Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sameness circa Geoffrey Chaucer, 14th century give or take

It has been a while, but I am back on the Chaucer bus.  I am supposed to have the Knights Tale re-re-read by New Year's eve, but it is not looking promising.  Sorry A*****, this business of colicing horse on Christmas Eve is still eating into my time.  Then there is all the usual year-end craziness, even though we barely celebrate Christmas (but I did get my mah jong set woo-hoo) craziness, personal year end stuff, also the students wrapping up & trying to get out of town & some of them graduating & not coming back so they can be little bit wired.  Lastly, there are actual students coming back after getting advanced degrees elsewhere (we have been here a long time) & one HILARIOUS story about two former students meeting in Prof. R******'s lab & now they are married with kids.  The time really does fly.

So, the Knight's Tale.  I am remembering...via my notes how hilarious I found this the last time I read it.  Yes, it was a while ago, but wholly unrelated to deciding to sit down & do this again, but all the way to the end this time, I have been thinking on certain elements of the Knight's Tale lately.  Specifically, the way the knight had to make the fair maiden, well, fair, despite all evidence to the contrary what with her being the sister of the Queen of the Amazons.  Yes, yes I know Wonder Woman was an Amazonian princess as well, but as far as mythical figures taking on the audiences characteristics go, Wonder woman just keeps proving my point.

That was a lot of commas!  Let me see if I can think it out in smaller pieces.  The knight is describing a desirable woman.  He describes her as looking an awful lot like...the mother of his fair haired son probably looked.  The knight does this even though he is telling a story about a warring Athenian prince & some other prince from Thebes.  I guess this is BECAUSE if they don't look like him, he just cannot relate, although there is plenty of evidence he doesn't look anything like I would imagine an ancient Greek might look.  What news story could possibly have triggered this thinking in me?  Hmmmm.

Just to be clear, I don't care what anyone who might have existed might have looked like, but I do find this business of insisting they must have looked a certain way intriguing.  & there is always what they zero in on.  No one is going to the wall insisting a particular figure was probably quite short, except for Napoleon, which turns out is very likely a myth anyhow.

But whatever, that is not really what I wanted to talk about today, exactly.  Today is the martyr day of Thomas à Becket.  You can get all the info you want on himself elsewhere, I will just give you the highlights:  he was made Archbishop of Canterbury by a king who thought he would be the king's man in Canterbury.  Turns out Thomas à Becket was his own man & started telling the king what he could do with his influence.  This is not the first time a political appointee went his own way (US History buffs can start extolling on Chester Arthur or Warren Burger anytime now), but it was plenty big because best case scenario, the king accidentally had him killed.  I know, right?  Which is why we have the pilgrimage to Canterbury & the Canterbury Tales. 

I guess I am done, except did anyone else see that bit on Bill O'Reilly basting the pope? Because the pope is not God's man on earth if he disagrees with you, then he's just a crackpot.  I like how O'Reilly had mixed feelings on the former Nazi, but is completely certain the new guy is just wrong.  & I really like how he is pretty sure Jesus would not endorse a system that helped the poor at the expense of the rich.  Because it just might be human nature the think our heroes look just like us.

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