...except for me and my monkey! "Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see." -Rene Magritte

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Canadian Rhapsody

I just got back from Ryan's senior piano recital. He played excellently, although I have to admit I wasn't crazy about most of the music. The Chopin etudes were nice, but the only piece I recognized was Lizst's Hungarian Rhapsody. It was funny: there was a palpable sigh of recognition that went up in the auditorium when he hit that famous duh-duh-duh-DUH duh-duh-duh-DUH part in the second half--trust me, you'd recognize it if you heard it.

Yesterday I had an oral defense of my final paper for Kugler's Biblical Studies seminar. The focus of the class is the extent to which Jews living in Egypt under the Ptolemaic Empire (about 300 to 30 BCE, more or less) took on the characteristics of their Hellenistic environs, or conversely to what extent they held fast to their Jewish identity (necesitating the question of whether there even was a Jewish identity, and if so, how can we measure it). For the final project, each of us were to choose a literary text written by an Egyptian Jew of the time--I chose Artapanus,, who you've already heard a little about--and use that text as a means of understanding Egyptian Judaism and the Jewish identity of the time. For our last paper, we had to gather all the scholarship on our text's date, provenance, genre, authorial intent, etc, and come to some conclusion about when, where, and why it was written. For the final paper, we have to posit the text's "horizon of expectations" (yeah Gadamer!)--that is, what the text seems to be saying about its own intent, and what sort of society it presumes--as well as the horizon of expectations of the text's original recipients. Then, having developed those two horizons, we smoosh them together and predict what the result of the fusion of the two horizons would have been, and what it would have meant for our central questions about Jewish diasporic identity.

It's a pretty complex paper, and I'm nowhere near even starting to write. I'm not even completely sure I understand what Kugler means when he talks about the text's own horizon of expectations. Regardless, Katie C., a friend who's also working on Artapanus, and I had to present our research yesterday. I think it went pretty well, and Kugler said afterwards that I had a "strong argument" about why Artapanus, in his retelling of the Moses story from the Old Testament, leaves out any mention of the 10 Commandments. I'm no closer to starting to write the thing, but at least I don't have to worry about the presentation over the weekend.

Last night Amy, Peggy, Carla, Anna, Chris B., Eric, Riana, and Matt S. came over for drinks and to watch The Baby-Sitters Club. The brain! The brain! The center of the chain! A good time was had by all.

Next up on the docket: Foreign Policy essay about how the US' economic involvement in the 1973 Chilean coup was a turning point in US foreign policy (Monday); Gender Studies self-portrait presentation, project, and paper (Tuesday, more on that later); Buddhism paper on a comtemporary misunderstanding of Buddhism (Thursday). Whee!