Monday, August 07, 2006


On educating myself
Just coz I was born and raised a working-class lad, that's no reason to not aspire to middle-class toffery.
As part of my "do-it-yourself Eliza Doolittle-ization," I'm trying to immerse myself in the world's Great Literature. Currently am reading Aeschylus' The House of Atreus. I don't mean 'reading' as in earnest swotty note-taking study, but picking up the book during TV ads and skimming through the often foggy and sometimes near-indecipherable text. It's your typical Ancient Greek tale of mischief & bloodshed: 'dad kills daughter, mum kills dad, son kills mum' sorta thing (and you thought your family was dysfunctional). Goriness aside, I'm struck by the deep depression and torment rife throughout the dialogue. 'Twas a realisation that even old Greeks suffered inconsolable melancholy, having mistakenly believed that emotional dislocation and alienation were modern afflictions. Strangely enough, the sufferings of Agamemnon & co, have made me feel a lot better about my own neuroses & personal crap. As if anguish and nihilism are eternal, universal facets of the human condition - in that sense I'm completely normal.

Moral of the story? Well, there isn't one really. But if you're prone to feelings of blueness & a heavy heart, my advice: read Aeschylus & know that (a) you aren't alone, (b) your sob-story is nothing new, and more controversially (c) killing your family members can sometimes
yield a happy ending. Well... (a) and (b) anyhow :-)


Sharon Ferguson said...

Have ventured into the classics myself, but I am a wimp. Instead of picking up the Real Stuff to read, have been content with things like A Children's Homer by Padraic Colm.

Never mind that this has been part of my daughter's homeschool curriculum as well, but I have been learning a lot. Ancient Greece fascinated me as well as repulsed me in some ways.

phil said...

LOL, I know what you mean about the 'watered down' stuff. I'm the same - would never had chosen the House of Atreus if I hadn't have already been familiar with the story through reading 'general mythology' books.

Ditto philosophy. I'm looking for a 'kid's version' of Plato's Republic - just so I know the gist of what he's all about - without having to plough through mountains of difficult mind-taxing text in the original.

Philosophy for dummies... and lazy folk in a hurry :-)