Looking ahead to the New Year, the editors at LNB have a couple of exciting projects in the works. Perhaps most ambitious is a second volume of The Longnook Overlook which, at least for working purposes, we are referring to as Overlook 2. While the content will be compiled over the course of 2019, the actual publication date is likely to be early 2020. Like the first Overlook, our latest “review of the arts” will not be for retail sale but will be available (upon request) with the purchase of any other LNB volume. For curious readers who aren’t poetry enthusiasts, may we suggest our art monograph on Serena Rothstein, Discourse in Paint, whose splendid four-color “Personages” also grace Overlook 1’s elegantly elongated centerfold?
We admit we haven’t really followed the plot lines of the last season of Westworld. To our thickish non-millennial minds the flashbacks and flash-forwards won’t add up to anything like a chronological narrative, but we don’t really mind. From our binged confusion we’ve taken something away more interesting than a reasonable story. Instead we are deeply disturbed to recognize the imaginary reflection of our selves — whether as gunslingers, saloon madams, or the farmer’s daughter turned avenger — as largely the product of someone else’s marketing concept. It’s just an entertainment, right? What is real is what cannot be replaced. For as the end-date of actual human death is pushed further and further away through various technologies, mortality itself does become increasingly conceptual. Yet we will always find ourselves limited by what we know, parameters we must question and against which we must battle, forging, episode by episode, the terms of our individual liberations. How do you want to die? You only live as long as the last person who remembers you.
Several non-academic books this year have treated the matter of women in Homer. First came Emily Wilson’s poetry-free translation of the Odyssey; then Madeline Miller’s witch-friendly Circe; now with Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls we have The Iliad from the point of view of the enslaved Briseis. All three books have been so heavily marketed and commented upon, it is as though a whole new genre of contemporary fiction has come into being: Chick-lit Achaea. We know we should be supportive of this, but to be frank, it all seems to us a bit silly, treating Homer as though his narrative were not an act of the imagination but a work of cultural history. It’s true that feminist academics have had to turn to literary texts in response to the rarity of actual women’s voices in the classical world. But for us, as we read these leaden productions, instead of hearing something refreshingly resonant and newly meaningful, we are made even more aware of an echoing absence.