Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Impossible One's

...and the master signifier. Who's leading this human horde?

In the Pan Indian philosophic thought the term 'Satyam Shivam Sundaram' is another name for the concept of the Supreme. 'Sat' is the truth value, 'Shiv' is the good value & 'Sundaram' is the beauty value. Man through his 'Srabana' or education, 'Manana' or experience and conceptualization and 'Sadhana' or practice, through different stages of life (Asramas) comes to form and realize the idea of these three values to develop a value system. This Value-system helps us to develop two basic ideas 1) that of 'Daksha' or the adept/expert and 2) of Mahana/Parama or the Absolute and thus to judge anything in this universe in the light of these two measures, known as 'Adarsha'. A person who has mastered great amounts of knowledge of the grammars, rules, & language of an art-form are adepts (Daksha), whereas those who have worked through the whole system and journeyed ahead of these to become a law unto themselves is called a Mahana. Individuals idea of 'Daksha' and 'Mahana' is relative to one's development of the concept of 'Satyam-Shivam-Sundaram.' For example, Tagore's idea of these two concepts should be way above any common man's and many perceive Tagore as a 'Mahana' Artist in the realm of literature. This concept of Satyam-Shivam-Sundaram, a kind of Value Theory is the cornerstone of Indian Aesthetics.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Ariadne... a Death in Reason, and Re-Birth in Intuition

...you may now approach the Pythia

Originally Ariadne was a vegetation goddess in Crete related to the other Cretan goddesses especially to Britomartis. Sometimes Ariadne was associated with the surname "Very Holy Maid," because her name is a variant of Ariagne from the Greek word àgni, which means "the most holy." Under this title -- àgni -- Aphrodite on Delos was honoured.

According to the Greek myths Ariadne was the daughter of the Cretan king Minos and his wife Pasiphae. The story about her life and death was narrated by many ways in the different regions, but in all of her legends she left Crete and she suffered terrible sorrow.

In the Odyssey is told that Ariadne was abducted and taken to the island of Dia where she died, because Artemis put her to death. According to the myth which was the most known, she fell in love with the Athenian hero Theseus, who was coming to Crete to kill the Minotaur and to rescue the Athenian youth. In the older version of the myth she was already the loved one of Dionysus, when Theseus came to Crete. Thus Ariadne helped Theseus by promising her to take her to Athens as his wife. She gave him two special gifts -- a sword and a clue of thread -- to find a way back from the Cnossian Labyrinth after killing the Minotaur.

As promised, she left Crete with Theseus and with the Athenian youth and they stopped on the island of Naxos. While Ariadne was asleep, in her dream (or in Theseus' dream?) the god Dionysus appeared on her and gave her a divine command to stay in Naxos, because he wanted to marry her. Interestingly, we know also some other versions, why Theseus deserted his sleeping Ariadne in Naxos: maybe he had already a new lover or he was afraid to bring Ariadne with him to Athens? So, Theseus with the rescued Athenian youth, but without Ariadne, sailed to Attica over Delos (a small island near Mykonos), where they performed some rites (a special dance) and dedicated the old statue of the goddess from Crete to the local sanctuary.

Ariadne; detail from a red-figured vase with the Minotaur. 4th century BCE, National Museum Athens. Ariadne in the meantime felt extremely unhappy, when Dionysus came to save her in Naxos. So, trying to make her feel better he put on her head a golden crown of Thetis, a work of Hephaestus. Nevertheless we have to mention that in the other version of the Ariadne-myth, she received this crown from Theseus (and not from Dionysus) as a gift of Amphitrite. After this gift Dionysus immediately married her. Short while after Ariadne gave birth to many famous children -- first of all to Staphylus, Thoas and Oenopion. The last two became the kings of the islands Lemnos and Chios and in some other versions of the myth they are represented as the sons of Theseus.

Another totally different version of this myth about Ariadne and Theseus is known to be originating from Cyprus. According to this story, the Cretans and the Athenians made an agreement about their friendship, which was ratified with the union of their crowns -- which means with the marriage of Ariadne and Theseus. After the long celebrations in Crete, the married couple sailed to Athens, but a storm pushed them to the shores of Cyprus. Ariadne was already in a high stage of pregnancy, so she stayed in Amathus on the island of Cyprus, but unfortunately she died on this place during her childbirth. She was buried there in a small grove called in her honour Aridela. It is also said that Ariadne never married Dionysus, on the contrary that he was angry with her and with Theseus, because they desecrated his cave in Naxos. Due to this reason the goddess Artemis killed Ariadne during her childbirth by her arrows.

But the Homeric report was giving a different explanation about her death when noted that Artemis felt pity for Ariadne and that she killed her because Ariadne was very unhappy without Theseus. According to the other version of the myth, Ariadne hung herself on a tree, fearing the anger of Artemis. Finally Pausanias is telling, that some people from Argos believed, that Ariadne who followed Dionysus to Argos, was buried there in an earthenware coffin in a shrine of Dionysus called "the Cretan."

The mythical stories about Ariadne refer to places of her influence and her worshipping. Her cult spread from Crete over the islands Naxos, Delos, Cyprus, Chios, Lemnos to Athens and Peloponnes, specially Argos. Due to her influence over the islands she was sometimes named "the sea woman." This title was used for her in Argos. On the contrary, in Amathus (Cyprus) she was worshipped as Aphrodite-Ariadne.

The cult of Ariadne consisted of a ceremonial dance, the orgiastic rites and some lamentations. In the Iliad, Homer mentioned the Ariadne's dancing place (choros) prepared by the craftsman Daedalus in the Cnossian Palace. According to the Delian myth the famous Cretan Crane Dance was performed for the first time on the island of Delos by rescued youth, who were travelling with Theseus from Crete to Athens. So, this dance and image of Ariadne played always an important role in the cult on Delos. Also some vase painters depicted Ariadne in a context with dancing. There is a supposition that this ceremonial dance was a part of the collective marriage ritual for marrying couples.

The Ariadne's cult on Naxos was performed also with the orgiastic rites (like the festivals of joy) together with lamentations and expressions of sorrow (like during funeral ceremonies). In Amathus the sacrifices were brought in honour of Ariadne and at this place a special cult was practised in which a young man was simulating the pains of a woman giving childbirth with some screaming. Ariadne was also remembered in the Athenian festival The Oschophoria (celebration in honour of Theseus) and in the other Athenian festival The Anthesteria (performed in honour of Dionysus) as the wife of both of these two protagonists.

A few Greek vase-painters depicted the Ariadne's life or Ariadne with Dionysus accompanied by satyrs and maenads on numerous vases from between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE. Her tragic fate was expressed in the famous melancholic head created in the second part of the 4th century BCE. actually in the National Museum of Athens. Also the Roman copy of a Hellenistic work in the Vatican museums named "The Sleeping Ariadne," the relief "Theseus and Ariadne" from the 2nd century in the collection of the Capitol Museum in Rome, the fresco "Wedding of Ariadne and Dionysus" in the Villa dei Mysteri in Pompeji and the mosaics with the same theme from the museums in Thesaloniki (Greece) and Bardo (Tunesia) are between the most important artistic works representing this subject.

Concluding, we can say that Ariadne represented a tragic heroine figure in all the different versions of her myth. Therefore we can also understand that she was suffering from a terrible dilemma, namely between her wish for happiness and the obligation to obey to a divine command. Due to this internal fight, she felt a great sorrow and suffered death in so many different ways. With her influence over the islands we can relate her personage to the Cretan goddess Britomartis. In some parts of her myths, there is clear evidence that she is closely associated to the Greek goddess Aphrodite. Finally, Ariadne's cult was performed in different ways on various places and consisted of Cretan features mixed with some local rituals as well as with some orgiastic aspects, used during the celebrations of Dionysus.
John Collier, "Priestess of Delphi" (1891)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

...and So Another Spectator Joins the Crowd

...but to what purpose?
looking for self-reflections manifest upon the stage... but seeing none and after being thrown from the stage, we now rinse and repeat

Sunday, December 16, 2012

American Politicians - Channeling Pentheus

Scarce had I crossed our borders, when mine ear
Was caught by this strange rumour, that our own
Wives, our own sisters, from their hearths are flown
To wild and secret rites; and cluster there
High on the shadowy hills, with dance and prayer
To adore this new-made God, this Dionyse,
Whate'er he be!—And in their companies
Deep wine-jars stand, and ever and anon
Away into the loneliness now one
Steals forth, and now a second, maid or dame,
Where love lies waiting, not of God! The flame,
They say, of Bacchios wraps them. Bacchios! Nay,
'Tis more to Aphrodite that they pray.
Howbeit, all that I have found, my men
Hold bound and shackled in our dungeon den;
The rest, I will go hunt them! Aye, and snare
My birds with nets of iron, to quell their prayer
And mountain song and rites of rascaldom!

-Euripides, "The Bacchae"

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Monday, December 10, 2012

Finding Beauty and Power in the Hidden Realm "Beyond Necessity"

One more text from the mythologists is to the same purpose, — Beauty rides on a lion. Beauty rests on necessities. The line of beauty is the result of perfect economy. The cell of the bee is built at that angle which gives the most strength with the least wax; the bone or the quill of the bird gives the most alar strength, with the least weight. "It is the purgation of superfluities," said Michel Angelo. There is not a particle to spare in natural structures. There is a compelling reason in the uses of the plant, for every novelty of color or form: and our art saves material, by more skilful arrangement, and reaches beauty by taking every superfluous ounce that can be spared from a wall, and keeping all its strength in the poetry of columns. In rhetoric, this art of omission is a chief secret of power, and, in general, it is proof of high culture, to say the greatest matters in the simplest way.
- Emerson, "Conduct of Life" (On Beauty)
The feet of beauty rest upon the back of necessity

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Metamorphic Tales

My dear one, the jewel of my eye, Sleep my dear precious one. You are the peacock, the dancing peacock, You are the koel, the singing koel, You are the moon, light of the moon, You are the eyelid, dreams that wait on the eyelids. Rararo…Rararo… Rararo…Rararo… You are the flower, nectar of the flower You are the fruit, sweetness of the fruit. Rararo…Rararo…
Life of Pi is a story about struggling to survive through seemingly insurmountable odds. The shipwrecked inhabitants of the little lifeboat don’t simply acquiesce to their fate: they actively fight against it. Pi abandons his lifelong vegetarianism and eats fish to sustain himself. Orange Juice, the peaceful orangutan, fights ferociously against the hyena. Even the severely wounded zebra battles to stay alive; his slow, painful struggle vividly illustrates the sheer strength of his life force. As Martel makes clear in his novel, living creatures will often do extraordinary, unexpected, and sometimes heroic things to survive. However, they will also do shameful and barbaric things if pressed.

Spellbound's Designer Dreams

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Rather Death than Shame

Salvador Dali, "Basket of Bread" (1945)
from Wikipedia
Dalí writes in the Bignou Gallery of New York catalogue that he painted Basket of Bread in two months, when "the most staggering and sensational episodes of contemporary history took place" and finished "one day before the end of the war".

The painting's subtitle "Rather Death than Shame" takes on special significance during this time period. The basket is precariously situated on the edge of the uncovered table, against a starkly black backdrop, an omen to its own sacrificial destruction.

Adolf Hitler, a well-recorded subject by Dalí, chose death rather than the inevitable shame of capture on April 30, 1945. In Dali's essay, "The Conquest of the Irrational" written in 1935, Dali speaks of a "moral hunger" of the modern age that the German people sought relief through Hitler and National Socialism. Dali writes that Hitler’s followers were "systematically cretinized by machinism" and "ideological disorder", to which they "seek in vain to bite into the senile and triumphant softness of the plump, atavistic, tender, militaristic, and territorial back of any Hitlerian nursemaid." Further, this "irrational hunger is placed before a cultural dining table on which are found only ... cold and insubstantial leftovers." Hitler portrayed as the heel of a loaf of bread, on the edge of a precipice, sums up Dali's opinion of Hitler and his ultimate demise.

The painting was also said by Dali to have been painted the week the atomic bombs fell on Japan. "My objective was to arrive at the immobility of the pre-explosive object", Dali reveals. Taken in the context of the Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, "Rather Death than Shame" could also mean that it's better to have died a victim than bear the shame of having dropped the bombs.
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'
Mathew 4:1-4

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone."
Luke 4:1-4
..."Thou wouldst go into the world, and art going with empty hands, with some promise of freedom which men in their simplicity and their natural unruliness cannot even understand, which they fear and dread- for nothing has ever been more insupportable for a man and a human society than freedom. But seest Thou these stones in this parched and barren wilderness? Turn them into bread, and mankind will run after Thee like a flock of sheep, grateful and obedient, though for ever trembling, lest Thou withdraw Thy hand and deny them Thy bread."...
Fyodor Dostoevsky, "The Brothers Karamazov"

Salvador Dali, "The Enigma of Hitler" (1939)

Dali's Destino


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Literature and Evil, an Auteurs Attempt at Exploring Value

To understand Bataille’s notion of the gift, however, it is first necessary to see his conception of sacrifice and then how that relates to the gift. In a rational economy goods and production are either designated for meeting the general life needs of the populace or for the process of growth. All production then is designed with the future in mind, as part of a process of growth and expansion in which all objects are pre-ordained and understood as means towards the end, of the future telos of the economy. “The subject leaves its own domain and subordinates itself to the objects of the real order as soon as it becomes concerned for the future.” In the ritual destruction of material in the form of sacrifice, however, these goods are removed from that process, from that orientation towards a future telos. They are no longer seen as objects directed towards the use of the overall cultural system, but are seen in and of themselves, free of utilitarian domination.

Symbolically, along with the object itself, the one who offers the sacrifice is seen as removed from the demands of utility and consequently as possibly a sovereign subject. Those who offer the sacrifice are not completely dominated by the needs of the system or the process, but, rather, can exist free of their constraints in the moment of the sacrifice.
from a paper by David L.R. Kosalka

Getting Used... Longer Commercials

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Nationalist's Slow March


Before the florid portico
I watched the gamblers come and go,
While by me on a bench there sat
A female in a faded hat;
A shabby, shrinking, crumpled creature,
Of waxy casino-ward with eyes
Of lost soul seeking paradise.

Then from the Café de la Paix
There shambled forth a waiter fellow,
Clad dingily, down-stooped and grey,
With hollow face, careworn and yellow.
With furtive feet before our seat
He came to a respectful stand,
And bowed, my sorry crone to greet,
Saying: "Princess, I kiss your hand."

She gave him such a gracious smile,
And bade him linger by her side;
So there they talked a little while
Of kingly pomp and country pride;
Of Marquis This and Prince von That,
Of Old Vienna, glamour gay. . . .
Then sad he rose and raised his hat:
Saying: "My tables I must lay."

"Yea, you must go, dear Count," she said,
"For luncheon tables must be laid."
He sighed: from his alpaca jacket
He pressed into her hand a packet,
"Sorry, to-day it's all I'm rich in -
A chicken sandwich from the kitchen."
Then bowed and left her after she
Had thanked him with sweet dignity.

She pushed the package out of sight,
Within her bag and closed it tight;
But by and bye I saw her go
To where thick laurel bushes grow,
And there behind that leafy screen,
Thinking herself by all unseen,
That sandwich! How I saw her grab it,
And gulp it like a starving rabbit!

Thinks I: Is all that talk a bluff -
Their dukes and kings and courtly stuff:
The way she ate, why one would say
She hadn't broken fast all day.
- Robert William Service

Inventing New (to me) Dances

The cat went here and there
And the moon spun round like a top,
And the nearest kin of the moon,
The creeping cat, looked up.

Black Minnaloushe stared at the moon,
For, wander and wail as he would,
The pure cold light in the sky
Troubled his animal blood.

Minnaloushe runs in the grass
Lifting his delicate feet.
Do you dance, Minnaloushe, do you dance?
When two close kindred meet.

What better than call a dance?
Maybe the moon may learn,
Tired of that courtly fashion,
A new dance turn.

Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
From moonlit place to place,
The sacred moon overhead
Has taken a new phase.

Does Minnaloushe know that his pupils
Will pass from change to change,
And that from round to crescent,
From crescent to round they range?

Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
Alone, important and wise,
And lifts to the changing moon
His changing eyes.

- William Butler Yeats

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Bedtime Stories

It takes your mind again
It takes your mind again
You've got suckers' luck
Have you given up?

Does it feel like a trial?
Does it trouble your mind the way you trouble mine?
- The National

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Pedicab Boatman

Row, row, row your boat
Harshly down the stream.
Painfully, blissfully, unfathomably-row!
Life’s not just a dream.
-Armmima Maclang

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


FAIR river! in thy bright, clear flow
Of crystal, wandering water,
Thou art an emblem of the glow
Of beauty - the unhidden heart -
The playful maziness of art
In old Alberto's daughter;

But when within thy wave she looks -
Which glistens then, and trembles -
Why, then, the prettiest of brooks
Her worshipper resembles;
For in my heart, as in thy stream,
Her image deeply lies -
His heart which trembles at the beam
Of her soul-searching eyes.
- E.A. Poe

Saturday, October 13, 2012


The mind can only truly entertain a text that already contains its opposite.
"You hold the answers deep within your own mind.
Consciously, you've forgotten it.
That's the way the human mind works.
Whenever something is too unpleasant, to shameful for us
to entertain, we reject it.
We erase it from our memories.
But the imprint is always there."

Friday, October 12, 2012

La Gazza Ladra

To Calliope (The True Patroness of all Poetry)

It is a statute in deep wisdom's lore,
That for his lines none should a patron chuse
By wealth and poverty, by less or more,
But who the same is able to peruse:
Nor ought a man his labour dedicate,
Without a true and sensible desert,
To any power of such a mighty state
But such a wise defendress as thou art
Thou great and powerful Muse, then pardon me
That I presume thy maiden cheek to stain
In dedicating such a work to thee,
Sprung from the issue of an idle brain:
I use thee as a woman ought to be,
I consecrate my idle hours to thee.

- Francis Beaumont (1584 – 6 March 1616)
Enea Vico, "The Contest of the Pierides" (1553)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Tribute to Foucault's "Clinic"

The clinic - constantly praised for its empiricism, the modesty of its attention, and the care with which it silently lets things surface to the observing gaze without disturbing them with discourse - owes its real importance to the fact that it is a reorganization in depth, not only of medical discourse, but of the very possibility of a discourse about disease
- Foucault, "The Birth of the Clinic"

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Guilty Conscience?

Lo! 'tis a gala night
Within the lonesome latter years!
An angel throng, bewinged, bedight
In veils, and drowned in tears,
Sit in a theatre, to see
A play of hopes and fears,
While the orchestra breathes fitfully
The music of the spheres.

Mimes, in the form of God on high,
Mutter and mumble low,
And hither and thither fly;
Mere puppets they, who come and go
At bidding of vast formless things
That shift the scenery to and fro,
Flapping from out their Condor wings
Invisible Wo!

That motley drama!—oh, be sure
It shall not be forgot!
With its Phantom chased forever more,
By a crowd that seize it not,
Through a circle that ever returneth in
To the self-same spot,
And much of Madness and more of Sin
And Horror the soul of the plot.

But see, amid the mimic rout,
A crawling shape intrude!
A blood-red thing that writhes from out
The scenic solitude!
It writhes!—it writhes!—with mortal pangs
The mimes become its food,
And the seraphs sob at vermin fangs
In human gore imbued.

Out—out are the lights—out all!
And over each quivering form,
The curtain, a funeral pall,
Comes down with the rush of a storm,
And the angels, all pallid and wan,
Uprising, unveiling, affirm
That the play is the tragedy, "Man,"
And its hero the Conqueror Worm.
- EA Poe

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Forging the Borromean Rings of Power

In mathematics, the Borromean rings consist of three topological circles which are linked and form a Brunnian link, i.e., removing any ring results in two unlinked rings. In other words, no two of the three rings are linked with each other, but nonetheless all three are linked.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Doisneau, "Un Regard Oblique" (1948)

“The photograph appears to give a certain prominence to a woman’s look. Both the title of the photograph and its organization of space indicate that the real site of scopophilic power is on the margins of the frame. The man is not centered; in fact, he occupies a very narrow space on the extreme right of the picture. Nevertheless, it is his gaze which defines the problematic of the photograph; it is his gaze which effectively erases that of the woman. Indeed, as subject of the gaze, the woman looks intently. But not only is the object of her look concealed from the spectator, her gaze is encased by the two poles defining masculine axis of vision. Fascinated by nothing visible — a blankness or void for the spectator — unanchored by a ‘sight’ (there is nothing ‘proper’ to her vision — save, perhaps, the mirror), the female gaze is left free-floating, vulnerable to subjection. The faint reflection in the shop window of only the frame of the picture at which she is looking serves merely to rearticulate, en abyme, the emptiness of her gaze, the absence of her desire in representation.

“On the other hand, the object of the male gaze is fully present, there for the spectator. The fetishistic representation of the nude female body, fully in view, insures a masculinization of the spectorial position.”
- Mary Ann Doane (1982)

Monday, September 3, 2012



WHEN head and heart are busy, say,

What better can be found?
Who neither loves nor goes astray,

Were better under ground.
- Goethe (1815)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Back, to the Future!

Jean Paul Sartre, "The Flies" from Wikipedia
The Flies is also a modern take on Aeschylus’ trilogy, the Oresteia. While Sartre keeps many aspects of the original story by Aeschylus, he adjusts the play to fit his views, with strong themes of freedom from psychological slavery. He focuses most on the second play in the Oresteia trilogy, only referencing the first play, Agamemnon, with the mention of Agamemnon’s death by Clytemnestra and Aegisthus. The plot of the third play, The Eumenides is also excluded because in that play, the Council of Elders absolves Orestes of his sins, but since Sartre depicts Orestes as remorseless, he cannot include that storyline in his play without having to change his storyline. Unlike in Aeschylus’ The Libation Bearers, where revenge is one of the main themes throughout the play, Sartre’s Orestes does not kill Aegisthus and Clytemnestra for vengeance or because it was his destiny, instead it is for the sake of the people of Argos, so that they may be freed from their enslavement. Sartre wants to stress the fact that Orestes comes to that decision by himself, without the aid or direction of any outside forces, which contrasts with the Orestes in The Libation Bearers, who relies heavily on the direction of the gods. Sartre even diminishes the character of Clytemnestra so that there is much less emphasis on matricide than there is in the version by Aeschylus. While Electra is guilt-stricken after the death of Clytemnestra, Orestes feels no remorse for killing his mother, so his relationship with her is not very important. Sartre’s representation of the Furies differs from that of Aeschylus in that, instead of attempting to avenge the crimes committed, they try to evoke guilt from those who committed them. Sartre does this to reiterate the importance of amenability; he wants to prove that remorse should only be felt if one believes the act committed is wrong. By acting in what he believes to be a righteous way and killing the king and queen, Orestes takes responsibility for his actions without feeling any remorse for them.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Cookery v. Medicine :: Pleasure v. Health

Plato, "Gorgias"
SOCRATES: In my opinion then, Gorgias, the whole of which rhetoric is a part is not an art at all, but the habit of a bold and ready wit, which knows how to manage mankind: this habit I sum up under the word 'flattery'; and it appears to me to have many other parts, one of which is cookery, which may seem to be an art, but, as I maintain, is only an experience or routine and not an art:—another part is rhetoric, and the art of attiring and sophistry are two others: thus there are four branches, and four different things answering to them. And Polus may ask, if he likes, for he has not as yet been informed, what part of flattery is rhetoric: he did not see that I had not yet answered him when he proceeded to ask a further question: Whether I do not think rhetoric a fine thing? But I shall not tell him whether rhetoric is a fine thing or not, until I have first answered, 'What is rhetoric?' For that would not be right, Polus; but I shall be happy to answer, if you will ask me, What part of flattery is rhetoric?

POLUS: I will ask and do you answer? What part of flattery is rhetoric?

SOCRATES: Will you understand my answer? Rhetoric, according to my view, is the ghost or counterfeit of a part of politics.

POLUS: And noble or ignoble?

SOCRATES: Ignoble, I should say, if I am compelled to answer, for I call what is bad ignoble: though I doubt whether you understand what I was saying before.

GORGIAS: Indeed, Socrates, I cannot say that I understand myself.

SOCRATES: I do not wonder, Gorgias; for I have not as yet explained myself, and our friend Polus, colt by name and colt by nature, is apt to run away. (This is an untranslatable play on the name 'Polus,' which means 'a colt.')

GORGIAS: Never mind him, but explain to me what you mean by saying that rhetoric is the counterfeit of a part of politics.

SOCRATES: I will try, then, to explain my notion of rhetoric, and if I am mistaken, my friend Polus shall refute me. We may assume the existence of bodies and of souls?

GORGIAS: Of course.

SOCRATES: You would further admit that there is a good condition of either of them?


SOCRATES: Which condition may not be really good, but good only in appearance? I mean to say, that there are many persons who appear to be in good health, and whom only a physician or trainer will discern at first sight not to be in good health.


SOCRATES: And this applies not only to the body, but also to the soul: in either there may be that which gives the appearance of health and not the reality?

GORGIAS: Yes, certainly.

SOCRATES: And now I will endeavour to explain to you more clearly what I mean: The soul and body being two, have two arts corresponding to them: there is the art of politics attending on the soul; and another art attending on the body, of which I know no single name, but which may be described as having two divisions, one of them gymnastic, and the other medicine. And in politics there is a legislative part, which answers to gymnastic, as justice does to medicine; and the two parts run into one another, justice having to do with the same subject as legislation, and medicine with the same subject as gymnastic, but with a difference. Now, seeing that there are these four arts, two attending on the body and two on the soul for their highest good; flattery knowing, or rather guessing their natures, has distributed herself into four shams or simulations of them; she puts on the likeness of some one or other of them, and pretends to be that which she simulates, and having no regard for men's highest interests, is ever making pleasure the bait of the unwary, and deceiving them into the belief that she is of the highest value to them. Cookery simulates the disguise of medicine, and pretends to know what food is the best for the body; and if the physician and the cook had to enter into a competition in which children were the judges, or men who had no more sense than children, as to which of them best understands the goodness or badness of food, the physician would be starved to death. A flattery I deem this to be and of an ignoble sort, Polus, for to you I am now addressing myself, because it aims at pleasure without any thought of the best. An art I do not call it, but only an experience, because it is unable to explain or to give a reason of the nature of its own applications. And I do not call any irrational thing an art; but if you dispute my words, I am prepared to argue in defence of them.

Cookery, then, I maintain to be a flattery which takes the form of medicine; and attiring, in like manner, is a flattery which takes the form of gymnastic, and is knavish, false, ignoble, illiberal, working deceitfully by the help of lines, and colours, and enamels, and garments, and making men affect a spurious beauty to the neglect of the true beauty which is given by gymnastic.

I would rather not be tedious, and therefore I will only say, after the manner of the geometricians (for I think that by this time you will be able to follow)

as attiring: gymnastic:: cookery: medicine;

or rather,

as attiring: gymnastic:: sophistry: legislation;


as cookery: medicine:: rhetoric: justice.

And this, I say, is the natural difference between the rhetorician and the sophist, but by reason of their near connection, they are apt to be jumbled up together; neither do they know what to make of themselves, nor do other men know what to make of them. For if the body presided over itself, and were not under the guidance of the soul, and the soul did not discern and discriminate between cookery and medicine, but the body was made the judge of them, and the rule of judgment was the bodily delight which was given by them, then the word of Anaxagoras, that word with which you, friend Polus, are so well acquainted, would prevail far and wide: 'Chaos' would come again, and cookery, health, and medicine would mingle in an indiscriminate mass. And now I have told you my notion of rhetoric, which is, in relation to the soul, what cookery is to the body. I may have been inconsistent in making a long speech, when I would not allow you to discourse at length. But I think that I may be excused, because you did not understand me, and could make no use of my answer when I spoke shortly, and therefore I had to enter into an explanation. And if I show an equal inability to make use of yours, I hope that you will speak at equal length; but if I am able to understand you, let me have the benefit of your brevity, as is only fair: And now you may do what you please with my answer.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Swan Songs

Plato. "Phaedo"
Socrates - Will you not allow that I have as much of the spirit of prophecy in me as the swans? For they, when they perceive that they must die, having sung all their life long, do then sing more lustily than ever, rejoicing in the thought that they are about to go away to the god whose ministers they are. But men, because they are themselves afraid of death, slanderously affirm of the swans that they sing a lament at the last, not considering that no bird sings when cold, or hungry, or in pain, not even the nightingale, nor the swallow, nor yet the hoopoe; which are said indeed to tune a lay of sorrow, although I do not believe this to be true of them any more than of the swans. But because they are sacred to Apollo, they have the gift of prophecy, and anticipate the good things of another world, wherefore they sing and rejoice in that day more than they ever did before. And I too, believing myself to be the consecrated servant of the same God, and the fellow-servant of the swans, and thinking that I have received from my master gifts of prophecy which are not inferior to theirs, would not go out of life less merrily than the swans.
“Swans sing before they die—
't were no bad thing

Should certain persons die before they sing.”

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Dog Days Are Over

Aphrodite, in her swan-drawn chariot, had not yet reached Cyprus, when she heard coming up through mid-air the groans of her beloved, and turned back to earth. As she drew near and saw from on high his lifeless body bathed in blood, she alighted and, bending over it, beat her breast and tore her hair. Reproaching the Fates, she said, "Yet theirs shall be but a partial triumph; memorials of my grief shall endure, and the spectacle of your death, my Adonis, and of my lamentations shall be annually renewed. Your blood shall be changed into a flower; that consolation none can envy me." Thus speaking, she sprinkled nectar on the blood; and as they mingled, bubbles rose as in a pool on which raindrops fall, and in an hour's time there sprang up a flower of bloody hue like that of the pomegranate. But it is short-lived. It is said that the wind blows the blossoms open, and afterwards blows the petals away; so it is called Anemone, or Wind Flower, from the cause which assists equally in its production and its decay.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Escaping the Cave

"What is not started today is never finished tomorrow.”
~ Johann Wolfgang van Goethe

Friday, August 10, 2012

New Media Rat & Weasle Catching


I AM the bard known far and wide,
The travell'd rat-catcher beside;
A man most needful to this town,
So glorious through its old renown.
However many rats I see,
How many weasels there may be,
I cleanse the place from ev'ry one,
All needs must helter-skelter run.

Sometimes the bard so full of cheer
As a child-catcher will appear,
Who e'en the wildest captive brings,
Whene'er his golden tales he sings.
However proud each boy in heart,
However much the maidens start,
I bid the chords sweet music make,
And all must follow in my wake.

Sometimes the skilful bard ye view
In the form of maiden-catcher too;
For he no city enters e'er,
Without effecting wonders there.
However coy may be each maid,
However the women seem afraid,
Yet all will love-sick be ere long
To sound of magic lute and song.

[Da Capo.]
-Goethe (1803)

Monday, August 6, 2012



VAINLY wouldst thou, to gain a heart,

Heap up a maiden's lap with gold;
The joys of love thou must impart,

Wouldst thou e'er see those joys unfold.
The voices of the throng gold buys,

No single heart 'twill win for thee;
Wouldst thou a maiden make thy prize,

Thyself alone the bribe must be.

If by no sacred tie thou'rt bound,

Oh youth, thou must thyself restrain!
Well may true liberty be found,

Tho' man may seem to wear a chain.
Let one alone inflame thee e'er,

And if her heart with love o'erflows,
Let tenderness unite you there,

If duty's self no fetter knows.

First feel, oh youth! A girl then find

Worthy thy choice,--let her choose thee,
In body fair, and fair in mind,

And then thou wilt be blessed, like me.
I who have made this art mine own,

A girl have chosen such as this
The blessing of the priest alone

Is wanting to complete our bliss.

Nought but my rapture is her guide,

Only for me she cares to please,--
Ne'er wanton save when by my side,

And modest when the world she sees;
That time our glow may never chill,

She yields no right through frailty;
Her favour is a favour still,

And I must ever grateful be.

Yet I'm content, and full of joy,

If she'll but grant her smile so sweet,
Or if at table she'll employ,

To pillow hers, her lover's feet,
Give me the apple that she bit,

The glass from which she drank, bestow,
And when my kiss so orders it,

Her bosom, veil'd till then, will show.

And when she wills of love to speak,

In fond and silent hours of bliss,
Words from her mouth are all I seek,

Nought else I crave,--not e'en a kiss.
With what a soul her mind is fraught,

Wreath'd round with charms unceasingly!
She's perfect,--and she fails in nought

Save in her deigning to love me.

My rev'rence throws me at her feet,

My longing throws me on her breast;
This, youth, is rapture true and sweet,

Be wise, thus seeking to be blest.
When death shall take thee from her side,

To join the angelic choir above,
In heaven's bright mansions to abide,--
No diff'rence at the change thoult prove.
-Goethe (1767-8)

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Spectator Society... Driven to Distraction

In his essay, “The Work of Art In The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, Walter Benjamin discusses a shift in perception and its affects in the wake of the advent of film and photography in the twentieth century. He writes of the sense changes within humanity’s entire mode of existence; the way we look and see the visual work of art has is different now and its consequences remain to be determined. How does human sense perception related to history? Is it a universal perspective that is being critiqued here? Can there be a universal perspective in the first place?

Benjamin here attempts to mark something specific about the modern age; of the effects of modernity on the work of art in particular. Film and photography point to this movement. Benjamin writes of the loss of the aura through the mechanical reproduction of art itself. The aura for Benjamin represents the originality and authenticity of a work of art that has not been reproduced. A painting as an aura while a photograph does not; the photograph is an image of an image while the painting remains utterly original.

The sense of the aura is lost on film and the reproducible image itself demonstrates a historical shift that we have to take account of even if when we don’t necessarily notice it. What does it mean when the aura is lost? How does it function and how does it come about? Benjamin writes of the loss of the aura as a loss of a singular authority within the work of art itself. But what comes through in this new space left by the death to the aura? How does the mechanically reproduced work of art manage to make up for this void?

As Benjamin continues, a tension between new modes of perception and the aura arise. The removal of authority within the original work of art infers a loss of authority, however, in regards to mass consumption, this liberation is not necessarily contingent. The cameraman, for example, intervenes with what we see in a way which a painting can never do. It directs the eye towards a specific place and a specific story; at the same time it is radical and revolutionary it is also totalitarian. It guides us to a particular side of a story and leaves other parts out. It dulls our perception towards the work of art and introduces distraction as a mode of reception. The location of anything we might call the aura has to be moved into a mythological space; into the cult of genius. This cult of genius relates back to the cultish characteristic of the aura itself; in its absence there is a grabbling for a replacement. What does it mean to place an aura on “someone” or “something”? Is it even necessary to reclaim the aura in the first place? The mystical cult of the original in broken with the loss of the aura, and now every one can go to a gallery, a museum, the theater or the cinema. A whole new appreciation of art is introduced while at the same time, a whole new mode of deception and distraction also enters.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

What I believe....

Ὀ πλοῦτος ἄνευ σεῦ γ' ἀρέτα 'στ' οὐκ ἀσίνης πάροικος
[ἠ δ' ἐξ ἀμφοτέρων κρᾶσις εὐδαιμονίας ἔχει τὸ ἄκρον].

Wealth without thee, Worth, is no safe neighbour.
- Sappho of Lesbos (Fragment 81)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Κεῖνον, ῶ χρυσόθρονε Μοῦσ', ἔνισπες
ὕμνον, ἐκ τᾶς καλλιγύναικος ἐσθλᾶς
Τήιος χώρας ὃν ἄειδε τερπνῶς
πρέσβυς ἀγαυός.

O Muse of the golden throne, raise that strain which the reverend elder of Teos, from the goodly land of fair women, used to sing so sweetly.

- Sappho of Lesbos (Fragment 26)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Just BEcause

Aristotle ("Metaphysics", Book 5, section 1013a, translated by Hugh Tredennick)
introduces his discussion as follows:

"Cause" means:
(a) in one sense, that as the result of whose presence something comes into being—e.g. the bronze of a statue and the silver of a cup, and the classes which contain these [i.e., the material cause];

(b) in another sense, the form or pattern; that is, the essential formula and the classes which contain it—e.g. the ratio 2:1 and number in general is the cause of the octave—and the parts of the formula [i.e., the formal cause].

(c) The source of the first beginning of change or rest; e.g. the man who plans is a cause, and the father is the cause of the child, and in general that which produces is the cause of that which is produced, and that which changes of that which is changed [i.e., the efficient cause].

(d) The same as "end"; i.e. the final cause; e.g., as the "end" of walking is health. For why does a man walk? "To be healthy," we say, and by saying this we consider that we have supplied the cause [the final cause].

(e) All those means towards the end which arise at the instigation of something else, as, e.g. fat-reducing, purging, drugs and instruments are causes of health; for they all have the end as their object, although they differ from each other as being some instruments, others actions [i.e., necessary conditions].

Aristotle also discusses the four causes in his "Physics", Book B, chapter 3.

Material cause The material cause of an object is equivalent to the nature of the raw material out of which the object is composed. (The word "nature" for Aristotle applies to both its potential in the raw material, and its ultimate finished form. In a sense this form already existed in the material. See Potentiality and actuality.)

Whereas modern physics looks to simple bodies, Aristotle's physics instead treated living things as exemplary. However he also felt that simple natural bodies such as earth, fire, air and water also showed signs of having their own innate sources of motion and change and rest. Fire for example, carries things upwards, unless stopped from doing so. Things like beds and cloaks, formed by human artifice, have no innate tendency to become beds or cloaks for example.

In Aristotelian terminology, material is not the same as substance. Matter has parallels with substance in so far as primary matter serves as the substratum for simple bodies which are not substance: sand and rock (mostly earth), rivers and seas (mostly water), atmosphere and wind (mostly air below and then mostly fire below the moon). Only individuals are said to be substance (subjects) in the primary sense. In a secondary sense, one can also speak of a genus like fig trees. Finally, secondary substance, in a different sense, also applies to man-made artifacts.

Formal cause Formal cause is a term describing the pattern or form which when present makes matter into a particular type of thing, which we recognize as being of that particular type.

By Aristotle's own account, this is a difficult and controversial concept. It is associated with theories of forms such as those of Aristotle's teacher, Plato, but in Aristotle's own account (see Metaphysics (Aristotle)), he takes into account many previous writers who had expressed opinions about forms and ideas, but he shows how his own views are different.

Efficient cause The "efficient cause" of an object is equivalent to that which causes change and motion to start or stop (such as a painter painting a house) (see Aristotle, Physics II 3, 194b29). In many cases, this is simply the thing that brings something about. For example, in the case of a statue, it is the person chiseling away which transforms a block of marble into a statue. This is the cause of change, and as such is commonly used in modern conceptions of change, as well as cause-and-effect.[citation needed]

Final cause Final cause, or telos, is defined as the purpose, end, aim, or goal of something. Aristotle, who defined the term, explicitly argued that a telos can be present without any form of deliberation, consciousness or intelligence in general. For example (and according to Aristotle), a seed has the eventual adult plant as its final cause (i.e., as its telos) if and only if the seed would become the adult plant under normal circumstances. In Physics II.9, Aristotle hazards a few arguments that a determination of the final cause of a phenomenon is more important than the others. He argues that the final cause is the cause of that which brings it about, so for example "if one defines the operation of sawing as being a certain kind of dividing, then this cannot come about unless the saw has teeth of a certain kind; and these cannot be unless it is of iron." According to Aristotle, once a final cause is in place, the material, efficient and formal causes follow by necessity. However he recommends that the student of nature determine the other causes as well, and notes that not all phenomena have a final cause, e.g., chance events.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Tools of the Trade

Τῷ γριπεῖ Πελάγωνι πατὴρ ἐπέθηκε Μενίσκος
κύρτον καὶ κώπαν, μνάμα κακοζοΐας.

Over the fisherman Pelagon his father Meniscus set weel and oar, memorial of a luckless life.
- Sappho of Lesbos (Fragment 120)

Saturday, July 14, 2012


“He is dying, Aphrodite;
luxuriant Adonis is dying.
What should we do?”

“Beat your breasts, young maidens.
And tear your garments
in grief.”
-Sappho of Lesbos

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Today's Todestrieb

Aggression Superhighways
Rhawn Joseph, Limbic System II, Hypothalmus

Pathological laughter has frequently been reported to occur with hypophyseal and midline tumors involving the hypothalamus, aneurysm in this vicinity, hemorrhage, astrocytoma or pappiloma of the 3rd ventricle (resulting in hypothalamic compression), as well as surgical manipulation of this nucleus (Davison & Kelman, 1939; Dott, 1938; Foerster & Gabel, 1933; Martin, 1950; Money & Hosta, 1967; Ironside, 1956; List, Dowman, & Bagheiv, 1958).

For example, Martin (1950, p.455) describes a man who while "attending his mother's funeral was seized at the graveside with an attack of uncontrollable laughter which embarrassed and distressed him considerably." Although this particular attack dissipated, it was soon accompanied by several further fits of laughter and he died soon thereafter. Post-mortem a large ruptured aneurysm was found, compressing the mammillary bodies and hypothalamus.

In a similar case (Anderson, 1936; Cited by Martin, 1950), a patient literally died laughing following the eruption of the posterior communicating artery which resulted in compression (via hemorrhage) of the hypothalamus. "She was shaken by laughter and could not stop: short expirations followed each other in spasms, without the patient being able to make an adequate inspiration of air, she became cyanosed and nothing could stop the spasm of laughter which eventually became noiseless and little more than a grimace. After 24 hours of profound coma she died."

Because laughter in these instances has not been accompanied by corresponding feeling states, this pseudo-emotional condition has been referred to as "sham mirth" (Martin, 1950). However, in some cases, abnormal stimulation in this region (such as due to compression effects from neoplasm) has triggered corresponding emotions and behaviors -- presumably due to activation of other limbic nuclei.

For example, laughter has been noted to occur with hilarious or obscene speech--usually as a prelude to stupor or death--in cases where tumor has infiltrated the hypothlamus (Ironside, 1956). In several instances it has been reported by one group of neurosurgeons (Foerster & Gagel, 1933) that while swabbing the blood from the floor of the 3rd ventricle, patients "became lively, talkative, joking, and whistling each time the infundibular region of the hypothalamus was manipulated." In one case, the patient became excited and began to sing.


Stimulation of the lateral hypothalamus can induce extremes in emotionality, including intense attacks of rage accompanied by biting and attack upon any moving object (Flynn et al. 1971; Gunne & Lewander, 1966; Wasman & Flynn, 1962). If this nucleus is destroyed, aggressive and attack behavior is abolished (Karli & Vergness, 1969). Hence, the lateral hypothalamus is responsible for rage and aggressive behavior.

As noted, the lateral maintains an oppositional relationship with the medial hypothalamus. Hence, stimulation of the medial region counters the lateral area such that rage reactions are reduced or eliminated (Ingram, 1952; Wheately, 1944), whereas if the medial is destroyed there results lateral hypothalamic release and the triggering of extreme savagery.

In man, inflammation, neoplasm, and compression of the hypothalamus have also been noted to give rise to rage attacks (Pilleri & Poeck, 1965), and surgical manipulations or tumors within the hypothalamus have been observed to elicit manic and rage-like outbursts (Alpers, 1940). These appear to be release phenomenon, however. That is, rage, attack, aggressive, and related behaviors associated with the hypothalamus appears to be under the inhibitory influence of higher order limbic nuclei such as the amygdala and septum (Siegel & Skog, 1970). When the controlling pathways between these areas are damaged (i.e. disconnection) sometimes these behaviors are elicited.

For example, Pilleri and Poeck (1965) described a man with severe damage throughout the cerebrum including the amygdala, hippocampus, cingulated, but with complete sparing of the hypothalamis who continually reacted with howling, growling, and baring of teeth in response to noise, a slight touch, or if approached. Hence, the hypothalamus being released responds reflexively in an aggressive-like non-specific manner to any stimulus. Lesions of the frontal-hypothalamic pathways have been noted to result in severe rage reactions as well (Fulton & Ingraham, 1929; Kennard, 1945).

Nevertheless, like "sham mirth", rage reactions elicited in response to direct electrical activation of the hypothalamus immediately and completely dissipate when the stimulation is removed. As such, these outbursts have been referred to as "sham rage".

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Curing Europe's Humanistic Melancholia

...by ending the prohibitions against expressive ritualistic jouissance
You escape like a runaway train
Off the tracks and down again
And my heart's beating like a steamboat tugging
All your burden, on my shoulder

And in the mourning, I'll rise
In the mourning, I'll let you die
In the mourning, all my worry

And now there's nothing but time that's wasted
And words that have no backbone
Now it seems like the whole world's waiting
Can you hear the echoes fading?

And in the mourning, I'll rise
In the mourning, I'll let you die
In the mourning, all my sorry

And it takes all my strength
Not to dig you up, from the ground in which you lay
The biggest part of me
You were the greatest thing
And now you're just a memory to let go of

In the mourning, I'll rise
In the mourning, I'll let you die
In the mourning, all my sorry

Well, I've been afraid of changing cause I built my life around you
But time grows bolder, children get older I'm getting older too, so
Well, I climbed a mountain and I turn around
And I saw my reflection in snow covered hills
Where landslide brought me down, your landslide brought me down

So in the morning, I'll rise
In the morning, I'll let you die
In the morning, all my sorry

Grasping for Fetishes

A comfort object, transitional object, or security blanket is an item used to provide psychological comfort, especially in unusual or unique situations, or at bedtime for small children. Among toddlers, comfort objects may take the form of a blanket, a stuffed animal, or a favorite toy, and may be referred to by (English-speaking) toddlers as blankey and lovey.

In human childhood development, the term transitional object is normally used. It is something, usually a physical object, which takes the place of the mother-child bond. Common examples include dolls, teddy bears or blankets.

Donald Woods Winnicott introduced the concepts of transitional objects and transitional experience in reference to a particular developmental sequence. With "transition" Winnicott means an intermediate developmental phase between the psychic and external reality. In this "transitional space" we can find the "transitional object."

When the young child begins to separate the "me" from the "not-me" and evolves from complete dependence to a stage of relative independence, it uses transitional objects. Infants see themselves and the mother as a whole. In this phase the mother "brings the world" to the infant without delay which gives it a "moment of illusion," a belief that its own wish creates the object of its desire which brings with it a sense of satisfaction. Winnicott calls this subjective omnipotence. Alongside the subjective omnipotence of a child lies an objective reality, which constitutes the child’s awareness of separateness between itself and desired objects. While the subjective omnipotence experience is one in which the child feels that its desires create satisfaction, the objective reality experience is one in which the child independently seeks out objects of desire.

Later on the child comes to realize that the mother is separate from it through which it appears that the child has lost something. The child realizes that it is dependent on others and thus it loses the idea that it is independent, a realization which creates a difficult period and brings frustration and anxiety with it. In the end it is impossible that the mother is always there to "bring the world" to the baby, a realization which has a powerful, somewhat painful, but ultimately constructive impact on the child. Through fantasizing about the object of its wishes the child will find comfort. A transitional object can be used in this process. The transitional object is often the first "not me" possession that really belongs to the child. This could be a real object like a blanket or a teddy bear, but other "objects," such as a melody or a word, can fulfill this role as well. This object represents all components of "mothering," and it means that the child itself is able to create what it needs as well. It enables the child to have a fantasized bond with the mother when she gradually separates for increasingly longer periods of time. The transitional object is important at the time of going to sleep and as a defence against anxiety.

In a later stage of the development the child no longer needs the transitional object. It is able to make a distinction between "me" and "not-me," and keeping inside and outside apart and yet interrelated. This development leads to the use of illusion, symbols and objects later on in life.

Winnicott related the concept of transitional object to a more general one, transitional phenomena, which he considered to be the basis of science, religion and all of culture. Transitional objects and phenomena, he said, are neither subjective nor objective but partake of both. In Mental Space, Robert Young has provided an exposition of these concepts and has generalized their role into psychic phenomena in adult life.

Research with children on this subject was performed at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee by Richard H. Passman and his associates. Among other findings, they showed that security blankets are appropriately named — they actually do give security to those children attached to them. Along with other positive benefits, having a security blanket available can help children adapt to new situations, aid in their learning, and adjust to physicians' and clinical psychologists' evaluations. Passman's research also points out that there is nothing abnormal about being attached to them. In the United States, about 60% of children have at least some attachment to a security object.
Exodus 20 (The Ten Commandments)
1 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.

2 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My Commandments.

3 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Lysis (Greek λύσις, lýsis from lýein "to separate")

Nihil difficilius quam amicitiam usque ad extremum vitae permanere

SHYLOCK: This kindness will I show.
Go with me to a notary, seal me there
Your single bond; and, in a merry sport,
If you repay me not on such a day,
In such a place, such sum or sums as are
Express'd in the condition, let the forfeit
Be nominated for an equal pound
Of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken
In what part of your body pleaseth me.

ANTONIO: Content, i' faith: I'll seal to such a bond
And say there is much kindness in the Jew.

BASSANIO: You shall not seal to such a bond for me:
I'll rather dwell in my necessity.

ANTONIO: Why, fear not, man; I will not forfeit it:
Within these two months, that's a month before
This bond expires, I do expect return
Of thrice three times the value of this bond.

SHYLOCK: O father Abram, what these Christians are,
Whose own hard dealings teaches them suspect
The thoughts of others! Pray you, tell me this;
If he should break his day, what should I gain
By the exaction of the forfeiture?
A pound of man's flesh taken from a man
Is not so estimable, profitable neither,
As flesh of muttons, beefs, or goats. I say,
To buy his favour, I extend this friendship:
If he will take it, so; if not, adieu;
And, for my love, I pray you wrong me not.

ANTONIO: Yes Shylock, I will seal unto this bond.

-Shakespeare, "Merchant of Venice"

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Time Again to Burn Persepolis!

Thaïs (Θαΐς) was an Athenian courtesan who accompanied Alexander the Great on his conquest of Persia. She instigated the Macedonian troops to burn Persepolis.
Alexander's Feast; or, the Power of Music

'TWAS at the royal feast for Persia won
By Philip's warlike son—
Aloft in awful state
The godlike hero sate
On his imperial throne;
His valiant peers were placed around,
Their brows with roses and with myrtles bound
(So should desert in arms be crown'd);
The lovely Thais by his side
Sate like a blooming Eastern bride
In flower of youth and beauty's pride:—
Happy, happy, happy pair!
None but the brave
None but the brave
None but the brave deserves the fair!

Timotheus placed on high
Amid the tuneful quire
With flying fingers touch'd the lyre:
The trembling notes ascend the sky
And heavenly joys inspire.
The song began from Jove
Who left his blissful seats above
Such is the power of mighty love!
A dragon's fiery form belied the god;
Sublime on radiant spires he rode
When he to fair Olympia prest,
And while he sought her snowy breast,
Then round her slender waist he curl'd,
And stamp'd an image of himself, a sovereign of the world.
—The listening crowd admire the lofty sound;
A present deity! they shout around:
A present deity! the vaulted roofs rebound:
With ravish'd ears
The monarch hears,
Assumes the god;
Affects to nod
And seems to shake the spheres.

The praise of Bacchus then the sweet musician sung,
Of Bacchus ever fair and ever young:
The jolly god in triumph comes;
Sound the trumpets, beat the drums!
Flush'd with a purple grace
He shows his honest face:
Now give the hautboys breath; he comes, he comes!
Bacchus, ever fair and young,
Drinking joys did first ordain;
Bacchus' blessings are a treasure,
Drinking is the soldier's pleasure:
Rich the treasure,
Sweet the pleasure,
Sweet is pleasure after pain.

Soothed with the sound, the king grew vain;
Fought all his battles o'er again,
And thrice he routed all his foes, and thrice he slew the slain!
The master saw the madness rise,
His glowing cheeks, his ardent eyes;
And while he Heaven and Earth defied
Changed his hand and check'd his pride.
He chose a mournful Muse
Soft pity to infuse:
He sung Darius great and good,
By too severe a fate
Fallen, fallen, fallen, fallen,
Fallen from his high estate.
And weltering in his blood;
Deserted at his utmost need
By those his former bounty fed;
On the bare earth exposed he lies
With not a friend to close his eyes.
—With downcast looks the joyless victor sate,
Revolving in his alter'd soul
The various turns of chance below;
And now and then a sigh he stole,
And tears began to flow.

The mighty master smiled to see
That love was in the next degree;
'Twas but a kindred sound to move,
For pity melts the mind to love.
Softly sweet, in Lydian measures
Soon he soothed his soul to pleasures.
War, he sung, is toil and trouble,
Honour but an empty bubble;
Never ending, still beginning,
Fighting still, and still destroying;
If the world be worth thy winning,
Think, O think, it worth enjoying:
Lovely Thais sits beside thee,
Take the good the gods provide thee!
—The many rend the skies with loud applause;
So Love was crown'd, but Music won the cause.
The prince, unable to conceal his pain,
Gazed on the fair
Who caused his care,
And sigh'd and look'd, sigh'd and look'd,
Sigh'd and look'd, and sigh'd again:
At length with love and wine at once opprest
The vanquish'd victor sunk upon her breast.

Now strike the golden lyre again:
A louder yet, and yet a louder strain!
Break his bands of sleep asunder
And rouse him like a rattling peal of thunder.
Hark, hark! the horrid sound
Has raised up his head:
As awaked from the dead
And amazed he stares around
Revenge, revenge, Timotheus cries,
See the Furies arise!
See the snakes that they rear
How they hiss in their hair,
And the sparkles that flash from their eyes!
Behold a ghastly band,
Each a torch in his hand!
Those are Grecian ghosts, that in battle were slain
And unburied remain
Inglorious on the plain
Give the vengeance due
To the valiant crew!
Behold how they toss their torches on high,
How they point to the Persian abodes
And glittering temples of their hostile gods.
—The princes applaud with a furious joy:
And the king seized a flambeau with zeal to destroy;
Thais led the way
To light him to his prey,
And like another Helen, fired another Troy!

Thus, long ago,
Ere heaving bellows learn'd to blow,
While organs yet were mute,
Timotheus, to his breathing flute
And sounding lyre
Could swell the soul to rage, or kindle soft desire.
At last divine Cecilia came.
Inventress of the vocal frame;
The sweet enthusiast from her sacred store
Enlarged the former narrow bounds,
And added length to solemn sounds,
With Nature's mother-wit, and arts unknown before.
—Let old Timotheus yield the prize,
Or both divide the crown;
He raised a mortal to the skies,
She drew an angel down!
-Dryden (1697)

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Fetishist's Logic

The cynic asks, "Who will believe for me?"

The capitalist's logic: William Shakespeare, "Romeo & Juliet"

But to be frank, and give it thee again.
And yet I wish but for the thing I have:
My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Con te, Katalina

To sleep? Perchance to dream! Ay, there ’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffl’d off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of dispriz’d love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveller returns
, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.—Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins rememb’red

-Shakespeare, "Hamlet" (Act III Sc I)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Obsession/ Association, Libido's/ Lamella's and other Disembodied Objets Petit/ Grande

Slavoj Zizek, "How to Read Lacan"
Whenever the membranes of the egg in which the foetus emerges on its way to becoming a new-born are broken, imagine for a moment that something flies off, and that one can do it with an egg as easily as with a man, namely the hommelette, or the lamella. The lamella is something extra-flat, which moves like the amoeba. It is just a little more complicated. But it goes everywhere. And as it is something - I will tell you shortly why - that is related to what the sexed being loses in sexuality, it is, like the amoeba in relation to sexed beings, immortal - because it survives any division, and scissiparous intervention. And it can turn around. Well! This is not very reassuring. But suppose it comes and envelopes your face while you are quietly asleep... I can't see how we would not join battle with a being capable of these properties. But it would not be a very convenient battle. This lamella, this organ, whose characteristic is not to exist, but which is nevertheless an organ - I can give you more details as to its zoological place - is the libido. It is the libido, qua pure life instinct, that is to say, immortal life, irrepressible life, life that has need of no organ, simplified, indestructible life. It is precisely what is subtracted from the living being by virtue of the fact that it is subject to the cycle of sexed reproduction. And it is of this that all the forms of the objet a that can be enumerated are the representatives, the equivalents. [1]
Every word has a weight here, in this deceivingly poetic description of the mythic creature called by Lacan "lamella" (which can vaguely be translated as "manlet," a condensation of "man" and "omelet"). Lacan imagines lamella as a version of what Freud called "partial object": a weird organ which is magically autonomized, surviving without a body whose organ it should have been, like a hand that wonders around alone in early Surrealist films, or like the smile in Alice in Wonderland that persists alone, even when the Cheshire cat's body is no longer present: "'All right', said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone. 'Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin', thought Alice; 'but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!'" The lamella is an entity of pure surface, without the density of a substance, an infinitely plastic object that can not only incessantly change its form, but can even transpose itself from one to another medium: imagine a "something" that is first heard as a shrilling sound, and then pops up as a monstrously distorted body. A lamella is indivisible, indestructible, and immortal - more precisely, undead in the sense this term has in horror fiction: not the sublime spiritual immortality, but the obscene immortality of the "living dead" which, after every annihilation, re-composes themselves and clumsily goes on. As Lacan puts it in his terms, lamella does not exist, it insists: it is unreal, an entity of pure semblance, a multiplicity of appearances which seem to envelop a central void - its status is purely fantasmatic. This blind indestructible insistence of the libido is what Freud called "death drive," and one should bear in mind that "death drive" is, paradoxically, the Freudian name for its very opposite, for the way immortality appears within psychoanalysis: for an uncanny excess of life, for an "undead" urge which persist beyond the (biological) cycle of life and death, of generation and corruption. This is why Freud equates death drive with the so-called "compulsion-to-repeat," an uncanny urge to repeat painful past experiences which seems to outgrow the natural limitations of the organism affected by it and to insist even beyond the organism's death - again, like the living dead in a horror film who just go on. This excess inscribes itself into the human body in the guise of a wound which makes the subject "undead," depriving him of the capacity to die (like the wound on the ill boy's stomach from Kafka's "A Country Doctor"): when this wound is healed, the hero can die in peace.
aka - The Fisher King's original wound...

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Must We ALL Outgrow Our Own Innocence?

I had a silver penny
And an apricot tree
And I said to the sailor
On the white quay

Sailor O sailor
Will you bring me
If I give you my penny
And my apricot tree

... fez from Algeria
An Arab drum to beat
A little gilt sword
And a parakeet?

And he smiled and he kissed me
As strong as death
And I saw his red tongue
And I felt his sweet breath

You may keep your penny
And your apricot tree
And I'll bring your presents
Back from sea.

O the ship dipped down
On the rim of the sky
And I waited while three
Long summers went by

Then one steel morning
On the white quay
I saw a grey ship
Come in from sea

Slowly she came
Across the bay
For her flashing rigging
Was shot away

All round her wake
The seabirds cried
And flew in and out
Of the hole in her side

Slowly she came
In the path of the sun
And I heard the sound
Of a distant gun

And a stranger came running
Up to me
From the deck of the ship
And he said, said he

O are you the boy
Who would wait on the quay
With the silver penny
And the apricot tree?

I've a plum-coloured fez
And a drum for thee
And a sword and a parakeet
From over the sea.

O where is the sailor
With bold red hair?
And what is that volley
On the bright air?

O where are the other
Girls and boys?
And why have you brought me
Children's toys?

-1 Corinthians 13:11 v 14:1

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Resurrecting Gigantes

Take thou this gift from out the grave of Time.
The urns of Greece lie shattered, and the cup
That for Athenian lips the Muses filled,
And flowery crowns that on Athenian hair
Hid the cicala, freedom's golden sign,
Dust in the dust have fallen. Calmly sad,
The marble dead upon Athenian tombs
Speak from their eyes "Farewell": and well have fared
They and the saddened friends, whose clasping hands
Win from the solemn stone eternity.
Yea, well they fared unto the evening god,
Passing beyond the limit of the world,
Where face to face the son his mother saw,
A living man a shadow, while she spake
Words that Odysseus and that Homer heard,—
I too, O child, I reached the common doom,
The grave, the goal of fate, and passed away.
—Such, Anticleia, as thy voice to him,
Across the dim gray gulf of death and time
Is that of Greece, a mother's to a child,—
Mother of each whose dreams are grave and fair—
Who sees the Naiad where the streams are bright
And in the sunny ripple of the sea
Cymodoce with floating golden hair:
And in the whisper of the waving oak
Hears still the Dryad's plaint, and, in the wind
That sighs through moonlit woodlands, knows the horn
Of Artemis, and silver shafts and bow.
Therefore if still around this broken vase,
Borne by rough hands, unworthy of their load,
Far from Cephisus and the wandering rills,
There cling a fragrance as of things once sweet,
Of honey from Hymettus' desert hill,
Take thou the gift and hold it close and dear;
For gifts that die have living memories—
Voices of unreturning days, that breathe
The spirit of a day that never dies.
And Heaven came, bringing on night and longing for love, and he lay about Earth spreading himself full upon her.

Then the son from his ambush stretched forth his left hand and in his right took the great long sickle with jagged teeth, and swiftly lopped off his own father's members and cast them away to fall behind him. And not vainly did they fall from his hand; for all the bloody drops that gushed forth Earth received, and as the seasons moved round she bare the strong Erinyes and the great Giants with gleaming armour, holding long spears in their hands and the Nymphs whom they call Meliae all over the boundless earth. And so soon as he had cut off the members with flint and cast them from the land into the surging sea, they were swept away over the main a long time: and a white foam spread around them from the immortal flesh, and in it there grew a maiden. First she drew near holy Cythera, and from there, afterwards, she came to sea-girt Cyprus, and came forth an awful and lovely goddess, and grass grew up about her beneath her shapely feet. Her gods and men call Aphrodite,...
-Hesiod, "Theogony"