Had a marvelous time last night with good friends.  The evening included dinner at Neomonde’s, tag in the arboretum, and hilarious conversation at the Langdon domicile. When we all disbanded, it felt just like old times at CU, where no one wanted to go back to their dorm, and we all just wanted to stay and talk until we fell asleep where we sat.  The difference being, of course, that now we all had sizable drives home instead of leisurely walks back, and work in the morning instead of 8am classes.  Much more difficult to get away with nodding off at work than in Logic class.

Bookish links:

Miscellaneous internet finds:

Now, this DIY video for making cool designs on t-shirts with bleach is pretty neat in its own right, but what amused me most was the laid-back-yet-effective way this guy does a DIY video.  Compare that to this terrifying and overly complicated video I found on how to make homemade microwave popcorn, and I have to say, I prefer that my step-by-step videos NOT induce nightmares.

I finished up Alighieri’s book, and maybe I don’t have the right to be so flippant as I was earlier.  The Divine Comedy is undeniably a classic, influential in so much that came after it.  There’s something of worth there, or it wouldn’t have endured for so long and affected so many writers.  Maybe I’m not enough of the intellectual to see it.  Still, I have remarkably little tolerance for it when I compare it to, say, Milton’s Paradise Lost.  Both make me uneasy for the same reason: I don’t see that anyone has any business writing about God, the afterlife, etc. as if the author’s biblically inspired fiction is as true as its inspiration.  Many people know more about Dante’s idea of hell than they do the biblical idea—they have the fiction confused with the truth, probably because Dante’s idea has infiltrated popular culture far more than the biblical one.  The same could probably be said of Milton’s Satan versus the biblical portrayal of Satan.

But Milton–arrogant, insufferable, and scripturally inaccurate though he may be–doesn’t rub me the wrong way quite how Dante does.  For one thing, the misconceptions his works have fostered regarding religious themes seem less destructive than Dante’s in terms of religious doctrine.  Not a lot of Christians know their Bibles well enough to either refute or prove Dante’s points, but his ideas have infiltrated Christian belief.  Milton didn’t insinuate that Paradise Lost was a direct vision from God; rather he openly stated that it was his goal to “justify the ways of God to man” through an epic poem.  He very nearly chose to write about King Arthur instead, because he felt it would also have afforded him the scope he desired.  He needed a big canvas for his art, but it didn’t have to be the Bible.  I would also argue that Milton’s images are more vivid and his language more arresting and poetic than Dante’s, though perhaps some of that is a function of translation (I wasn’t fond of the Dante translation I had).

Maybe it does all boil down to personal preference, in the end.  I enjoy Milton’s cutting wit, fearsome intellectuality, and utter impatience with foolishness.  I loved Areopagitica, and his essays and pamphlets, and I read Paradise Lost under the tutelage of a professor who loved Milton as well and was brilliant at instilling that love in his students.  If I’d had something similar for Dante…maybe this review would be shorter and a lot more positive. 😛

I finished up the book on the frigates, which was lovely.  If you’re interested in that period of maritime history at all (and you should be!), you definitely need to check it out.  Fair warning, though: the book series focuses on American ships, which feels a little odd (at least for me) with the British Royal Navy having done it all before us, but it’s still fascinating.

I read Deerskin by Robin McKinley (of The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown fame) in a couple big gulps this week.  I think anything would’ve gone down smoothly, after gnawing on the Divine Comedy for so long, but I particularly enjoyed this book.  It’s based on the Donkeyskin fairy tale, collected in several fairy tale anthologies though probably first appearing in Perrault’s collection.  Doesn’t sound any grimmer than any other original telling of the rather bloodthirsty fairy tales we’ve Disneyfied into a G rating, does it?  McKinley made it very dark.  Very, very dark.  I can’t deny that she did a fabulous job at adapting the story, however.  A few things did irk me: I was actually kind of annoyed when McKinley did weave anything magical into the story, she was doing the gritty realism so well.  And the symbolism at the end seemed simultaneously heavy-handed and vague.  Overall, though, it was quite gripping, and I found myself staying up horrendously late to see what would happen next.

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