Category Archives: Literature

Against Winning

Print PDF  Talk about hierarchies.  The ancient Greeks pretty much invented the idea of agon, a contest in which people (men, really) competed with each other to see who was the best at a given sport, e.g. discus throwing or … Continue reading

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Gifts

Print PDF  All we have is a gift from the One.  All our talents, our skills, our consciousness itself is on loan to make up the character we play in this world.  Not all are good gifts, but they are … Continue reading

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Hierarchy and Delphi

I heard an observation recently (can’t recall where) that came up during the president’s visit to the Middle East and Europe regarding the fight (you notice how automatically one falls into martial language) against terrorism, to wit that “the pope has connection to the Source Code, whereas Trump has connection only to the display.” Or words to that effect. The implication being that the pope is in a better position to deal with terrorists since he understands what can make them commit horrible actions while claiming to be part of a religious tradition. He can be proactive, whereas Trump can be only reactive. Continue reading

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Immortalization in the Agora

Print PDF  Something I felt very strongly when visiting Athens was the dichotomy between the acropolis and the agora.  Of course everyone associates the acropolis with the wisdom of Greece–the Parthenon, Athena, the PanAthenaic Festival and all that.  And of … Continue reading

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Athena and “Creative Mercy”

Print PDF  Athena, goddess of Wisdom, serves in both the Odyssey and in the Oresteia to bring “creative mercy”¹ to situations that otherwise would perpetuate blood feuds.  Vendettas–“an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”– are the normal … Continue reading

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Criticism vs. Discrimination

Print PDF  Both words are derived from the Greek krisis ‘decision,’ from krinein ‘decide.’  Events or circumstances are coming to a head, which implies a choice, having options. Criticism is a choice between good and bad, ranking or rating.  Criticism … Continue reading

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The “Agon” Spectrum

Print PDF  The word agon (ἀγών) in Greek means “gathering, assembly, coming together.”  The question of “coming together for what purpose?” is not inherent–it could be for cooperating on new laws, as indicated by its variation agora, combating each other … Continue reading

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Simone Weil and Homer

Print PDF  You might be interested in an essay I wrote about Weil’s The Iliad, or the Poem of Force. Here’s a link to her whole essay if you haven’t read it, which I’d recommend of course. A shoutout to … Continue reading

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Emerson’s Legacy

Print PDF  A version of a talk I gave recently at the School of Practical Philosophy in New York on the influence Emerson had on three people in the next generation.  Read more.

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How Are You Feeling?

Print PDF  How to know whether a particular choice or opinion is correct–that is, in keeping with the Ideal?  I have for some time recommended to people that they develop a sense of observing the feeling that accompanies it.  If … Continue reading

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The Hierarchy of Law

Print PDF  I’ve written before on the existence of hierarchies, but here I would like to take it a step further.  Much is made of the “differing beliefs” of religious systems, but at their core all religions affirm a belief … Continue reading

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Homeric Hymn (7) to Dionysus

Print PDF  A meditation on some similarities between this poem and the Homeric Odyssey.  Read the page here.

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We Are Not Amused

Print PDF  This saying, attributed to Queen Victoria, is perhaps more meaningful than we know.  Although dictionaries dispute it, it seems one could see an etymology for amuse that means a=”not” + muse=”muse.”  “Without a muse.”  This is what happens … Continue reading

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Judgment of Paris/Garden of Eden

Print PDF  I’ve written before on the myth of “The Judgment of Paris.”  Here is the main quote: Briefly it is this: a wedding celebration for Peleus and Thetis is attended by all the gods and Very Important Mortals except … Continue reading

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Denton J. Snider

Print PDF  I am pretty safe in assuming that this name is not familiar to you, although it should be. For me, it’s one of the great things about the internet that old books and authors can be given new … Continue reading

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Suitors of the Mind

Print PDF  The word “suitor” today has a very archaic aura to it, rather like the “gentleman caller” of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie (1945), old-fashioned even then.  It recalls a time of ritualized dating behaviors when young ladies received … Continue reading

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Apocalypso

Print PDF  In one of the CHS discussions on the Odyssey, Gregory Nagy makes an interesting point about the name Calypso (or Καλυψώ), about 40 minutes in.  We moderns tend to associate the word with Caribbean music (“Harry Belafonte with … Continue reading

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Odysseus v. Agamemnon

Print PDF  One of the undercurrents or subthemes of The Odyssey is the story of the return of Agamemnon from Troy and his (spoiler alert!) subsequent murder by his wife Clytemnestra, urged on by her lover Aegisthus, who happens to … Continue reading

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More on “The Odyssey”

Print PDF  In the last post I listed the sources I’m using to help with my idiosyncratic translation of The Odyssey, and there’s another tool that is proving to be quite useful.  The Center for Hellenic Studies at Harvard, in … Continue reading

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Learn the language!

Print PDF  A couple of posts ago I mentioned that I was trying to learn Homeric Greek so I could read the Odyssey.  The course I was taking with the nice folks at the Center for Hellenic Studies was great, … Continue reading

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Iliad v. Odyssey

Print PDF  I forget now where I first heard this pointed out, but in keeping with the warlike theme of the Iliad the gatherings in it are almost all about war and planning destruction of the enemy–even if the enemy … Continue reading

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It’s All Greek to Me

Print PDF  Some time ago I made a resolution to read the Odyssey in Homeric Greek.  The few glimpses I’d had through translations of the levels of meaning, the resonances of the language that just don’t translate made me want … Continue reading

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The Journey Back to Where You’ve Been (sic)

Print PDF  The title of my book on the Odyssey really encapsulates the dilemma in describing a spiritual journey.  The word “journey” implies a movement from point A to point B, which as humans we tend to take literally.  But … Continue reading

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Twice Born Again

Print PDF  Given that this is Holy Week in the Christian tradition, it seemed like an appropriate time to look at some of the other instances of the idea of re-birth, of being born again.  It is of course almost … Continue reading

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The Republic of You

Print PDF  In episodes 4, 5, and 6, we have already looked at the key arguments that Plato proposes in The Republic to show the special nature of the Ideal, insofar as it can be shown.  As he argues, knowledge … Continue reading

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