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    Latest Topics


    Rick Riordan and classical epic

    I love the Percy Jackson series. I love what it did for introducing kids to classical mythology, I love Percy and Annabeth so much as characters, and I love the cabin system of sorting kids. However, I am really interested in how Riordan took the content of classical epic (gods, battles, mythical creatures, heroics), and infused them with what is, in essence a very modern story of a misfit kid struggling to fit in and find out what he’s good at. Does Riordan borrow from epics like the Odyssey or the Aeneid in terms of style or characterization, or only in providing the window-dressing for what is just any other YA tale? Specifically, I’d be interested in seeing a character comparison of Odysseus and Percy Jackson, and ways that they are similar or contrasted, whether directly or indirectly in the series.

    • Personally, since you brought it up, another angle would be asking whether Riordan borrowed from Greek Mythology. Having said that, I do not see any objection with examining Riordan's works with the Odyssey, or the Iliad (though probably less with the Aeneid, because it is Roman in origin). As such, I would consider expanding the topic to include the aforementioned Greek Mythology, but have no problem with the topic as is. – JDJankowski 8 years ago
    • I mean, obviously Riordan borrows information from Greek mythology in general, and given that his second series, Heroes of Olympus, tries to hybridize Greek and Roman mythologies, I'm sure there is some borrowing from the Aeneid in his distinction between a typical Greek and Roman hero, culture, and ideal mindset. What interests me is to what extent Percy's characterization as an impulsive, affectionate, dorky middle schooler is utterly alien to the tone and kinds of characters we find in traditional examples of Greek mythology, like the Odyssey. My gut response is no, the people in the Odyssey are larger-than-life heroes, which is an interesting analysis of how we just use flavoring from other cultures to tell the same kinds of stories that fit our culture. However, Odysseus isn't the paragon of heroism or virtue - he lies, gets lucky, conveniently forgets about his wife, accidentally makes way too many enemies, has a smart mouth etc. I think the two of them could be more similar than we give them credit for, which would also have interesting implications for the series. – thekellyfornian 8 years ago
    • I think you make a very good point about the story here and though it has been a while since I've read the Percy jackson series, I do remember it being a bit of a leap from the classical myths. In Greek Mythology there is a lot more adult themes that appear which is why I think Riordan has tones it down for his series. I do think it is a great idea for him to add in more illusions to different Greek myths, but as these stories are meant for young adults, he needs to be careful about how he goes about including them. – laurenintheclouds 8 years ago

    Memento & Law Abiding Citizen

    I recently watched both of these films, and I am really interested in how they might relate to each other, and what they say about individual justice. Both films involve a dark, complicated, rather twisted pursuit of revenge by someone whose wife was murdered and is failed by the law. In Law Abiding Citizen, the protagonist is brilliant, analytical, and always miles ahead of everyone else, until the last scene. However, in Memento, you pity the protagonist, because he seems very helpless and manipulated by those around him, until the very last scene, where he asserts his autonomy. It would also be interesting to look at how favorably the film portrays each man’s brutal pursuit of justice, whether in how disturbing the inciting moment is, or how sympathetic their character is. To what extent is this personal pursuit of justice permissible, or even admirable? What does it do to the people who try to carry it out?

    • Very interesting. You could also look at how the performances of Gerard Butler and Guy Pearce are so interestingly differentiated, Butler's more overt and scheming approach that's gradually brought down by the efforts of Jamie Foxx's character grounding him in the harsh reality of the world, whereas Pearce's enigma is constantly on the move and confusing the viewer, playing on our sympathies before ruthlessly tearing them all to shreds in that final scene. – CalvinLaw 8 years ago
    • It is interesting how at the end of Memento it is no longer about revenge for Leonard, but about the possibility of meaning. Memento reveals how essential memory is to identity. – JLaurenceCohen 8 years ago

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    Latest Comments

    A little confused about the position of this article in regard to a Black Widow movie. After spending the majority of the time discussing how there are so few female characters in the MCU, and how much fans want a movie, it ends rather abruptly and anti-climatically with pointing out how bad spin-off movies tend to be. But, it’s not like Daredevil or Guardians of the Galaxy were bad movies/series, even if they are technically a spin-off of some side characters in the larger universe…

    Black Widow: Audiences' Expectations for Female Superheroes

    I think the really crucial thing to recognize with Vash’s optimism is that, yes, as a general principle, Wolfwood’s pragmatism will probably have better results. And, it’s not that Wolfwood’s ends-justify-the-means philosophy makes him a terrible person; he’s doing it for a decent reason, to literally “save the orphans.” However, this anime raises the question that maybe you can’t ever actually be both “helpful and compassionate…but [not] put yourself on the back burner.” If we want to avoid being Knives, we can’t, like Wolfwood, try and live in that moral gray area. If we are actually committed to being service-minded, then we have to put ourselves on the back burner and risk being burned out or even getting burned by others. Maybe, like Vash, we have to live idealistically, even if the world doesn’t conform to our ideals.

    Trigun's Vash the Stampede: The Struggles of Eternal Optimism

    This is definitely fascinating, and I appreciate all the outside research you’ve done for your piece. I really admire authors who use art to take a stand on an issue – to not just entertain, but expose and challenge. However, in my experience, sometimes novels written by a passionate author end up feeling too clunky and agenda-driven. Given that your review dwells more on the oppressive ideology that these characters are attempting to expose than the characters themselves, I’d be concerned about the same thing happening here.

    Victorian Gender Ideology: Silenced Sexuality and Suffocating Spheres

    I’m close to reading everything Neil Gaiman ever wrote, but I still haven’t gotten around to reading anything by Stephen King (which is a crying shame since I own the first book in the Dark Tower series). I would definitely agree that Gaiman is one of the most influential forces in contemporary literature right now, and I’m in the middle of some research on authors like him and Lev Grossman. However, I’m a little confused by your juxtaposition of fantasy and realism. I would say that the genre of fantasy isn’t naturally opposed to realism, because of fairy tales, magical events treated in an everyday, matter-of-fact, real world way. It just doesn’t feel like that to us now, because we’re far enough removed from the stories that kings and peasants and cottages feel just as ‘fantastical’ to us as fairies and witches. The genre of magical realism may be a relatively modern development, but there’s always been a place for realism under the broad umbrella of fantasy.

    Neil Gaiman and Stephen King: The Power of Realism in Postmodern Fantasy