Wednesday, June 27, 2012
The Washington Post published my letter to the Editor yesterday, (That’s Ancient History) and like Pinocchio, I felt like a real person momentarily. Classics and History majors don’t get no respect sometimes, and it made me burn to see my major disrespected by the kind of people who always ask, “But what use is it?” These Practicality Police also say the same line about Art, (my 3 year old kid could do that), quilting, (why cut fabric into small pieces only to sew it back together again?), sewing, (you could get that cheaper at Target), cooking (why bother? It messes up the kitchen and takes too much time out of our busy schedules). (What on earth are they so busy doing?)They are the same kind of people that cut the budget for schools so deeply that the schools have gotten rid of or cut back on classes for Art, PE, Music, Home Ec and other valuable subjects , yet not perceived as necessary to the Budget Hounds. Listen up, Modern Spartans, because I know who you are now – I recognize you from my Classical education. You are the kind of people who take all of the joyful, beautiful things out of life and replace them with grey dreary usefulness. The Spartans lived only for War. Women were prized for their usefulness at bearing and raising strong sons. Men were admired for their skills in battle. Sons were told to come home “with your shield or on it”. They did not have dinner parties with friends; they ate in useful, practical mess halls. They did not invent delicious recipes, they ate gruel. It was practical. They did not sew lovely clothes in beautiful colors; they wore plain serviceable cloaks and tunics. It was a grim existence enlivened only by going to war and fighting. Currently these grim Spartans have been trying to seize control of our schools and state and national government. They claim, like the ancient Spartans did, that anyone who disagrees with them is effete and an elitist, and the things that we like are useless. Like the Spartans of old, they do not care to take care of the old, the sick or the disabled. Like the Spartans of old, they want to devote all of our resources to preparing for War It’s time for all of us who believe in a better life and better way to push back against their grim vision of the United States. We can all start by registering to vote, and making sure everyone we know does as well. And by doing something impractical today and every day, just to shake them up.
Monday, June 25, 2012
I loved this article in Slate about how the good knitters at Ravelry took on the International Fuddy-duddies, spoilsports and party-poopers at the Olympic Committee and won. What does this teach us, class? Don't mess with the ladies with long needles.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
The recent news that the University of Virginia Board of Visitors wanted to get rid of what they considered “underperforming” departments, such as Classics, Philosophy and German has made this former Classics Major most distressed. If teaching the basics of the foundation of Western Civilization isn’t good enough, the exquisite irony of deleting Classics and Philosophy at Thomas Jefferson’s University should have made Helen Dragas think twice, ( Oh wait, she was a MBA student. Irony is wasted on those people.) As a former Classics and Ancient History Major (University of California, class of 1980) I will list just a few of the many advantages of learning the Classics 1. learning critical thinking skills from the guys who invented critical thinking (Plato, Socrates, Aristophanes, Euripides, to name but a few) 2. Studying the Peloponnesian War helps one understand the reasons countries go to war (they study this at West Point for just that reason) 3. Learning what “crossing the Rubicon” really means 4. Learn why NIKE is not just a brand of shoes 5. The Olympics and why they were important, then and now 6. the invention of Rhetoric 7. Marathon 8. with your shield or on it 9. Thermopylae 10. The Iliad, the Aeniad, The Odyssey 11. The invention of democracy 12. Euclidean Geometry Other good reasons: classics majors are really good at trivia, spelling and lifelines for bar-betting buddies. We know why Virgil went to hell, and why Dante used Virgil as his guide. We know all of the things that were inaccurate in the movies Gladiator, Troy and The 300. We know where Athens, Troy, Persepolis and Syracuse are on maps both ancient and modern. We know that basil comes from the ancient Greek word for King. We know about the real Oedipus Complex. Are we going to be a country that can’t have nice things, like real Universities? We are the richest, most powerful nation on Earth;. Must everything be ruled by the small-minded bean-counter types? We would have plenty of money for worthy endeavors if we use it wisely. They would do well to remember that even though Sparta won the war with Athens, they lost the bigger battle. Oh wait, those bean-counter types won’t understand. They haven’t studied Thucydides. They think the Spartans are a football team.