paratextual: (books//dropsofsunshine)
Marcus Tullius Cicero. De Officiis. Translated by Walter Miller. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1913/2005.

It's difficult to figure out how to start writing these posts, because I'm not entirely sure what genre they are. On the one hand, I want to write things that I can share (at least in part) with my list advisors, so a certain level of formality may be required; on the other hand, I intentionally chose to keep this journal on dreamwidth, with an audience of people I mostly already know, in a format with which I am familiar -- but I'm not familiar with this format as an academic, exactly (not that I'm not always an academic, but the rules are different here), and so I have this continual not-exactly-stream-crossing-but impulse to mostly just write things like I HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS ABOUT CICERO, which is 100% true, and not even exactly unhelpful, but also not quite the right language.

To take a little time for meta, however, here at the beginning of my first real post: one of the secret schemes inherent in this project is, actually, finding a way to work in academic frames and fannish frames at the same time, without feeling (constantly) like I am compromising one part of the way my brain works and filtering my own intellectual logic in ways that are ultimately unproductive and limiting. I must be fannish about the work that I do, because that's how I care about things; I don't think intellectual academic work and fannish work have to be mutually exclusive, even though working in both frames at once -- especially when I don't technically work on fandom or contemporary popular culture or media or digital media or science fiction or anything after 1700 -- may require a lot of code-switching and language navigation.

But maybe less than I think, because the things I want to work on are things that I often think about in fannish terms, and for which fannish terms may be exceedingly helpful: communities, and what I have taken to calling early modern social networking, and written communication, and intertextuality, and what and how we read, and how and in what ways we interact with what we read, and complicated interpersonal relationships with a) people and b) texts. Fandom is, after all, its own hermeneutic system.

(My friend K gave me the following catch phrase for my imaginary dissertation, when I was waxing poetic about Erasmus: "You may be dead, but I still kind of heart you.")

So before I actually start talking about De Officiis in a semi-professional manner, I want to own up with no shame whatsoever (why would there be shame, Cicero fandom is objectively the best) to the fact that the real way I dealt with all of the feelings De Officiis gave me was to reread my friend [personal profile] amo's Descent, which is a story about Cicero filius -- Cicero's son Marcus, to whom De Officiis is written -- and his daddy issues. It's really good, and I recommend it very highly, especially if, like me, you have just read De Officiis and it made you want to cry.


All these questions, therefore, we ought to bear thoughtfully in mind, when we inquire into the nature of [decorum]; but above all we must decide who and what manner of men we wish to be and what calling in life we would follow; and this is the most difficult problem in the world. )


See also:

+ Cicero: Orator, Brutus, De Amicitia
+ Erasmus: Education of a Christian Prince, Enchiridion, Colloquies, Adages (esp. advice adages)
+ Utopia, The Blazing World, and New Atlantis
+ Leviathan
+ The Prince
+ Sidney's letter to Elizabeth; Cavendish's letter to Charles II
+ Petrarch's letter to posterity; Petrarch's letters to Cicero; On His Own Ignorance

October 2012

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