Re-post for the Death of DOMA — The Proposition, A Letter to Mainers

In honor of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling (unlikely, I feared, in light of recent decisions on Voting Rights and Affirmative Action), we are reposting one of my favorite and most passionate posts. Here’s some ancient Greek to get you in the mood:

“Love is the name for the desire and pursuit of that oneness, that ancient nature we shared when we were whole.”

τοῦτο γάρ ἐστι τὸ αἴτιον, ὅτι ἡ ἀρχαία φύσις ἡμῶν ἦν αὕτη καὶ ἦμεν ὅλοι: τοῦ ὅλου οὖν τῇ ἐπιθυμίᾳ καὶ διώξει ἔρως ὄνομα (Plato, Symposium 192e-193a)

Note: This post is politically oriented and strongly felt. If you think it might help change minds, share it wherever you may–pseudonymity be damned!

(And for the politically disinclined, tune back in this weekend for our regularly scheduled programming)

In the final episode of the first season of Showtime’s series Homeland, Sgt. Brody (Damien Lewis) takes his family to Gettysburg as he prepares to turn himself into a suicide bomber.  Before the battlefield, he tells them the story of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain to justify his actions (in his own mind) before they even know what he’s talking about.

Chamberlain taught himself Ancient Greek, became a Professor at Bowdoin College and led the defense of Little Round Top at the Battle of Gettysburg with an insane bayonet charge against superior numbers. (He was later awarded the Medal of Honor.)

Sickly (and meaningfully for the show), Sgt. Brody tries to claim Chamberlain’s bravery, resourcefulness and patriotism for his planned act of domestic terrorism. (Equipment failure and a change of heart alter his plans.) But his repeated praise of the bravery of a teacher from Maine stuck with me well after the end of the show

Schooner Fare “Portland Town”

Schooner Fare is a Downeast band that I heard so many times growing up I can’t count it. They put sea shanties in my blood and dreams.

Continue reading

Playing out (play)List

“We’re local celebrities now, I’m serious” – the youngerj

You may have noticed that the younger j has not been posting as much. While he blames it on procrastination and seems to think it raises my ire (well, more hackles than ire), the truth is, I know how busy he is. And, to boot, I also know that he’s doing something important.

See, my brother is in a country band. This all happened quite quickly. He started playing the bass before our father passed away and then got serious about it. (Cue crazy musical training montage.) Then, before I knew it he was in a band.

Continue reading

Review of Francois Noudelmann, “The Philosopher’s Touch: Sartre, Nietzsche, and Barthes at the Piano” | Inside Higher Ed

At a time when fewer youths are learning music in school and we gut arts’ budgets, maybe we should remember that music is for more than entertainment.

As my brother and I often try to show, the music we listen to makes us contemplate not just sound, but the world that sound inhabits and the place we have within it.

But we’re not terribly original in this…perhaps just a bit intense in the way we approach it. The ancient greek philosopher Pythagoras believed saw mathematics as a language that could explain or express the world he found around him–Plato drew on this and saw music not just as a great way to train the minds of his elite, but also as a way to understand the world. Harmony, for Plato, and the ratios embedded in music, were part of the secret fabric of reality.

Interested in the connection between philosophy and music  or the connection between deep thought and musical thought? Here’s a neat review of a book that looks at some famous thinkers and their music habits…

Review of Francois Noudelmann, “The Philosopher’s Touch: Sartre, Nietzsche, and Barthes at the Piano” | Inside Higher Ed.

Philosophers love music. there. Oh, and musicians sometimes like philosophers too.


And since we’re talking about philsophers and music, I cannot resist this old Monty Python tune: