All posts by jupiterj

Homer, Berryman, Le Guin, and Meecham



I’m getting back to my daily Ancient Greek study. I am finding one book in particular quite charming. It’s called Eight Books of Homer’s Odyssey with Introduction, Commentary, and Vocabulary, for the use of schools by Bernadotte Ferring, Professor of Greek in Yale College and Thomas Day Seymour, Hillhouse Professor of Greek in Yale College. Copyright 1897.

“For the use of schools.” The charm is hard to pin point. There is a warmth in the prose of the explanations and many illustrations like the one of Homer above throughout including in the notes and vocabulary at the back of the book. It’s very practical actually.

I also inter-library loaned a bunch of books on John Berryman.

The Genius and Excess of John Berryman - The Atlantic

Berryman’s Dream Songs have been charming me since  I was in my teens, but that’s as far as I got with him. It turns out he has written a ton of other stuff and, of course, there are many books about him. I’m looking forward to figuring out which ones I want to purchase and read.

Here’s a couple of cool quotes before I leave:

Having replaced instinct with language, society, and culture, we are the only species that depends on teaching and learning.

Urusula K. Leguin, Lao Tzu, Tao Te ching: A Book About the Way and the Power of the way (Leguin translator)

Today is Le Guin’s birth date. She died in 2018. I am still plowing my way through her works.

Ursula K. Le Guin: A Primer | LitReactor

If you argue that you intrinsically cannot trust that which is reported and that which you are taught  then you are foreclosing the possibility of reason to direct human affairs in so far as it can.”

Jon Meecham

Quote is from a 2018 Book Cspan interview. It’s great. Here’s a link.


dreaming again or living in imagination (see the Glück poem linked)


My organ trumpet piece is basically done. Rhonda and I continue to correspond about details. I enjoy the collaboration and am pretty sure this process will continue to improve the piece. Having it done is a relief the way an end of a college semester is a relief. I feel freer to do things like a blog post or Greek or reading.

Here’s some of what I’ve been reading.

Why Ross Douthat is right about Trump Or, how the Trump campaign is like a procrastinating undergraduate

I saw Douthat’s columns that Daniel Drezner is referring to in this Washington Post Op Ed piece.  I didn’t bother to read them. There are many points in this article that makes sense to me. I had already thought about the fact that people in many of the Governmental departments Trump would need for a coup have been alienated by his behavior bureaucratically.

Chase Strangio’s Victories for Transgender Rights | The New Yorker

Then there’s the new issue of The New Yorker. This article is by the inimitable Masha Gessen. It’s a profile of Chase Strangio who is an ACLU lawyer who happens to be trans as is Gessen. I love Gessen’s work. Here’s the section I read aloud to Eileen (poor woman). Gessen handles Strangio’s sexuality gingerly. This quote occurs more than three quarters of the way in. Strangio uses both “he” and “they” pronouns. Gessen uses only “they.”

In August, 2013, Strangio appeared on television for the first time, on “Democracy Now!” He had been invited to talk about Chelsea Manning, who was then serving a thirty-five-year sentence in a men’s military prison for violating the Espionage Act by giving military documents to WikiLeaks. Manning had just come out as transgender, and the Army was refusing to provide her with hormone treatment for her transition, which Strangio argued was unconstitutional. The show’s host, Amy Goodman, said, “Couldn’t you tell us your story? You are transitioning from woman to man.” One can see Strangio gulping air before diverting the question. “I am someone who identifies as transgender,” he replied. “And, as a transgender person, hearing from Chelsea Manning yesterday is especially, you know, empowering. I think it is so brave to come out.” He told me that as he responded he thought, I am never doing this again.

Opinion | Don’t Give Up on America – The New York Times

In the Sunday paper edition it’s title is “What Does It Mean to Love A Country?” It’s by Marilyn Robinson. I mentioned it in the last blog post. This morning I got up and discovered that today’s Ezra Klein  podcast was an interview with her. I listened to it. I recognized her name previously but didn’t put her together as the author of the novel,  Gilead. I’m pretty sure I’ve read that and have a memory of enjoying it (Dementia is fun!).
Anyway, one of the NYT online commenters called this a “soothing” piece. I’m not sure I agree.
Here’s a good sentence: “Resentment displaces hope and purpose the way carbon monoxide displaces air.”

“Life Without Children,” by Roddy Doyle | The New Yorker

What a treat. I keep enjoying Doyle’s work.  This short story is again about someone vaguely like Doyle. This time he is spending some time in London. He contrasts the pub behavior there with  the sensible behavior of the Covid lock-down in Dublin where he lives.

“Song,” by Louise Glück | The New Yorker

Same issue. Glück is a poet whose poems I sometimes admire. I admire this one.