Polytropos: Your Turn to Serve

 

Reading a very interesting article about Emily Wilson, the first female translator of Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad.  My first thought was that this was not possible.  None? No female classicists to tackle it ever?  Apparently not.

Wilson’s first book “Mocked With Death,” grew from her dissertation. She explores the concept of mortality in classical traditions.  “Wilson’s study is also frequently touching. It is about the broadest of human inheritances: our constant awareness of all that we will lose, are losing, have lost.”  Deep.

I particularly love how she has radically reinterpreted the idea of polytropos.

“The prefix poly,” Wilson said, laughing, “means ‘many’ or ‘multiple.’ Tropos means ‘turn.’ ‘Many’ or ‘multiple’ could suggest that he’s much turned, as if he is the one who has been put in the situation of having been to Troy, and back, and all around, gods and goddesses and monsters turning him off the straight course that, ideally, he’d like to be on. Or, it could be that he’s this untrustworthy kind of guy who is always going to get out of any situation by turning it to his advantage. It could be that he’s the turner.”

And here is the opening as she translates it:

Tell me about a complicated man.
Muse, tell me how he wandered and was lost
when he had wrecked the holy town of Troy,
and where he went, and who he met, the pain
he suffered in the storms at sea, and how
he worked to save his life and bring his men
back home. He failed to keep them safe; poor fools,
they ate the Sun God’s cattle, and the god
kept them from home. Now goddess, child of Zeus,
tell the old story for our modern times.
Find the beginning.

 

This article is, in the end, about treating the idea of ‘translating’ with more respect.

What a translation is doing — and what it should do — has been a source of vigorous debate since there were texts to translate. “I’m not a believer,” Wilson told me, “but I find that there is a sort of religious practice that goes along with translation. I’m trying to serve something.”

So often I have tried to get this simple idea across in my own work with multimodal texts.  I am trying to serve and honor what someone else has shared. 

And I think that translation is often the best way to understand what a person intended.  Even if that understanding is ‘off’, the translation still holds.  This makes for a much broader view toward creative work.  Translation is creation and, if such, it is not derivative at all. Find the beginning and relate and translate the tale.

Pumping Up the Text with Moves and Music

I wanted to read this text closely and interact some, too, because it is seems so slickly abstract, so smooth. Credos and manifestos should not be so cool.

This lacks heat:

Professional Knowledge for the Teaching of Writing

This is a little warmer:

And this is warmest of all (with a little tweak of the nose on the last slide):

And this makes it interactive:

And here is a hypothes.is link where it can also be interactive.

I have been reading about an idea called “cognitive accessibility”. Alastair Somerville has been doing workshops on this and has a couple of fascinating articles here and here.

I am just floundering around here in the shallow seas of my understanding here, but I was hoping that my own efforts to “warm up” the text might be a way to make this very dry credo more accessible. I know it is very frail, but it is my own and I am trying. Maybe you would like to consider, too, making all your text a bit more cognitively accessible.

Plan Yr Wrk, Wrk Yr Plan

I tell my students about the best piece of advice I ever got when my wife and I were running our chimney sweeping business. I tell them it made us a lot of money. I tell them we paid for our farm and home with this piece of advice. Now they’re attending. And what was that advice?

The owner of Copperfield Chimney Supply, Bob Daniels (Sooty Bob to everybody in the business) shared this piece of advice in a six-cassette pack of tapes which I wore out completely over the years. His advice was very simple:

So I repeat this to them ad  nauseum as they work their way through the process of asking and answering a “burning question” in their lives.

One of the tasks I ask of them is to create weekly research plans and then progress reports on the plans.  I do everything along with them, solidarity in learning dontcha know. Below is the assignment and my research plan for this week.

DEADLINE FOR RESEARCH PLAN: September 29, 2017

I want you to come up with a research plan for answering your I-Search question.  This might be a list of items you want to get done. Or it might be in paragraphs.  Make sure you prioritize. In other words, I want you to say what you will do first, second, third, etc.  If you can’t do the first item, move on to the second and so on.  Don’t let your priorities stop you from constantly moving forward.  Imagine you are a shark after your prey, the answer. You never stop moving forward.  We will discuss your plan and how you progressed through it at your conference.

Here is my research plan for the week. I will let you know how it went on Blackboard. You will have an opportunity to do so as well:

Get copy of MIchael Mosley’s book: Michael Mosley, The Clever Gut Diet.

Read Mosley’s book and mark it up looking for ways to combine it with my DayTwo data.

Prepare an email to my doctor on the kinds of bloodtests I want to include in my appointment next week.

Write my introduction where I tell my readers why I am pursuing the question.

Do a journalling exercise called feedforwarding where I imagine the results of my question as clearly as I can from 10,000 feet.

Clean up my I-Search outlines in Diigo.

Follow up on the forums I have visited and get more involved there:  quantified self forum and gut smart forum.

When they come for their conferences, we will chat about their plans and the progress they have made.  We will do this until their first draft is due in about three weeks–planning their work, working their plan, rinse, repeat.