October 27, 2008

"Maybe my incoherence is for a lack of speaking. I was unable to talk with the guerillas who guarded me."

Said Oscar Tulio Lizcano, upon escape after 8 years of captivity in the jungle.

He did at least have something to read: Homer's "Odyssey." 8 years with no one to talk to. The difference between having "The Odyssey" and not having "The Odyssey" is profound.

26 comments:

SteveR said...

I thought it was a followup to your MTP post.

Paavo said...

I had to read the Odyssey in school, and it felt like captivity to me too.

Ann Althouse said...

Good point, stever. Incoherence is an accidental theme today.

Ann Althouse said...

Paavo, you should have thought: What if I had absolutely nothing to do and I had the option to read this book? That would have improved your mood.

bleeper said...

Coming soon to a country near you.

BJM said...

Homer is an ideal companion if all one had was imagination to set one free from such bleak circumstances.

Henry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Henry said...

I took a classics elective in college and had a hard time getting engaged. I liked the histories (such as Tacitus) more than the poetry.

The problem, I think, was in the musty translations that were popular back then. Now there are marvelous new translations of almost all the old great works.

In fact, while contemporary poetry seems frivolous, I think we're in a golden age of translation of classic works, from Homer to Beowulf to Dante.

In this vein, I recommend Robert Fagles recent translation of The Odyssey. I haven't read his Iliad.

blake said...

The Odyssey was always my favorite Greek myth as a kid. (And I was a big fan of Greek mythology.) I grew to appreciate The Iliad later.

Skyler said...

Hmm, in Columbia they fight communists and their murdering and kidnapping ways.

Here, we elect them to power.

RJO said...

The Odyssey is a good companion for someone in wartime captivity, as is the Iliad. Jonathan Shay's studies of Homer and PTSD are some of the most important works of our time.

Freeman Hunt said...

That seems something like the perfect book for a person in that situation.

ElcubanitoKC said...

I tried speaking like Homer's translation when I read the Illiad and the Odyssey in 7th grade. I couldn't understand myself, but people thought I was extremely smart, or as garage mahal would put it, a socialist.

Alas, since I did live in a socialist country, I could not be elected to office.

Original George said...

"The Silence"

Annoyed by a club member's constant chatter, a man bets him he cannot remain silent for a year, living in a glass enclosure in the club basement.

Twilight Zone episode, starring Franchot Tone

ElcubanitoKC said...

More on topic, I would really like to hear him speak in Spanish. Colombian Spanish is famously flourished, mostly from the central regions (paisa) as compared to the other two main regional dialects (cachaco from Bogotá, and costeño from the Pacific and Atlantic coastal regions).

I can only imagine the sheer amount of epithets that he must be using after having read The Odyssey for 8 years, and probably in a very disorganized manner (Spanish allows you to put the adjetives before or after a noun, although doing the latter is the most common way, the former is used in literary, and mostly poetic ways)

I wonder if they have a recording of his first statements somewhere.

Christy said...

Ulysses was always a hero of mine - a man who, if he couldn't outfight, could outwit his opponent. I saw in him the archetype for Heinlein's supremely competent heroes. Then a pal pointed out to my blinded eye that Ulysses lost every single man under his command.

Still, a man held captive for 8 years starving in a jungle surely must have found common cause with Ulysses, held captive as Calypso's lover for 7 years. Or NOT.

veni vidi vici said...

Wow; I bet he'll have many interesting stories to tell about living among gorillas in the jungle for 8 years.

Joe M. said...

Great book for such conditions.

RJO said...

Then a pal pointed out to my blinded eye that Ulysses lost every single man under his command.

Not only that, but he was always quick to blame their deaths on anyone but himself.

Odysseus and Achilles are opposites; us moderns, who give them superficial readings, don't always realize this. Achilles is the genuine hero destroyed by corrupt leadership; Odysseus is the original smooth-talking sociopathic liar and murderer.

Having a copy of the Odyssey available while being held captive by terrorists would be beneficial because it would help you gain insight into the character of your captors.

Lori V. said...

I'm more interested in Oscar's captors. FARC. Sounds familiar. Oh, yeah! The same FARC that Carl Lindner, Jr., then-CEO-of-Chiquita-brands and now-fundraiser-for-John-McCain pled guilty to donating more than a million bucks to!

Lori V. said...

I'm more interested in Oscar's captors. FARC. Sounds familiar. Oh, yeah! The same FARC that Carl Lindner, Jr., then-CEO-of-Chiquita-brands and now-fundraiser-for-John-McCain pled guilty to donating more than a million bucks to!

Chris said...

Did he kill the suitors when he got back home?

ElcubanitoKC said...

Lori V. said...
I'm more interested in Oscar's captors. FARC. Sounds familiar. Oh, yeah! The same FARC that Carl Lindner, Jr., then-CEO-of-Chiquita-brands and now-fundraiser-for-John-McCain pled guilty to donating more than a million bucks to!

4:54 PM


You need to get your history classes back in schedule quickly! The Chiquita Banana scandal was about "los Para" (from Paramilitares or Paramilitary)which were a "counter-insurgent insurgency", i.e. anti-guerrilla guerrillas that existed in Colombia and opposed the FARC. The FARC are marxist guerrillas, the other ones opposed them. Los para don't exist anymore.

FARC have had decades of self-support from drug trafficking, kidnappings, extortion, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and speaking engagements at US universities. Not to mention visits and solidarity useful idiots like those Mexicans killed during the raid in Ecuador. But, do you even know what I'm talking about?

ElcubanitoKC said...

Oh, yeah, Lori, and do you understand the concepts of "protection money" and "extortion"?

dandean said...

Any truth to the rumor that his family said "Oh brother, where were thou?" upon his arrival home?

William said...

The Shining Path guerrillas in Peru killed 25,000. Pinochet killed 2000 in his coup. The Pinochet martyrs have inspired any number of novels and movies. I don't begrudge Isabel Allende her rage. Perhaps it will inhibit right wing atrocities in the future. But please note that the victims of Guzman or Che will not be memorialized in any movie or novel. The unwillingness of the left to examine the methods of their flawed heroes more or less guarantees the continuation of the endless barbarity....Compare and contrast the treatment of FARC prisoners vs the treatment of Gitmo prisoners. Those who would convict Bush of war crimes for Gitmo are silent concerning the FARC atrocities. Perhaps Richard Dreyfus should organize a cocaine boycott to protest the FARC abuses. Hollywood celebrities should wear a white ribbon thru their noses to publicize their refusal to use cocaine until FARC cleans up its act.