How much composition can you do walking the dog while listening to the Great Courses on CD? We will see. I know one thing, attempting this will improve my listening skills, which my wife will tell you are not stellar. It is enough to stop periodically and send a tweet via the phone. There is no way to rewind, and to play the entire track again is just too much—the dog will only tolerate so much inattention. So I have to catch it the first time.
This is why, in the tweets to follow, I don’t give the Egyptologist’s name. I missed it in the opening remarks. Now that I am home in my chair, I see on the CD jacket that it is Bob Brier. He is all enthused about his topic. The Great Courses professors are never duds. Only one got on my nerves a little bit, a history professor with such a passion for his subject that he seemed to present all characters within as though they were his children, some being naughty and some being nice. But once I adjusted, I was okay even with that. And you should hear the music fellow—alas, I forgot his name, but he has done several courses, showing off Beethoven! Whoa, is it ever contagious. You do come away thinking you know your Beethoven when he is done. (Granted, it didn’t take much, since I knew virtually nothing before.)
I have had to set aside Bleak House. It is 29 CDs and I was not done with it when the library wanted the set back, for someone else had put it on hold. So I reserved it for when that person was done with it, and it will just have to be a cliffhanger for now. I left off just after Bucket arrested George for the murder of the odious lawyer of whom you thought, it’s about time someone killed him. It might be George. It might be Lady Deadlock. Don’t tell me who it was. If you do, I am going to assume it was the other just to thwart you. Bleak House was another Great Courses suggestion, offered by a professor of literature, who seems to have a preference for —um— “complicated” characters, Bleak House being a “wholesome” exception to most offered fare. He says something about Esther being so nauseatingly nice that even Dickens must have wanted to kill her off a time or two.
They always spin of the credentials at Great Courses, and Bob’s is that he recently mummified a body in the Egyptian way. He has been on TV, so he probably is somewhat of a showman, and as such, he will have a Twitter account. If I find it, I will tag him once with it. Ah—here it is: #AskBobBrier—I was right. He is not one of those retiring types like the “philologicians” (his word) who love words and thus are whizzes with hieroglyphics. Nor is he a (he had a word for this but I forget) a museum type who loves to collect and study artifacts but has no interest in interacting or retrieving them.
He is probably like O’Donnell, the Professor of the Gilded Age series, who has shown on the History Channel, and who in real life (I wouldn’t know if this is true of Brier or not, at least, not yet) is intensely partisan and really hates Trump. I could be wrong, but I think historians generally do. I think the reason they do is that they get involved in their story of man ruling the earth—that’s mostly what history is, really—and they come to identify with human efforts, hoping for the noble in them, and highlighting whatever examples exist. The only way their earth will advance is if all nations “come together.” Thus, they like world bodies, they like things like the United Nations. They don’t like it when some figure says “America first,” or whatever his/her country may be. They see nothing but chaos along that road. Brier might not be one of them, for, come to think of it, he said in Lecture One that history is just a series of disasters. Therefore, he may not be so starry-eyed as are his History counterparts, so hopeful that humans will have the answers if you but give them unlimited room to try their stuff.
Probably Bob is like Ed Barnhart, who taught the Great Course on South American archeology. He was also a doer. He related how, as a boy, his mom had dropped him off to see the Indiana Jones movie, and upon seeing the caption “Somewhere in South America,” said to himself, “There’s a South America?” It began an interest in the continent, and he has discovered his very own ancient Mayan (yes, I know, Central America, but he was just getting started) city.
What a great gig to be a university professor. You get to talk about your passion all day to people who come to you and pay money for the privilege—you don’t have to go to them. And they have already acquiesced that your topic is interesting enough at least for them to be there. You don’t have to interact with poverty. You don’t see squalor. Unless you play your cards recklessly, money issues are non-existent. You get to hang out with cool people in the heady world of ideas. I like it.
The only thing that might be an issue is if you get infatuated with your students. Some of them are just awakening to to how sexuality might affect someone other than same-age, some are entirely unaware, and some know it full well and play it for all its worth. Of course, the responsibility for proper conduct will always fall on the older party, but if he is a piece of work himself, if his own life is trending towards trainwreck, and certainly if he is an opportunist, all sorts of things may happen that he will deeply come to regret in a MeToo age.
Anyhow, here goes with the tweets. It is just things that catch my attention as I am dog-walking, and I must interrupt myself now and then to hurl someone’s misguided golf frisbee back over the fence. It will be sort of like taking notes, and I may do something with it later. I haven’t quite figured out a way to separate my asides from Bob’s own thoughts. Maybe later. Sometimes it is obvious, but sometimes not. Remember that these are dictated into the phone, and then I must quickly correct AI blunders (you should see what it did to Herodotus!) I don’t usually worry much about capitalization. Everything is a bit of a rush. Here goes:
“The goal of the archaeological writer is to make the dead come alive, not to put the living to sleep.” I love it!
That ubiquitous painting of Henry the eighth isn’t anatomically correct. The artist for the braggart deliberately skewed it so as to loom more impressively over anyone who would view it.
“The Egyptian’s reduced art to paint by numbers,” the great courses professor says. Art doesn’t change for 3000 years. It wasn’t supposed to change. It wasn’t supposed to be creative. It was to reflect the way things were.
Plato wasn’t crazy about art, because his was a search for truth, and art distorted truth. But he had nothing bad to say about Egyptian art, for that part attempted to portray truth as it was, and not interpret that.
If you expect to be spending more time in an afterlife rather than the present one, you will put more energy there. Where have I heard similar thoughts? The Egyptian tombs would be engraved with scenes of whatever the deceased enjoyed doing in the present life.
If you’re taking a trip to a unfamiliar place. And you’re not just sure what you will need. You take everything that you can. So says the great courses Egypt professor. That’s why Egyptian tombs are so packed with day today possessions.
Ha! A completely speculative account for how the uneducated people probably screwed up the great Heroditus. An illiterate tour guide probably made a story up about onions being fed to the workers who built the graat pyramid , and Herodotus recorded it.
Since the Egyptian’s were huge into war, loved to record their victories, live to fight, would they have recorded that Jehovah cleaned their clocks at the Red Sea? Already I smell a rat.
As was spun in the book Is the Bible really the word of God? national chroniclers (media) loved to create the attractive version even if it wasn’t entirely true. Emphasized what they want emphasized, deemphasize what they wanted deemphasized. It is exactly the same today.
The Bishop of Usher worked out the begets and traced down to the year of creation. Watch later a Russian bishop extended it to month,week, day, and time of day! Much later his Russian successor probably agreed & also banned Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Isaac newton worked out Egyptian chronology in his spare time. As an escape for him. He is the one who predicts the end in 2060. Is he right? Or might it come before?
Now the great courses professor is slobbering over Darwin as the be all and end all. Darwins OK, discovered some stuff, added to knowledge, but not to the point of being the be-all and end-all.
He says the Egyptian’s first arrived from the south in Africa. One of Michener’s books said the same, but I don’t remember the title. Michener’s books are grand sagas, following a given family name through centuries, even before they were families.
If you dressed Neanderthal man up, and put him on a subway, you would not notice him. He would fit right in. So says the Egypt professor, he was not a hulking brute, he did not live in a cave. Dumbing down is not a phenomenon Just of modern times, tho it probably has accelerated.
What will this Egypt teacher do when he comes to conspiracy views on pyramids? You know, how we today couldn’t build what they built thousands of years ago. Even today human technology is insufficient. How will he handle that?
And what will he do when he comes to Bible accounts? He will blow them away, of course, but will he do it with respect or ridicule? He seems like a nice guy. But sometimes peoples brains lose it when it comes to spiritual things.
To be continued:
See Ancient Tweets Part 2.
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