Thursday, March 12, 2009
Illuminations from the Second Ether
Friday, March 6, 2009
One of the fringe benefits of running this blog is that you occasionally hear from an alumnus/a who studied the ancient world under one my predecessors here at the University of North Dakota. While it was always interesting to hear from a member of the larger university community, I must admit that prior to working on the history of my department, these names were usually fairly meaningless to me. Some of this is perhaps exacerbated by the fact that that our department as a group have only a fairly modest collective memory, owing largely to the fairly brisk turnover in faculty over the last 20 years.
As the study of the ancient world in North Dakota allows for some unusual relationships, correspondences, and juxtapositions, it seems worth including a brief biography of one of my predecessor here (drawn in large part from the department'sCentennial Newsletter of 1983):
Charles Carter, a native of Kentucky, (greater Cincinnati) earned his Bachelor of Divinity from Emory University (Atlanta), a B.A. from the University of Kentucky and the Ph.D., ancient Near East languages, from the University of Chicago. He taught at Central Methodist College at Fayette, Missouri 1965-1966. At the University since 1966, he taught ancient and early European courses. His Ph.D thesis was entitled Hittite Cult Inventories, and his subsequent publications include "Some Notes on Political and Religious Institutions in Two Ancient Cultures," Social Science XLIV (1969) as well asVokabulare, mythen und kultinventare (1978, with H.G. Gutterbock) and numerous more specialized journal articles dealing with the Hittite language as well as reviews. In 2000, after some delays, a volume in his honor was edited by Yoël L.Arbeitman and titled The Asia Minor Connexion: Studies in Pre-Greek Languages in Honor of Charles Carter (Peeters, Leuven 2000).
He was the first individual to come to the history department to teach exclusively (more or less) the ancient world and he brought with him to North Dakota, of all people, the Hittites . He was active in national organizations like the American Oriental Society as well as more local organizations like The Linguistic Circle of Manitoba and North Dakota. He began and led the Grand Forks chapter of theArchaeological Institute of America which has subsequently disappeared.
Perhaps noting Carter's contribution in as ephemeral a medium as the a weblog is not doing him any great service, but, then again, some of the most compelling journeys come from following footprints in the sand.
--Bill Caraher, 8-14-07
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
From Plato to Pedantry
TYRANNOSAURUS: Now show us someone else. We aren’t getting very far.
DEAN OF PHILOSOPHERS: Hmm. As Athens is a city rich in departments and bureaus, perhaps our Stoic here can help. He is very popular amongst the clerks, having solved all their problems with remarkable alacrity. You, Stoic! What can you add to our understanding of this affair?
STOIC: With all due respect, sir, your affair is completely out of your control, sir, and all that is not in control is immaterial, sir.
IONEDES: I didn’t quite catch that.
TYRANNOSAURUS: Never mind him, Ionedes. He is another bore.
DEAN OF PHILOSOPHERS: Gentleman, might I suggest Starchild, Junior; the philosopher at the end? He is from Athens’ most widely renowned school; and one of his students, Aristotle, as I say, was in fact the teacher of Alexander.
TYRANNOSAURUS: From the school that taught Alexander’s teacher! By all means, let the man speak.
DEAN OF PHILOSOPHERS: There's a good fellow: Tell these men what you know best?
STARCHILD, JUNIOR: I am wise in what Suarolophus calls ‘matters of love.’
IONEDES: This is more like it. How can I find my daughter? How can Tyrannosaurus find his son?
STARCHILD, JUNIOR: But when I say I am wise in love, I do not mean, as in Baryonyx’s popular definition of the term, the love of people. It is, as Dacentrus and Deinocheirus have urged, the soul that I love; and in loving the soul I love love, much in the way that Ornatotholus interprets the meditations of Deinodon.
TYRANNOSAURUS: It seems very pleasant to think in this way, but what about our children?
STARCHILD, JUNIOR: Your children are but copies of greater ideas existing where existence is real, as Hypsilophodon has said in a brilliant recent discussion. As Hypsilophodon would further point out, your children, like everything that you behold—the sky, the earth, the sea, and all that lives—are imitations of invisible ideas existing outside our universe. Even the circumstance of your children missing is a pattern that copies an image that exists where images are real, which agrees closely with what Troodon has often urged.
DEAN OF PHILOSOPHERS: We're getting somewhere, Tyrannosaurus. For if we can see the image of where they really are, then locating their duplicates here in Athens should be a snap. (snaps his fingers, and points at STARCHILD, JUNIOR) And where do these real images exist?
STARCHILD, JUNIOR: Nowhere: because if they were anywhere they would not exist, as Hypsilophodon has so persuasively argued.
TYRANNOSAURUS: So that even if we find them we haven't really found them?
STARCHILD, JUNIOR: To recapitulate Velocipes’ seminal phrase, ‘what you say is true.’
TYRANNOSAURUS: So that by your logic our search is futile.
STARCHILD, JUNIOR: Opinions are vague as to the specific question of your specific search, but as Astrodon has written in his neo-pragmatic demotion of philosophy to the recitation of officially authorized modes of discourse, your search is but an imitation of the pattern of the real search where images are real.
IONEDES: This is ridiculous. Why do you pursue this with him?
TYRANNOSAURUS: Because these are the teachings known to Alexander.
STARCHILD, JUNIOR: Gentlemen, do not become discouraged. As Saltopus might suggest, we are making progress. Our proceedings are indeed following the pattern set forth for philosophical discussion in the ideal state—indeed, exactly as Astrodon argues in his famous formulation.
(Enter ACHILLES and CHRYSIS followed by DIOGENES.)