Advice to a 17 year old, Greco-Roman differences, and “Anybody famous read your book?”

Friends, I hope you all enjoyed your week, because I sure did! It’s hot and dry out here in Northern California, and yes, we’re already into Fire Season, my beloved Deer Creek is ablaze, and it’s barely May!

Lots to get to, so let me start with more of my conversation from last week with the journalist, Mark Montaigne. If you recall, he had written a fine review of my book, How High Should I Jump, and after I had reached out to speak with him, he’d correctly assessed my book as more ‘absurdity‘ than ‘satire‘, a remark which really piqued my interest. In order to have made that assessment, one must really understand the fine distinctions between parody, comedy, satire and absurdity, so it was refreshing to find a journalist with those skills.

In our talk, we made a date for a phone interview while he pressed me for more background. Yet I was interested to learn how he had come by an understanding of absurdity, and I was pleased to learn he’d studied theater and philosophy in college and had some exposure to a few of my ‘mentors’, including Antonin Artaud and Albert Camus.

Once the interview has been published, I will of course be posting it here, but a comment he made has stayed with me:

“What makes your work absurd and not only satire is that the logic is extremely tight yet if you follow out the thoughts, they become paradoxical and turn inward upon themselves. And isn’t one definition of the Absurd, ‘when paradox faces itself‘? (Yes, he is correct!) And the second part of the book is so outlandish and buffoonish yet perfectly sensible, it seems straight out of Rabelais!”

Rabelais, my spiritual father. Wow, this guy nailed it, so how could I not agree to do an interview with him?

For those who missed his review, here is the link again:


An amazing string of intelligent emails this week, best so far:

‘No, sorry, not yet and maybe not’ to the emailer who asked why I haven’t begun my reading of Thucydides over at Goodreads. Haven’t yet found the space, and honestly, I don’t know how much interest there is in these obscure books, and I’ve kinda waned in my enthusiasm to be facing anything related to war, but, that said, and since there are no decent and relevant reviews of this critical work, I MAY just dive in and attempt the reading anyway, what say ye?

James K writes in, “Milt, you said before, ‘By living in the past you can see the present, fuck the future’. I don’t understand.”

Well, I’m sure you don’t, James, since that ISN’T what I said! I said, “By living in the Past, you can see the Future, fuck the Present.”

And I mean, the Now, the Temporal, what is being said now, yes, I don’t care what they/you/we are saying now, since it’s all BEEN SAID BEFORE, so I want to know what was said yesterday, since the Past is so damn vast you can hardly break its surface, no, everything has been done, and as another mentor states, “If you’ve lived 40 years, you have seen everything.” Indeed.

Joseph E says, “I been lookin at this blog and you said stuff like Truth is no thing, but you wrong, you confused, God is Truth and you need to learn it and be saved!!!”

James, if I may, I believe it is YOU who are incorrect. You’re looking at an older, outdated version of the word. Yes, to many religions, Truth is seen as a thing, a noun, ‘The Truth’, a fixed state and/or place, like a planet or a rock, but that is a crude understanding and those that wield it are attempting to mind-fuck you, friend, for Truth is a verb, it is an activity of uncovering that which lies at the Source, the Essence. Truth as an activity, Truth-ing really, and it is not looking for some hidden thing or object but the process of revealing; this is truth.

Helen B asks, “Can you explain the differences between Roman and Greek Theater and Philosophy? They always talk about the ‘Greco-Roman Classics’ but there are so few Roman Classics compared to the Greeks.”

Helen, great question, I love you, yes, so let’s start with an oddity: Romans went to the ‘Auditorium‘ (“Audio,” to hear) for their theater, where it was almost entirely visual, while the Greeks went to the ‘Theater‘ (“Thea,” to see) where it was almost entirely spoken, with very little acting. Odd stuff, but the real differences between Greek and Roman Thought is that, by the time of Rome’s ascent, essentially all Greek work had been completed, including the development in Athens by Aristotle and his boys of 96 of the 104 arguable systems in the West. That’s damn near every ‘ology’ we now employ being developed in complete by the end of the 3rd Century B.C., leaving very little for the Romans, or anybody else for that matter, to add. And in truth, Rome was not interested in originating ideas, they were doers who used Thought in practical forms and really had little time or patience for speculations, with a few exceptions (Seneca, Cicero, the Plinys).

Further, what actually sets them apart is that in Roman Theater, for example, they demanded exactness in their sets and very realistic acting; they would perform naval battles by filling up the Coliseum with water and launching full-scale ships with real deaths and destruction, whereas the Greeks would have one actor playing all the roles and the scenes and settings adorned in only the barest suggestion of a prop. The Greeks could care less for the quality of the acting, and yet were most concerned with how the playwright interpreted the story they all knew, hell, those myths from Homer were over 500 years old by the time of the Classical Period and everybody knew the stories by heart yet would sit through a steamy, 100 degree Athens Sunday afternoon to hear how the poet interpreted the essence of each familiar story and/or myth.

In effect, the Greeks thought, the Romans acted

Loren F asks, “Milt, has anybody famous read your book?”

Oh yes, many celebrities are enjoying my take on aggressive women and soft, whining males, and I have heard certain English Royalty, no less, have expressed enthusiasm over the work, and there’s even talk of titling me, why, I can see it now, “H.M.S. Quibner,” nice, I like it!

And I’d like to start a rumor here if I may: oh yes, more than one Royal has reportedly ‘squealed with delight‘ after imbibing in Quibner’s heady brew...

And finally, one email I couldn’t ignore, from a high school student in Grand Rapids, Michigan who has been writing me. Justin W asks, “I am graduating in a couple months and have no idea what I want to do after. Everybody says go to college and become a CEO but I don’t really like school and I don’t really want to keep studying. If you were 17 what would you do?”

Justin, in my life I hold no regrets, BUT I will say I had an opportunity in high school to really take off and see the world and instead, I reacted fearfully and whatever opportunity I might have had was lost on me. I have, of course, overcome that confused period of my life, but I, too, hated school and had no idea what I wanted to do. I was fortunate in my path, which has brought me to a rich and meaningful life, but it was only because I sought out and then took chances, including some ridiculously ‘illogical’, impulsive and even dangerous adventures which I also do not regret in the least.

I say this, if you have a little cash, buy a ticket to Central or South America and go travel for a year; if you’re broke, work for awhile and save up enough for a ticket and some spending money. Doesn’t have to be Central or South America, of course, wherever your heart desires should be your destination, but at your age, you need some perspective, to expand rather than contract, and you’ve had 12 years of school ‘contraction’ and unless you’re set on a career, any more ‘schooling’ ain’t gonna do you no good right now, so get out and see the world, taste this amazing planet and its people, travel, Justin, take some risks, see how the rest of the world lives and, more importantly, treats one another, and don’t worry about school or career at this point, hell, don’t worry, just go live, expand, broaden, observe; the rest will take care of itself, you’ll find yourself out on Life’s Road, if you trust yourself and let those experience lead and teach you.

I would soar rather than shrink at this point in life, taste and feel, try things, discover who you are, and you can’t do that living at Mom’s trudging your way to some boring school to sit with the same kids you’ve known since you were 5. No, shatter the status-quo, go farther than you think you can, and watch who you become. You’ll be amazed!

And with that, I must go water my garden and play with my doggie. Oh, and for those who haven’t yet, it is time to read my book!

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