Sunday, November 08, 2009
This picture was taken yesterday, It's a squirrel on my front porch, feasting on pumpkins.
There ARE squirrels in Los Angeles, but I didn't realize what a small population they were. Here they are everywhere. Arden, my dog, goes after each one on our daily hour long walk and it's incredibly annoying. I am constantly using my free hand to help in the effort to pull him back on his leash and since I am listening to an audio book on my ipod, I am often in the clouds in my thoughts and jerked into the present moment by these ubiquitous squirrels. Plus, I become cartoonish as I sometimes get the cords of my earpieces mixed around the leash as I fumble to hold Arden back.
I've noticed too, that the squirrels are behaving differently. They used to run as soon as they saw my dog. Now they are fatter, and seemingly more bleary-eyed and bloated. They don't run. In fact, I think some of them look at Arden and give him this look, "Go ahead, take my life, I cannot stand to think of another winter." They don't sprint until the last possible moment and even then, it's wrong to say sprint, it's more of a leisurely waddle towards the nearest tree.
Well, I like the blog-post I got about going to the University of Chicago on Saturdays to read the classics. Wow, could I figure out how to do that? I would love to. Hmmm....
I am still listening to "The History of Philosophy" - and after a few days of Francis Bacon I am now knee-deep into Spinoza. I really wish I could just retire and spend the rest of my life in contemplation. I don't think I would think anything noteworthy, but I would enjoy the process - or rather, the life. I sometimes giggle at myself, I have turned into a completely different person than I thought I would be! I am becoming less and less social. I crave being alone more and more. I just want to think. God - am I that sort of person??? Yes, I guess I am. I used to give lots of dinner parties and interspersed them with lots of even bigger parties. Now my favorite day is puttering around the house, reading, and cooking something while listening to the radio.
Posted by Julia Sweeney at 11:31 AM 13 comments:
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Again, I have not taken a daily picture. I did, however, find an old disposable camera from god-knows how long ago and sent it in to be developed and was surprised with the results. The above picture is one of them. The picture is of my dad, who passed away in 2004, and Mulan, who is obviously just a baby. And I must say, she's a very fashionable baby at that.
Oh those were the days when I could dress her any way I wanted. In any case, seeing this picture today gave me a few tears. My dad really connected with Mulan. This must have been in 2002. There were other pictures of Mulan too. I was on this show at the time called "Maybe It's Me." Fred Willard and I played parents to five teenagers. It was a fun show and Mulan was on the set the entire time. The rest of the roll was all of Mulan on the Warner Bros. backlot. Sigh. I miss L.A, I miss being on a show. That was really fun. What is Suzanne Martin (the creator of that show) up to now? (You can see how life can be drowned in a series of googling endeavors.)
Okay, I have to - slightly - amend my blog post of yesterday. I'm not sure that Plato is the true God of the Jesuits. I mean, Jesus surrounded himself with men who had either shunned their families or taken some kind of vow that caused them not to have families. Yes, ture. But the way Plato (and Socrates) describes this utopian society, ruled by a philosopher elite - well, the flavor of the description was completely Jesuitical to me. That's what struck me so deeply.
The description of the Apostles, for example, in the Bible - well, I never once thought of priests, let alone Jesuits.
In any case, I'm so hooked on the Greeks, man. I can't wait to learn more! I need to know so much more. Oh, why can't I just live at the library?
The thing that unhinged me was that as I listened I agreed with Pato's ideas! I have become more conservative, (or rather, more jaded perhaps) as I've gotten older and frankly listening to Will Durant paraphrase and then quote Plato, I was nodding my head the whole time! I think it does sound perfect - a group of people who are not bound by family and passionate obligation, who devote themselves to study and to governing. Yes, this idea is completely impractical given human behavior, but it is a great idea. And really, I liked the idea of the priesthood, and the convent too, when I was a Catholic. This romantic ideal is what made me want to be a nun. Frankly an organization like the Jesuits who models itself on Socrates and Plato sounds a lot better to me than an organization modeled on the Apostles as given to us in the Bible! (I know, it's not really a fair comparison.)
So, I'm still musing and thinking about this. Then as the day wore on, which was really busy and frenetic, I became obsessed with Will and Ariel Durant and would google them in between calls and errands. Wow, what a couple. Today my fantasy is to just take three years to read "The History Of Civilization." There's a DVD you can order from willdurant.com. It's a documentary I guess - it's an hour with Ariel and Will at home in the sixties. I want it. I really want it. But first I have to finish the book I'm currently listening to. Today it was all Aristotle. Oh... Aristotle. There's a whole OTHER topic. Wow, he really rejected so many, so so so many good and true ideas. And maybe because of this I like him all the more. He's so... human.
College - so wasted on youth. I wanna go back to school.
Posted by Julia Sweeney at 7:43 PM 13 comments:
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
I feel a little odd posting a picture of myself, but I didn't take any pictures today. Of the pictures I could choose to post, well, I don't feel I should be posting pics of Michael or Mulan without asking them first and they are watching TV. So here I am for your viewing pleasure.
Michael took this picture towards the end of Mulan's 10th birthday party on Sunday. Nine girls were in the basement dancing. The junk-filled room behind me is our basement guest room, where I threw everything from the other, bigger paneled room as I was wildly cleaning it up for the party.
We have a very arch-typical basement - lots of paneling, and it's one of the things I love about this house. In the basement, it's always 1975. The pictures on the wall around me are of our relatives, pictures we blew up for our wedding.
Once the party was in full swing, I was so tired. I think I had just said to Michael, "When do we get to start drinking?" And he took this picture. I was utterly exhausted.
I suddenly feel like a truly old parent. I can't believe my mother had five kids and threw big birthday parties for all of us. I'll be recovering from Mulan's birthday for about... a year.
I'm so sorry, but I just have to change the subject.
My mind is agog at the following realization: Plato is the true God of the Jesuits.
Now, to those of you well-versed with the Jesuitical mind-set and culture, what should be surprising is that this is - in any way - surprising.
I don't really know Plato very well. I mean, I knew the broad strokes - but I never read the Republic or his Dialogues or anything. I think I've even used the term "platonic ideal!" Now I realize that i have only a very superficial understanding of what that phrase really means. (Well, in my own defense, just try to understand Wikipedia's definition of platonic ideal.)
Mostly Plato seemed like gobbeldygook - a philosopher with great ideas but unfortunately who lived before science, psychology, and the social sciences usurped his musings with the cold hard facts of nature.
So, I've been listening to Will Durant's "The Story of Philosophy" on my dog-walk, on my ipod. And this is my probably obvious -to-many-but-not-to-me-until-now realization: THE TRUE GOD OF THE JESUITS IS PLATO! The Bible didn't inspire the Catholic organization of Europe - or the priesthood -or the Jesuits in particular - it was all Plato! Plato, Plato, Plato - Lordy it's so obvious!!!
C'mon, the ideas - that the men who are "worthy" and "of merit" should be living apart from others - shunning marriage and children, and rule over the others. It's all in there, everything. It was so familiar - the point of view, it gave me chills. The whole flavor of Plato - is so much like the spirit of the Jesuits -- the way they think of themselves, the way they've been organized, the way they look at the world, y'know, it's not really Biblical at all.
That was my big astonishment reading the Bible - it was so hard to believe that this was the book that inspired the religion that I had been a part of. Jesus didn't seem like he would have been Catholic, and particularly not Jesuit.
But hearing Will Durant read excerpts of Plato, I am, frankly, thunderstruck. I had to actually stop walking a few times and just breathe deeply. And the thing is, Plato even says that belief in the supernatural - well, ha ha, that's for the masses! That's for the common folk who cannot live without a supernatural moral code and need to think that God is watching them always.
And that was just exactly the feeling I got from the Jesuits I happen to be friends with when I began to question everything about God. Their reaction wasn't to refute what I was saying - no not at all. Their reaction was more like, well as if I as a member of, yes - one of the lower classes! One of the ones that should believe because it's "good" for me and my type - y'know the non-thinkers of the world (and more to the point - the women of the world!) We weren't supposed to wrestle with these questions. We were supposed to be comforted by the idea of god, more willing to send our sons off to war, more willing to die because we thought we would see our loved ones in heaven - religion was for people like me and I was breaking the rules - and that was the part that seemed the most upsetting to them.
Anyway... that's what i'm thinking about today.
Posted by Julia Sweeney at 8:18 PM 10 comments:
Monday, November 02, 2009
We took Mulan to The American Girl store on Saturday and had a birthday lunch with her at the cafe. They give your doll her own special seat, and this is Mulan's doll enjoying a cup of tea. It's really pretty funny. In the bathroom, in the stalls, there's a place to put your doll while you... ahem, go. I don't know why I love the American Girl Dolls so much, I should hate the whole thing. But I love the clothes, and the accessories, and the historical doll's stories.
When Mulan was five, and first discovered American Girl dolls, I made a deal with her that if she got rid of all her Barbies I would let her have an American Girl Doll. She agreed. But Barbies, as we know, are uber-post-pubescent and American Girl dolls are pre. I can see Mulan is beginning to lose interest - a wee bit -- in the American Girl dolls. She is gravitating towards Barbies again. She likes the fashion. And oh god, I really don't like the Barbies all that much. Now she's been given a few and I haven't made her give them up. Oh well. But as I watch her play between the younger looking dolls and the super-sexualized dolls - it's just like her at 10, on the edge...
We began to watch Giada DeLaurentis on The Food Channel and she is always showing us her ample bosoms. Now it's become a word we use, certain girls are "Giada'd out" or certain Barbies are "Giada-ing it" in certain outfits. That makes me laugh.
On the topic of Giada DeLaurentis - her show - it's so food porn! I know it's a cliche now to say that about the food channel shows, but her shows really really are. There's all this music and close ups of cutting and fingers wiping off knives, and it's not for any real reason - it's not to show a technique or anything, it's just to get you all hyped up, if y'know what I mean...
Posted by Julia Sweeney at 4:30 PM 12 comments:
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