Friday, 8 March 2019
So Aristotle and Plato set the debate for the last two thousand years in the West as to what life, reality and man might be. As I writer of experimental work, I rather reject Aristotle's linearities of narrative, of beginnings, middles and ends. And I certainly reject his notion of catharsis in art, leaving the audience purged of the emotions the artist has evoked in their art, so that they leave the theatre/library or whatever in perfect, moderate equilibrium, rather than having their passions aroused by the issues of the art work. A fundamentally conservative notion of art's function, rather than allowing it revolutionary possibilities.
I am more sympathetic to the work of Plato, though not his somewhat elitist politics as expressed in "The Republic". But what I take from him, is his notion that all material things in life are but poor copies or representations of their ideal form. Now I don't believe in the notion of an ideal form for each thing, but I do credit the notion that what we take for reality is an illusion, or a representation or a symbol. Usually a symbol given a name in language, which seems to echo the notion of nominalism, that we class things together in groups by similarity of their features or functions and that these are given a single name (or noun) by which they are all known, whether they are a good match or not.
But there really is only one way to settle this properly for once and for all and I present it to you below.
Glossary - Ancient Greek
Amanuensis - someone employed to write down the words of others
The Symposium - Plato's treatise on love
Encomium - high praise or eulogy
Helios - Ancient Greek God of the sun
Hemlock - Socrates was sentenced to death by Athens, the method by drinking the poison hemlock
Ontology - the study of the nature of existence / being
Academy - The name of the philosophy school established by Plato
Lyceum - The name of the philosophy school established by Aristotle
Periphrastic - circumlocution
Philosopher Kings - Plato's suggestion as to who should rule societies; the philosopher kinds would be the wisest through their study (which would allow them to approach an understanding of the ideal forms), but they would also be disinterested rulers as they would be forbidden to have money or own property.
Dialectic - formal method of logical deduction, involving thesis, its antithesis and then a synthesis of the two to provide a truth
Pangloss - character invented by Voltaire who is an eternal optimist - therefore Plato uses an anachronism to back up his claim that Aristotle is being anachronistic...
War in the Peloponnese - One of the wars between Athens and Sparta
Hoplite - Greek soldier
Platonic Ideal - Plato's theory of Ideal Forms
Datum of My Senses - Aristotle was an empiricist
Puppet Show/ Shadow - Plato's metaphor or the cave which underlines his entire theory of material reality and ideal forms
Plato's Cave - see shadow above
Sophist - Plato uses the voices of the Sophists to argue with Socrates, Sophists were intellectually wooly and their arguments ultimately could not hold water
Polis - The Greek city state such as Athens or Sparta
Demos - The population entitled to vote in Athens
Hippocrates - The father of medicine, hence the "Hippocratic Oath"
Catharsis - Aristotle's notion of the drama on stage being such as to purge the audience of the emotions aroused by the play's action by the end of the play, so that they are left in perfect equilibrium rather than worked up.
Lysistrata - Play by Aristophanes in which the women of Athens withhold sex from their partners in a strike
Techne - The craft of any art
Thespian - Actor
Mimesis - Imitation, hence 'mime', 'mimicry'
Hubris - The fatal character flaw in any hero of tragedy that ultimately brings him to his tragic fate
Hesiod - Greek poet
Wine Casks - Plato's works were all lectures that were written down. Aristotle's were all notes never published, but were rediscovered when a collection of them were found inside an empty wine barrel
Discovered / Anagorisis - Aristotle's term for discovery that was a key component in tragic drama for him. Not just a reveal, but a discovery of past history such as Orestes learning who his true parents are.
Catachresis - rhetorical device of deliberately misusing words, such as mixed metaphors
Nike - Greek god of victory
Apollo - Greek god of the sun
Glossary - Hip-Hop
Frontin' - putting on a facade
Flexin' - showing off, as in flexing your muscles
Grille - the face
Shill - someone operating under false pretences to spread a message
Trill - a mixture of true and real, therefore more certain than both
Snitch - An informer
Yo yo yo Plato/ Socrates’ amanuensis hoe
Frontin’ OG philosophy/ How bout some original thinking P?
It ain’t only hot air/ All wasted there
In your loved-up posse’s Symposium/
That ain’t encomiums, it’s full-on brown nosin’
Your tongue so far up where Helios don’t shine
You can taste the hemlock in the upper intestine
Move over man/ Gonna get beat down
Your ontology shows you for a clown
Gonna take me your crown
Set that wreath upon my head
Give Athens some relief from constant grief
At generation after generation of war dead
All through having followed what you said
Down at your Academy of agonies
Now they roll up to my Lyceum instead
Word up, something’s buggin little philosophy cousin Aristotle
White beard of sagacity or bleached from a bottle?
Audacity to call yourself the father of logic/ So chronic
You render your audiences catatonic
The flaws in your deduction are so drastic/
Must be why you resort to being periphrastic
You’re the student but I’m the Master/ my epigrams cut deep and flow faster
My busts are hewn from marble /yours cast in mere plaster
If it ever came to pass/ Your Republic would be a disaster
Statues fall from their plinths amidst quaking laughter
Pie in the sky utopia can’t exist/ And you know that, you two bit hypocrite
You were my teacher/ But now you’re reachin’
Preachin’ fascistic Philosopher kings
A most egregious aegis of state power
That would make even war hero you cower
Didn’t you use the fine art of rhetoric/ In representin’ Socratic dialectic/
Mainly to slam the poetic/ Arts would be outlawed in the Republic/ As way too hectic/ So your own writing would be banned as heretic
It can’t be fascistic cos/ that’s anachronistic Cuzz/ As you well know Mr Pangloss/
In our day tyrant was the regular epithet/ Part’a’ what they do down in Sparta
Plato went toe to toe with those Martinets/ Not one iota of being a martyr/
When were you ever in armour?
Your trembling knees/ At the thought of war in the Peloponnese
Your dick shrunk to the size of a chipolata/
I relished being a hoplite/
But you got no stomach for any kind of fight/ Least of all this one right?
The antithesis of moderation in all things/ Is not extremism
It’s the ideal form, see reason
The Platonic Ideal? / Get real
You be tweekin if you’re believin’ in
Things that can’t exist/ What’s that make me Scotch mist?
I credit the datum of my senses/ The material world just ain’t cast from pretences
Life is just a puppet show?/ We’re substantially more than our shadow
Besides we all know a small phallus/ Represents proportional balance
The triumph of the intellect
Over base desires of a beastly aspect
So your flexing is perplexing
Don’t get up in my grille, shill
You be trippin’ with your trill, still
Truth is not the real/ Only the universal ideal
And with all your senses you don’t get to feel
Only the educated soul can seal that deal
Plato, Bro, you be jiving
Slaves in a cave is no good
Even helots don’t live in a subterranean hood
That lame clique is just a Sophist trick
Homie, enough with your theoretical baloney
Ya wanna prevent civil strife/ Draw lessons from real life
Scale up the state of wedlock with the wife
Ya get the city-state where unity is rife
Fuck da polis, you ran off to tutor a prince
Pimpin’ to Macedon so Athens took a sackin’
They death rowed Socrates for way less than rattin
Ya got the digits of Hippocrates and some riches?
Cos you know what happens to snitches
…They be gettin’ stitches
You advocate citizen rule, fool
You reckon the Demos is above being cruel?
Word!/ Absurd / Follow the herd
You’ve heard the crowd/ When they’re aroused
By the fashionable drama of the day on stage
So that epic poetry is no longer all the rage
Each spectacle grabs them by the testicles
Catharsis ain’t even worth a dis, since
Rationing irrational passions? Convinced? Nope
It ain’t dope it’s wack, Jack
What do you know of catharsis?
Full of vinegar & piss, with no wife, you’ve never been kissed
You wouldn’t have suffered under The Lysistrata
Can’t mourn what you never missed
Your stigmata, you don’t know art from farts
Preachin’ you can’t come to wisdom through the thespian
That’s cos your techne got no heart
My Poetics lays out all the dramatic devices
Mimesis is the state of how things is
Hubris the nemesis of the man who rises
Above his station, over that of the nation
You get all empirical/ Me I prefer the lyrical
What genius uses scientific method
To parse and study the odes of Hesiod?
No wonder you never lectured
On your specious conjectures
But hid your teachings in wine casks
Only discovered by drunks seeking to refill their flasks
Rooting around in the lees
Is that what you meant by Anagorisis?
I call catachresis! *
And catharsis, slump back into mindless bliss
The word comes from a root meaning to upchuck
So your whole thesis comes unstuck
You’re the only oracle who manages to be ahistorical
Nike grant me now your laurel of victory
And Apollo, him his lowly sorrow
* Should have been Aristotle's line in the video, but I'd lost the will to live by then...