Last week I appeared on Cornell’s 1869 Podcast to talk about The Many Minded Man: The Odyssey, Psychology, and the Therapy of Epic with Jonathan L. Hall.
The press values accessibility, so there’s a transcript too:.
I tell a little bit about the genesis of the book. (There’s more on this here):
My question was this, can we imagine that the Odyssey is depicting someone who has been broken down by life, who doesn’t believe that he can succeed anymore, and needs something radical to happen to shift him out of it? And how would this shape our reading of the epic, and help us understand what ancient audiences were doing with it?
CUP’s fabulous editor, Dr. Bethany Wasik ,was kind enough to edit a pull quote that works on twitter:
"What makes the epic therapeutic? …You learn to ask questions about your own life, right? You learn to think about causality and agency differently, you learn to accept that there are some things you can’t control." – @sentantiq via the @CornellPress #1869 podcast https://t.co/I0qPkjOYUi
— Dr. Bethany Wasik (@BethanyWasik) February 18, 2021
The podcast is not too long. It covers a good deal of the book and only features me saying “the ways in which” a few times, like here:
So, the real sort of key moment for me, happened in around 2011—my dad died suddenly. And I found myself returning to the Odyssey in class and thinking about the ways in which it forces us to think about the way that other people in your life create your identity for you.
Although I talk about my father a bit at the beginning of the book, I think this podcast is the first time I talk about seeing him in Homer’s Laertes:
So for people who may not remember the Odyssey, Odysseus returns home after 20 years, and he’s not fully home until after a series of reunions—first with a son who never really knew, his wife, and then this problematic part in book 24 of the Odyssey, when Odysseus shows up in disguise still, and he tricks his father Laertes and father cries. And then he immediately relents, and says, “No, no, I’m your son Odysseus, I’m here.” And his father doesn’t believe him. And he has to prove it to him by showing him his scar that he got from when he was a young man on a hunting trip.
And then they go through this orchard, and name the trees that their fathers and grandfathers planted, and they took care of when Odysseus was young. And one day I was teaching that and just completely undone by it because it made me remember my father. And the way he bought five acres of land in the middle of the woods in Maine, when I was in third grade, and we spent the rest of his life trying to turn that into like lawn and gardens. Right. By the time I was in sixth grade, I had to stop the lawn mower and refuel in the process of mowing this ridiculous lawn.
Check out the podcast to support Cornell University Press, and the book. Remember that all of the author’s proceeds go to supporting open access publishing.