MUSINGS OF A STORY MERCHANT



"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms."
—Muriel Rukeyser
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The Frankie Boyer Show Interviews Ken Atchity about My Obit: Daddy Holding Me

 

Listen to "Ken Atchity, Creek Stewart & Jerad W. Alexander" on Spreaker.

Anyone who enjoyed Mircea Eliade’s autobiographical multi-volume Exile’s Odyssey, Oliver Sacks’ The Man Who Mistook My Wife for a Hat and Awakenings, or Richard Feynman’s Surely You Must Be Joking, Mr. Feynman, will find My Obit: Daddy Holding Me a page-turner filled with poignant family experiences, explosive sibling rivalry, literary adventures, ethnic cooking, wide-ranging storytelling, the workings of the brain itself--and what can be learned about life from playing tennis for decades. The jokes and recipes alone are worth the entrance price.Hear more


Kenneth Atchity's Homer's Iliad:The Shield of Memory #FREE January 24 through January 28!

 "I know of no other book as good."--John Gardner

 

purchase on Amazon.com


Foreword

During the past quarter century the study of classical literature, and of Homer in particular, has gone through something like a revolution. Part of the reason for the new look at Homer was something called "the Homeric question"—really a cluster of questions, all of them more or less wrongheaded but important nonetheless: did Homer compose orally, making up his poetry on the spot, brachiating from formula to formula ("swift-footed Achilles," "Hektor of the shining helm"), or did he use writing and achieve his majestic effects by means of revision, like an ordinary mortal? Was there ever a "Homer" in fact, or were the Iliad and the Odyssey high-class folktales, shaped, expanded, modified through a long process of folk or court tradition? What makes such questions seem wrongheaded is of course the beauty and intellectual density of the poetry. The Yugoslavian oral poets whose practice set off "the Homeric question" were interesting people and occasionally achieved rather interesting effects, but even the most sympathetic critic must admit that their work is feeble, almost silly beside Homer's. Homer, we know, was free to write, instead of compose orally, if he wanted to. We have no evidence that he was, as tradition claims, blind, like his own fictitious bard Demodokos, in the Odyssey; and even if he was blind, he could easily get someone else to write his words down and read them back to him, as did John Milton. More important, common sense would argue, it was at about Homer's time that writing came back into general use. The rediscovered tool made someone like Homer practically inevitable. Before Homer, heroic lays were apparently all short, usually about the length of a book or two of the Iliad. With the ability to look back, read one's work over carefully and thoughtfully, came the ability to weave in symbols—the connected bow symbolism that runs through the Iliad, the emblems of art Professor Atchity points out, and so forth. When one works out in full detail, as Professor Atchity does here, the imagistic, dramatic, and philosophical structure of the Iliad, it becomes difficult to believe that the poem is anything but a work achieved by the process of writing and revising.

To say that a thing is difficult to believe is of course not any sort of proof. Scholars for some reason devoted to the notion that Homer composed on his feet, like a Yugoslavian bard or the traditional black American minister, point out Homer's fondness for traditional formulae (though they cannot seem to agree among themselves about which formulae are traditional), and they ask, shaking their fingers at us, "Why would Homer use formulae if he was writing with a pen and had no need for them?" That is easily answered: poets before Homer—oral poets—had used formulae; he was imitating their methods, merely for tone, or out of love and respect, much as modern ministers occasionally say, for love of their tradition, "Brothers and sisters we are gathered this day." But this too is merely a plausible answer, not a proof.

The more one works at the Homeric question the more annoying it gets, but for all that, the raising of the question has been wonderfully beneficial. Though some scholars have made the question a stumbling block, refusing to listen to even the most reasonable and obvious readings of Homer's verse on the grounds that no man composing on his feet—and certainly no tradition of oral composers—could possibly be so subtle, the best of our scholars have responded to the question by looking more closely than anyone ever did before (at least in print) at the structure and texture of Homer's poetry. Finally, of course, it makes no difference whether Homer composed on his feet or at his desk, or whether Homer was one man or twenty—though we all have our opinions and may incline to think contrary opinions rank foolishness. The only important Homer question is: How do the Iliad and the Odyssey work? How tight are the poems? how beautiful? how profound?

As if "the Homeric question" had never been raised, Professor Atchity raises these more important questions about the Iliad, then answers them. He proves what we all suspected all along, that the poem is a brilliantly organized work, philosophically profound, perhaps the noblest work of art produced in the entire tradition of Western Civilization. His method is close analysis, tracing particular images and themes throughout the poem so that the general reader, not just the Homer specialist, can return to the poem and experience it more richly. I know of no better introduction to this splendid poem. In fact, I know of no other book as good.
Kenneth Atchity is an associate professor of comparative literature at Occidental College. He has written and lectured on subjects ranging' from Homer to Wallace Stevens, wrote the libretto for a sinfonia cantata, In Praise of Love, produced at Lincoln Center in New York, has published numerous poems, a collection of essays on Spenser, a collection coedited with Giose Rimanelli, on Italian literature, and is presently editor of CQ, contemporary quarterly: poetry and art.

John Gardner
New York, 1977


Praise for Hommer's Iliad:The Shield of Memory

"Homer’s Iliad: The Shield of Memory contains many brilliant insights. The poet knows that the “world of the remembered past” and the contemporary world, though chronologically distinct and substantially different, are both comparable in their reflection of continuing human experience. The Iliad is about man in the generic sense, and Kenneth John Atchity’s profound study fully respects Homer’s fundamental human concerns." —Professor John E. Rexine, Dana Professor of the Classics, Colgate University,

"The Hellenic Chronicle Annual Christmas Edition This very beautiful book renews and enriches at one blow, everyone’s reading of the Iliad." —Anne Lebeau, Revue des Etudes Grecques

This book presents a refreshingly original interpretation of Homer's Iliad, inviting today's reader to rediscover the beauty, intelligence, and power of Western civilization’s greatest epic poem.

For too many decades, academic classicists removed Homer from the mainstream reader's grasp with their claims that poets composing in the "oral tradition" are incapable of intentional organization. Instead, Atchity believes, metaphorical organization was introduced to the literate world by these "singers of tales."

The theme of the Iliad, Dr. Atchity points out, is the relationship between order and disorder, from the personal to the cosmic levels. Homer’s poem, crafted from a memory so strong it created a culture around it, proclaims that once order has been disrupted by disorder it can be restored only through the total destruction of all disorderly elements.

To reveal the Iliad’s guiding aesthetic, Atchity examines specific images connected with artistic creativity in the Iliadic world—artifacts such as shields, spears, and scepters, that form a cohesive symbolic pattern by which the character of men and gods is related to action, and one characteristic action to all other actions in the gradually unfolding thematic tension that defines the poem’s world view. Helen’s loom and Hephaistos’ great shield of Achilles, the two central art images, reveal most clearly Homer’s concept of his own artistry and of epic art in general: its origins, process, purpose, and impact on social reality.

Much of Atchity’s interpretation of the Iliad deals with comparing the characters of Helen and Achilles, around whom center “galaxies” of characters and images that can be identified in terms of order and disorder. The historical art of Helen is contrasted with the poetic vision of the smith-god, and both with the art of Homer himself who in his unforgettable wrath-poem combines the particulars of history with universal insight into the human condition which is at once inspired and philosophical.

Atchity examines the poem’s presentation of the art of words, of the singer and of the practiced speaker, to reach a clearer understanding of the relationships of memory, cognition, and action in the epic tradition. From this comes the striking conclusion that the Iliad is a poem about human love, the announcement of Homer’s insight that it is the love between two individuals, a love over-leaping blood bonds and political bonds, that provides the basis for the achievement of the noblest humanity. the imminent fall of one doomed city, and despite the imminent death of Achilles.

Atchity’s reading of the Iliad is of inestimable value to ordinary readers--as well as students of epic poetry, heroic poetry, classical literature, Greek literature, and anthropology.

Atchity was Professor of Comparative Literature at Occidental College. He received his Ph.D. from Yale
 
John Gardner, editor of the Literary Structure series, was best known as a novelist and poet. His novels included October Light, Grendel, and The Life and Times of Chaucer.

'The Meg 2' Begins Production in the UK With Ben Wheatley Directing



Filming on The Meg 2 will begin next week, according to a report from KFTV (via Bloody Disgusting). Production will take place in the UK at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden. Its predecessor, 2018's The Meg, was filmed primarily in Auckland, New Zealand.

The change in filming locations, however, is not the only thing that will be different about the upcoming sequel. The Meg 2 will be directed by Ben Wheatley, who replaces the first film's director, Jon Turteltaub. Wheatley has previously worked on thrillers such as 2011's Kill List. This shift may be indicative of other changes as well. The Meg star Jason Statham, who plays Jonas Taylor, an adventurous paleobiologist who studies the megalodon, a giant and prehistoric shark species, was disappointed with the first film's PG-13 rating. So the shift in director and production location could have portended a shift in the direction that the sequel will take. Fortunately, we can confirm that Statham is returning for the sequel. According to BloodyDisgusting, Jason Statham is said to have more creative control this time around, though any specific shifts in the series are still unknown.

The Meg 2, along with the first film in the series, are based on the Steve Alten sci-fi thriller book series of the same name, which follows Jonas Taylor on his undersea close encounters with prehistoric sharks. The first film in the series, which was released in 2018 and took in over $500 million at the box office, follows Jonas Taylor five years after he encountered a megalodon. After a series of mysterious underwater attacks, Taylor ventures to Mana One, a subaquatic research facility, where he finds that the megalodon has followed.

Read more



The Meg 2 Starts Filming in the UK

The Meg 2 is to start filming at Warner Bros. Studios in Leavesden, just outside London, on the 24th January. Next Monday.

Leavesden is home to two massive water tanks, interior and exterior, plus some of the biggest studio spaces in Europe. Other shooting will take place on location.

Shooting will run until late May, with British Director Ben Wheatley calling the shots from a screenplay by Jon and Eric Hoeber and Dean Georgaris. Steve Alten penned the original novel.


 

A reading of Dennis Palumbo's short story, "A Theory of Murder."




From  And All Our Yesterdays, edited by Andrew MacRae, Darkhouse Books, 2015.

Dennis Palumbo's historical short story is titled, "A Theory of Murder," and originally appeared in The Strand Magazine. Featuring a young Albert Einstein as an amateur sleuth.

An anthology of historical mysteries from DarkHouse Books. Available as both an e-book and a paperback.

 

 

My Obit: Daddy Holding Me by Kenneth Atchity



Anyone who enjoyed Mircea Eliade’s autobiographical multi-volume Exile’s Odyssey, Oliver Sacks’ The Man Who Mistook My Wife for a Hat and Awakenings, or Richard Feynman’s Surely You Must Be Joking, Mr. Feynman, will find My Obit: Daddy Holding Me a page-turner filled with poignant family experiences, explosive sibling rivalry, literary adventures, ethnic cooking, wide-ranging storytelling, the workings of the brain itself--and what can be learned about life from playing tennis for decades. The jokes and recipes alone are worth the entrance price.

Hallmark “Honoring Betty White”






America’s sweetheart Betty White was just several weeks away from celebrating her 100th birthday when she died on New Year’s Eve.

As the world continues to remember the “Golden Girl,” the Hallmark Channel has revealed it will pay tribute to White with a marathon of her work airing on January 17, which would have been her centennial birthday.

In an announcement exclusively reported by Southern Living, Hallmark will host “Honoring Betty White.”

Beginning at midnight on the 17th, the Hallmark Channel will air a 40-episode marathon of “The Golden Girls." Fans will be able to watch curated episodes of the classic show until the 2011 Hallmark movie “The Lost Valentine,” starring White and Jennifer Love Hewitt, airs at 8pm ET/PT. The "GG" marathon will resume following the movie and conclude on January 18 at 5:00 am ET/PT.

Developed for Hallmark, The Lost Valentine originally aired in 2011. Based on a novel by James Michael Pratt, the film is directed by Darnell Martin and stars Betty White alongside Jennifer Love Hewitt and Sean Faris. The film earned White a nomination for the Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor.

The official synopsis for The Lost Valentine reads: "During World War II, Navy Lt. Neil Thomas bids Caroline, his pregnant young wife, farewell at Union Station. Before their son is born, Neil's plane goes down in the Pacific and he's declared missing in action. Caroline is devastated. But love never dies, and for the next 65 years Caroline (Betty White) returns to Union Station on the anniversary of her loss, to salute the memory of her handsome and brave husband."

The marathon includes specially selected episodes of The Golden Girls that highlight Rose’s surprising competitive streak; visits by her St. Olaf relatives; funny career moments from the grief center and assisting consumer reporter Enrique Mas; along with plenty of romance, including boyfriends Dr. Jonathan Newman, Mister Terrific and of course, Miles Webber,” the network said in a statement, per the outlet.

In addition, the Hallmark Channel will also participate in the viral Betty White Challenge by donating to the North Shore Animal League America.

White was an advocate for animal rights and worked closely with many organizations to help get animals adopted and promote more humane treatment of animals.

The Betty White Challenge is a movement on social media where fans encourage others to donate to a local or national animal shelter, organization, or agency in White’s name to celebrate her birthday and the cause closest to her heart.

A report this week confirmed that White died from a stroke. The death certificate listed the cause of death as “a cerebrovascular accident,” which is a loss of blood flow to part of the brain that results in brain tissue damage. It reveals that she suffered the stroke six days before her death.

via Movie web and Audacy

My Obit: Daddy Holding Me Garners Honorable Mention in the 2021 New England Book Festival


 

HONOERABLE MENTION BIOGRAPHY/AUTOBIOGRAPHY/MEMOIR




Anyone who enjoyed Mircea Eliade’s autobiographical multi-volume Exile’s Odyssey, Oliver Sacks’ The Man Who Mistook My Wife for a Hat and Awakenings, or Richard Feynman’s Surely You Must Be Joking, Mr. Feynman, will find My Obit: Daddy Holding Me a page-turner filled with poignant family experiences, explosive sibling rivalry, literary adventures, ethnic cooking, wide-ranging storytelling, the workings of the brain itself--and what can be learned about life from playing tennis for decades. The jokes and recipes alone are worth the entrance price.