It’s the usual practice for bloggers and independent scholars to pick a favorite topic, whether it’s World War II history or butterflies or anime or prog rock, and circle around it for a lifetime. It’s a time-tested method for gaining expertise, creating blogs, and joining a community.
My way is that of Odysseus resisting the Sirens.
I hear them but not for long.
The ship keeps moving,
Different Sirens, different songs.
For the past nine years, I’ve been following the bulk of the Open Yale Courses curriculum, one or two courses at a time. (Read: My Yale Years.) These courses provided a starting point, and local libraries allowed me to follow through with additional reading and research.
But the most important part of the project was the knowledge that each course would end. The awareness that upon finishing the lectures for one course, a new course would soon follow.
In 2014, I completed courses on The Hebrew Bible and Cervantes’ Don Quixote. These were my first choices in the Open Yale Courses curriculum — the first, because it’s my heritage; and the second because I hadn’t yet read Don Quixote in full despite my familiarity with Cervantes’ talking-dog short stories.
Just days after starting the lectures for The Hebrew Bible taught by Professor Christine Hayes, one of her students invited me to a Talmud study group. (Read: Cautionary tales.) I might have stopped the whole Yale project right there.
Siren, Siren, love that song.
Sorry, Siren, moving on.
Theory of Literature was almost my major in college. (Read: The weed-out course.) Here again I might have abandoned ship but kept going.
Next up for 2015 were African American History, Ancient Greek History, and The New Testament. The first, banned in schools; the second, defunded on campus; and the third, missing from the usual reading list for someone of my background. People spend lifetimes in these fields, and nobody would expect me to give them more than a glance.
This is precisely where education has its greatest potential value, offering perspectives beyond our inborn views.
You can orbit yourself for a lifetime.
I’m off the ecliptic. Askew to the new.
I still carry the old songs with me. That very same year, I learned how to read from the Torah and reenacted my bar-mitzvah. (I’ll spare you that story for now.) I also had the idea of writing a book based on my unconventional reading of Don Quixote (saving that for last) and on the lost adventures of the Greek anti-hero Testocles (throwing that one back in the water).
Old songs, new rhythms.
This blog started one month ago. It’s still evolving.
I’m glad you’re here.