Maybe I missed the detailed storyline of the new movie about Hypatia, but...can it be true that "Rachel [Weisz] recently played ancient Egyptian goddess Hypatia in historical epic Agora" [musicrooms.net]? Is this Euhemerism occurring right before our eyes?
Perfecting every character – a girl next door, a fashion plate and a club minx – with a style of her own, Kylie Minogue is back with a bang in a new avatar for her new album
The Australian pop star has transformed herself into the character of the Greek goddess of love, beauty and sexuality, Aphrodite, for the launch of her album of the same name.
The sexy lead single, ‘All the Lovers’, officially released this week, already popular with fans.
Rumour has it that she may even tour Australia to promote the album.
“For me, the most exciting part of this is still performing and the energy from that . . . I really want to do a festival,” the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Minogue as saying.
The star claims her inspiration for one great makeover after another is Madonna.
“Madonna’s the queen of pop, I’m the princess.
“I’m quite happy with that. Her huge influence on the world, in pop and fashion, meant that I wasn’t immune to the trends she created. But in the beginning, she made it difficult for artists like me; she had done everything there was to be done.”
Minogue rocked the stage with her earlier makeovers in ‘Confide in Me’, and ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ and she admits that they came out as an expression of how she felt at the time.
“If I parallel my private life to my career, there’s a reason for all of those changes,” she said.
“I was the girl next door, then I was rebelling, then I was vamping it up. It’s all what I was feeling at the time. I can be a little embarrassed about it but that’s part of growing up in public.”
Minogue describes her new album ‘Aphrodite’ as ‘euphoric pop’.
“It is a very lean album,” she said.
“There is nothing spare, nothing unnecessary and absolutely no fat at all. My favourite song is Aphrodite, the title track. There’s a lyric about me being fierce, which I like.”
Stanford University history professor David Kennedy made his annual presentation to the Palo Alto High School AP United States History classes on Wednesday, May 19.
Beginning his visit with a light-hearted presentation of humorous excerpts from student essays, Kennedy, co-writer of the renowned U.S. History text book, “The American Pageant,” proceeded to lecture on the nature and origins of history.
“History is not [a] universal law,” Kennedy said. “It is distinguishable from science and it is distinguishable from literature.”
In his lecture, he emphasized the meaning of history and its significance in both philosophical and academic aspects. Kennedy focused his speech on Thucydides’ monumental account of the Peloponnesian war, which marked the first historically accurate recording of an event in human history.
“‘The History of the Peloponnesian War’ is really the first recognizable kind of history,” Kennedy said. “That’s what we’ve tried to write ever since. Before Thucydides, history was more about myth-making than being a reliable account of events.”
Following his lesson on the origins of history, Kennedy addressed the more profound purpose of history beyond academics.
“History answers what it means to be a man...what it means to be a man in this time and place...what it means to be a man different from any other man,” Kennedy said.
Gene Healy (Cato@Liberty) writes about unwarranted public / media expectations of presidential responses to such things as the present Gulf oil spill: "...most of the complaints dominating the airwaves are far vaguer: centering on the atavistic notion that just by Obama traveling to the site, the magical force of Presidential Concern might cause the slick to recede." He cites himself citing I, Claudius:
In the BBC production of Robert Graves’ “I Claudius,” Emperor Augustus tells his wife Livia that the Senate had voted to make him a god in the Syrian city of Palmyra, and the people there had put a statue of him in the temple, to which they’d bring offerings in the hopes that the emperor would grant rain or cure their ailments. “Tell me Livia,” Augustus says, “If I’m a god, even in Palmyra, how do I cure gout?”
Augustus’s frustration is all-too-familiar to the modern president. He can no more “manage” the economy or provide seamless protection from all manner of hazards than Augustus could bring rain or cure gout.
Stanley Fish reviews some recent books on education. The first is by a proponent of home-school "classical education," Leigh Bortins, who argues that each subject "can be mastered by the rigorous application of the skills of the classical Trivium, grammar, the study of basic forms, logic, the skill of abstracting from particulars and rhetoric, the ability to 'speak and write persuasively and eloquently about any topic while integrating allusions and examples from one field of study to explain a point in another.'" The third, by Diane Ravitch, critiques No Child Left Behind as an elaborate example of 'juking the stats' [not her phrase, or Fish's, but still...]
The second is a plea by Martha Nussbaum for the place of the Humanities for the training of citizens in democracies, within the context of an increasingly profit-driven global educational system...The first chapter is available online at Princeton University Press; cf. also Nussbaum's book from the late 90s, Cultivating Humanity...
Alejandro Amenabar's film about Hypatia, Agora, is opening in the US -- if anyone notices a film about Late Antique Alexandria and its mix of religion and violence, the movie is certain to evoke Pavlovian culture-war reactions from all and sundry...In any case, here's an interview with the star, Rachel Weisz, stressing the theme of opposition to religious intolerance / fundamentalism, and noting (?!) that basically ancient science and acting are interchangeable -- neither one involves telescopes (I know: Totally unfair!):
"What's remarkable is that everything she was doing was imaginary because she was working in the time before the telescope. Everything she was figuring out, she was doing with her imagination. There was some math to back it up - but what she did was imagine things. Which is what I do for a living as well."
And here's a thoughtful essay by Nathan Schneider, generally against the portrayal offered, although appreciative of the lack of sex / the contrast with (e.g.) HBO's Rome series. In particular, some interesting final thoughts:
The best-developed character in Agora, held as a foil against the street riots, is the sky. Amenábar used a starscape calibrated to look exactly as it would have in antiquity, accounting for axial precession. Several times he juxtaposes the stars’ stillness, and the Earth’s roundness, with the chaos below. Like a good Platonist, Hypatia was obsessed with the stars, which Plato and Aristotle held to be demigods, eternal as the universe and its Prime Mover. Contemplating of their order and their perfection is where her philosophy lurked. Unfortunately, other Platonic legacies mar her contemplation in Agora: an obsession with the circle, which blinds her to the elliptical motion of the planets, together with sitting atop a society predicated on slavery and gross inequity.
The Christians turn out to be even worse astronomers, but they do get some things right. The Parabalani—a band of the patriarch’s bodyguards that Agora implicates in Hypatia’s murder—were actually a fellowship chosen from among the poor, principally to serve the poor. They tended to the sick and buried the dead, risking infection in the process. Between violent mob scenes, the movie does at least give a glimpse of what brought so many in the vast Alexandrian underclasses to wear the sign of the cross: bread, freedom, and the good news of the Beatitudes. Hypatia’s slave Davus is, to her, only a slave, albeit a clever one; among Christians, he learns that feeding the hungry is better than fattening the full.
In any case, it's clear that any discussion will be a fruitful venue for centuries of cultural anxieties and antagonisms to be aired willy nilly...
A band slated to kick off this weekend's "Mountain Jam" (Hunter, NY) is called "Elysian Theory"; guitarist Tim Reid explains their name as follows:
Reid said in Greek mythology, the Elysian Fields in Elysium, were the final resting place of the souls of the heroic and the virtuous. Medieval poet, Dante Alighieri, based Canto IV of “The Divine Comedy” (The first circle of Hell; the Virtuous Heathen; Limbo) on the mythological Elysian Fields.
“We’d been trying to come up with a name and ‘Elysium’ just resonated with us,” Reid said. He said the name is particularly apt, since the band often writes about spiritual issues, but he delineated the spiritual from the religious.
And, “theory,” felt right, interjected Feeney, since matters of spirituality are perceived by some as a philosophy or theory. Both words have multiple layers of meaning, he said. Reyes, Reid and Feeney, the original members, selected the name.
Their music? A blend of old & new:
Reyes said the band’s music, loosely defined as “progressive rock,” is intended to transport listeners to another time and place that’s individual to each listener. He said Elysium Theory strives to capture that sensation by mixing passionate playing with technical skill and draws on both classic and modern influences.
Reid said the band writes its own songs, music it likes listening to, but also performs classics by Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, the Who, Dream Theater and Porcupine Tree. “We’ve created a sound that is familiar and new, challenging, yet easy to listen to,” he said.
The link between natural resources and cut-throat politics...observed by the premier Greek choral lyric poet? Here's Bill Hatch at counterpunch.org, showing off some Latin & Greek-itude:
However, homo californiensis cannot change the weather any better than King Oedipus could. The San Luis – Delta Mendota water Authority uses as its slogan the first line of the first poem of the ancient Greek athlete-loving poet, Pindar: “The noblest of the elements is water.” Aside from the little chemical mistake, not made by Pindar, that water is a compound and not an element, the shrewd agribusiness water thieves of the west side of the San Joaquin Valley did not complete Pindar’s clause, “while gold, like fire flaming at night, gleams more brightly than all other lordly wealth …”