April 30, 2023
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Things have been pretty chaotic around here since we brought Max home. It’ll be two week tomorrow, but it feels longer than that. Autumn is still convalescing, and newborns are demanding. Autumn’s sleep is the most affected, and we’ve been to the pediatrician several times for basic stuff. Henry is doing well, and since Mom is often preoccupied, he and I get more time together. Meanwhile, I’m trying to finish the semester. It’s been an adjustment.
There has been a dearth of journal entries lately; Max may account for some of that, but mostly it’s because I have been writing the CompFAQ when I’m not grading. It’s going pretty well, and I’m actually enjoying it. I’m still using ChatGTP as a collaborator which gets better all the time as I learn new ways to better results. The whole process has been a great learning experience for me, and I plan to use my ENGL 1101 textbook, From Reading to Writing in the fall. How cool is that? I’m currently writing the 1101 part of the book now.
The recent Norman Mailer Society conference in Austin was a hit. I’m glad. Apparently, too, I was unanimously elected to serve as the Society’s next president. Being a life-long introvert, I’m not sure how I feel about that. The Board seems to have faith in me. I guess we’ll find out.
I finished Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles and really enjoyed it. It’s a brilliant love story at the dawn of civilization about a culture that puts glory and renown, what the Greeks called timē, above personal considerations. It shows Achilles’ journey from a precocious and sensitive boy who loved music and life to Aristos Achaion—the best of all the Greeks—who did his duty even though it meant his early death. I felt like Achilles had similarities to Aeneas in this respect: both start as nuanced and sensitive human beings, only to end up as robotic figureheads for the state. Song detailed some of the human backstory that the Iliad does not cover—mostly showing the brutality of this patriarchal society and the true victims of their aggressive approach to life. And while Miller took some leeway with the narrative, I do not fault her for that: it was a great novel that I highly recommend. I now feel like reading the Iliad again.
Along the same lines, I’m reading The Adventures of Ulysses to Henry, a chapter a night before bed. This is a prose retelling of Odysseus’ narrative in books 9–11 of the Odyssey. And talk about taking some leeway: the author Bernard Evslin tones down the violence a bit and gives generous exposition for the episodes. This is the book that introduced me to Homer and Odysseus back in sixth grade: Ms. Farmer used to pass out copies of the book at least once a week and read us a new episode. I thought Ulysses was the coolest, so I credit Ms. Farmer with my life-long enthusiasm for Homer and ancient Greek literature.