It's part-time and short-term, a couple of hours three days a week for three weeks. Someone's regular assistant is out on vacation, and the person she'd originally gotten to fill in for her during that time had to back out. So she asked someone if he could put out a request on my parents' synagogue's email mailing list. My mother forwarded it to me, I got a job interview lined up within a couple of hours after sending in my application, and maybe sixteen hours after the interview itself I got a call saying I could come in on Monday.
So I knew someone, who knew someone, who knew someone, who needed someone. Even if that first someone is my mother, it's still a fairly respectable chain.
I'd very much like to know what it was I said to get this position, and I'll try to remember to ask at the end. I'll do what I can to spin it to three and a half to four weeks, since it's nice to get out of my apartment and having the time constraint is helping me better manage my schoolwork and my other part-time, long-term gig. And when it does end, I'll feel like I'm positively rolling in free time.
I could still use someone to glance through it and make sure it all flows, if anyone's got a free afternoon in mid-March.
One of the more controversial elements of Alexander (2004, dir. Oliver Stone) when it came out was the film’s suggestion that Alexander was homosexual. A group of Greek lawyers actually threatened to sue Stone over the issue, and the theatrical cut of the film largely avoided the issue (so far as I can recall, at any rate). But in the Ultimate Cut that stone released in 2012, Alexander (Colin Farrell) is shown being attracted to men.
In the film Alexander has a favorite male slave, Bagoas (Francisco Bosch), who is presented as sharing his bed. At one point, Alexander gets into bed, and Bagoas climbs in with him and they kiss. On Alexander’s wedding night, when Alexander beds her, Bagoas briefly enters the room, sees that there is someone else in the bed, and discretely leaves. In another scene, Bagoas dances publicly for Alexander in a rather sexual fashion, and Alexander kisses him. So the film pretty clearly shows Alexander as having a male concubine.
More significantly, his relationship with Hephaestion (Jared Leto) is shown as being more than platonic, although the two men are not directly shown having sex. In one scene, when they are being tutored by Aristotle (Christopher Plummer) as boys, Aristotle starts to talk about Achilles and Patroclus. Hephaestion gives Alexander a pointed looked and asks if Achilles’ love for Patroclus was corrupting. Aristotle replies that when two men lie together in lust, it does nothing for their excellence, but when two men lie together in love, it is a pure thing. On Alexander’s wedding night, Hephaestion gives Alexander a ring and the two men embrace. Roxane walks in and gets upset, asking if her husband loves Hephaestion. Alexander replies that there are many ways to love someone, and then has rather violent sex with her. When Hephaestion dies, Alexander goes crazy and either intentionally tries to get himself poisoned or goes on a bender and falls fatally ill. As he is dying, he holds up Hephaestion’s ring. So while the film isn’t explicit, it seems pretty obvious to me that Stone wants viewers to connect the dots.
So, was Alexander the Great gay?
Homosexuality in Ancient Greece
First, we have to acknowledge that the ancient Greeks had no concept of ‘sexual orientation’ or the like. They had no idea that most people are only attracted to the opposite sex but that some are attracted to the same sex or to both. Instead, the ancient Greeks seem to have looked at the choice of sex partners as a matter of taste, mood, and intention. They understood that many men occasionally had sex with other men or with teenage boys, but this did not mean these men did not also have sex with women. A man could easily have a wife or concubine and a boyfriend. Such attractions were to some extent treated as an issue of taste, the way a modern man might say he prefers blondes over brunettes, or say that he’s a ‘legs man’ or a ‘boobs man’. Some authors such as Plato argued that the most meaningful forms of love could only occur between men, and that real love could not exist between a man and his wife, in part because she was likely to be uneducated and therefore could not act as an emotional companion.
When the Greeks spoke about same-sex attractions, they most commonly did so through the lens of the erastes-eromenos relationship. The erastes was an older, married man (so, at least in concept, a man in his later 20s or older) who gave affection to his eromenos; he was the ‘lover’. The eromenos, or ‘beloved’, was a younger male, somewhere between early teens to early 20s, who was the recipient of affection. The erastes was both a sexual lover and a mentor to the eromenos, someone who helped usher him into adult male society through socialization. Whereas modern Americans view one of the father’s duties as teaching his sons ‘how to be men’, the ancient Greeks felt that this duty belonged at least in part to the erastes.
But this was a complex relationship, because in the Greek world, sex was an expression of power relationships at least as much as it was an expression of romantic feelings. A man was expected to have sex with those who were beneath him socially. His wife was beneath him because she was a woman. His slaves were beneath him because they were his property. Male and female prostitutes were beneath him because they were lower class. And his eromenos was beneath him because the eromenos was not a full adult. But the eromenos would eventually reach adulthood and become a full citizen. This made homosexual sex an awkward issue for the Greeks, because it was acceptable for a teen or young men to be sexually receptive, but a fully adult man was expected to only be sexually active. Ok, let’s be blunt, an adult man had to be the penetrative partner. To be penetrated was perceived to be unmanly. It was socially awkward for an adult man to have been sexually penetrated when he was younger, because it raised questions about his masculinity as a full adult.
So the Greeks generally avoided talking directly about exactly what happened when an erastes got busy with his eromenos; looking too closely at that made them anxious. Consequently, many earlier scholars insisted either that this was a non-sexual relationship or that it involved non-penetrative forms of sex such as frottage (which is scholar-speak for dry humping).
In theory, Greek men only had sex with younger, unmarried men. But in practice, things were probably more complicated than that. We also know that the Thebans and the Spartans expected their soldiers to form romantic and sexual relationships, because they would fight harder to impress their partners and to keep them alive. The elite Theban troops, the Sacred Band, were compromised of such partners. And modern homosexual relationships often involve an older and a young adult partner; ‘daddies’ and their ‘boys’ are both full adults, but the older man takes a leadership role in the relationship. This suggests to me (and I think to other gay scholars who have considered this) that the eromenos may not always have been a literal ‘boy’, but merely a younger man. In other words, two adult Greek men may well have had a sexual relationship, despite the fact that such a relationship would violate the cultural norm.
Far from being a shadowy thing, same-sex love was celebrated as a cultural ideal that even the great heroes and the gods engaged in. Zeus kidnapped the mortal ‘boy’ Ganymede to be his immortal eromenos, and Apollo pursued Hyacinthus for the same reason. In fact, every major Greek god other than Ares is described as having a male lover. The greatest warrior in Greek literature, Achilles, famously fights to avenge his dead companion Patroclus in The Iliad. Homer never explicitly describes the men as lovers, but by the Classical era in Greek culture (roughly, 510-323 BC), the two men were understood be erastes and eromenos, although there was a debate about which role was played by which man.
So what about Alexander? We know that he married three women, the Bactrian noblewoman Roxane, supposedly out of love, and the Persian princesses Stateria and Parysatis, supposedly for political reasons. Roxane gave him a son and miscarried a second child, so clearly they were having sex. He also had a son by a concubine Barsine. So it is clear that if he was attracted to men, it was not so strongly that he didn’t also have sex with at least two women. Thus in modern terms, he was not gay, but may have been bisexual.
His relationship with Bagoas is not well-detailed. Plutarch tells us that Bagoas won a dancing competition before Alexander, and the troops urged Alexander to kiss him, and another author describes Alexander as kissing Bagoas very passionately, to the applause of the troops. But whether he became Alexander’s concubine is unknown; that’s a modern idea largely created by Mary Renault in her novel The Persian Boy.
Alexander’s relationship with Hephaestion is more complicated to figure out. It is clear that the two of them were extremely close throughout their lives. Several ancient authors claim that Alexander described Hephaestion as his alter ego, implying for ancient audiences that the two men enjoyed the deepest friendship possible. But were they more than friends?
Only one ancient author, the philosopher Diogenes of Sinope, explicitly says that the two men were lovers. A letter, supposed written by Diogenes but possibly a forgery, says that Alexander was “ruled by Hephaestion’s thighs.”
However, Arrian tells us that when Alexander first led his army from Greek into Asia Minor, he stopped at Troy, where he laid a wreath at Achilles’ tomb and Hephaestion did the same at Patroclus’ tomb. The symbolism of that gesture is powerful and a strong suggestion that they saw themselves as having the same kind of relationship. If that’s true, then they were lovers.
If that’s the case, why don’t any ancient authors explicitly say the men were lovers? One possible answer is that there was the same uncertainty about them as about Achilles and Patroclus. Which one of them was the erastes? Alexander was undoubtedly the higher status man, which means he ought to have been the lover, but Diogenes’ accusation carries the suggestion that Alexander was not the one in charge of the relationship. The idea that the greatest conqueror in the ancient world might have been the one getting penetrated would have been as shocking as it would be for a modern action hero in a film to be getting penetrated. But while Hephaestion was socially the inferior partner, he was still a full adult and a very important man, so he could not have been the receptive partner either. So perhaps ancient authors discretely passed over this question by simply talking about an intimate friendship and assuming the reader would draw the fairly obvious conclusion.
There’s no slam-dunk proof that Alexander carpe’d the diem with Hephaestion. Given the evidence, I think it makes sense to assume that he did, and that in modern terms he was bisexual. But it’s possible that he was, in modern terms, straight and merely enjoyed a very close friendship with Hephaestion. The gay community wants to reclaim as much of its history as possible, and having one of the greatest conquerors in world history in our camp carries considerable symbolism, as those Greek lawyers understood. But wanting Alexander to be gay is not proof that he actually was, and we’ll probably just have to accept that, as with so many other details of his personality, we can’t completely resolve the issue.
Want to Know More?
Amazon doesn’t carry the Ultimate Cut, but does carry Alexander, Revisited: The Final Cut (Two-Disc Special Edition). Stone based his film on Robin Lane Fox’s Alexander the Great. Fox is a well-regarded ancient historian, but at almost 600 pages, reading it is a serious commitment. If you want something a bit shorter (and more recent), I liked Ian Worthington’s Alexander the Great: Man and God. If you want to dig a bit deeper into Alexander, you might start with Alexander the Great: A Reader. And if you want to read one of the original sources, start with Arrian’s account, available as The Campaigns of Alexander (Classics).
- His email said lots of scary intelligent things about my project that makes it sound like he knows a lot more than I do and will have very high expectations that will be difficult to meet!
+ But that will be good for the project, and I can/have met high expectations in the past. Besides, the profs are supposed to know more than the students, that's kind of the point.
- This means I have to break it to my least-wanted committee member that I don't want him at all any more!
+ But he's leaving the uni! So maybe he is secretly hoping to dump grad students where possible so as not to stay bound to old responsibilities.
- To find out, I will have to write another scary email and have another scary meeting.
+ I had a good idea about my diss!
- It will be a challenge to implement.
+ I wrote thousands of words this week!
- I think most of them will have to be cut--the story is already unwieldy at its current length
+ I am excited about coding again!
- Which reminds me I am not very good at coding.
+ But I am excellent at learning!
- Oh man all my deadlines are zooming towards me.
+ But in an exciting way. I hope.
OK, this time I really mean it. 50 is it. There will be no more mitosis! If the characters want to get chatty about anything else, it will have to wait for the next book.
Also, SEX. Goddamn it, there will actually be some smut in this NC-17 fic. And there is now slightly more hope for some Gwen/Morgana, though their situation isn't entirely certain yet. Gwen ended up with two more POV chapters plus the epilogue flashback chapter, so that should give them enough space to sort themselves out at least a little. But I have two M/A sex scenes planned, one minor and one major. Assuming I remember which tab goes into which slot after all this time. *eyerolls*
Call them holes. They probably have a shape (the function they need to play in the current section, a few characteristics of whatever fits there, but not a full definition). But lots of things might fit, one way or another, and I don't know what the best thing is.
If I try to hold it in my head, I'll probably forget (I have a terrible memory over the course of years and books worth of stuff).
So I need some way to capture holes, so that I remember to try to fill them when I'm writing other sections.
(I suppose I could just make a list, instead of trying to remember, and see if that helps. To go with the list of stuff that probably ought to go somewhere but I'm not sure where. Or maybe I could tag scenes as having holes...the list is probably easier to look at and muse about, though.)
While I'm procrastinating, have a meme:
Give me a fandom and I'll tell you my:
[softly] don’t notp
highkey otp but i’m scared of saying it because it’s not a very popular choice
highkey otp and everyone knows it
Note, since it's me you might get some weird answers. For example, I believe Kirk/Enterprise to be one of the greatest Star Trek pairings ever.
Also, Festivids is live, go enjoy the awesomeness.
Feel free to yell at me and tell me to go back to writing.
P.S. It is so weird commenting on LJ with only 15 icons.
P.P.S. I got bored and cleaned up my circle on Dreamwidth. Let me know if I unsubscribed/revoked access to you by mistake.
Feeling better today, not so much like a nine-pound hammer is banging on my head though I'm taking it easy, will see about going in to work tomorrow.
Pardon me, are you Aaron Burr, sir?
That depends, who's asking?
The man won’t even commit to his own name without testing first to see how it will be received: the ultimate weathervane.
That scene and the introduction of the revolutionaries which follows is a great example of introducing people in a brief lyric that sums up the essentials of their character, which is often a good thing to do in a story with a large cast. You can give them more complexity later. Right now, the audience just needs to remember who they are and get a general sense of what they’re about.
Other than Hamilton himself, who got a lengthy introductory song, every else’s intros in the first number went by very quickly and without identifying them by name; they only become meaningful in retrospect, when you find out that the man who said, “I trusted him” was George Washington.
The doubling of Act I/Act II characters, which I didn’t even notice on my first listen until Jefferson started rapping and I suddenly realized that it was the same guy as Lafayette, makes their one-line intro work for both characters. Mulligan/Madison and Lafayette/Jefferson’s “We fought with him” is a play on double meanings: they fought beside Hamilton in Act I and against him in Act II. That must be so heartbreaking onstage to actually see the band of brothers become enemies. Not to mention Laurens/Philip’s “I died for him.” (If I was LMM, I would have made more of Laurens’ death. Maybe he does more with it onstage?)
The revolutionaries announce themselves 80s rap style, which was an era with a lot of songs that summed up as “I’m So-And-So, and I’m super awesome!” (Also lots of political songs, but Miranda seems to be specifically parodying the “Yo, I’m badass and get all the chicks” subgenre.) What’s funnier in retrospect is that Laurens and Lafayette evolve their own styles after that, but Mulligan stays in that style all the way through. When he makes his surprise re-entrance later, it’s with this:
Hercules Mulligan, I need no introduction!
You knock me down, I get the fuck back up again!
His lyrics are way simpler and more straightforward than those of other characters at that point in the play. There’s no alliteration, minimal internal rhyming, and the rhyming isn’t particularly clever: Mulligan/introduction/again is an unimpressive rhyme compared to, say, destitute/restitution or any of the endlessly inventive and funny “Burr, sir” rhymes (of which my personal favorite is “You punched the bursar?”) The vocabulary is very simple. The only exception is “covenant,” but most characters in the play use a lot of very sophisticated vocabulary, not just one medium-difficult word. Compare to a completely typical Hamilton line a few songs back, in this case from Washington: We rendezvous with Rochambeau/Consolidate their gifts. Rhythmically, Mulligan’s delivery lacks the jaw-dropping speed of Lafayette (which indicates both Lafayette’s quicksilver intelligence and his fighting style that leaves the enemy reeling.)
In short, Mulligan’s musical and lyrical style is basic, but in the literal rather than insulting sense— so basic that it wraps around and becomes totally awesome. In case it’s not clear, I love him. He’s one of my favorite characters in the entire play. Also a great example of making a huge impression in a smallish role. (Though it does match oddly with his actual role in the Revolution, which is being the undercover man. Mulligan’s entire character is about “what you see is what you get,” which is the opposite of what you want in a spy. Since we never actually see or get any musical/lyrical indication that Mulligan can be anything but HERCULES MULLIGAN, it gives the impression that the Redcoats were really not paying attention.)
Mulligan’s style strikes me as both in-character and a musical joke about his type of rap and the era it came from. (Not all ‘80s rap was like that, of course, but the joke is about the part that was.) So many “I’m cool! You’re a fool!” songs. SO MANY. Blasting from boom-boxes. Blaring from car radios with the windows rolled down. Teenagers performing absolutely terrible songs they wrote themselves, complete with hand gestures that are now only used in parodies. If you were there, you remember. And also, you probably had horrific hair.
Back to the character intros! All the revolutionaries are in “Yo, I’m So-and-So and here’s why I’m cool” mode, but they also say specific things which imply a lot about themselves in a very few words:
Those redcoats don’t want it with me!
‘Cuz I will pop-chick-a-pop those cops till I’m free.
Laurens, the abolitionist, talks about freedom. He also mentions fighting cops, which suggests political radicalism. (Uh. I assume that means “fighting.”) It’s also a very dangerous thing to do, especially for a black man. So it foreshadows his death, most likely by gunfire. (So does “Fools who shoot their mouths off wind up dead.”)
Ah oui, oui, mon ami, je m'appelle Lafayette.
Key facts about Lafayette: 1) He’s French. (There may be a nod to Les Miserables’ Les Amis in the “mon ami”):
The Lancelot of the revolutionary set.
2) He’s effortlessly and genuinely the coolest person in the room, even when he hasn’t quite got the hang of English, and also a great warrior: Lancelot, the larger-than-life hero:
And then we have Hercules Mulligan:
Braaaah! Braaaah! I am Hercules Mulligan!
Up in it, lovin’ it!
And then a reiteration of Burr and Hamilton’s philosophies:
If you stand for nothing, Burr,
what’ll you fall for?
One of the things that makes this musical endlessly re-listenable is how packed almost every line is.
First, the line is a play on a proverb, “Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.” When I looked it up, I found that it’s of uncertain lineage… but has been attributed to the historic Hamilton. (If there is one way that Alexander Hamilton is like Yogi Berra, it’s that if some phrase of an unknown origin sounds like something he might have said, it’s liable to be attributed to him.)
Burr may stand for nothing, but Hamilton falls in the duel. But Burr falls too: standing for nothing is the basis for his clash with Hamilton, which destroys Burr too.
There’s also two interesting plays on phrases. “Stand for nothing” is reminiscent of “stop at nothing:” ruthless, especially in pursuit of a goal. That certainly applies to both men, and is exactly what leads to their mutual destruction.
“Fall for” can mean “be fooled,” as in the proverb. The direct cause of the duel was Burr’s belief that Hamilton was saying unspecified bad things about him. It’s possible that someone either lied to Burr about that, or it was true but someone deliberately informed him in the hope of engineering some sort of fight that would damage or destroy one or both men, either out of personal enmity or hope of political gain. I don’t recall this being implied in the play, but historically, I think it was a possibility. Those guys both had plenty of rivals and personal enemies apart from each other, so it’s possible.
If someone did lie to or manipulate him, Burr fell for it. The historic Hamilton certainly seemed baffled about what the hell Burr thought Hamilton was saying about him, and he normally didn’t hold back on his opinions. If he was saying insulting stuff, it would have been more in-character for him to admit it and pile on. I could imagine him saying something along the lines of, “I said a dead horse would make a better vice-President, because it’s true. That was in comparison to our current VP, who is a live jackass.” Instead, he basically said, “I don’t know what the fuck you think I’m saying about you, so I can’t repeat the details of your own fevered imagination. You’ve really lost it this time, Burr. Pistols at dawn.”
More commonly, “fall for” means “to love.” So who or what does Burr truly love? His mistress, Theodosia? His daughter, not yet conceived, who will motivate him to go ahead and take that final shot? Power, which drives the rivalry that takes both men down?
All that, in just ten words.
The hot chocolate was really good, though. And so was TFA. And it was fun to see it with someone who hadn't seen it, hadn't been spoiled, and has no real attachment to Star Wars (L. is more of a Trek fan) beyond having seen and enjoyed the OT once. But the first thing she said to me when we settled in at the diner to talk about it, was ( spoilers )
Given Obi-Wan's appearances in the Star Wars comics, I really feel an Obi-Wan movie with Ewan McGregor gallivanting around Tatooine fighting bounty hunters and gangsters would be pretty awesome. I'm just saying. (I mean, I still want an Ahsoka movie, but I know that's never gonna happen.)
So I didn't get to see any Tuesday night TV at all. I guess it's good we've got a three-day weekend coming up, so I can catch up!
What I'm reading Wednesday:
What I've finished
Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton, which I really enjoyed. I found the split in the goodreads reviews interesting - I don't read a lot of memoirs, so I don't know if I need to like the person telling the story, or just find them entertaining, but I found Hamilton very entertaining, and not just because the writing was so strong (though there was some occasional tense weirdness where suddenly things would be in present tense). Her stories were interesting! I mean, no, I don't understand why she hates her mother so much and yet her father - seemingly equally culpable - gets no mention at all, and I don't really get her marriage, but I loved the descriptions of that annual family holiday in Puglia so much that I don't really care? So yeah, I really enjoyed it.
What I'm reading now
How to Be Both by Ali Smith, which falena mentioned last week, and the library had it, so. It's...interesting. Again, really strong writing, but a little too aware of itself as a literary novel, maybe? I found it difficult going to start, but then got used to it (the use of colons in place of a lot of other punctuation is weird), though it's still slow going, but not necessarily in a bad way? We'll see if I finish it in time to get it back to the library.
What I'm reading next
This morning, I got an email from NYPL saying that The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness is available, so probably that. I've heard good things, and hopefully I will like it more than I liked that trilogy he wrote (hopefully it won't have the same irritating writing tics). I guess we'll see!
Bold it certainly is, creating a rich tapestry of conjecture, unsullied and unrestrained by facts. This is one of the most execrable pieces of purported history I have come across, and I have come across quite a few. If there is no evidence for an assertion however outlandish, assert it nonetheless, claim that it must have been so, and so it was so. Turgid in style, tepid in content, inane in analysis. Do not read it, other than for laughs - it did provoke quite a few not just from me but from friends to whom I gleefully read extracts- and do not buy it. I did, alas.
I see a drinking game in this book's future. But onwards to the meat of the matter!
( Read more... )
ETA ONLY CONNECT, FUCKWITS! ONLY CONNECT!
Only two eighteenth century women are known to have stood in dock for their buccaneering on the high seas: Mary Read and Ann Bonny...The past two decades of profound feminist thinking about the ways women are controlled offer a lens through which we can view the treatment of women pirates by the judicial system.
NOT WITH A SAMPLE SIZE OF TWO YOU CAN'T.
ETFA Mind you, I defy anyone to decode this gem:
As with witches accused of consorting with the devil, the lesbian imputation put on Read and Bonny may have been a reason to devalue them further, though their lesbianism may have been real and an additional reason for hauling them before the bench.
Well, which was it?
*Greenland. Colonised by Norsemen. Note the word "colonised". Erik the Red clearly had women in his fleet and presumably children and given how bloody difficult it probably was to get a longship across the Atlantic I bet everyone who could work the ship did.
** And no, the motto "terra marique potens" does NOT proclaim its holder "Lord of the Seas around Ireland" any more than a frog is a fish.
*** Their definition is not only muddled by ill-advised applications of post-colonial theory, in which fleets belong to colonising Powers, being as morally bad as pirates, become pirates, it includes people like Artemisia of Halicarnassus, who was, of course, admiral of her own fleet, which she brought, very properly (apart from the friendly ramming incident), to the aid of the Great King when required as a loyal vassal to fight at Salamis.
Song: There Will Never Be Another Tonight
Fandom: Agent Carter (season two)
Artist: Bryan Adams
Warnings: spoilers for 2x01 and 2x02; otherwise none
Summary: Make a little magic, raise some hell. They're back and making trouble in LA! Footage is from the first two episodes of season two.
Download and streaming at my journal.
Song: There Will Never Be Another Tonight
Artist: Bryan Adams
Fandom: Agent Carter Season 2 (footage from 2x01 and 2x02)
Summary: Make a little magic, raise some hell. They're back, and making trouble in LA!
Download: MP4 (110 Mb) | DIVX (88 Mb)
( Embed and lyrics under the cut )
( Agent Carter 2.05 The Atomic Job )
( The Shannara Chronicles 1.07 Breakline )