Saturday, April 30, 2011

Embossing Seals

“But I am not yet able to please all the citizens.” - Theognis of Megara (24)
“ Kyrnos, let a seal [sphrēgis] be placed by me, as I practice my poetic skill [sophiē], upon these utterances [epos plural]; that way they [i.e., the utterances] will never be stolen without detection, and no one will substitute something inferior for the genuine thing that is there. And everyone will say: "These are the utterances [epos plural] of Theognis of Megara. His name is known among all men." ”
- Theognis of Megara (19–23)

Friday, April 29, 2011

En Garde!

Kyrnos, this polis is pregnant, and I fear that it will give birth to a man who will be a straightener of our base hubris. The citizens here are still moderate, but the leaders [hēgemones] have veered so much as to fall into debasement [kakotēs]. Men who are agathoi, Kyrnos, have never yet ruined any polis, but when the kakoi decide to behave with outrage [hubris], and when they ruin the dēmos and render judgments [dikai] in favor of the unjust [i.e., persons or things without dikē], for the sake of private gain [kerdos plural], and for the sake of power, do not expect that polis to be peaceful for long, not even if it is now in a state of great serenity [hēsukhiē], when the base [kakoi] decide on these things, namely, private gains [kerdos plural] entailing public damage. From these things arise discord [stasis plural], intestine killings [phonoi] of men, and tyrants [mounarkhoi]. May this polis never decide to adopt these things!”
- Theognis of Megara (39–42)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Making What you Will of It

“ Muses and Kharites, daughters of Zeus! You were the ones who once came to the wedding of Kadmos, and you sang this beautiful utterance [epos], "What is beautiful is philon, what is not beautiful is not philon." That is the utterance [epos] that came through their immortal mouths.”
- Theognis of Megara (15-18)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Dance

“ Kyrnos, this polis is pregnant, and I fear that it will give birth to a man who is a perpetrator of outrage [hubris], a leader [hēgemōn] of dire discord [stasis]

The citizens are moderate, but the leaders [hēgemones] have veered so much as to fall into debasement [kakotēs]. ”
- Theognis of Megara (1081–1082b)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sanity in Dreams

“Who cares for you?” said Alice (she had grown to her full size by this time). “You’re nothing but a pack of cards!”

At this the whole pack rose up into the air, and came flying down upon her; she gave a little scream, half of fright and half of anger, and tried to beat them off, and found herself lying on the bank, with her head in the lap of her sister, who was gently brushing away some dead leaves that had fluttered down from the trees upon her face.

“Wake up, Alice dear!” said her sister. “Why, what a long sleep you’ve had!”

“Oh, I’ve had such a curious dream!” said Alice. And she told her sister, as well as she could remember them, all these strange adventures of hers that you have just been reading about; and, when she had finished, her sister kissed her, and said, “It was a curious dream, dear, certainly; but now run in to your tea: it’s getting late.”

So Alice got up and ran off, thinking while she ran, as well she might, what a wonderful dream it had been.

----

But her sister sat still just as she left her, leaning her head on her hand, watching the setting sun, and thinking of little Alice and all her wonderful Adventures, till she too began dreaming after a fashion, and this was her dream:

First, she dreamed about little Alice herself: once again the tiny hands were clasped upon her knee, and the bright eager eyes were looking into hers—she could hear the very tones of her voice, and see that queer little toss of her head to keep back the wandering hair that would always get into her eyes—and still as she listened, or seemed to listen, the whole place around her became alive with the strange creatures of her little sister’s dream.

The long grass rustled at her feet as the White Rabbit hurried by—the frightened Mouse splashed his way through the neighboring pool—she could hear the rattle of the teacups as the March Hare and his friends shared their never-ending meal, and the shrill voice of the Queen ordering off her unfortunate guests to execution—once more the pig-baby was sneezing on the Duchess’ knee, while plates and dishes crashed around it—once more the shriek of the Gryphon, the squeaking of the Lizard’s slate-pencil, and the choking of the suppressed guinea-pigs, filled the air, mixed up with the distant sob of the miserable Mock Turtle.

So she sat on, with closed eyes, and half believed herself in Wonderland, though she knew she had but to open them again, and all would change to dull reality—the grass would be only rustling in the wind, and the pool rippling to the waving of the reeds—the rattling teacups would change to tinkling sheep bells, and the Queen’s shrill cries to the voice of the shepherd-boy—and the sneeze of the baby, the shriek of the Gryphon, and all the other queer noises, would change (she knew) to the confused clamor of the busy farm-yard—while the lowing of the cattle in the distance would take the place of the Mock Turtle’s heavy sobs.

Lastly, she pictured to herself how this same little sister of hers would, in the after-time, be herself a grown woman; and how she would keep, through all her riper years, the simple and loving heart of her childhood; and how she would gather about her other little children, and make their eyes bright and eager with many a strange tale, perhaps even with the dream of Wonderland of long ago; and how she would feel with all their simple sorrows, and find a pleasure in all their simple joys, remembering her own child-life, and the happy summer days.
--Lewis Carroll, "Alice's Adventure in Wonderland" (Ch 12 - Alice's Evidence)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Madness in Sanity

THE DUKE: (with violent contempt) This La Mancha - what is it like?
THE GOVERNOR: An empty place. Great wide plains.
PRISONER: A desert.
THE GOVERNOR: A wasteland.
THE DUKE: Which apparently grows lunatics.
CERVANTES: I would say, rather ... men of illusion.
THE DUKE: Much the same. Why are you poets so fascinated with madmen?
CERVANTES: I suppose ... we have much in common.
THE DUKE: You both turn your backs on life.
CERVANTES: We both select from life what pleases us.
"Man of LaMancha"

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Almost Time to Suit Back Up

”“ …and we, men of overweening violence [biē], settled lovely Colophon, we leaders [hēgemones] of baneful outrage [hubris].”
- Mimnermus (fr. 3.3–4 GP)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Yes, Socrates, he (Glaucon) said, and if you were providing for a city of pigs, how else would you feed the beasts?

Wright Barker, "Circe"
"When they reached Circe's house they found it built of cut stones, on a site that could be seen from far, in the middle of the forest. There were wild mountain wolves and lions prowling all round it—poor bewitched creatures whom she had tamed by her enchantments and drugged into subjection. They did not attack my men, but wagged their great tails, fawned upon them, and rubbed their noses lovingly against them. {86} As hounds crowd round their master when they see him coming from dinner—for they know he will bring them something—even so did these wolves and lions with their great claws fawn upon my men, but the men were terribly frightened at seeing such strange creatures. Presently they reached the gates of the goddess's house, and as they stood there they could hear Circe within, singing most beautifully as she worked at her loom, making a web so fine, so soft, and of such dazzling colours as no one but a goddess could weave. On this Polites, whom I valued and trusted more than any other of my men, said, 'There is some one inside working at a loom and singing most beautifully; the whole place resounds with it, let us call her and see whether she is woman or goddess.'

"They called her and she came down, unfastened the door, and bade them enter. They, thinking no evil, followed her, all except Eurylochus, who suspected mischief and staid outside. When she had got them into her house, she set them upon benches and seats and mixed them a mess with cheese, honey, meal, and Pramnian wine, but she drugged it with wicked poisons to make them forget their homes, and when they had drunk she turned them into pigs by a stroke of her wand, and shut them up in her pig-styes. They were like pigs—head, hair, and all, and they grunted just as pigs do; but their senses were the same as before, and they remembered everything.

"Thus then were they shut up squealing, and Circe threw them some acorns and beech masts such as pigs eat, but Eurylochus hurried back to tell me about the sad fate of our comrades. He was so overcome with dismay that though he tried to speak he could find no words to do so; his eyes filled with tears and he could only sob and sigh, till at last we forced his story out of him, and he told us what had happened to the others.

"'We went,' said he, 'as you told us, through the forest, and in the middle of it there was a fine house built with cut stones in a place that could be seen from far. There we found a woman, or else she was a goddess, working at her loom and singing sweetly; so the men shouted to her and called her, whereon she at once came down, opened the door, and invited us in. The others did not suspect any mischief so they followed her into the house, but I staid where I was, for I thought there might be some treachery. From that moment I saw them no more, for not one of them ever came out, though I sat a long time watching for them.'

"Then I took my sword of bronze and slung it over my shoulders; I also took my bow, and told Eurylochus to come back with me and shew me the way. But he laid hold of me with both his hands and spoke piteously, saying, 'Sir, do not force me to go with you, but let me stay here, for I know you will not bring one of them back with you, nor even return alive yourself; let us rather see if we cannot escape at any rate with the few that are left us, for we may still save our lives.'

"'Stay where you are, then,' answered I, 'eating and drinking at the ship, but I must go, for I am most urgently bound to do so.'

"With this I left the ship and went up inland. When I got through the charmed grove, and was near the great house of the enchantress Circe, I met Mercury with his golden wand, disguised as a young man in the hey-day of his youth and beauty with the down just coming upon his face. He came up to me and took my hand within his own, saying, 'My poor unhappy man, whither are you going over this mountain top, alone and without knowing the way? Your men are shut up in Circe's pigstyes, like so many wild boars in their lairs. You surely do not fancy that you can set them free? I can tell you that you will never get back and will have to stay there with the rest of them. But never mind, I will protect you and get you out of your difficulty. Take this herb, which is one of great virtue, and keep it about you when you go to Circe's house, it will be a talisman to you against every kind of mischief.

"'And I will tell you of all the wicked witchcraft that Circe will try to practice upon you. She will mix a mess for you to drink, and she will drug the meal with which she makes it, but she will not be able to charm you, for the virtue of the herb that I shall give you will prevent her spells from working. I will tell you all about it. When Circe strikes you with her wand, draw your sword and spring upon her as though you were going to kill her. She will then be frightened, and will desire you to go to bed with her; on this you must not point blank refuse her, for you want her to set your companions free, and to take good care also of yourself, but you must make her swear solemnly by all the blessed gods that she will plot no further mischief against you, or else when she has got you naked she will unman you and make you fit for nothing.'

"As he spoke he pulled the herb out of the ground and shewed me what it was like. The root was black, while the flower was as white as milk; the gods call it Moly, and mortal men cannot uproot it, but the gods can do whatever they like.

"Then Mercury went back to high Olympus passing over the wooded island; but I fared onward to the house of Circe, and my heart was clouded with care as I walked along. When I got to the gates I stood there and called the goddess, and as soon as she heard me she came down, opened the door, and asked me to come in; so I followed her—much troubled in my mind. She set me on a richly decorated seat inlaid with silver, there was a footstool also under my feet, and she mixed a mess in a golden goblet for me to drink; but she drugged it, for she meant me mischief. When she had given it me, and I had drunk it without its charming me, she struck me with her wand. 'There now,' she cried, 'be off to the pigstye, and make your lair with the rest of them.'

"But I rushed at her with my sword drawn as though I would kill her, whereon she fell with a loud scream, clasped my knees, and spoke piteously, saying, 'Who and whence are you? from what place and people have you come? How can it be that my drugs have no power to charm you? Never yet was any man able to stand so much as a taste of the herb I gave you; you must be spell-proof; surely you can be none other than the bold hero Ulysses, who Mercury always said would come here some day with his ship while on his way home from Troy; so be it then; sheathe your sword and let us go to bed, that we may make friends and learn to trust each other.'

"And I answered, 'Circe, how can you expect me to be friendly with you when you have just been turning all my men into pigs? And now that you have got me here myself, you mean me mischief when you ask me to go to bed with you, and will unman me and make me fit for nothing. I shall certainly not consent to go to bed with you unless you will first take your solemn oath to plot no further harm against me.'

"So she swore at once as I had told her, and when she had completed her oath then I went to bed with her.

"Meanwhile her four servants, who are her housemaids, set about their work. They are the children of the groves and fountains, and of the holy waters that run down into the sea. One of them spread a fair purple cloth over a seat, and laid a carpet underneath it. Another brought tables of silver up to the seats, and set them with baskets of gold. A third mixed some sweet wine with water in a silver bowl and put golden cups upon the tables, while the fourth brought in water and set it to boil in a large cauldron over a good fire which she had lighted. When the water in the cauldron was boiling, {87} she poured cold into it till it was just as I liked it, and then she set me in a bath and began washing me from the cauldron about the head and shoulders, to take the tire and stiffness out of my limbs. As soon as she had done washing me and anointing me with oil, she arrayed me in a good cloak and shirt and led me to a richly decorated seat inlaid with silver; there was a footstool also under my feet. A maid servant then brought me water in a beautiful golden ewer and poured it into a silver basin for me to wash my hands, and she drew a clean table beside me; an upper servant brought me bread and offered me many things of what there was in the house, and then Circe bade me eat, but I would not, and sat without heeding what was before me, still moody and suspicious."When Circe saw me sitting there without eating, and in great grief, she came to me and said, 'Ulysses, why do you sit like that as though you were dumb, gnawing at your own heart, and refusing both meat and drink? Is it that you are still suspicious? You ought not to be, for I have already sworn solemnly that I will not hurt you.'

"And I said, 'Circe, no man with any sense of what is right can think of either eating or drinking in your house until you have set his friends free and let him see them. If you want me to eat and drink, you must free my men and bring them to me that I may see them with my own eyes.'

"When I had said this she went straight through the court with her wand in her hand and opened the pigstye doors. My men came out like so many prime hogs and stood looking at her, but she went about among them and anointed each with a second drug, whereon the bristles that the bad drug had given them fell off, and they became men again, younger than they were before, and much taller and better looking. They knew me at once, seized me each of them by the hand, and wept for joy till the whole house was filled with the sound of their halloa-ballooing, and Circe herself was so sorry for them that she came up to me and said, 'Ulysses, noble son of Laertes, go back at once to the sea where you have left your ship, and first draw it on to the land. Then, hide all your ship's gear and property in some cave, and come back here with your men.'

"I agreed to this, so I went back to the sea shore, and found the men at the ship weeping and wailing most piteously. When they saw me the silly blubbering fellows began frisking round me as calves break out and gambol round their mothers, when they see them coming home to be milked after they have been feeding all day, and the homestead resounds with their lowing. They seemed as glad to see me as though they had got back to their own rugged Ithaca, where they had been born and bred. 'Sir,' said the affectionate creatures, 'we are as glad to see you back as though we had got safe home to Ithaca; but tell us all about the fate of our comrades.'

"I spoke comfortingly to them and said, 'We must draw our ship on to the land, and hide the ship's gear with all our property in some cave; then come with me all of you as fast as you can to Circe's house, where you will find your comrades eating and drinking in the midst of great abundance.'

"On this the men would have come with me at once, but Eurylochus tried to hold them back and said, 'Alas, poor wretches that we are, what will become of us? Rush not on your ruin by going to the house of Circe, who will turn us all into pigs or wolves or lions, and we shall have to keep guard over her house. Remember how the Cyclops treated us when our comrades went inside his cave, and Ulysses with them. It was all through his sheer folly that those men lost their lives.'

"When I heard him I was in two minds whether or no to draw the keen blade that hung by my sturdy thigh and cut his head off in spite of his being a near relation of my own; but the men interceded for him and said, 'Sir, if it may so be, let this fellow stay here and mind the ship, but take the rest of us with you to Circe's house.'
--Homer, "Odyssey"

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Death by Water

PHLEBAS the Phoenician, a fortnight dead,
Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep seas swell
And the profit and loss.

A current under sea
Picked his bones in whispers. As he rose and fell
He passed the stages of his age and youth
Entering the whirlpool.

Gentile or Jew
O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.

--T.S. Eliot, "Wasteland"

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Dragon Stones* Now Being Offered for Sale

*Different parts of a dragon have different magical qualities. A dragon has two magic body parts with different powers. If you obtain these magical objects they will enable you to have certain magic quality.
If you slay a dragon and eat it's heart, you will be able to speak every language in the world. You will be able to speak both animal and human languages. If you obtain a dragon stone you can use the dragon stone to cure almost any illness in the world and will get other wonderful powers too. A dragon stone is a magical stone found in a dragon's head. However a dragon stone can only be used if you get it without hurting the dragon. The only way to get a dragon stone is to find one that a dragon dropped while it was flying.

Transferrence - the Quintessence of Capitalism

Jean-Léon Gérôme, "King Candaules" (1859)
“It is not easy for us, who have used coinage for some twenty-five hundred years, to imagine the impression it made on the minds of those who first used it in their city-states. The introduction of money to Greece has few useful analogies. Tales of Gyges associate him with founding a tyranny in Lydia and with a power of being able to transform visibles into invisibles and invisibles into visibles. This power, as we shall see, is associated with new economic and political forms that shattered the previous world and its culture.
--Marc Shell’s Economics of Literature

Shell also points out that in Herodotus, the tale of Gyges goes like this. “Candaules [the King of Lydia] fell in love with his own wife, so much that he supposed her to be by far the fairest woman in the world; and being thus persuaded of this, he raved of her beauty (eidos) to Gyges". In this version of the story, Gyges is a noble at King Candaules’s court. Candaules is so proud of her beauty that he becomes convinced that someone other than himself must witness it – Gyges. He accuses Gyges of not believing him, and thus orders Gyges to spy on the queen, his wife, when she is dressing. Gyges doesn’t want to, for to spy on the naked queen would mean, in his opinion, taking property from the King – for the queen’s eidos – her figure, is the King’s property in the same way that the King’s figure on a coin marks the coin as the King’s property. Of course, in the latter case, the property is alienated and circulates – but at no point in the circulation does the coin change its stamp.

Gyges, in the event, is hidden by the King in the Queen’s chamber, and spies upon her nakedness. However, as Gyges does this and contrives to slip out of the chamber, unbeknownst to him, the Queen spots him. The next day she calls Gyges into her presence and gives him a choice. Either she will have him killed for spying on her, or he will kill the King and rule with her over Lydia. In one way or another, she will have her honor – her aidos – avenged.

The invisibility in this story is all a matter of human invention. It is the invisibility of the person who is hidden. The story is neatly sewn together as the invisible and the visible positions change places. That the Queen’s beauty is invisible to any male gaze except the King’s (we discount, in this story, the Queen’s serving women) is the motive that sets the intrigue in motion, for her beauty is, in a sense, both undervisible and overvisible – it exists as a second visibility. The King’s love is constrained by the fact that this second visibility cannot circulate. Gyges, as the voyeur, is indeed put into a position where he, invisibly, takes possession of that second visibility – but immediately, his position is reversed by the fact that, unbeknownst to him, he is seen by the Queen when he leaves his spot. The voyeur is, in turn, spied upon. A trope we find, incidentally, in Sartre's Being and Nothingness. And finally, of course, the two come together in a plot to overthrow the King. Here, they become conspirators in a secret – a relative of the invisible and the hidden.

“That the queen could see Gyges in the bedroom indicates that she possessed not only a power to make things invisible but also a corresponding power (as invisible spy) to make visible to herself things that were invisible to other people. Ptolemaeus Chennus writes that the eyes of "the wife of [Clandaules. . . had double pupils, and she was extremely sharp sighted, being the possessor of the dragon-stone. This is how she came to see Gyges as he passed through the door.” The dragonstone has an opposite effect from the magic ring. In one case the talisman makes people invisible; in the other case, it makes people visible: taken together, their power makes things visible or invisible. This is the power of Platonic Gyges. It is also the power of the archetypal tyrant.”

Shell, going back to the notion that the King possesses a property in the appearance of the wife, alludes to the Greek distinction between two forms of transaction.

ousia phanera is property whose transfer was seen by others, and ousia aphanēs is property whose transfer was not seen. (In a visible transfer, the buyer and seller might exchange a symbolic deposit not as part of the purchase price but as a visible sign of their agreement.) The second meaning of the opposition involves money: ousia phanera is a nonmonetary commodity (such as land or "real" estate) and ousia aphanēs is money (such as a coin).”


The phrase qui pro quo, or quiproquo (from medieval Latin: literally qui instead of quo), is common in languages such as Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and French, where it means a misunderstanding.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Princess' Dilemna

Are There Any Knight's Going My Way?

Hippolyta's Stolen Girdle

Attention, Western Civilization, your Midsummer Knight's Dream is over. A robin has returned Hippolyta's girdle and the lady now must pledge service to Artemis. If only this were but some Fuseli knight mare...
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.
--W. Shakespeare

-Alas, it is but no dream. Amazons must once again take up the bow and cleave their left breast. One wonders if they've the spannungsbogen necessary for completing the task. Kronos once more holds dominion over man. Olympian Zeus is again with Amalthea below Mt. Ida. May the Korybantes below guard and protect Zeus better than pictured Knight's above did guard Hippolyta's girdle. But methinks they cannot. A nightingale aims to soon lull them back to sleep. And if his song does not the trick, their continual rocking back & forth motion soon will, for even the Fisher King knows that the spear of destiny rightfully belongs to man. ;)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Grabbing Hold of Kairos

from Wikipedia:
Kairos (καιρός) is an ancient Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment (the supreme moment). The ancient Greeks had two words for time, chronos and kairos. While the former refers to chronological or sequential time, the latter signifies a time in between, a moment of undetermined period of time in which something special happens. What the special something is depends on who is using the word. While chronos is quantitative, kairos has a qualitative nature.

In rhetoric kairos is "a passing instant when an opening appears which must be driven through with force if success is to be achieved."

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sarah Palin Declares for 2012 Presidential Race

Today former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin announced her candidacy in the 2012 U.S. Presidential Race. She'll be running not as a Republican, but as a member of the MILF faction of the Tea Party Express.