Cameron Whiting English 1020 Fall 2014 David Grey The Last of The Really Stupid Ideas
Society has a memory, not a memory made of books, or stories, but opinions. We retain the opinions that have what it takes to “matter” to us. The Odyssey is one of the works of literature that regular old English people will credit as “mattering” to us, but in reality, it may simply be the last of the really stupid ideas. Remember that the culture of the Greeks is different from ours? Looking at how this culture has been portrayed in our lives may hold the key to why the Odyssey is no longer relevant to a student in today's world. The first abstract reason for the odyssey being out of touch is that it stems on warring nations. The negotiation process has evidently broken down, or Odysseus was simply raised in a chaotic Greece that believed you could war with other colonies so long as the cards were in your favor. The Odyssey is set in bronze age Greece, but with iron age tools, a reference to the larger collective warring empire that Rome becomes. The Odyssey has a heavy overtone about warring and killing, which seems to be both for the “spoils of glory” (a horrible idea) and out of “necessity” or “security”, something which our nation continues to go to war for. Homer also disregards logic. A YouTube series called “How It Should Have Ended”, HISHE, comes to mind. After the bloodbath of the suitors, Odysseus is nearly forced to engage in more combat (that is far less strategical or planned), but the goddess Athena prevents the conflict, Des Ex Machina. According to common sense, the suitor's families would quickly become enraged and swiftly outnumber him and his house. The culture of the world has changed, and the odyssey is no longer timeless. In Greek times, “one had to trust other people” explained David Grey, our English teacher. In our society, we are constantly connected with the other portions of our world, and hold a social obligation to keep from hurting each other, we're all “children of mother earth”, as one would say. The beliefs of our populous are vastly different. The Greeks didn't believe in free will, and believed strongly in fate. Modern Americans in general can be said to believe that their decisions decide their fate, that “we can change our fate”. The Odyssey is also not great in comparison to other great plays. Who is to say that english plays are more valiant than the lessons learned from German or Russian or Asian plays? Because of our cultural relativism, our society limits its prose in literature, and the common american will never hear about other plays, much less judge those for themselves. The Odyssey is just the last of the really stupid ideas the world came up with. It takes a setting of warfare to show that one should act responsibly toward others possessions (but only when you need to, a double standard). Though the Odyssey has some good qualities to it, such as Telemachus's journey to manhood, or the contrast between his crew's lack of restraint and odysseus' own, the Odyssey is built on the premises of an ancient people who were not yet held to the moral needs of an interconnected world. The Odyssey is out of its time. It's kept because of our unadaptive bureaucracy and cultural relativism. We refuse to be rid of it, because it represents the ingrained tradition of our warring, conquering nation. The Odyssey is culturally outdated. We're not in the olden culture, we hold a global obligation. This obligation is not just to the self, but to the self should we be someone else. The story itself isn't all that great anyways. Homer cheats out of Odysseus's outnumbering by having the goddess Athena intervene in a Des Ex Machina. The Odyssey is set in a period of killing, that alone sets the plot for violence. In plato's republic, he argues against the use of ungood qualities within a story as it would lead one to believe that a villain was in some sense heroic. One can extend this to violence, that any violence, to cheat one's brother, is in fact bad and unfit for literature.