Friday, May 11, 2012

A Spy in the House of Hate

Anaïs Nin referred to herself as a spy in the house of love:she was caught up in a sexual revolution, but far from being its advocate, she found it all a bit silly.

I'm interested in archaeology, and so I find myself getting caught up in arguments between Jews, Muslims and many others who take one side or the other and draw political conclusions from archaeological finds, supporting contemporary hatreds with their interpretations of artifacts thousands of years old. Which I find more than a little bit silly. I'd like to just study the artifacts and learn. I wonder how many of the people weighing in on Tel Dan or Qumran or Khirbet Qeiyafa would have one thing to say about them if they didn't have any opinions about Middle Eastern politics today.

Romans stole huge chunks of Greek mythology, but as far as I know Italians and Greeks are not fighting over that today, nor are hateful blockheads the world over, purporting to support one side or the other, hurling political invective at each other mixed with superficial knowledge of finds at Paestum or Troy. Would that be different if Graeco-Roman religion were as alive today the world over as the Abrahamic religions? More to the point, of course, would a nice bookish fellow such as myself be able to discuss Tel Dan or Khirbet Qeiyafa without being interrupted by haters if the Abrahamic religions were as dead as the cults of Olympus? I just want to understand what happened thousands of years ago when I examine such things, not contribute to madness which is seething today.

Anyway, the nuts are doing a fine job of ruining a discussion of Khirbet Qeiyafa for me today. They don't eff things up when the topic is Oxyrhynchus.On the other hand, out here so far from academia where I live, the topic very rarely is Oxyrhynchus. I generally just study the papyri on my own. I hope it doesn't stay that way.

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