Siege Diaries 4/29/2021


Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt: What do I feel when I look up at the sky?

Well, then.  This prompt has hit right upon the central mystery of my life–the ability to gaze upon the unknown, the starscapes of the universe revealing the foundations of time itself.  I can observe it, and feel dwarfed by its immensity, but at the same time, be stunned at the improbability that I am not only here to see it, but have the ability to perceive both its beauty understand just what I cannot possibly understand.  Stargazing is an exercise in contradictions–I am looking upon what might have ceased to exist millions of years ago, but yet it is real.  Time itself is a dimension, and as such no person who has ever existed can truly be said to have ceased existing–we just lack the capability of physically touching them.   I see the dance of the universe playing out to choreography I only vaguely grasp, but I need no deep knowledge of quantum physics to perceive the rhythm.  I know also that the universe has no feelings, for better or for worse.   Even if there is a higher power, I doubt that it exists to govern the lives of living beings.   Some call that sad.  It is not–it simply is.  But we as human beings have that ability to, by our actions, impact the lives of other beings by our actions, by our words, by what we create and what we destroy–for better or for worse.


Things are really starting to ramp up here on the vaccine front.  Predictions are being made that everyone should be eligible for a first dose by the end of May, with the first two weeks in May being focused on getting 50% of the shots to hotspots.   On the flip side, I’ve also seen reports of what’s happening in India.  Like in Brazil, you have an out-of-control pandemic and a national leader who not only doesn’t care, but seems willing to use the crisis to gain political advantage.  It’s frightening.  My work colleagues with family there are terrified.  And I don’t think it’s anything that any outside country will be able to fix, even if everyone throws vaccine and medical supplies and doctors at them because the rot at the top has, as one article put it, “hollowed out” the country (particularly its medical system.)  And this in a country that, while always known for grinding poverty, has also been known for producing brilliant scientists.


I signed up to put in an entry in the Non-English Asynchronous category for the upcoming SCA Bardic War.  I assumed that I’d probably do one of Horace’s Odes.  And, as I mentioned here, I decided I needed some videos to brush up on how to properly perform classical Latin poetry–which completely changed my approach and made me realize the way I’d learned it years before was actually wrong.  In watching the second of these videos, on elegaic couplets, I fell in love with the rhythm of dactylic hexameter alternating with dactylic pentametre.  So I decided to find poems using this metre instead.  I was leaning towards Ovid (along with Catullus, the most famous poet who used the metre) when I ran across Sulpicia.  She was a poet of the Augustan age who has six extant poems definitively attributed to her, all in elegiac couplets.  None of them is very long. I was sold.  I’ve printed out all six of them, visited a site that marked macrons (long vowels) for me, and have just finished marking up the metre.  Now I’ll begin working them up.  I’m hoping to be able to do all six of them, but that’s a stretch goal.  

New Kickstarter pins arrived today.  The one on the right (above) is a version of the famous Mahler Cat, as seen in the viral video below….