30 March 2009

Ovid’s past possesses his present transformation:

As a poet from another place, another culture, another language, Ovid finds himself a stranger in the desolate land he describes in his letter. Feeling trapped and purposeless in a rudimentary world, Ovid’s only way out is to adapt to the system, learn how to exist in this new world. In the process of learning this new culture, Ovid ironically transforms himself. The process of transformation forces Ovid to look to his past and mentally resolve certain unresolved issues in his life. As he allows his ego to step aside and addresses his personal past, Ovid starts to see this world in a new light; he begins to understand the people who live in this world. By coming to terms with his past, Ovid experiences a transformation that allows him to make great progress in his understanding of the human life.

Ovid’s first experiences of Tomis are colorless and strange. To enter a world of which one knew nothing would be difficult. After all the progress made in developing into a man and learning to exist in a world, Ovid must go all the way back to square one. Unable to understand the language, Ovid resides in a very silent world. After many months in such a silence, he glimpses something recognizable to him. He spots a red poppy flower amidst a sea of corn stalks, which prompts him to hark back to his past world. Retelling the experience, he says, “Scarlet. A little wild poppy, of a red so sudden it made my blood stop. I kept saying the word over and over to myself, scarlet, as if the word, like the color, had escaped me till now . . . Poppy, scarlet poppy, flower of my far-off childhood . . . And with it all the other colors come flooding back, as magic syllables,” (31). He goes on to say, “I had to enter the silence to find a password that would release me from my own life,” (32). Ovid comes from a world of pleasure and privilege. It was likely very hard for him (and his ego) to let go of the desire to be privileged in his new world. Having been so released, Ovid has now begun his transformation.

As Ovid’s transformation ensues, he continually mentions a sensation he has that he has already had these experiences in one way or another. After racing through the burial grounds on horseback, Ovid writes, “Oddly enough as I weave back and forth between the towering forms I feel a moment of exhilaration, and am reminded of something—something that my mind just fails to grasp, as if all this had happened before,” (45). Later on as he sits with the Child, he writes, “I have found myself more and more often slipping back into my own childhood;” he continues, “I fall into some timeless place in myself where the past suddenly reoccurs in all its fullness, or is still in progress. I am there again,” (82). Ovid relates his experiences of anamnesis, recollecting information from his past that is relevant and that possesses his present.

Addressing the obstacles in his life allows Ovid to shut the door on something old and open it on something new. Though it is difficult for Ovid to readjust to a new, more rudimentary way of life, the transformation he is able to make helps him to make great progress in his life. Though he feels as if he is starting anew, he draws from a deep past without knowing it. Anamnesis is the recollection of things we already know but have simply forgotten. As Ovid takes on this new world and has new experiences, he realizes that he has already been here before. It’s the same old story that he must see from a new perspective in order to grow.

29 March 2009

I can't help but think of . . .

Mowgli from The Jungle Book!
The Child = Mowgli

Definition: feral


(esp. of an animal) in a wild state, esp. after escape from captivity or domestication

ORIGIN early 17th cent.: from Latin fera 'wild animal' (from ferus 'wild')

The Romantic Discourse: Bacchus & Aphrodite in the Same Room

Regarding the 7 thinkers of Plato's Symposium:
Phaedrus: "Love is a mighty god" and "the source of the greatest benefits to us" (Plato 6-7).

Pausanias: "Open loves are held to be more honorable than secret ones" (Plato 10).

Eryximachus: "Love is the reconciliation of opposites" (Plato 13).

Aristophanes: "Now there were these three sexes, because the sun, moon, and earth are three; and the man was originally the child of the sun, the woman of the earth, and the man-woman of the moon, which is made up of sun and earth" (Plato 16).

Agathon: "Love is the fairest and best in himself, and the cause of what is fairest and best in all other things" (Plato 21).

Socrates: "Love is the love of the everlasting possession of the good," namely, the immortality of us and our ideas (Plato 29).

Alcibiades finally enters after what seems to have been an extended visit to the Bacchus Pub and, rather than discoursing on love, expresses his love for and attraction to Socrates (Plato 34-40).


I am interested in Pausanias' remark that i listed above. What is a "secret love"? If a love is secret then it must not be a love at all. This was my initial reaction because I could not understand how someone who was truly in love would be fully capable of keeping it a secret. But then, I thought of Romeo and Juliet, the true star-crossed lovers. They loved each other severely, severely enough to die for each other; was their love not honorable until they both died and made their love known? I think it was honorable even in secret. Yet I do see the premise of Pausanias' comment via my initial response.

I also noted Eryximachus' note that love is the "reconciliation of opposites" (Plato 13). The connection I am about to make is patent. In this statement, Eryximachus refers to the most critical of the five conflicts of opposition, the place where drama originates - the opposition between man and woman.

I really enjoyed Aristophanes' statement of the origin of the three sexes. You always hear about Mother Earth, but never Father Sun or Androgyne Moon. I think we should start referring to the sun and the moon in this way. I suppose it might not work in the framework of our culture, but it seems only fitting.

Lastly, I was most appalled by Socrates' opening words. It should not have come as much as a surprise since this is typically my reaction to Socrates; however, it surprised me yet again. He always makes very good arguments and succeeds in making them extremely apparent to all listeners/readers, but I cringe at the way he treats others. His tone is so mocking and arrogant. He says, "Whereas I see now that the intention was to attribute to love every species of greatness and glory, whether really belonging to him or not, without regard to truth or falsehood - that was not matter; for the original proposal seems to have been not that you should praise, but only that you should appear to praise him" (Plato 23). How rude.

Also, here's another website that I found interesting. Pretty simple, but it lays it all out.


01 March 2009

Love is the love of something.

A Tree, A Rock, A Cloud

The old man in McCullers' story climbs the ladder of love by first learning to love a goldfish. I was intrigued by this because a goldfish is often one of the first loves of many a human being. Though we don't typically think about our first love in this way, it is in fact usually a goldfish, cat, tulip, dog, gerbil, or sibling (all the same). I remember learning to love my first cat, Captain Alex (the same one I wrote about in the pet dying post). I loved him right away, but my sister's learning process was somewhat more extended. In the middle of the night when she would take trips to the bathroom, Captain Alex used to attack her feet from his hiding place under the coffee table. I don't remember him doing it to me - just her; I think he loved attacking her in particular because she was so freaked out. She would go to all lengths to get past the coffee table without a scratch from Captain Alex; sometimes she would try climbing over the couch or walking on top of the coffee table, but he would always jump out and scare her. In the end, he quit scaring her at night and she learned to love him. She was pretty young at the time and getting him to pur was entertainment for a night.

I think about what it means to love a cloud as opposed to loving a tree or a rock. To love a cloud, I would watch it all day; I would watch it forget itself and reinvent itself, the process of anamnesis, the "perpetual process of loss and reparation" (Plato 30). I would love the cloud from a warm spot in the grass. So loving, in this sense, is peaceful looking.
To love a tree, I would feel the bark, smell and taste the sap. I would climb the tree as high as I could and swing from its boughs. I would share the tree with a friend; we would share our secrets with the tree and listen to his when the wind played on his leaves. So loving, in this sense, is listening, touching, tasting.
My idea of loving indulges the five senses, sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. But this makes loving a self-indulging process. Is it? Do we love things merely for the enjoyment and satisfaction it provides to us? Do we love for ourselves rather than for others?

Socrates would say so; he posits that love is for the sake of immortality (Plato 31). I don't see love as a selfish act, however the manner in which I would love a tree, a rock, a cloud proves otherwise.