Monthly Archives: February 2009

Tera Melos [archive]

i’m leaving for Budapest in a little over 3 hours! i had been planning on trying to get some sleep before the early early morning trip, but my friend Olivia came over and we ended up smoking hookah for awhile with Rob. we enjoyed ourselves pretty nicely. instead of sleeping now, Rob and i are going to watch Scarface. it’s a pretty long movie, so i’ll pretty much have to leave right when it ends.

as i’m packing, i suddenly remember that i had promised Adam that i’d listen to this album he told me to download. fuck! well i’m listening to it now. it is Tera Melos’ 2007 EP, entitled “Drugs to the Dear Youth”:

crazy wild experimental math rock craziness no singing just jamming spinning fire red blue over the crystal rainbow spitting cats and dogs on the unwashed hippies grazing in the forgotten desert, beside a naked woman’s ivory palace. i have no idea where that came from, but it came as the band rocked out loudly into both my ears, so it must be at least a little bit related. i’ll probably listen to it again on the way to the bus taking me to the airport. according to their wiki, “They get their name from Thera and Melos, two islands in the sea near Greece.” that makes me pretty happy. i wonder if i’ll ever actually set foot on either of those islands. i certainly hope so. the Aegean is a beautiful place. thanks for the awesome recommendation, Adam. on that note…

farewell, Greece! (see you soon) Continue reading

Posted in dear diary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

here’s looking at you, kid [archive]

what a crazy life. i’m going to tell you two of my favorite lyrics of all time. the first is from Daniel Johnston’s “To Go Home:”

gee, it’s great to be alive
takes the skin right off my hide
to think i’ll have to give it all up someday

i was introduced to it from M. Ward’s cover, but both sing it like they mean it. how can you not? how can you not think about how much this skin envelopes you, how much it is you, how someday you will be forced to shed it? when either Johnston or Ward sing it, i envision them staring into the abyss, acknowledging that someday they’ll step up to it and say, “okay,” embracing the infinite. in a similar vein, the next lyric gives me chills to my bones every time i hear it. it’s from Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.”:

can’t believe how strange it is to be anything at all

i guess it doesn’t really look like anything special sitting there all by itself in italics. it’s the way Mangum sings it. just this horribly overwhelming sublime revelation that we’re on a dot spinning around an infinity of dots, and just how STRANGE it is to be ANYTHING at all! you are something and so am i! how strange! how curious! i don’t understand it and neither do you but we keep spinning like marbles in space. this is how living people stare into the abyss:

last night rob, melissa, and i watched Casablanca. it was my second time seeing it but it’s definitely a film worth watching multiple times. and it’s a movie where love doesn’t really work out. maybe that’s why it’s so brilliant, because we all know too well how it feels when love doesn’t really work out. each of us can “remember Paris.” but WHY doesn’t love work? because we have to move to another country? because we get bored? because one of us is married already? because of fear? all of these reasons and none. love fizzles out like life. a swirl of colors turns to blackness, an orchestra burns to the ground. i just want to understand what is happening to me and what i am doing to everything around me and yet i don’t want to think about it. i want to love the universe as selflessly as a rock, but my beating heart won’t allow it. someday, i say to myself, someday. Continue reading

Posted in dear diary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Love Will Tear Us Apart [archive]

i have my first big paper to write tonight, but it’s really not that big (5 pages). it’s an annoying prompt, though. i’ll single out this excerpt: “Examine carefully the site of Mycenae, and decide for yourself whether it is a true ‘city’ or not.” so i have to make up a definition for “city” and then i have to say whether this place matches my definition. so i guess i can decide either point first and manipulate the other to fit my argument. fuck semantics. everything means anything means nothing means anything means everything. a bunch of my friends and i here have this running joke that started with a story about how some girl in class spoke up saying, “as an archaeologist, blah blah blah i’m a pseudo-expert blah blah blah…” so now if we’re talking about sea creatures, someone will say “AS a marine biologist!…….” or if we’re talking about Milton, “As a Miltonic scholar………..!” it’s a good inside joke. but anyway, AS A POET, i have great difficulty in trapping Mycenae into either “yes, a city” or “no, not a city” because Mycenae is a city just like you and i, bustling, big, brawny, baked, badly burnt, and alive/dead.

the real reason it’s going to be hard to write this thing is because i have a lot of stuff on my mind.

as meat becomes scarce, as meat becomes scares,
as meat became friends, as meat became bread,
as meat goes bad, as meat goes good,
as meat wears a skirt, as meat wears a hood.

i’m not even sure if i’ve listened to the song in the title of this post, but i probably have, right? Continue reading

Posted in dear diary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Feadz / weedz / beatz [archive]

what happened? i was posting daily with no problems and now i’m doing this every other day thing. garbage. i think the argolid field trip messed me up because that prevented me from continuing my daily posts. now i just don’t care. i’ll try to fix that.

two nights ago i went with Xanthe and Elaina to the fuzz club to see the man on the left dj one killer set. i seriously love last.fm. i don’t know how i would find out about these places and events without it. i guess in the olden days you’d just go out and try a bunch of places until you found the ones you like. strange though, i haven’t really liked ANY of the places we’ve gone to like that. whenever i follow other people out we end up in some crappy American bar and/or a bar where all the other students in my program are, where the music rarely dips out of the top 40, places that are fun only because i’m there with my friends. on the other hand, both of the places i’ve found based on event recommendations through last.fm (BIOS and FUZZ) play some actually interesting music for some actually interesting people (read: they play electronic music and only Greeks come, not CYA kids).

i had never gone to this place before, but i found it because last.fm knew that i’d like Feadz, who was the headlining dj for the night. the show supposedly started at 2330, so around 0015 i was getting kind of anxious, and i pulled Xanthe and Elaina out the door. after walking for about 10 minutes, we arrived. the place seemed really massive from the outside and once we got in i realized i was right to think so. paid the 15 euro entrance (comes with a drink!), we made our way into a pretty large room for seating around then a bunch of bars then the dance floor. a decent amount of people stood around, but since the place was so big it felt pretty empty. we took a seat (had no idea who was djing, feadz?) and had a couple drinks. the population seriously doubled every half hour. by around 0230, the place has completely filled up and feadz is laying it down hard. i think judging a night by how many times you hear daft punk is a pretty good marker. i counted four. the first two djs BOTH sampled Voyager. Feadz himself sampled the vocals from Oh Yeah (which is actually so wonderful to yell out, OHHH YEAHHHHH) and then he straight up played Alive. that was the last daft punk and it came around the end of the night, so of course i blew up. Alive! i mean, Alive! seriously one of my favorite songs from Homework. Feadz made me very happy. besides the daft punk, he played this awesome awesome awesome remix of Idioteque. Elaina and i had a good time singing that one.

we went out to one of our crappy regular bars on thursday night. because i brought my deck of cards with me, i ended up just shuffling and playing cards with a bunch of people last night. i didn’t really move at all from my seat the entire time we were there. so while everyone around me got more and more wasted, i just got better and better at shuffling. i can do the whole thing now! bridge, and everything! leaving the place, Logan caught this guy chilling on the sofa in a side room of the bar that opens to the outside:

it reminded me of my dogs. but very unlike my dogs, the dogs in this city are super independent. it’s really really crazy how the dogs and cats have their own world in this city. the city takes them in at first just to neuter/spay them and then they just let them roam around as they like. you can’t walk around this city without dogs walking around next to you and cats staring at you from walls and trees. it’s wild. the craziest thing i’ve seen so far i saw while walking up to Xanthe’s apartment. i live very close to a pretty large street running SW/NE with about three lanes on each side, a middle divide, and always a ton of traffic. so i cross this street and take it awhile before turning up north towards Kolonaki. as i’m walking along this street, though, listening to music on my iphone, a dog starts trotting along next to me and keeps walking on past me. we’re walking like this for awhile and he keeps getting further away (damned four-legged creature), and then he just starts crossing the street, right when there’s no traffic. at first, i’m worried! but he stops in the middle divide like it’s nothing, and sits there waiting, because the traffic on the other side was still pretty heavy. the damn dog knows how to cross the street probably better than anyone in my study abroad program! i don’t even wait to make sure he can cross to the other side okay. that dog knew what he was doing and where he was going. my dogs probably would be hit by a car in about 10 seconds if they were free to roam in this city.

the order in which i’m telling these events is MESSED up. but that’s fine, because everything is fine. last night i took a taxi to Kalithea and hung out with a couple Greeks (friends of my friend), Natasha and Monika (i have no idea how it’s spelled, but Greeks definitely don’t have c’s). i can officially say that at 1950february21 (i wrote “march” in my iphone, i don’t know why, i do know why) i have smoked in Greece. took long enough. the rest of the night was of course very silly and involved a lot a lot a lot of music. maybe i’m just trying to avoid a paper i have to write, but now i’m going to discuss some things that have been obsessing me musically.

J DILLA – DONUTS (2006)

i think that if you enjoyed DJ Shadows’ “Endtroducing…..” then you will certainly enjoy this one as well. it’s completely instrumental hip hop with a heavy focus on samples, just like Endtroducing. but unlike that album, which has many songs 5+ min long, Donuts has one 2:57 track and the rest all fall under 2 minutes. the name of the album combined with the track lengths make me feel like i’m digging through a box of donuts every time i play the album. and if you don’t dig this beat, you’ll probably dig the next one, coming at you in about 30 seconds. maybe you need a hint of ADD to completely appreciate it, but i think this album is the perfect one for chilling with friends.

WIRE – PINK FLAG (1977)

Dan recommended me this album in the great last.fm album trade. i know i shouldn’t pay attention to the critics, but this time they got perfect scores from allmusic, Pitchfork, AND Robert Christgau! what the hell is going on? like Donuts, we’ve got another album with short songs on our hands, which i’ve slowly come to terms with. long, epic songs were totally my thing, but there’s something fantastic about straight to the point, i’m done in a minute songs. it’s just punk rock, and there’s something else happening here, but i don’t know what it is… yet.

TELEVISON – MARQUEE MOON (1977)

i have great memories associated with this record. like the first time i heard it all the way through, more than once, in San Diego at Nassar’s apartment. also, when i held it at Amoeba Records and a guy walking by, stopped to say to me, “You have to buy it.” he definitely knew what he was talking about. i own it on vinyl now, but that record is very, very far from me now. no matter. i’ve got the kickass melodies, awkward transitions, I SEE, I SEE NO, EVILLLLLLL, and everything else right here anyway. more punk, more punk, yes, but who knew punk could be so intelligent? (for my own record, this, like Pink Flag, got the triad of perfect scores).

JOY DIVISION – UNKNOWN PLEASURES (1979)

this one was a long time coming. i debated talking about New Order’s “Power, Corruption, & Lies” again, but i’ve definitely raved about that enough here. just get it already. but i had to realize that this is what we had before New Order. Xanthe was all about it and said that if i liked Marquee Moon, then i would certainly like this. she was right. it’s very different from New Order, very dark, very post-punk. Ian Curtis’ voice, so deep, i imagine watching them perform in the bowels of some dark cavern with torches all around and his voice, his voice, just echoing through the caverns.

SUNN O))) – BLACK ONE (2005)

this album sounds like the cover art looks and might be as pretentious and post-modern as the band’s name. drone metal that drones longer and longer as the album goes on. i actually listened to it before going out thursday night, which might sound like a ridiculous way to get pumped about going out, but i don’t care. i let the layers of noise, horrifically deep guitar strumming, buzzing, white noise, black noise, everything just flow over me. extremely meditative.

it’s weird how much different music i listen to now as compared to what i listened to in middle school, high school. but also, how profoundly i feel my rooted obsessions. if you looked at my iphone under Nine Inch Nails, and saw that the only albums i had uploaded to it were the Quake soundtrack and an instrumental version of The Slip, would you know how obsessed i am? Continue reading

Posted in dear diary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Philoctetes [archive]

the Attic tragedies are awesome. anyone who enjoys thinking about gender, gods, language, fate, free will, relationships, madness, suicide, and probably everything else that people have ever discussed since the dawn of discussion should absolutely read Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. approaching with three different styles, these artists, after immersing themselves in their own humanity, explode themselves into the art form we call ‘tragedy.’

if only people weren’t so goddamn irritating in the class.

“i really liked Philoctetes. More than Odysseus.”

“i think that, like, we’re supposed to be sympathetic with Ajax.”

“Athena is so malicious, i think that she’s notori–”

WHAT! how dare you offend the gods? especially Athena! i pray that Philoctetes smites you with the keenest arrow from his magic bow to punish you for your careless display of insolence.

here are my notes from class:

AS IN LIFE, I DON’T REALLY CARE WHO IS SYMPATHETIC WITH THE MAIN CHARACTER OR HIS OR HER SUPPORT IN TRAGEDY. THE ONLY OPINIONS THAT COULD EVER POSSIBLY INTEREST ME ARE THOSE SELF-REFLECTIONS WE SO OFTEN FIND IN THE SOLILOQUIES OF SHAKESPEARE. IF I WANTED TO KNOW WHAT YOU THOUGHT OR FELT OR SUPPOSED, I MIGHT HAVE ASKED YOU. TAKING A CLASS WITH YOU IS NOT ASKING YOU. I WANT TO SEE WHAT DEAD PEOPLE AND THEIR IMAGINARY FRIENDS CALLED TRUTH AND I WANT TO LAUGH AT THEM BUT ADMIRE THEM FOR TRYING. AT LEAST THEIR ELOQUENCE NEARLY CONVINCES ME. YOUR SPUTTERING IN ALL IT’S CLEAN SLOP SHININESS HURTS MY FRAGILE EARS.

i suggest we all pour out libations to the fairest goddess of them all. Continue reading

Posted in dear diary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beyond Good and Evil [archive]

i’ve been reading a lot the past couple days and i’m supposed to read about 150 pages more tonight. i am so happy.

for literature class i read my very first Nietzsche: “Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future.” we weren’t assigned the entire book, but i actually read the entire 80 page packet that our professor uploaded online for us. don’t take “read” to mean “understood.” i definitely didn’t know what the hell he was talking about half the time, but i don’t really mind. maybe this makes me seem ignorant or inferior or unsophisticated, but i’ll be the first to admit that sometimes when i read these guys (Nietzsche, Freud, etc.) i feel like i’m just laying the primer of understanding. complete and something-closer-to-definite understanding (i believe) only comes with multiple readings. either way, i’m reproducing some interesting selections here, either to respond to or just for the hell of it.

the packet started with Part Two and i soon learned that Nietzsche has divided his complete thoughts into thought episodes in the style of something like chapters, but much much shorter. these thought episodes range from as long as one sentence to multiple pages, but the first one certainly got me very excited to keep reading:

O sancta simplicitas! In what strange simplifications and falsifications man lives! One can never cease wondering once one has acquired eyes for this marvel! How we have made everything around us clear and free and easy and simple! how we have been able to give our senses a passport to everything superficial, our thoughts a divine desire for wanton leaps and wrong inferences! how from the beginning we have contrived to retain our ignorance in order to enjoy an almost inconceivable freedom, lack of scruple and caution, heartiness and gaiety of life–in order to enjoy life! And only on this now solid, granite foundation of ignorance could knowledge rise so far–the will to knowledge on the foundation of a far more powerful will: the will to ignorance, to the uncertain, to the untrue! Not as its opposite, but–as its refinement!

Even if language, here as elsewhere, will not get over its awkwardness, and will continue to talk of opposites where there are only degrees and many subtleties of gradation; even if the inveterate Tartuffery of morals, which now belongs to our unconquerable “flesh and blood,” infects the words even of those of us who know better–here and there we understand it and laugh at the way in which precisely science at its best seeks most to keep us in this simplified, thoroughly artificial, suitably constructed and suitably falsified world–at the way in which, willy-nilly, it loves error, because, being alive, it loves life.

oh man, why did you keep writing after this brilliance? you captured it all right there, but you had so much more to say, so many more walls to tear down, so many wrongs to right. you knew you were going nowhere but you kept on going. maybe i’ll just skip over all the stuff i consider bullshit and copy down what i think his choice moments of brilliance. that was 24, here’s 35:

O Voltaire! O humaneness! O nonsense! There is something about “truth,” about the search for truth; and when a human being is too human about it–“il ne cherche le vrai que pour faire le bien”–I bet he finds nothing.

what have you found, my friend? nothing. but i sense you fear detachment, like all human beings……

Not to remain stuck to a person–not even the most loved–every person is a prison, also a nook. Not to remain stuck to a fatherland–not even if it suffers most and needs help most–it is less difficult to sever one’s heart from a victorious fatherland. Not to remain stuck to some pity–not even for higher men into whose rare torture and helplessness some accident allowed us to look. Not to remain stuck to a science–even if it should lure us with the most precious finds that seem to have been saved up precisely for us. Not to remain stuck to one’s own detachment, to that voluptuous remoteness and strangeness of the bird who flees ever higher to see ever more below him–the danger of the flier. Not to remain stuck to our own virtues and become as a whole the victim of some detail in us, such as our hospitality, which is the danger of dangers for superior and rich souls who spend themselves lavishly, almost indifferently, and exaggerate the virtue of generosity into a vice. One must know how to conserve oneself: the hardest test of independence.

detachment + detachment + detachment + detachment – detachment + detachment = independence? i’m trying to make an equation out of your electrical impulses and failing miserably. tell me, Nietzsche, if independence is so important, what is this obsession of yours with the majestic plural?

Measure is alien to us; let us own it; our thrill is the thrill of the infinite, the unmeasured. Like a rider on a steed that flies forward, we drop the reins before the infinite, we modern men, like semi-barbarians–and reach our bliss only where we are most–in danger.

i’m now going to skip over Nietzsche’s misogynistic rant and instead mark the tainted spot with an apt quotation from Goethe placed in a footnote by the translator: “The greatest human beings are always connected with their century by means of some weakness.” alright back to Nietzsche. how about a couple short ones? 275:

Anyone who does not want to see what is lofty in a man looks that much more keenly for what is low in him and mere foreground–and thus betrays himself.

are you saying that the way we see others could possibly reveal something about ourselves? i’m going to take this all the way and say that the way you see others tells us only something about yourself and nothing about those others. from 276:

In a lizard a lost finger is replaced again; not so in man.

oh? i’ll just refer back to the Goethe quotation and move on. classic wisdom in 285:

The greatest events and thoughts–but the greatest thoughts are the greatest events–are comprehended last: the generations that are contemporaneous with them do not experience such events–they live right past them. What happens is a little like what happens in the realm of stars. The light of the remotest stars comes last to men; and until it has arrived man denies that there are–stars there. “How many centuries does a spirit require to be comprehended?”–that is a standard, too; with that, too, one creates and order of rank and etiquette that is still needed–for spirit and star.

i like what you’re saying here, but i’m not sure about the star metaphor. by the time the starlight reaches us, that star is already dead. so when i finally understand what you’re saying, will it cease to be truth? ok, maybe metaphors weren’t meant to do anything more than relate in one clear concise way and the image fails on all other sides. fine. but i’m also slightly offended because nothing is more completely true and comprehensible than our very own personal star, the Sun. it’s still there and it’s why i’m still here. apologize to it. and stick to simple brilliant statements:

Every profound thinker is more afraid of being understood than of being misunderstood.

maybe. i think what you’re really getting at comes a few lines later, in 292: we’re not afraid others will understand us, we’re afraid we’ll actually understand ourselves.

A philosopher–is a human being who constantly experiences, sees, hears, suspects, hopes, and dreams extraordinary things; who is struck by his own thoughts as from outside, as from above and below, as by his type of experiences and lightning bolts; who is perhaps himself a storm pregnant with new lightnings; a fatal human being around whom there are constant rumblings and growlings, crevices, and uncanny doings. A philosopher–alas, a being that often runs away from itself, often is afraid of itself–but too inquisitive not to “come to” again–always back to himself.

besides the wonderful quotation i opened up this post with, this piece here blows my mind open making me think i should be expecting a sequel to Athena’s leap from the skull of Zeus. and i think you might disagree with me here, but i think you essentially described every human being on this dear planet. what is human but not an experiencing, seeing, hearing, suspecting, hoping, dreaming thing? “O humaneness!”

Nietzsche, you pissed me off most when, in a parenthesis (like it were oh-so-clear), you write, “I, the last disciple and initiate of the god Dionysus.” you were a classics major, but even i know that this is what the ancient Greeks called ‘hubris.’ i hope Dionysus turned you into a dolphin. O humaneness! Continue reading

Posted in dear diary, oxford | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

wish-fulfillment [archive]

two nights ago i got a blow-job from a girl in cya.

night before last three cya girls i don’t really hang out with kept door-ditching me.

last night sam and i were walking through a busy square in Athens on a busy night when we caught three guys clearly smoking a joint the size of a golf club. sam asks them if we can join. they say yes, but one immediately gets pulled aside by law enforcement, which makes sam and i really nervous. but he comes back in a second and everything’s fine. the rotation continues, but only after getting one hit, i see the officers nearly tackle sam and he gets hassled the same as the other guy. i start worrying again, but he comes back and says that he just had to avoid the questions. we both decide to leave at that point.
we go to a fancy restaurant. at some point i go to a big house party with Elaina and Maddy, but the guy who lives there is a dick. we leave.
later, i’m sitting by this giant orange rock, like something straight out of a Mycenaean bridge, and i’m carving at it with a little rock i’ve picked up. Meryl is sitting next to me and a cya professor is going on and on about how you can see some mountain in Italy from Athens. i just keep carving away at this rock that looks really hard but is actually really soft. eventually a bluish piece of rock in the shape of a tortoise falls out. i immediately give it as a gift to a thrilled Meryl. i keep carving until a purplish spotted rock in the shape of a raptor falls out. Meryl and i have a little battle with the animal rocks and it concludes with my raptor chasing across the field, jaws locking with the tortoise. i then give the raptor to Meryl, too.

Analysis: reading Freud helps you remember your dreams. Continue reading

Posted in dear diary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Argolid, i love you [archive]

i just got back from a fantastic trip, the first of a few cya field trips i’ll be going on while i’m in Greece. from the beginning of the trip, we all had this running joke about the weekend. somebody had looked up our hotel on the internet before leaving and apparently the only English review read, “worst two days of my life.” we expected the worst, and it ended up being probably the best weekend in Greece so far. prepare for a 10-page post.

~~~~~ Day One ~~~~~

everybody met at travel buses in front of cya at 8am. i already knew Elaina, Maddy, and James were on my bus, but i was wondering what the seating arrangement was going to be like. i get on the bus to find James sitting by himself in the front, slowly passing out. in the back, Maddy and Elaina wave me towards them. turns out Maddy got to the bus bright and early, saving the only table on the whole bus (one that conveniently seats four). i went to the front to invite James back to our luxurious arrangement and for the rest of the trip we were the one and only totally awesome quartet on our bus.

after bitching for a second about how nobody thought to bring cards (and our table’s uselessness, as a result), i started blasting Person Pitch for myself. anyone who is a good friend of mine and anybody who’s had the unfortunate pleasure of talking about music with me lately can back up my current obsession with this album. all throughout high school i used to claim that Led Zeppelin’s kickass rock & roll cut “The Ocean” was always in my head. it’s lost its former status and the barbarian to dethrone it is Panda Bear’s “Comfy in Nautica.” no matter where i am or what mood i’m in, i simply start whistling that precious tune and my mind clears, transforming into a beautiful abyss of everything. sometimes i dream (stupidly) that when i see Animal Collective in Roma they decide to just let Panda Bear handle it all. i’m obsessed with this album and you should listen to it right now, right here.

alright, i’m driving through Greece. i can listen to Panda Bear any old weekend. but right now i’m doing both. the first place we stop, a little over an hour after our trip’s start, is the corinth canal (there are usually better photos on Wikipedia, but i’ll still post mine because it’s fun). i walked to the middle with a bunch of people, took some pictures, tried to see if i could see my spit fall all the way down (i couldn’t), and then we were back on our way.

luckily for us, the canal spot was a big tourist trap, so i bought myself the most expensive deck of cards ever at almost 5 euro (Elaina did too!). so worth it. James taught us all a new game (one that i forget the name of) at which Elaina and i dominated. nobody really played much the rest of the trip except for her and i with the occasional speed. great game. now, we had many choices of card designs and the girl went with the family-friendly mythology set. i, being the immature guy, had to get the SEX IN ANCIENT GREECE deck. here’s my favorite royal straight:

eventually we made it to our first real destination: Mycenae. the number one thing our professor, Diamant, continuously expressed about this ancient civilization was their insanity. as my “MYCENAEANS” post below shows, these guys obsessed over two things: war and gold. what we got to see on this trip was their tendency to boast about their power. a lot of the architecture (walls especially) at these sites were built in what’s called a “cyclopean” style, because people in later times–after the Mycenaeans had already passed–actually believed the stacking of massive stones to be the work of massive one-eyed creatures, not men. here’s a picture of our gallant professor standing in front of a Mycenaean bridge, exemplifying their tendency towards cyclopean architecture:

after wandering into one of the numerous chamber tombs (basically a hole dug in the hillside), we were shown the tholos (or beehive tomb). this is what the entrance to the first looked like:

these are massive tombs made up of massive stones. outside in and inside out:

the inside of the tomb is just a large empty, dusty circular space. graverobbers have already took all the junk filling the space, beating us by probably 3000 years. the walls spin round and round and round converging at the stone dome top:

nobody knows for certain who exactly was buried in the tombs, what ceremony if any was involved, or any other real details about the tombs. but still, their existence alone fascinates. eventually we made it to the actual palace centre / military stronghold. you walk along the massive stone wall and find yourself at the famous lions’ gate:

i didn’t really get any good pictures of the site itself, but i don’t think anyone really can. like much of the trip, we were basically visiting piles of rocks. the view was immense, though. on the edge of the site opposite the lions’ gate, the class descended into a a cistern carved directly into the mountainside. after one turn we were in complete darkness, holding out lighters, cell phones, and flashlights, walking down the ancient tiny steps. crazy.

from Mycenae we made our way to our 3-day home, Nafplio. here’s a picture of the town that i took from Palamidi castle:

James and i came up with an incredibly creative phrase to describe our hotel and the town altogether: fucking quaint. James and i luckily avoided a triple room by signing up for a double early on. tiny room, tiny tv, tiny beds, and a balcony! so awesome. after a glass of wine and smoke on the balcony, we passed out for a nice evening nap. i woke up with Elaina calling me, and i wandered across the hall to Maddy’s room where they were watching some silly rock & roll type documentary. the four of us eventually emerged from the hotel to join a short walking tour of the city, led by Diamant. for such humble appearances the place has a pretty turbulent history: it’d been fought over by the Greeks, Turks, and Venetians forever. eventually the quartet joined our fifteen million friends and went searching for a taverna, eventually stopping at the one where a guy in front yelled at us, “free wine, free dessert!!” after the taverna, we hit up some bar, the fifteen of us or so, and had a grand old drunken time. i definitely had some heated arguments/breakdowns about Johnny Cash’s ‘Hurt,’ astrology, and i don’t remember what else.

earlier, on the walking tour, Diamant had suggested to our group that we take the time to walk the peninsula. i was hell-bent on doing it and doing it drunk and doing it this night. we left our first bar for a raging club that Maddy and i stood in for about 30 seconds, and we found ourselves outside with nothing to do. “let’s do the peninsula!!!!” Elaina, Maddy, and i bought two bottles of wine from a corner store, walked into a bar to ask a wonderful amazing awesome bartender to open them for us, and slowly and drunkenly, with Chris, Sarah, Logan, and Zack in tow, made our way to the shore. here’s a picture–i had taken this on Diamant’s walking tour–of the coastline that we walked up. except imagine it at 3am:

wasted, James calls me asking me where i was (he got sucked into the raging club that Maddy and i and the rest ditched). i told him where we were and he amazingly found his way. hooray lack of open container laws! we were the happiest drunk sea lions in the whole damn town, i think, slowly slowly swervingly walking all along the gorgeous shore. it was near impossible to go quickly because the sea sparkled so beautifully under the moon. i don’t miss the ocean, when i have the sea:

by the time we reached the end of the coast, where our hotel was, Sarah had been pushing the idea of swimming. i bit and chewed and got almost everyone else to join in. everyone stripped down in the biting cold and jumped into the completely freezing water, where we all lasted for about seven seconds. we dressed and soakingly made it back to the hotel. the quartet reconvened in the boys’ room, where we sat in a circle, listening to Dylan emanate from my iPhone, smoking cigarettes, and (for no practical reason, at all) working through the rest of James’ wine. with the balcony doors open to show us lights winking across the bit of sea and with Bobby singing “it’s all over now, baby blue,” the four of us collapsed like four little babies.

~~~~~ Day Two ~~~~~

the wake-up call came nice and early, at around 7:15, i think. i don’t know. i reached over, picked up the receiver, and said, “hello?” laughing at myself one second later and hanging up. the girls zombied their way out, we all somehow got ready to go, and after the greatest continental breakfast ever, headed for our next archaeological sites. but before the big ones, we stopped at another Mycenaean bridge:

i just love how these things dot the countryside, unblocked off and open to anyone to see for over 3000 years. this one stands about twenty feet from the road. our first real destination, though, was a pile of rocks called Epidaurus:

the background and history provided on this place provided the basis for my favorite lecture of Diamant’s for the whole weekend. as you can read on that wiki page, Epidaurus was a sanctuary “reputed to be the birthplace of Apollo’s son Asklepios, the healer.” with a god as father and human as mother, Asklepios had healing powers, yet he was mortal. however, as the story goes, he managed to come back to life after his death. transcending his mortal life of healing he transformed into the very deity of medicine. this site was his sanctuary and people would venture from everywhere to spend the night in the sacred place, with the hopes that a god would send visions of what they need to be cured.

the most visually (and aurally) pleasing part of the site was the theater. the French tourist girl standing in the center of the orchestra sang a fantastic bolero with a couple guys handling background parts:

the theater was put up in the 4th century BC with 34 rows (think fibonacci sequence, think golden ratio, think spirals). the design is flawless visually and aurally. the former i need not explain, just look at the pictures. as for the acoustics, they were absolutely unbelievable. you could have a decent conversation with anyone in the entire theater with anybody else anywhere else in the theater without really raising your voice. if you were ten rows apart, you’d only have to use a normal speaking voice. i couldn’t get enough of it. everything just sounded good. “Greek” theaters in the United States are a joke.

we drove to a beach a while away and had a delicious picnic. olive paste = greatest thing ever. we pretty much ate to the left of where this picture was taken, with a great view of the sea.

we then made our way along that coastline and then skirted along the hillside, towards Franchthi Cave. from the article: “The cave was occupied from the Palaeolithic circa 20,000 BCE (and possibly earlier) through the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods, being abandoned about 3000 BCE (Middle Neolithic). It is one of the very few settlements in the world that shows continuous human occupation for more than 20,000 years.” standing in this massive cave, staring at the walls, imagining the ceilings collapsing in on themselves over geological time, listening to the sea in the distance, tripping tripping tripping on tens of thousands of years of humans living, crying, and dying, right there in that cave, i almost couldn’t stand it. know that no photo can do this place justice:

we drove back to Nafplio, had another evening nap, and nearly repeated the taverna, bar, and sea of the night before. the only change in itinerary came before we went to the sea, after leaving the bar. instead of stocking up on wines we stocked up on beers and walked towards the sea, but stopped at this Venetian fortress wall. it had a curious hole in the corner and we ventured inside. i think i saw a bat fly out at first, but we kept going. the group split into two, taking opposite paths of a fork in the tunnel. my group wandered in complete darkness (this time with only cell phones and lighters to light our path), ducking through this dark, musty, dirty, tunnel, kicking aside trash and rocks and god knows what else. Maddy pretty much had a panic attack that Xanthe expertly helped her through, and in no time, to our surprise, we found ourselves above the fortress wall, in the overgrown bushes overlooking a little square and a small part of the town. we continued our little party up there for a bit before taking the peninsula walk back to our hotels and passing out.

~~~~~ Day Three (Today!) ~~~~~

today we had the pleasure of sleeping in (a whole half hour more of sleep!), leaving for our first destination around 9. we didn’t drive nearly as much today. we first went to Lerna, famous for being home to the Hydra that Heracles killed. honestly, after some of the other sites we’d seen, this one impressed me the least. but it did have some serious competition. even the second destination of the day, Tiryns, proved far more interesting. the fortifications for this place, another Mycenaean archaeological site, towered over the countryside. the western wall especially intimidated, stretching over 20 feet thick–all humongous rocks. according to a previous military-inclined student of Diamant’s, even modern artillery might need three good shots to break through a wall of that immensity.

when i stopped staring at piles of rocks, i stared at the utterly gorgeous countryside. five photos for adam:

the final history lesson (HAHAHA a fortress built in the year 1700 hardly counts as history HAHAHA) brought our class to the peak of this hill in Nafplio, the site of a Venetian fortress named Palamidi. you can sort of see a part of it and the winding 1000-stairs going down the side of the hill.

James, Elaina, and i wandered around it for a bit and then descended the uncountable stairs back to the town, after catching this view of the peninsula and town:

we ate our last meal in Nafplio, delicious gyros, and spent a good half hour sitting on a bench. people-watching, dog-watching, eyes closed, eyes open, breathing, feeling, being. these have definitely been some of the happiest days of my life. we met our group at the bus and made the drive back to Athina. i desperately need a shower. Continue reading

Posted in dear diary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ajax [archive]

last night i played some cards with Maddy, Xanthe, and Caitlin at their apartment in Kolonaki. at first we played this game called spoons. fast-paced and hilarious, but not really a card game. i don’t remember the name of the second game we played, but it was definitely a card game. it was like somebody fucked with hearts a little bit and then gave it a tumor of a game to play before the actual hearts game. does that make any sense? good, because the game makes no sense to me either. the points system was all fucked up and i had no idea what was happening to us, but Xanthe and i definitely kept losing. i will kickass next time. after leaving their apartment, i met up with Elaina for a couple beers and talks. the following is not unrelated to our most important discussions.

in Sophocles’ Ajax, Tecmessa asks the Chorus:

If someone posed the question, which would you choose:
To grieve your friends while feeling joy yourself,
Or to be wretched with them, shares alike?

i say: for whom should i rather labor than myself?

following Ajax’ suicide, the end of the tragedy involves a quarrel between Ajax’ brother, Menelaus, Agamemnon, and Odysseus. Odysseus ends up convincing the royal brothers to let Ajax’ brother give his kin a proper funeral, but not before a heated and philosophical debate. at one point, Odysseus asks Agamemnon, “For whom should I rather labor than myself?”

i don’t know. Continue reading

Posted in dear diary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mycenaeans [archive]

Continue reading

Posted in oxford | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment