31 March 2015

Review of The Dragonfly Effect

I found The Dragonfly Effect both moving and challenging. I saw immediately the potential one has when it comes to using social media to foster and promote change. I also saw the enormity of such a task as implementing a serious campaign for radical change. The authors do an amazing (and I don't use that adjective lightly) job of breaking the whole thing down so you can begin where you are and quickly get to where you want to be.

The four wings must be connected to the body. Disembodied dragonfly wings are not practical, though they may be pretty. One needs all the parts if the dragonfly is going to maneuver to its full potential.

The authors guide the reader through the use of each facet of this wonderful metaphor and show how to make the most of the social networking tools available to us all.

Read this book and go make some changes in your world.

Review of Barry B. Powell's Translation of Homer's Iliad

I'm overwhelmingly grateful that Barry B. Powell did not use the word 'careering' in his translation of Homer's Iliad. That word jarred me all through a previous translator's translation (name withheld to protect my own backside). It is an ugly, unfortunate word which in my mind wars against its very definition. It was like riding with a driver who slams heavily on the brakes at every stop: annoying and exhausting. Perhaps I'm overreacting, but this is my review, so I think that is my prerogative. Right? Well, anyway, back to Powell's welcome translation.

Apart from a few typos (The funniest is when 'gods' is put in for 'dogs' in book 24 line 402, which makes it sound like the gods eat humans. Wrong religion, I think.) and at least one place where a footnote is indicated but nonexistent (22.327: 'knees'), and a few notes which a quick glance at a few other translations would solve -- (the most troublesome example is book 24 lines 44-46. Here Powell translates the Greek αιδως as 'respect,' which I think really only works in it's old connotation, i.e. and e.g. the phrase from the King James Bible: "God is no respecter of persons" (Acts 10.34). In that way, i.e. respecting another's opinion of you can cause harm. (For a more thorough look at this idea, read: Bertrand Russell's The Conquest of Happiness, where he writes: "... the respect of their neighbors depends upon their possession of a good car and their ability to give good dinners....") The other translations I looked at chose to use 'shame,' which makes it more evident how it can harm as well as help.) -- this is a wonderful translation. It is easy to read and the copious notes make it a valuable addition to any Homeric geek's bookshelf.

There are several places, marked in the text by a speaker icon, which are read by the author. These recordings can be found at the book's website. Unfortunately, this feature is not mentioned in the actual book; I had to dig around online to figure it out. It would have been quite easy to mention it in a footnote, or in the introduction. I can only assume that this was another overlooked and forgotten footnote. Still, I haven't listened to the recordings, so ...

I am partial to Lattimore's translation, but find Powell's enjoyable and refreshing; if that can be said about such a bloody and violent work. I try not to let those themes keep me from the other, more interesting and pertinent themes for our time. A new translation of Homer's Iliad only serves to show the continued importance of this classic. Of course, as usual, not everyone will agree with that. That's okay. Without the strife of disagreement, the friction necessary for growth would be missed.

I plan to reread and reread Powell's wonderful translation. I hope you will read it at least once and decide for yourself if you like it or not.