Yet again, I’ve allowed my sloth to overcome my blogging habits. So here’s an assortment of random updates:
1. On Helen Rittelmeyer’s recommendation, I read Kenzaburo Oe’s novel, Rouse Up O Young Men of the New Age. It’s an autobiographical novel about the writer’s attempt to understand his relationship with his mentally disabled son through the poetry of William Blake (the title is from the preface of Blake’s Milton). While I can’t really say how well it captures the experience of raising/living with someone who is handicapped, it is poignant without becoming maudlin or sentimental. It’s also a great love-letter to literature and an examination of the ways that the books that are important to us shape our interpretation of our experiences.
2. That prompted me to crack open my Penguin Classics edition of William Blake’s poems again. I read through the Songs of Innocence and Experience, Vala, and Milton. My appreciation of Blake seems to have gone through three phases: in high school I just liked the trippiness of his prophetic poems, in university I found him too mystical for my tastes, whereas now his extreme antinomianism leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but I find him to be something of a kindred spirit in his recognition of just how parochial Enlightenment thought is.
3. My adventures into ballet continue: I got a DVD recording of a performance of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, with Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn in the title roles. Research indicates that they were something of a star duo back in the day. They make for a tad unlikely R&J: Fonteyn is a little bit too old to be prancing around like a 14-year old girl, and Nureyev seems to be channeling Ziggy Stardust. But nevertheless, they live up to the hype. There are quite a few “how did he/she do that?” moments. The sets, costumes and colour scheme remind me of Star Trek episodes like “The Squire of Gotho” and “The Conscience of the King”.
4. The Dorothy L. Sayers translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy is pretty razzle-dazzle so far. More thoughts later, perhaps.