Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Once Was Tarot Reader

Yes, Once Was Tarot Reader! I'm referencing the New Zealand film title "Once Were Warriors". Trusty Facebook has materialized an ex-boss and long lost friend, Nigel Cooper, who employed me as a Tarot Reader in his shop Mythical Moon back in the very early 1990s. Today he posted this photo of me onto his and my Facebook pages. It comes from newspaper coverage of his shop from back then, but I've never owned a copy of it and had only seen it once before in a tiny newspaper version several years after it was taken. I like it because it brings back memories of my life then - before I was a Tapestry Weaver, a job I took up straight after the Tarot job and which I've only just left in order to do a full time PhD. I'm also quite fascinated by the way I look so skinny in this photo. Not that I am saying that skinny is great, I'm just interested in how the older you get the fleshier you can also get - but not always and not everyone - apparently it's our metabolism... Not that I'm phat now, but I am rather... embonpoint. Sorry if all this mirror-gazing comes across as plain vain, I do admit to being quite interested in my own life - which doesn't mean that I am not also interested in others, I am!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I Love Roman Frescoes

Reading Mary Beard's blog It's a Don's Life, has encouraged me to blog about whatever I want and throw a bit of my university life in there too - seeing as I'll be intensively involved in that realm for the next three, if not more, years. So, while I'm formally studying - and love - prehistoric Aegean religion(s), mainly Crete but also Greece, Cyprus and the Levant, my secondary interest, or my back-burner interest, is Roman Religion. It seems fitting then to post an image that is Roman, yet that harks back to the Greek Bronze Age through the Trojan Epic, Homer's Iliad, intended to depict events in the Bronze Age. The Romans liked to claim Trojan ancestry, maybe that's why the sacrifice of Iphigenia at Aulis featured in this Roman fresco. This version of the story - the sacrifice bit - does not actually feature in Homer, but in the Epic Cycle which are later compositions designed to 'fill out' parts of the Iliad and the Odyssey. Remember when the Greek fleet wanted to set out for Troy there was no wind, in some versions because of the anger of Artemis. Various reasons for her anger are proposed: either Agamemnon (father of Iphigenia) had illicitly shot a stag within her grove; he had boasted that he was a finer hunter than the goddess; or he had broken a vow to give Artemis the most beautiful thing born the year of Iphigeneia's birth - which had been the girl herself. Anyway, whatever the cause of the deity's wrath, it would only be appeased by the sacrifice of Iphigeneia. She was therefore summoned to Aulis on the pretext of marrying Achilles, and then sacrificed. In some versions of the story Iphigeneia is substituted at the last minute for a deer - as in Euripides' Iphigeneia in Aulis - which is what this fresco depicts: Iphigeneia escaping. I just love the colours and I love the scratchy appearance of most Roman frescos. Roman Frescoes = Big Fan. [But please excuse the excessive use of wikipedia in my links! To tell the truth, all this text is simply an excuse to post this beautiful fresco!]

Friday, March 5, 2010

In Uni Land

Well, I'm now doing a full time PhD which I enjoy very much. I read, read, read, and type, type, type and also... think, think, think. The more time I have to do this the more I actually do. I'd do even more if I didn't have to sleep - pesky sleep. Consequently I have absolutely no spare time for anything else. I have no time to move the new bookshelves from the loungeroom, where they were initially constructed, to the 'office' where they are meant to help improve on floor space - by providing a vertical storage system for all the books currently in piles on the floor. Nor do I really have time to do food shopping, I just can't be bothered. Can't somebody bring it to me? The only reason I'm writing this blog entry is that I feel a little tired, haven't actually started my research work for the day yet, and am awaiting lunch to be brought to me (which doesn't always happen, usually I have the indignity of having to get it myself!). So, you can take it that I love researching and studying above practically all else. I've also been given a tutoring job at the university, although it doesn't start till May. I thought that was also nice and dandy, exepting that it takes time out of my research. But I always like to be entertained, and being paid to tutor seems a wonderful thing - especially as it is a lot more than I was getting for my last job. However, according to some fellow students, apparently I shouldn't be thinking it's so great, apparently I should be dissatisfied. Apparently the university takes advantage of Postgraduate labour. Well maybe my rose-coloured glasses will be smashed. I suppose I'll find out soon enough. Still, intellectual stimulation is a big plus for me, so I'm willing to weigh the pros and cons of being employed by the university and will decide upon it's 'goodness' or 'badness' when I can speak more knowledgably about it - in May. Meanwhile, I'm kinda having fun taking very occasional time out from researching to read classicist Mary Beard's blog A Don's Life, to see what professional academics in classics actually do - not that I am a classicist (although I do have a major interest in Roman religion). I like reading about universities though. From reading books such as Helen Garner's The First Stone and Mary Lefkowitz's History Lesson however, I'm getting the impression that universities are very weird places. But I don't want university to be a weird place - especially like in the latter two books. I suppose I am naive though, people are weird, so why wouldn't they be weird in a university? It's like a strange little city, or a big palace... the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul perhaps? Wonder if there will be any court intrigues, hierarchical struggles over rulership, conniving to get one's son on the throne, bagging up of harem women and throwing them in the Bosporus? OK, now I'm just getting silly...