Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Things We Did With Mom Here

For my graduation, my mother flew into town to spend a glorious 5 days-- the best 5 days I can ever remember spending with her. I got her all to myself and I was very spoiled and quite selfish.

On her first full day, we went on a lovely walk through a farm field. Mom kept pointing out flowers, which reminded me not to overlook small things. Then we went to pick up Thing 1 and Thing 2 in their castle-like school.

On Saturday I got some first class train tickets down to Durham and we looked at the Cathedral...

and had a little tour around my college [Me in St Chad's garden] ...

My very dear friend Sophie came with us which was really special because we visited Durham together in 2009 and had my first experience there with her, so our returning made a very neat circle.

That night we watched the lauded Lumiere light festival which had several exhibits, but this photo was the Lindisfarne Gospels presented as art work onto the side of the cathedral.

On Sunday we went to church, spent lots of lovely time with Macleods, and listened to some killer blue grass/ country music. Mom and I were in raptures. Monday was glorious and we clomb Arthur's seat with Francis...

and then went home to take care of the bunnies. Mom approved.

On Tuesday I graduated from the breath-taking McEwan Hall. My MSc robe was green rimmed with a white center and funny tail on the end. The climax of the ceremony was not being handed a diploma, but rather, being hit on the head with a cloth hat made from the breeches of John Knox. Afterwards, we went to my favorite Monteiths which is prally my favorite restaurant in Edinburgh. (I think it might be the fox-head knocker as you enter the restaurant or maybe its the 3 courses for 24 pounds). I said good bye to Mom and was very sad. So sad I didn't end up seeing my dear friends from my Latin course. [Insert regret here.] Mom got up at 4 am on Wednesday for a 6 am flight and made it back for Thanksgiving. Thursday was Thanksgiving and who can be sad on Thanksgiving?!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Balanced Book List

After an extensive search, I have finally found a book list of 'top 100 reads' to be balanced. The winner is from The Telegraph, "110 best books: The perfect library." It divides the plethora into 11 sections that include "Books that changed the world" to "Books that changed your world." Definitely worth a glance.

I have been trolling through lists of best books on the internets, and have been soundly disappointed in how unbalanced these lists appear toward modern and post-modern literature. A celebration of recent fiction is only a natural part of any culture and extremely important in that it continues to emphasize that we must live in the present. For so long, classical education has lauded the past authors as the greatest to such an extent that modern writers have felt themselves unable to write in a contemporary context and voice. Now the pendulum has slowly swung the other way.

The lists of 'Best Books' I trolled through
are entirely weighted in the 20th century and beyond, hardly glance over the shoulder to a look past Austen, and rarely a word in favor of Shakespeare. I'm not shocked that people don't love Shakespeare or cry beaucoups over Wuthering Heights-- that's understandable. But what I do fear is a severance, a discontinuity with the past. I'm afraid that when people think of old books, they'll dismiss them as either being too highfalutin for them and they won't understand, or, even worse, that the nature of these books are irrelevant to modern society.

One of the most beautiful things I received from reading the gamut is a clear knowledge of the history of mankind, told from the perspective of those living then. We can know the heartache of the Greeks (through Sappho), the pride of the Romans (through the Aeniad), the miracles behinds the Saints we name our towns after (in The Golden Legend), the love triangle between Arthur, Lancelot, and Guinevere, the profound agony behind Kind Lear in the Renaissance, the docility of nature from the Romantics, rants against society from the Victorians, and the reexamination of what it means to be human from the moderns. In all of these movements of Western thought we can find some explanation for why we think or perceive (something) the way that we do.

Behind the guise of hundreds of years is yet another facet to what it means to be human, what it means to be a man, what it means to be a woman. This continuous cycle of self-reflection unearths in us the reasons we live.