One of my professors collects old language grammars. He says that most of them were written for the British foreign service and are very condescending to the natives, if not racist, as least in the content of the exercises. One jewel, though. Explaining why a group of mostly females with only one or two males is always grammatically masculine, one grammar explained:

   "The noble gender rules."

I love blunt, anti-PC stuff like that! Such wonderful shock value. Ever since I saw the TV version of Dune about two years ago, I've been caught wandering about muttering wistfully to myself, as Shadam IV about Irulan, "She only lacks the primacy of our gender." Or, as Henry Higgins says, "Why can't a woman be more like a man?"

Okay, I should stop. This is starting to remind me of my old Collegian piece about there being too many women at Hillsdale. And my mother sometimes reads this blog. LOL
The Corydon Entry.

This is wierd. Remember that horrid second Eclogue? The rest of the Eclogues are great, but Vergil has to write a really Theocritan one first (in composition order) which is so uncomfortably homoerotic. What does our Byron say?

   But Virgil's songs are pure, except that horrid one
   Beginning with "Formosum Pastor Corydon"

Well, for the past two weeks, I've been rereading formosum pastor Corydon and feeling intense existential sympathy with the aging, rustic shepherd, who pines with bitterly unrequitted passion for his urban love-interest, but has nothing which he can truly call his own which he might offer to the paidika. It's just funny. I always hated this poem of Vergil's and never thought that, of all his works, I would identify, in the end, most strongly with this.

N.B.: I may revise this entry from time to time if circumstances or rereadings warrant.
A good Hillsdale blog

While various Hillsdale alumni have interesting weblogs (or so I seem to remember), I seem to more regularly visit [split!] several blogs of current Hillsdale students. In particular, Seraphim Danckaert has a great blog which recently inaugurated a comments function. While I obviously approve of his template, let's just say that I appreciate his theological perspective while remaining skeptical of its final rectitude ultimate validity.


About Schmidt.

A good film. Not a great film, but a great performance by Jack Nicholson. The feature impacted me emotionally, to the point of tears at a few scenes. It's basically about reality of aging and the meaning of life and facing disappointment and frustration. The solution suggested is perhaps congruent with Christianity, inasmuch as it basically involves renouncing amor sui. At any rate, the questions posed do cover the sort of ground that an 28 year-old loner, who wanders the town on a Friday night, running his fingers through his thinning hair, had better start thinking about.


Presbyterians and their bureaucracies.

I attended a congregational meeting on Friday and a committee meeting on Sunday. Basically, my impression was that the majority are always bored to tears, one to two people are Luddite sticklers or excitable malcontents, and that the procedural friction of Robert's Rules of Order reduces all good ideas to referrals and nice-sounding compromises. What does Massala say to Judah at their reunion? "Down Eros! Up Mars!" Well, anyways, you get the idea...


noli abscondere a me faciam tuam: moriar, ne moriar, ut eam videam.



Women like reenactments too.

In Akkadian, somehow we got off on the subject of reenactments. Dr. Rubio was, of course, trashing reenactments as inauthentic. "It's not like they do amputations on the field." The sophomore in the class (the rest of are all college grads, at least) piped up and explained that his cousin is involved in reenactments. In a "British" regiment from the Revolutionary period, to be exact. Dr. Rubio rejoined that reenactments are for boys who haven't grown up yet; women aren't interested in reenactments and simply won't participate in that sort of thing. The sophomore asserted that they actually do participate, and that his cousin's girlfriend is starting to get into it. We chuckled.

He went on: "She's portraying a camp follower."

The room erupted, and it took me about an hour to completely quit giggling.


Hillsdale reunion.

Lo and behold, we had a total of five Hillsdale alumni from '99 and '00--Don Cooper, Matt Hisrich, Steve Kapetansky, Charles Robison, and yours truly--assembled in Charles Robison's apartment in the Short North over the weekend. I felt the odd man out as the only non-Koonie. LOL.
On being "human."

Allow me to be cryptic and shamelessly appropriate some existentially-apt lines:

I will tell you why; so shall my anticipation prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the king and queen moult no feather. I have of late--but wherefore I know not--lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory, this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? man delights not me: no, nor woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.
Manifest Destiny

                    Tu Maxumus ille es,
unus qui nobis cunctando restituis rem.
Excudent alii spirantia mollius aera,
credo equidem, vivos ducent de marmore voltus,
orabunt causas melius, caelique meatus
describent radio, et surgentia sidera dicent:
tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento;
hae tibi erunt artes; pacisque imponere morem,
parcere subiectis, et debellare superbos.

While I was wandering around the Land of the Rising Sun, these lines kept running through my mind. Whereas I had felt ashamed to be an American when confronted by the majesty of old Europe, my experience in Japan actually served to resuccitate, a little, my pride as natus patriae. I suppose it's the difference between going to Athens or Pergamum, on the one hand, and going to Carthage or Alexandria, on the other.


Why wear blinders.

During my senior year at Hillsdale, a friend of mine, Jacob, a triple major in philosophy, English, and classics, shared a house with a religion/philosophy major and an alumnus, both of whom were pre-seminary, and our mutual friends. As the year waxed full, these two spent a huge amount of time debating the finer points of justification in reference to a perceived heresy of a religion prof. Reacting to this, Jacob observed--and it's always stayed with me--"I just can't understand how good people can be so exclusively interested in theology, to the point of being oblivious to everything else."

Unfortunately, most (though not all) of the Reformed people I've met are basically like this. This is one of the reasons why I think that many of the brighter and more open Reformed people (and even more evangelicals) eventually leave the austerity of their ghetto for the cultural depth of Rome or the oriental opulence of Constantinople. And, while I am theologically more or less an orthodox neo-Augustinian, I'm culturally more "catholic" than Puritan, and identify myself with the orthodox pluralism of the Old West rather than with the modern sectarianism of the Isles.


Winter's Nadir

It's really cold outside. Especially when you walk at least a mile a day around campus. Daily highs have been in the low twenties. With wind.


The Blue Nile

Yesterday, Hillsdale alumnus Charles Robison and I sampled Ethiopian cuisine at this restaurant just north of Campus. I was impressed by all of the spices and arabesque pastes. The honey wine was interesting too.


Day and Night.

Ever since early college, I've been a regular night person. Now, after getting off JST, I find that I'm suddenly a very very morning person! I've been going to be for a week at 7-9 and getting up at 2-5. And getting a lot of work done. I know this new morning mode won't last, but it is fun and thought-provoking.


There are some things you can say only in Latin.

auspice, aratra iugo referrunt suspensa iuvenci,
et sol crescentis decedens duplicat umbras:
me tamen urit amor: quis enim modus adsit amori?
a, Corydon, Corydon, quae te dementia cepit?

Haec est Vera.
Have you not felt it?
Kewl Book

I found a wonderful little copy of the Kalevala in Latin at Wycliff's. Yes, that's right: a Kalevala Latina. It's a beautiful hardcover translation of whole thing from Finnish into Neolatin of the sort they use in Finland.


Tripped out over academic opportunities.

The next two quarters should be, as we say in Californian, "'freaking awesome, dude." My Semitics classes are taught by two real professors. Dr. Michael Zwettler, for Arabic grammar, is that brand of old German academic who is increasingly rare today and whose touch I've missed for far too long. I've only been in his class for two hours, but he seems like a stellar paedogogue. Dr. Gonzalo Rubio, for Akkadian, is a Spaniard from Salamanca and a bona fide polyglot (see his CV). Although I've learned a lot from my previous instructors in Arabic, but now it looks as though I'm in the presence of masters. Fortunately, I'm able to minimize my losses on the law side and focus primarily on Semitics this semester.

Bottom line: I haven't been this excited about my classes since we started the Symposium in January 2000 at Hillsdale. God is gracious.


Back at it

Entering the final stretch of law school has this surreal feeling associated with it. I wander around the school and realize just how little I've managed to connect with it allÑwith my classmates, with the material, with the system. Part of it, clearly, is my own fault. Part of it is the shadow which Hillsdale still casts in my mind. Well, whatever or however that may be, I'm taking just 9 credits on the law side this semester, with about 10 credits of Semitics (Arabic and Akkadian grammar, for two quarters).

I'm back from my trip to Japan. I've also been awake for about 29 hours with only very intermittent napping. Parts of my trip were profoundly beautiful. Others were, well, profoundly disappointing. In a way, I think I learned as much as going to Europe, but about very different things. Will write more later.