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Justin M. Stoddard


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An Open Book
January 30, 2006 — 5:00 pm

I’m back!

Other matters have been at the forefront of my oft’ wayward attention these past few months. I’m not promising that I’ll be updating with any real frequency now, but it’s a start anyway.

I’ve been trying to catch up on some reading these past few months. Though the gutter area on my side is not updated to show it, I’ve made some real progress these past few months. For example, I finally read Caesar’s Conquest of Gaul. I was really quite surprised by how simply Caesar wrote. Though mainly a propaganda piece, his exploits have resonance even today.

To tie into Caesar’s conquest, I re-read Patton’s War as I knew it as well. One is amazed at how the two’s writing corresponded so. But, perhaps that was the point. Of course, Patton never fails to remind the reader how and when he mirrored Caesar’s actions nearly two millennia ago. Frightfully good stuff.

This year I’ve resolved to read The Harvard Classics. Of course, some of that list is old hat. The Odyssey, for example. Though I read this many years ago, I had a wonderful time reading it all over again. It’s funny how your frame of context allows you to interpret the core meaning of a book. When I first read of Brave Ulysses (Odysseus for you Graecio-philes out there), it was no more than a rousing tale of adventure and…well, quite frankly, gore. Presently I understand the book to be more about the kind of hero worship you might find in an Ayn Rand novel. What, exactly is Homer trying to convey to us? I don’t think this is about Penelope pining away for her long, lost husband. I think, rather that she cannot bear to give herself to a “lesser person” as it were. There is a whole well-spring of psychology here that I’m sure has been addressed elsewhere. I find it all rather fascinating.

Additionally, I have been reading Chronicles of Narnia to my daughters. This is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a father. By reading these stories aloud to a captive audience, I am, in a sense, reliving my own childhood. It is interesting to me how certain phrases trigger emotion. For example, while reading this passage, I choked up. I had to pause and recompose myself:

“We have come – Aslan.”

“Welcome, Peter, Son of Adam,” said Aslan. “Welcome, Susan and Lucy, Daughters of Eve. Welcome, He-Beaver and She-Beaver.”

His voice was deep and rich and somehow took the fidgets out of them. They now felt glad and quiet and it didn’t seem awkward to them to stand and say nothing.

Why the emotion? I don’t know. Something was triggered, however. And I love it. I love every minute of it.

— Justin M. StoddardComments (0)

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