personal information

who am i?

i am a mathematician at the university of Illinois, en route to the university of pennsylvania.

i am a husband of one and father of four: deborah, annajune, william, lewis, and eleanor, respectively.

personal interests include the following.

1. literature: see below. reading anything less than 50 years old is like drinking new wine: permissible once or twice a year and usually followed by regret and a headache. i am in particular a student of...

2. dante: some people read the holy bible every day. some people read the comics. i read the divine comedy. it's pretty much the best of all worlds. 

3. all things medieval: history, philosophy, theology, language.

4. wood: i like to build things out of it. when i have time.

robert ghrist

movies worth watching:

magnolia : this is a thing that happens

the big lebowski : calmer than you are

the adventures of bukaroo bonzai across the eighth dimension : why is there a watermelon there?

lord of the rings : it comes in pints?

the incredibles : you know those bad guys you see on the TV shows? well these bad guys arent like that. they wont show restraint because you're children. they will kill you if they get the chance. don't give them that chance.

napoleon dynamite : gimme your tots!

serenity : let's be bad guys

music worth hearing:

ty tabor : what can i say that i haven't said? where can i go where i wont be led?

the 77s : what does it mean? if i've lived dirty, why would i want to die clean?

kings x : ever-reading, something bleeding in my soul, and i cant seem to fill up the hole

frank zappa : she could mutate insanely

mozart : qua resurgit ex favila judicandus homo reus

over the rhine : i grew up south of here in towns they tore apart for coal, as if to excavate the darkest secrets of my soul

vigilantes of love : salome she's all dressed to the nines and although a few pounds fatter, she got pavlov's bells on her ankles and wrists, and she's coming at you with a platter

daniel amos : i will turn to salt; you will turn to sand; we'll be blown across the cracked linoleum out to the promised land

sam phillips : if it's action that you need - original sin - how original can you be? that's where i come in


books worth reading:


lots of chesterton's poetry

a few shakespeare plays

boethius ; consolation of philosophy

a few works of charles williams

lots of books for the kids: tolkein, redwalls, etc.


lots of t.s.eliot's poetry

chesterton's the ball and the cross: duals, duels, fun!

madeleine l'engle's trilogy, read to the kids

the figure of beatrice by williams

several tragedies/comedies of shakespeare...some with my kids

orthodoxy by chesterton, and a few poems/plays

pascal’s pensees

that hideous strength by lewis: not far off the mark in places

princess & the goblin ; princess & curdie; and a redwall book: read to the kids

return of the king: read to the two oldest kids

the continual read: works of dante, williams, etc.


parts of metamorphoses, ovid

romances by chretien de troyes: eric & enid, yvaine

the inferno: since i've not yet lost the good of intellect

fellowship of the ring & 2 towers: read to the two oldest kids

all hallows' eve by williams: she was a quite ordinary, and rather lucky, girl, and she was dead.

an unabridged (and unexpurgated) mallory, morte d'arthur

the arthuriad of charles williams: taliessin through logres, region of the summer stars, and the arthurian torso: flesh knows what spirit knows, but spirit knows it knows.

the brothers karamazov: wretch, wretch, wretch!

the poetry of search and the poetry of statement, by sayers

parts of the decameron: good clean fun

the place of the lion by williams

the hobbit: read to the kids


the figure of beatrice by williams

lost tales by tolkein

chronicles of narnia; read to kids

all hallows' eve by williams: read for halloween. oh, this is my soul's candy - death, purgation, bliss.

the idiot by dostoyevsky: for some reason, i can really relate to the lead character

purgatorio and paradiso: best two out of three

descent into hell by williams: this book didn't make sense until i learned it was an extended commentary on purg. canto XV, in novel form (with shakespeare and ghosts...)

the man who was thursday by chesterton: bomb-throwing anarchists, philosopher-poet policemen, an enigmatic fat bad guy, with a psychadelic costume ball at the end. o wont you please make this movie, terry gilliam?

a matter of eternity: a collection of snippets from sayers' collected works.

horaces odes: tried to read them from the latin. tough, but worth the effort. didnt finish.

the faerie queen by spencer: ugh, this is sooooo long. cant wait to see how it ends. ;-) [update: i quit. guess ill never know the ending...]


swifts minor satirical essays: because i'm not yet acidic enough

odyssey. absolutely brilliant translation by fitzgerald. i never realized how funny it is, nor how much it parallels the iliad.

book of the ass by nigellus. its like chaucer + aesop in latin couplets.

at the back of the north wind by macdonald. (read to my kids) a young boy befriends the angel of death = a beautiful, albeit grave, woman. the boy dies in the end. a kids' story.

paradiso (mandelbaum).

lord of the rings, read while sick with the flu. good for that, except the part when I had nightmares about being chased by a great eye, lidless, wreathed in flame.

prologue of the canterbury tales -- written after dante, its weak in comparison. i'm not reading the rest...

the hobbit, which my daughter loved

descent Into hell and war in heaven by charles williams: a nice marriage

the silmarilion -- such a sad story

the tempest -- such a fun story

queste del san graal : an old version

blake's songs & the marriage

blake's milton. trippy. parts of the four zoas too. ubertrippy.

more williams; shadows of ecstasy. i wasn't ecstatic about it.

i took my girl to narnia: we read the chronicles. good times.

i broke my rule and read a recent book on saints and purgatory by theologian n.t.wright. pabulum with neither rigor nor literary merit. diem perdidi.

parts of the children's homer (to my daughter)


anna karenina : forgive me all...

purgatory : whence o'er thyself i mitre thee and crown

consolation of philosophy by boethius : in a desperate attempt to get some consolation. got some. best book in a long time...

the princess & the goblin and also the princess & curdie by george macdonald : read with my daughter, who took up stomping on goblin toes

tanglewood tales by hawthorne : also read with my daughter

a few pieces of poetry by m. arnold

some psycho-catholic-horror stories by the enigmatic charles williams: descent into hell - about an academic who spend too much time fantasizing and slips into damnation. ow. the place of the lion - well, it has to do with platonic forms becoming real and destroying the world. hmmm.

introductory papers on dante by sayers  :  excellent essays

further papers on dante : the sequel

the latest harry potter book...whatever, bo-ring

the prosaic and the devourer or something like that from auden : blake said it better

dymer & the other narrative poems of lewis


paradise lost by milton : since i didnt finish it in 2002

the decameron by boccaccio : subtitled, "black death beach party" : this 19th century translator was so embarrassed by one of the stories ("putting the devil in hell") that he feigned the inability to translate certain portions. oh dear, times have changed.

ovids metamorphoses (mandelbaums fine translation) : immortality and immorality go hand-in-hand

gawain and the green knight (excellent medieval alliterative poem) : "its only a flesh wound!"

lives of the caesars, by seutonius : the good, the bad, the ugly.

asgard and the norse heroes : a little old everyman book

a new book on philology and tolkein's m.e. : makes me wish i knew old teutonic

hesiod's works : what you always wanted to know about the birth of aphrodite but were afraid to ask. jinkies!

de monarchia by dante.

hamlet. not just any hamlet. i'm reading my 1902 e. hubbard edition, hand-printed on hand-made paper with the roycroft watermark, then hand-bound in suede with hand-dipped oil-swirl paper inside the cover. mmmmmm....

titus andronicus, by the bard. bloody good, id say.

notes from the underground by dostoyevsky. gee, my liver feels a little diseased too.

beowulf. my first ever e-book. translated into modern alliterative verse.

livys history of rome. only made it through a third or so...its so long.

purgatorio: dante. ieu sui arnaut, que plor e vaut cantan

anna karenina, tolstoy. just started at the end of the year...will certainly carry over to 04.



the aeneid by virgil

plutarchs lives: (its 800,000 words, so i didnt finish...)

publish and perish: short stories of tenure and terror (naturally)

the lord of the rings and the silmarilion by tolkein

selected poetry by george herbert

the tragedies of seneca

the tragedies of euipides (they were much better than senecas)

bullfinchs legends of charlemagne (great fun)

simon ockleys history of the saracens (subtitled "the religion of peace")

the inferno (yet again, sayers translation)

selected colloquies of erasmus

a tale of two cities by dickens

the proslogium and monologium of st. anselm [because every mathematician should know the ontological proof]

utopia by st. thomas more

lilith by g. macdonald (a very, very strange story)

the iliad, a prose translation

gullivers travels  by swift

paradise lost by milton

histories of herodotus (not the whole thing, though...)




the commedia of dante (singletons and sayers translations)

augustines enchiridion (didnt finish)

the dumb ox by g.k.chesterton: a book about st. thomas aquinas

harry potter #4: a fun book

an anthology of early anglo-saxon poetry

eugenics and other evils by chesterton (to celebrate the bold progress in human cloning we witnessed in 2001)

the brothers karamazov by dostoevsky

gargantua et pantagruel by rabelais (the first 2/3)

the complete short stories of flannery oconner (parkers back is my favorite)

annals of a quiet neighborhood by g. macdonald (a quiet book)

a biography of charlemagne by notker the stammering monk

portions of the edda (icelandic saga) to prep for the tolkein movie

sections of chanson de roland (after 9/11. history repeats.)

and another failed attempt to get through something by kierkegaard.

topological methods in applied mathematics