it's nice to meet you too. So do you go to MSU?"
"Yeah, yourself?"
"For sure. So what's your major?"
"I'm studying english actually."
(slightly taken aback) "Oh... that's cool. I'm a business major."

Although that is a very general model, it conveys the feeling I usually experience on a weekly basis. It has made me wonder many times what it is about an English degree that has been so stigimitized. Perhaps all these people share the same view as my father, that college is for studying areas that have "practical application" to the real world. Maybe it's because television has all but eliminated the necessity for reading as a form of gaining knowledge and people simply can't see the value of reading anymore. No matter what the underlying cause actually is, it has made me question myself many times. However, I know that I made the right choice when I crack open a good book and all my concerns evaporate in a matter of moments.

As Dr. Sexson said, literature is a form of catharsis, and although I didn't know it until this semester, I have always used reading as a way to escape. Through fights with parents and friends, death and disease, and growing up in general, literature has always been there, helping to exhibit the futility of whatever my circumstancially bound concerns may have been. It is only by taking this class that I have found the words to describe the experience that I have always been aware of.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


The transmigration of the soul. It really is a beautiful metaphor for describing the mysterious process of death. If the idea of the past possessing the present is intuitive (indeed it becomes more so every day), then the idea that past spirits are reestablised in new bodies or forms really isn't that far of a strech. Now keeping in mind that, as Dr. Sexson said, this concept is one big metaphor, I wonder if the ancient cultures of the world where metempsychosis origninated held a similar view of its metaphorical use. I quickly googled the word and came upon a website which listed the various forms of metempsychosis and the several cultures which established their own variation into their belief systems.

Beginning with the Egyptions and proceeding in chronological order, the website I found gave a brief history of all known cultures to employ the ideas of transmigration. I found it very interesting that this idea of reincarnation was such a common explanation of the intimidating process of dying, spanning cultures, time periods, and continents. Although the basic idea of metempsychosis was the common link between ancient Egypt, Greece, and India, the details of the transmigration belief were very different. Brahmanism, which originated in India, proclaimed a system of what seems to be everlasting karma. Wrong-doings committed in a current life time were believed to follow that soul into the next life or even several lifetimes down the road. It was understood that negative events could be a punishment for an act committed centuries in the past.

It's funny, reading all these classical texts and learning about the beliefs of reincarnation and soul migration and mystical happenings, it all seems like a fairy tale. Our perspective as twenty first century humans would have us believe that these stories are idealistic fables used simply to entertain. However, when you think about it, these stories are no more idealistic than the tales of the relgions which drive a majority of the modern world. The answers relgion seeks to provide are no more concrete today than they were hundreds, thousands, or millions of years ago. The same exact questions remain and as long as human consciousness exists, there will be no answers.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I like Old Comedy

"...Lay one cuticle on her, and I shall beat you till you shit (line 440-41)." I don't know which is funnier; the fact that this line is uttered by an old woman as a legitimate threat or that this entire play would make a perfect MTV reality series. It could just be me, but every example of flyting contained in Lysistrata just brings up the image of the bitchy girl yelling and screaming on any given version of MTV's "The Real World." I hate everything about MTV for the very reason that it creates drama when none need exist. They don't even play music anymore. Lysistrata is similar in the fact that drama is being created around a completely absurd and non-realistic theme. However, it is presented as a comedy and the clever insults combined with a humorous translation make this play the most entertaining piece of classical literature I have ever read.

As I read, I feel like I am experiencing a drawn out version of Steiners' first conflict, Men vs. Women. Now I will share some of the funniest quotes I have found relating to this conflict so far.

Lampito: "Shit, it's no easy thing to lie in bed alone without no dong...But count me in. Peace we just gotta have (line 143-5)."

Councilor: "As long as men can get it up--
Lysistrata: "Why don't you die and shut it up?" (line 599)

Chorus: "...Justice and Truth rely on those with balls." (line 661)

Monday, March 2, 2009


When I started reading Lysistrata, I knew something was a little different from the first page. Words like "dildo" and "dick" started appearing and I had to check the cover of the book to make sure I wasn't reading the transcript of a 16 year olds online conversation. After the shock of seeing overly descriptive explatives in an assigned reading wore off, I found myself legitimately interested in the plot.

As we already know, past possesses the present. Perhaps Lysistrata is where the idea of using physical desires as elements of manipulation first began. Regardless, I found the reaction of the men, when robbed of their sex lives, hilarious and completely applicable to the reactions of present-day teenagers. Words like slut and rancid hag are still muttered with disgust by rejected 16 year olds all the time when their first attempts to "circle the bases" inevitably go astray. Even fully matured adults are still subject to sexual manipulation. Ever seen that Miller Lite commercial with the two beautiful women wrestling in a fountain? In short, I don't think I will ever forget "Great taste" or "Less filling" for as long as I live. The theme is prevalent in movies as well. Titles like "40 Days and 40 Nights" and "American Pie" show the extreme power physical desire has over the consciousness of humans. Thanks to Lysistrata, females understand this power and in my biased opinion use it to their benefit frequently.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


In class the other day, Dr. Sexson stated that enthusiastic meant one was "possessed by the gods." I consider myself an agnostic, and when I compared his statement with my own idea of "enthusiasm" I realized that regardless of beliefs, the word enthusiasm relates directly to the notion of human spirit. When I am enthusiastic about something, it is not a form of excitement, or pleasure, nor is it a feeling which resulted from any material entity whatsoever. When I am truly enthusiastic, the closest description of how I feel is that I have a perfect serenity which I sense throughout my whole body. However, this serenity often takes the form of the overwhelming desire to act on the "gut feeling" which is the source of my enthusiasm. This feeling has a pattern, albeit difficult to detect, but a pattern nonetheless. I have discovered that when I am at the closest proximity to actual reality rather than projecting conceptions of the past, my enthusiasm level is at it's highest. Examples, as they exist in my consciosness, strangely include my favorite activities. Skiing is easily first on the list. Nothing brings me closer to reality than pointing my feet down a hill with the understanding that every movement I make determines whether or not I will still exist five minutes later. Coincidentally, music is my next source of enthusiasm. Hmm, it seems like Dr. Sexson's statement about music being the heart and soul of who we are has some sort of connection with enthusiasm. My list of enthusiasm could go on for pages, but what about other peoples' ideas of this underlying feeling?
In his novel "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainence," Robert Pirsig calls it quality, the underlying, unnoticed entity which creates our ideas of waking life. According to Antigone, enthusiasm is rooted in her inherent feelings which are created by the gods. She follows her instinct with utter enthusiasm as she completes the burial of her brother, because even in the face of death, she listens to the dictations of her spirit.

"Be Brave. You are alive. Already my soul is dead. It has gone to help those who died before me."

"It is the same for me, exactly. Something divine lays me to sleep."

"Look what these wretched men are doing to me, for my pure reverence!"

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Although it was discussed a few lecture periods back, I am still thinking about what Dr. Sexson said about music. "All music is sacred," and "music is the heart and soul of who we are. Everyone is addicted to it at one point or another." I think the reason I have been contemplating these ideas of music so much is because I am at a period in my life where I am fully and hopelessly addicted to it. When I am not in class, I probably have my headphones in, with the volume turned up a little too high. The worst part of it is that the more music I am exposed to and the more concerts I see, the more addicted I get.

After our class period on Jan. 30, I began to wonder why I actually love music so much? The only answer I could come up with is that it makes me feel entirely content on a level far above any other entity. Hmmm, I must not be the only person to feel this way because the importance of music has been expressed since the very beginning, with Hermes playing the role of original conductor. As I fully realized just how important music is to me, I began to wonder what role music plays in the life of others. Interestingly, I decided to go to my stumbleupon tool bar (if you don't know what this is, look into it, and see what random internet page happened to pop up. This was what it took me to:
This quote uses some pretty strong language when it calls conscious thought a tyranny, but I found it very interesting. Was the first music simply created as a distraction from the endless questions which threaten to send us all into an existential dilema at some point or another?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The University Mysteries

In Friday's lecture, Dr. Sexson stated that "going to class is as religious an experience as the initiation into the Eleusinian Mysteries." At the time, I was of course skeptical. I don't think my brain has quite adapted to the notion of seeing everything in terms of the past. However, after I opened up my notebook and began to review what I had written in class, the quote I hastily scribbled down earlier struck me in a completely different way. I began to see how the Greek's ritual of vague phrases and exclusive initiation is not so different from the patterns our society enacts subconsciously every day. According to (which is a very helpful site by the way) the purpose of the Eleusinian Mysteries was "[...]a fulfilling and happy afterlife."

When I read this, Dr. Sexon's quote became crystal clear. The Eleusinian Mysteries were not some far-fetched, primitive ceremonies. They were simply a different version of the exact same things humans are still doing to this day. Instead of participating in an exclusive ritual devoted to the grain and fertility goddess, we now devote our time to an institution which will teach us to circumvent the dependence on supernatural beings and create the crops ourselves.

Humans are still searching for that "fulfilling and happy afterlife" as well. The act of going to any relgious institution for spiritual enlightenment is the same exact concept as what took place in the Eleusinian Mysteries. How is muttering a few words and enacting a scene any more extravagent or abusrd than the singing, shouting, and dancing that goes on every Sunday morning around the world? To answer my own question, it's not. I'm sure the religious practices of today would have been equally if not more confusing to the Anceint Greeks then their mysteries are to us. It's just our circumstantially bound perspective that makes the Eleusinion Mysteries seem so abstract and unrelated to our own ideas of religion and ritual.

Well, on that note I'm gonna go to sleep because I have a long day of rituals beginning in about 5 hours. Peace.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wait, this feels familiar

So here it is, exactly 11:08 pm and the amount of homework I have been putting off for two days has just now become fully apparent. Hmm, it must be because the past possesses the present. It seems as though my habits of procrastination will never change. Hopefully my other teachers will accept the excuse that "my habits are mythologically determined and any attempt to change them would be futile." I'll have to talk to Dr. Sexson about vouching for me on that one.

Anyway, the procrastination of my current work has been mainly due to the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance by Robert Pirsig, which I just finished about an hour ago. As I read the afterword to this extremely insightful novel, I noticed the first paragraph related almost perfectly to the theme Dr. Sexson has been stressing all semester. I found it to be an interesting perspective on why, proir to any external knowledge, we as humans all seem to be circumstantially bounded.

"This book has a lot to say about Ancient Greek perspectives and their meaning, but there is one perspective it misses. That is their view of time. They saw the future as something that came upon them from behind their backs with the past receding away before their eyes. When you think about it, that's a more accurate metaphor than our present one. Who really can face the future? All you can do is project from the past, even when the past shows that such projections are often wrong. And who really can forget the past? What else is there to know?"

Friday, January 23, 2009

In illo tempore?

Ok, so far we have "all that is past possesses our present."  Such a statement seems like a very oversimplified way explaining the patterns which present themselves in everyday life.  I mean what about free will and all of that?  Aren't we supposed to be learning from the past, and through that learning avoid the mistakes which plagued our predecessors?  One would think.  However, upon a closer consideration of the phrase, the recurrent patterns of the past seem to be as prevalent today as they always have been and probably will continue to be.  So why is it that trends thousands of years old can remain relevant today, even when their flaws seem to be so obvious?  Are these patterns inherent in human nature, or are we just following the habits of the past for sheer convenience? 
 At some point, "in illo tempore," humans didn't have a past to follow, something had to independently invent the system which we are apparently still using today.  So if humans absolutely follow the laws of the past, who invented the laws?