Welcome to Brilliant Minds

A companion site for courses by Peter Arcese on classics, contemporary literature, and the arts ... Here you will find items related to our readings and discussions ... Ideas, images, background information, suggested readings, bibliographies, and notes on related performances, all find a presence here ... Enjoy your reading and check back regularly for new posts!

Gilgamesh inspired ...

Many times a week, I walk by the Irish Hunger Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in downtown Manhattan.

Both are extraordinarily successful memorials and both incorporate innovative use of text. They are emotionally moving, visually captivating, and literally tell the story of the memorial and the experiences they commemorate.

I began to think about how memorials stand in memory, in literature, and in our cities. How the great walls of Uruk were a memorial to Gilgamesh, and were memorialized as such in the text itself.

What follows in the link at the end of this post is a brief response to, and a free association between Gilgamesh and images of these two contemporary memorials in our very own city.

These images are inspired by the lines of Gilgamesh which reference the walls of Uruk in the opening and closing sections of the edited poem. This most ancient literary work keeps referencing writing itself.

You will find a few of the images, with sections of text from Gilgamesh at this page:

memorial wall: Gilgamesh & NYC

Miscellaneous Gilgamesh

So, here are some miscellanies following our discussions of Gilgamesh. 

Langdon (includes transliteration and tablets, scroll down): http://www.gutenberg.org/files/18897/18897-h/18897-h.htm

Walls of Uruk (a couple of good photos, ignore the ads): http://www.ancientpages.com/2015/11/28/walls-of-uruk-built-by-sumerian-king-gilgamesh-4500-years-ago/

Uruk (some maps, historical, sociological, and bibliographical material): https://www.ancient.eu/uruk/

Met: https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/uruk/hd_uruk.htm


Picard (for you Trekkies, from one of the best episodes): https://youtu.be/QoM_kPGfkw0

Newly discovered lines: http://www.openculture.com/2015/10/20-new-lines-from-the-epic-of-gilgamesh-discovered-in-iraq-adding-new-dimensions-to-the-story.html


Sound of the Akkadian poetry: http://www.openculture.com/2015/10/hear-the-epic-of-gilgamesh-read-in-the-original-akkadian-language.html


Rumi selections

For our upcoming session on Rumi, we will concentrate on poems from the sections below. If you have a favorite from another section that you would like included in our discussion, please let me know!

References are to The Rumi Collection, ed. Kabir Helminski (Shambhala 2005)

1. Working with Our Humanness

3. Awe, Naked Wonder

4. The Inner Work

8. Signs That Speak

13. Boiling the Chickpeas

14. The Complete Human

16. Love is the Cause

We're about to begin! Spring 2020

We're about to start up again in two weeks! You can download our Syllabus here:

Download BMinds Spring 2020 syllabus

Reading Schedule

Week 1: Feb 11       Gilgamesh, trans. Ferry

Week 2: Feb 18       Gilgamesh, trans. Ferry                               

Week 3: Feb 25       Jalal al-Din Rumi, The Rumi Collection, ed. Helminski                              

Week 4: Mar 3        Jalal al-Din Rumi, The Rumi Collection, ed. Helminski                               

Week 5: Mar 10      Shakespeare, King Lear, eds. Mowatt and Werstine                               

Week 6: Mar 17      Shakespeare, King Lear, eds. Mowatt and Werstine                              

Week 7: Mar 24      Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, trans. Pevear and Volokhonsky                              

Week 8: Mar 31      Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, trans. Pevear and Volokhonsky                          

Week 9: Apr 7        O’Connor, Everything That Rises Must Converge                    

Week 10: Apr 14    O’Connor, Everything That Rises Must Converge                        

Week 11: Apr 21     Obreht, Inland                               

Week 12: Apr 28    Obreht, Inland



From Boswell to Wordsworth

Here's a link to the Boswell lecture by Borges. Enjoy!


And now that you've made it through Boswell, Wordsworth is a breeze! While I've listed The Prelude as our main reading, try including the following additional poems and the prose Preface to Lyrical Ballads if you have them in your edition. (Parenthetical references are to the page number in the Oxford Classics edition, except for The Prelude, as noted below.)

The Ruined Cottage (31)

We Are Seven (83)

Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey (131)

"Strange fits of passion I have known" (148)

Lucy Gray (149)

To Joanna (201)

"There is an Eminence,--of these our hills" (203)

"The world is too much with us" (270)

She was a Phantom of delight (292)

Ode ("There was a time") (297)

"I wandered lonely as a Cloud" (303)

The Solitary Reaper (319)

Mutability (353)

The Prelude (375) - the following references are to Book and Line numbers within The Prelude

Book 1: 169-176; 227-304; 490-501; 648-674

Book 2, 69-78; 122-144; 170-193; 208-236; 348-395

Book 3, 69-81; 106-194; 392-407

Book 4: 33-34; 68-83; 140-180; 311-345

Book 5, 198-222; 575-629

Book 6, 253-256; 261-331

Book 7, 117-120; 145-204; 593-623; 645-696

Book 8, 62-82; 689-710; 347-390

Book 9, 1-17; 40-62; 170-177; 397-414; 642-645

Book 10, 197-201; 307-566; 627-629; 722-726

Book 11, 1-41; 138-149; 195-396

Book 12, 15-51; 69-93; 126-277

Book 13, 1-84; 120-122; 149-210; 268-278; 332-350; 386-452

Preface to Lyrical Ballads (595)