Category Archives: Books

On Chapman’s Homer’s Iliad, Book II

Index | Text

Even gods must sleep; but under the weight of his responsibility to Thetis, Zeus cannot. As Achilles pointed out in Book I, “dreams are often sent from Jove”; now we shall have a case in point.

All ways cast, this counsel serv’d his mind
With most allowance; to despatch a harmful Dream to greet
The king of men, and gave this charge: ‘Go to the Achive fleet,
Pernicious Dream…’
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On Chapman’s Homer’s Iliad, Book I

I read Chapman’s Homer’s Iliad in its entirety ten years ago. I tried to read it thirty-three years ago, during my spring break as a freshman at St John’s College, in order to write my freshman essay about the epic; but Chapman’s language was too hard, and so I went back to Lattimore’s translation. I had read this for seminar the previous fall, and four years earlier in an ancient Greek history course in high school. (I recalled the teacher of that course in “Impressionism,” a couple of years ago.)

In “Homer for the Civilian,” I questioned the value of the distance put betweeen us and Homer by the challenging diction and syntax of Chapman. Now I want to question this distance itself by reading Chapman again. Continue reading

Homer for the Civilian

The source of this essay is an essay and an ensuing conversation in 2009, on the theme of what Homer may mean in one’s life, and whether an application to one’s life involves an abuse of the original text. I wrote in July 2016 on analogies in Homer and elsewhere in “Thinking & Feeling”; my last post here considered an apparent instance of abuse of the Hebrew Bible.

At the end of the Iliad, to retrieve the body of his son Hector from Hector’s killer, King Priam of Troy visits Achilles in his tent in the evening, in the camp of the hostile Greeks. The scene may recall two political enemies from the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan and Congressman Thomas O’Neill, Speaker of the House: these two were able to be on friendly terms “after 6 PM.”

Homer, Iliad,  Wordworth edition

Aleksandr Andreevich Ivanov, “King Priam begging Achilles for the Return of Hector’s Body,“ 1824 (Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow)


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The Hands of an Angry Deity

I first drafted the following essay in late October, 2011, a few days after the first of the earthquakes in Van, and a few weeks after moving to Istanbul from Ankara. I rediscovered the essay recently by chance. It seems worth revisiting, given the political upheaval in the United States last fall, and the potential for more around the world.

Above Mehmetçik Caddesi in Şişli, one of the most densely populated of Istanbul’s 39 boroughs; 2017.04.02

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Victor Vasarely

Tophane-i Amire

Tophane-i Amire, 2017.03.25

Last week I wrote about the Turkish Impressionist Feyhaman Duran, born in 1886. Now my subject is the Hungarian-French Op Artist born twenty years later as Győző Vásárhelyi. His “Rétrospective en Turquie” is at the Tophane-i Amire Culture and Art Center in an Ottoman cannon foundry.

Vasarely show

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Duty to Nature

Index to this series

This is a synthesis of some ideas from a recent spate of posts in this blog. A theme is the question of why we do what we do, and whether what we do to Nature in particular—how we think of Nature—can change.

Farhang Mehr, The Zoroastrian Tradition, cover with image of Zarathustra Continue reading

NL XVI: “Right”

Index to this series

Follower of Pietro Perugino, Saint Jerome in the Wilderness, c. 1490/1500, tempera on panel (National Gallery of Art, Washington; Samuel H. Kress Collection)

Follower of Pietro Perugino, Saint Jerome in the Wilderness, c. 1490/1500, tempera on panel (National Gallery of Art, Washington; Samuel H. Kress Collection)

We continue to investigate how two purposes x and y can have a relation symbolized by yx. In the previous chapter, the relation was that x was useful for y; now the relation will be that x is right for y, meaning x “conforms with the rule y” (16. 3). Continue reading

NL XV: “Utility”

Index to this series

George Inness (American, 1825–1894), The Lackawanna Valley, c. 1856, oil on canvas (National Gallery of Art, Washington; gift of Mrs. Huttleston Rogers)

George Inness (American, 1825–1894), The Lackawanna Valley, c. 1856, oil on canvas (National Gallery of Art, Washington; gift of Mrs. Huttleston Rogers). See footnote

In the previous chapter, “Reason,” we have seen that an intention x may have another intention y as a ground or reason; and we may symbolize this relation by yx. In Collingwood’s example now, x is giving a sum of money to a tobacconist, and y is receiving a pound of tobacco (15. 17). Continue reading

NL XIII: “Choice”

Index to this series

Adolph Gottlieb, “Centrifugal,” gouache on paperboard, 1961 (National Gallery of Art, Washington; gift of the Woodward Foundation)

Adolph Gottlieb, “Centrifugal,” 1961 (National Gallery of Art, Washington; gift of the Woodward Foundation)

The key idea of Chapter XIII of New Leviathan is the correct statement of the “problem of free will”: Continue reading

NL XII: “Happiness”

Index to this series

Judith Leyster (Dutch, 1609–1660), Self-Portrait, c. 1630, oil on canvas (National Gallery of Art, Washington; gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss)

Judith Leyster (Dutch, 1609–1660), Self-Portrait, c. 1630, oil on canvas (National Gallery of Art, Washington; gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss)

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