February 17, 2011
Guess who's coming to dinner
I've been blogging off and on lately about Beowulf, along with current events. It really is a cool story with both ancient and universal themes.
One big theme in the ancient and medieval world was the problem of hospitality or how to deal with guests, hosts and strangers. It may well be that humans are hard wired to have an in-group/out-group orientation, which makes dealing with strangers, singularly or in groups, an ambiguous matter. New people might prove to be good friends or dangerous enemies and both host and guest posed potential threats to each other.
Issues of guests, hosts and hospitality were major themes in the Iliad and Odyssey and other Greek myths as well as in the Bible and other sources. It's no surprise that this is also an issue in the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf, which portrays societies that spend at least part of the time raiding each other.
What would you do if 15 heavily armed proto-Vikings showed up on your doorstep? Or, if you were one of the 15, how would you convince those who met you that you meant no harm? And, by the way, how much mead is there in the cellar, anyway?
Before any major monster-killing can be done, these kinds of details have to be sorted out. More on that to come.
WHAT'S NOT ON THE TABLE. Here's an op-ed by a co-worker of mine about what is missing from deficit reduction discussions.
THE LESS BAD PARTS of President Obama's proposed budget are discussed here.
STICKER SHOCK. A new Harvard study of the costs of coal finds a bigger bottom line.
AN ODD COINCIDENCE. It just so happened that just before the basically nonviolent Egyptian revolution burst upon the scene I started rereading a volume of Gene Sharp on non-violent action. I couldn't help thinking of him as events unfolded. Here's a profile of Sharp from today's New York Times.
OLD DOGS. Here's a look at the canine family tree from wolf to woof.
GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED