desk lunch – 2015-08-20

Brought to you this week by BURNOUT. I took on a lot of projects at the start of the summer and now, as the summer draws to a close, I have several barely-started drafts of things in scrivener waiting for the time and quiet mind to actually write them, and I’m just tired. I’ve subscribed too heavily to the Joan Rivers and William Shatner schools of work: what if you stop working and then you never work again? What if, dudes.

Last Friday (8/14/2015), the Almeida Theatre and British Museum put on a live reading of Homer’s Iliad that started at 4 AM EST (9 AM GMT) and ran until about 8 PM EST. It was tremendous. Highlights:

The commentary. The theater’s official running commentary twitter @IliadLive, whose commentary is preserved online maybe-forever!! At the British Museum part of the event (from the start until about 6 PM EST), the commentary was streamed on two flatscreens in front of the audience so they could follow the realtime annotations as they listened to the performers. THAT’S VALUABLE. Reading an annotated text can be so distracting when flipping to the bottom of the page or the back of the book to consult who’s who, what this word means, etc. The immediate side-by-side “Xanthus is another name for the river Scamander” type commentary makes a difficult text accessible, and made it a genuine experience for, say, someone on another continent who spent literally her whole day off on Friday listening to the livestream and following the tweets.

The performances. Exceptional performers: the women (Dame Janet Suzman and Amanda Drew) who split Book 3 between them, one reading Paris’s aborted duel with Menelaus and the other the argument between Aphrodite and Helen after Aphrodite bails Paris out of the duel. Bertie Carvel (of recent BBC Jonathan Strange fame) gave a heart-stopping performance reading from Book 18 when Achilles receives the news that Patroclus has been killed. Don’t take my word for it! HERE’S A CLIP. The audio is awful, the performance is great (and switches to Ben Whishaw at the 15-min mark!)

To live even in relative poverty deprives of you new ideas; it deprives you of the tools and education you need to escape. In the most severe cases, it locks you out of society—out of voting, out of socializing, and out of connecting with others.

I can relate; the life I have has been made possible through piracy. I’m too curious, hungry, and impatient to wait for media gatekeepers to make culture accessible to me.

The Late, Great Stephen Colbert

He was 35, he said, before he could really feel the truth of that. He was walking down the street, and it “stopped me dead. I went, ‘Oh, I’m grateful. Oh, I feel terrible.’ I felt so guilty to be grateful. But I knew it was true.