Reading Gilgamesh

Today I picked up Moomin and we went to the community center pool for the afternoon. I got a ton of work done while he messed around in the pool and read one of the Redwall books, then I played Marco Polo for a while and threw diving sticks for him and some other kids to fetch. For a while they were my robot dolphin transformer superhero assassins and it was the perfect game since all I had to do was sit there and throw things.

Marco Polo was better than boring old physical therapy. I like to play it with more elaborate rules, with “fish out of water”, and the rule where if the person who’s It says “Marco Polo” everyone has to freeze until It moves or calls out “Marco” again. Squid‘s daughter Iz taught me another rule where if someone’s out of the water but touching, you can call “mermaid” and they’re caught.

Moomin had his dance practice, and I was able to work from the dance studio too since I can still work offline. But it was handy to still be online through my phone and tethering! It’s seriously awesome to have reliable net access on my laptop wherever I have phone coverage.

Back on the boat I had to do a lot of tidying and moving things, because the boat owner had come earlier in the week to power-wash the deck, and everything from the deck and pilothouse was in the main cabin and bedrooms. Sleeping bags, jackets, toys, boxes of things, bags full of bags, shoes for me and Moomin and A. and Oblomovka, fishing rods, extra blankets, flowerpots… It is still all over the place. I gossiped with our neighbors, who invited us to sail next week and told me about a new kind of powerful longlasting expensive electric outboard engine with a lithium-ion battery. Another neighbor talked about wanting to learn to sew and make canvas and start a business.

Moomin laid on the couch on the deck reading Whales on Stilts for the nth time, giggling. He laughed all the way through it. Dinner for him was a corn dog, some carrots, strawberries, and bread and butter. I didn’t have dinner because I’m having stomach problems from taking too many Advil-like pills for pain and it hurts to eat and lie down. Walking more and trying to be more active and exercise is going well, but still hurts a lot. Anyway, I’m hungry, but would rather sleep and not be in pain than eat! I’m not sleeping (yet) because I resolved to blog more in the next month (inspired by going to the BlogHer conference and realizing I miss simply documenting what we do, how we live, and what I’m reading and thinking.)

Gilgamesh book cover

Tonight we read from Gilgamesh. I had forgotten that every other chapter talks about prostitutes… oops. Before we read it Moomin noticed that the back of the book said it’s 1500 years earlier than Homer and since we had The Odyssey right there we had fun making the books talk to each other. “Aw yeah The Odyssey I OWN YOU… ” Moomin enjoyed telling me everything he remembered about Gilgamesh from Cartoon History of the Universe (the best book ever!). He pictures Gilgamesh as a tyrant oppressing the people, and kind of a warmonger. He also talked about Enlil, the god of wind. So in the book — the Herbert Mason version — Gilgamesh did sound like a spoiled and horrible king. “Actually, so far, Gilgamesh is a total jerk,” Moomin commented as Gilgamesh slept with all the virgins in the Temple, worked the people to death building the walls of Uruk, and whined about how lonely and bored he was to his mother. “Poor, poor, king!” (sarcastic.)

Gilgamesh continued to be a jerk on the way to the battle at the forest of Humbaba. “It probably wasn’t even a monster… it was just like, he wanted to go to war and pillage some tribes, totally at random!” Enkidu doesn’t want to go but Gilgamesh *was* warmongering and totally careless. “War! Totally fun! Let’s go chop down all the cedars for totally NO REASON!” Then he hesitates to go first and then when Enkidu is being attacked, doesn’t step forward properly to save his friend. Let’s not forget too that Humbaba is made out to be sort of the Caliban of the Sumerian gods, their slave who builds their buildings because of his great strength. “Well, he’s kind of like a superhero going to fight evil, I guess, in his mind.” “Yeah sure mom.. a JERK superhero!” I don’t know if anything can really rescue the story at this point! Why didn’t I realize before what a butthead Gilgamesh was? When I was Moomin’s age (and older) I liked tales of kings and warriors!

I liked the part in Mason’s version about Gilgamesh thinking over his mom Ninsun’s interpretations of his dreams and call for the gods to protect him as he and Enkidu are on the way to fight Humbaba.

Her words still filled his mind
as they started their journey,
just as a mother’s voice is heard
sometimes in a man’s mind
long past childhood
calling his name, calling him from sleep
or from some pleasurable moment
on a foreign street
when every trace of origin seems left
and one has almost passed into a land
that promises a vision or the secret
of one’s life, when one feels almost god enough
to be free of voices, her voice
calls out like a voice from childhood,
reminding him he once tossed in dreams.

Good quote to stick on a mom blog, isn’t it?

Anyway, I think Gilgamesh was experiencing daytime parahypnagogia, along with his obvious sleep disorder!

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68 Responses to Reading Gilgamesh

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    So good to see you posting! I love hearing about your life on the boat. 🙂

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