Quoted from ‘Nemesis,’ by David Stuttard:
“In politics, it’s hard to please everyone.”-Solon, frag. 7 (West)”
‘Courting the Hydra’ – Winter set in, and on the hard-packed Earth of Athens’ streets, in her jostling Agora [(marketplace)], in the claustrophobia of her packed Pnyx [(gathering spot for popular assemblies)], emotions swirled as entrenched opinions hardened and rifts already fracturing society gaped wider. And the cause of many of these rifts was Alcibiades. With his anti-Spartan policies threatening to tear apart the Peace of Nicias, an increasing number of his opponents viewed him not just with suspicion but with downright fear. Among them was Archestratus, a man who had been friendly with the sons of Pericles. He summed up the mood of many when he remarked: “Athens has no room for more than one Alcibiades.” Indeed, there were some who would go further. Athens, they would argue, had no room for Alcibiades at all.”
“The years of glad-handling, of charming the key players of Ionia with his wit and wiles, of drinking long into the night with the richest and most powerful of all Athens’ allies, sketching his seductive vision of the future, outlining plans in which they all could share, in which they could accumulate both riches and prestige: now all of this was flowering to fulfillment. And here, at the ninety-first Olympic Games, there were many who were clamoring to help him.”
“Before the festival was even fully underway, the many thousands flocking to Olympia were greeted by a most impressive sight: an exquisite silken tent, a pavilion shimmering with gauzy hangings and adorned with gorgeous tapestries; on its rich floors, rich carpets; soft pillows strewn on intricately carved and tight-sprung bed frames; low tables stacked with precious vessels crafted in silver and gold. It was a gift to Alcibiades from his friends at Ephesus, part residence, part reception room, a lavish headquarters, twice the size of that of Athens’ official delegation, from which he could direct his well-planned charm offensive.”
The Black Tome
When I discovered the ‘black tome’ … in an abandoned structure in the forest…
… during an early test-run of ‘The Dark Woods’ simulation… in a little shack made of wood and stones… in a dying forest… The title page read: ‘On Humanity’ and it said it was written by… “the Warlock.” AL had encountered ‘The Black Tome.’ And Aleon began to read.
Quoted from ‘Civil War:’ “Gaius Julius Caesar was born in 100 B.C. into an ancient patrician family. He was an adolescent during the period of the proscription of Marius (his father’s brother in law), the directorship of Sulla and the early career of Pompey. His family were traditionally against the patrician senatorial oligarchy and Caesar followed suit. He was imprisoned for a short time by Sulla, but manages to maintain good relations with the nobles for ten years after his release: he was even co-opted into the college of priests (73 B.C.). During the sixties, he advanced through the senatorial ‘cursus’ to the…”
*Move to LoQuitus introduction…:
“The animatronic boy…was standing there smoking, taking a drag from the pipe hose like the adults and the older kids, as if to accentuate his point and to give it further authority…”
He talked about… ‘cosmopolis’ or ‘world-city’.
“And if ‘they’ can beat ‘me’ at it… then surely you should be able to…”
LoQuitus is… confident in his ai-scripted mind, which he dared was even better than those bio-analogs, and the three selected children are called by him, in secret with the programmers, and like a Julius Caesar figure opposing the Senate he brings a challenge to the trio, a feeling of superiority, half humorously, over all of his competitors takes hold. Not outwardly antagonist, like the manifestation of Vanity and Pride a horror show computer could become, he was like a parody of Caesar, or Gul Dukat from Ds9, as competitive in manners, refinement, hospitality, as well as diplomacy, and what I am marking also here as rhetoric, he has to be the best at establishing ethos, or credibility, as with anything, and everything, he is competitive about, all else is used also, as pathos is used by the demagogue in order to sway the others, into co-opting his plan, and His will be done. Render to Caesar what is Caesars. The Introduction of this character will be interspersed in this ‘Dark Woods’ segment, so we have a recap of the moment in the ‘hub’ before going into the neuro-link satyr play simulation, leading to the House of Agathon and the dialogue in the garden, where right before we actually bring the doorman from earlier as well as a new character introduced herein, LoQuitus.
We see the bizarre introduction of this kind of fat kid character, who is animatronic, and oddly adult in his actions during his introduction, he’s even smoking some kind of hooka pipe or something as he talks with the adults like an adult, and it was like he had a writing team, and he had, indeed, hundreds of college students and other enthusiasts asteroid-wide who had programmed him, organized databanks, and were going to be actively participating in this deployment of LoQuitus into the simulators.
The Doorman might even be brought in as a character, who is a very simple animatronic programming script, and is like in looks to the scarecrow character from Dorothy’s group in The Wizard of Oz. The animatronic companions are obviously a way for the programmers to insert themselves into these early experiments in education, harmlessly, and represent what they had anticipated with in their high-tech analysis projections, and … So we go through and these characters are there, in Agathon’s Garden, participating in the dialogue.
At this point maybe Phaedrus here will be introduced and Marsyas can debate him in an appraisal of a speech written by the principles of instruction according to Gorgias. We can have a lesson on the qualities of a good speech. Not on the question of harmonics, or tone-ation, or tenor, but on the speech as it is written. The written word becomes the focus of the discussion about speeches, and oration. First of all, the form is all wrong. There’s formatting errors, as his listing narrative can be assembled in any which way, and in any order, and so there is no logical movement within the speech itself, and so lists on using words like “also” repetitively because there is no consequences which leads to the next object or topic of discussion. So, although it had really impressed Phaedrus at the time, it was rote, flawed, and really not the best kind of work, when we’ve applied some principles of the art of rhetoric to it. And so, in Marsyas’ reproduction for Phaedrus, the speech is much better, and more refined. It is clear that Marsyas and Silenus are correct in their proposals concerning rhetoric. Next, the truth is brought in, and applied to a text that might be wrought by a student of the teacher Gorgias. Here we will see that the very core of the speech, the logos, was itself flawed, and not in line with the true philosophy. And so, Marsyas produces a third and final version, which is more beautiful even than the second speech, in tone, delivery, passion, and reasoning; in all elements this is by far the best version of the speech. The speaker seemed to even enter into a kind of dithyramb while he was delivering it… The total argument of the speech had changed as well. The new speech had shown the tenants of the former were too shallow, imposters, and to be mere posers, liars, as to what is true concerning how one is to act in regards to a lover. Yes, a lover, as in a lover of them. And so when you feel love back, or instead you keep some distances between you and your friend, there is a lover of you in front of you, and we are speaking of how one should act “in the face of one of them” as Silenus had phrased it. So the speech in praise of behaving in a good way towards the lover, and not in a bad way, a useful and selfish way, and then a praise of love itself then occurred. After giving due honors, they leave off from Phaedrus, having instructed the impressively teachable young man, seduced, but not by a lover of him…
Gorgias is particularly frustrating for modern scholars to attempt to understand. With Gorgias, scholars widely disagree on even the most basic framework of his ideas, including over whether or not that framework even existed at all. These difficulties are further compounded by the fact that Gorgias’s rhetoric is frequently elusive and confusing; he makes many of his most important points using elaborate, but highly ambiguous, metaphors, similes, and puns. Many of Gorgias’s propositions are also thought to be sarcastic, playful, or satirical.
Aristotle characterizes Gorgias’s style of oratory as “pervasively ironic” and states that Gorgias recommended responding to seriousness with jests and to jests with seriousness. [In this it could be said he is like Socrates, but like a photo-negative] Gorgias frequently contradicts his own statements and adopts inconsistent perspectives on different issues.
Gorgias has been labelled “The Nihilist” because some scholars have interpreted his thesis on “the non-existent” to be an argument against the existence of anything that is straightforwardly endorsed by Gorgias himself. Ostensibly Gorgias developed three sequential arguments: first, that nothing exists; second, that even if existence exists, it is inapprehensible to humans; and third, that even if existence is apprehensible, it certainly cannot be communicated or interpreted to one’s neighbors… That being said, there is consensus in late 20th century and early 21st century scholarship that the label ‘nihilist’ is misleading, in part because if his argument were genuinely meant to support nihilism it would be self-undermining. The argument, of course, is itself something, and has pretensions to communicate knowledge, in conflict with its explicit pronouncement that there is nothing and that it can’t be known or communicated… He introduced ‘paradoxologia’—the idea of paradoxical thought and paradoxical expression. For this advancement, [and other ornamental and structural advances like it] Gorgias has been labeled the “father of sophistry.”… Gorgias was the first orator known to develop and teach a “distinctive style of speaking… Gorgias’s writings are intended to be both rhetorical (persuasive) and performative. He goes to great lengths to exhibit his ability of making an absurd, argumentative position appear stronger. Consequently, each of his works defend positions that are unpopular, paradoxical and even absurd. The performative nature of Gorgias’ writings is exemplified by the way that he playfully approaches each argument with stylistic devices such as parody, artificial figuration and theatricality.
Upon the asteroid’s rocky face there are large structures which have been grown, rather than constructed… The buildings are the dried-out husks of an organism akin to a coral reef. The remains after the stage of life are white as bone. The citizen’s structures are fashioned largely by this white coral, that same organic building principle is used in tendrils snaking about across the landmass, wrapping and entangling themselves around deposits of rock, for stability, as well as helping to serve as anchor to the great vats of artificial sea water, enormous pools, which sit embedded upon the cosmic rock. The Coral Kingdoms surround and entangle themselves within the crystal and inert rock. Protruding from the icy space-rock, the multi-colored Crystaline Monoliths attract the eye: Ruby reds, Sapphire blues, and Emerald Greens. Precious decorations, untouched by the interminable chaos of the cosmos–these are gems of truly unspeakable value. And, like so many priceless commodities within proximity to mankind, they are steadily drained, consumed, and moving towards their inevitable depletion. Such is life, and such is economics. They hope to do good with the resources. Mining crews, military patrols, vacating civilian transports and exploration crews move about in day-to-day operations. The Asteroid-World is a bustling swarm of individuals amongst the massive collective. Surrounded, humans still enter hyperspace, as the silent space-rock floats along suffocated by chilling blackness all around. Looking back, past the great structure of the banquet hall, at the white-coral domiciles lining the face of the asteroid, and the occasional coral-cathedral interspersed in between the communities, I was thinking of dinosaur bones… We look like post-historic bones floating out here, dead husks in outer space… It all looks as if it were something… hyper-natural. And it is.
“Like other Sophists, he was an itinerant that practiced in various cities and giving public exhibitions of his skill at the great pan-Hellenic centers of Olympia and Delphi, and charged fees for his instruction and performances. A special feature of his displays was to ask miscellaneous questions from the audience and give impromptu replies.”
“Gorgias was born in a colony in eastern Sicily that was an ally of Athens. He had a brother who was a physician, and had sometimes accompanied him during his travels. His sister had a grandson who would go on to dedicate a golden statue to his great uncle at Delphi.”
“Gorgias is said to have studied under Empedocles of Acragas, but it is not known when, where, for how long, or in what capacity. When he was around sixty years old he was sent to Athens by his fellow-citizens as the head of an embassy to ask for Athenian protection against the aggression of the Syracusans. Gorgias’s primary occupation was as a teacher of rhetoric. According to Philostratus, “I understand that he attracted the attention of the most admired men, Critias and Alcibiades, who were young, and Thucydides and Pericles who were already old. Agathon too, the tragic poet, whom Comedy regards as wise and eloquent, often Gorgianizes in his iambic verse.”
“He was reputed to have lived to be one hundred and eight years old.”
“He won admiration for his ability to speak on any subject. He accumulated considerable wealth; enough to commission a gold statue of himself for a public temple. After his Pythian Oration, the Greeks installed a solid gold statue of him in the temple of Apollo at Delphi.”
Gorgias’s rhetoric, part2.
Unlike other Sophists, such as Protagoras, Gorgias did not profess to teach ‘arete’ (excellence, or, virtue). He believed that there was no absolute form of ‘arete’, but that it was relative to each situation. For example, virtue in a slave was not the same as virtue in a statesman.
While rhetoric existed in the curriculum of every Sophist, Gorgias placed more prominence upon it than any of the others… Much debate over both the nature and value of rhetoric begins with Gorgias… [In Plato’s dialogue, Socrates seems a little skeptical of Gorgias’s way of teaching rhetoric] because it gives the ignorant the power to seem more knowledgeable than an expert to a group. Gorgias was focused on the notion that true objectivity is impossible since the human mind can never be separated from its possessor. Gorgias set out to prove that it is as easy to demonstrate that being is one (unchanging and timeless) as it is to prove that being has no existence at all. Regardless of how it “has largely been seen.” The argument has largely been seen as an ironic refutation of Parmenides’ thesis on Being.
The Topaz education centers
… with the early education centers. The Topaz simulators will slowly branch out into larger society, as it learns and accrues data, and signals of that are already showing themselves as was described in the pubs with the … demarcations of the Topaz education-accreditation. The creature-class label really latches on to society because of these new machines, which are rolled out during this particular generation of kids.
The ‘pubs’ in Ruby are bars but also places where games are generally an ensemble of different … . The total-immersion, full integration simulation games are the sole-focus, and have sole authority to do so, … but the pubs have the regular corded-in, headset and gloves public VR experience.
VR simulator games and real life are augmented with a focus on vehicle piloting. First mention of the Pegasus class, first use of the creature-class terminology after Manticore. I suggest to stay subtle, show the lifestyles first, and then focus on the labels for things.
The Manticore year of education will be in mostly isolation as well, as the gymnasia AL can afford can be sumptuous and private. We don’t see much of the outer social society until after Playworlds. So during the Dark Woods is the earliest time we see outer society. Pegasus: The story with the made-up characters for the scenario are a showcase of the creature-culture accreditation program, and the framework of culture and lifestyle on the asteroid which lead to it. Now we will really jump head first into these creatures and the parallel in the asteroid society. Some crossover from Gargoyle in the ‘Pegasus’ segment, as Gargoyle citizens will cross over to learn how to operate cars by the best drivers available, and that’s from Pegasus stock. These people know this history of cars, and racing, and build earlier eras style with the period’s materials, some made a small fortune in establishing trucking and sanitation businesses, some are looking into the future of deep space market trade. Anything that has to do with vehicles, and anything to get that racing rush.
Topaz Accreditation system, The Topaz Academy, creature-character-accreditation program.
The standard curriculum of education for children has Language as its focus (regardless of the overall-curriculum which the student chooses, which they rarely have at so young an age. That more starts in teenage years, while the student is figuring out their identity),
… the second year is History and Biographies, … a focus on people, places, and people who did things..
… and third year is focused on Mathematics, the principles of algebra, Trigonometry is in focus regarding Geometry ( a hand-drawing mastery program, non-computer interface), and nothing else is really focused on.
The chosen curriculum within the Academy will also focus on these proficiencies, in addition to the focuses of the primary education. Usually the class based system is reserved for later in life, usually the teenage years, but some chose early and gear their hobbies and play to suit the route of his day-dreams.
The fourth year is usually a Tests and Games year, a year of reading comprehension and thinking, how to make and argument and take a stance on something, but some, traditional families, stay for a more advanced reinforcement and exploration of Language, in the fourth year, as this is a comprehensive and vast realm of study.
The fifth year pertains to Industrialized Nations, warfare, and Economics education, higher forms of mathematics such as calculus, and deep historical and literature analysis engage here in the ongoing dialogue, or argument, of mankind.
Academia and the Creature-Character subculture
Let’s take a creature to show as an example, take Pegasus:
The operation of vehicles and machinery of various sorts the Pegasus sub-culture spends most of its time on the streets and outside the pubs of Ruby, and of the Ruby ‘night life’ culture, which operate vehicles as one of the primary aspect of their lifestyle, but are universally into races, and seeing or participating is the thrill all are seeking.
The operation of vehicles and machinery of various sorts is the locus of understanding that Pegasus has chosen to ruminate on. Yes, in the realm of entertainment there is racing going on, but that would severely limit one’s view of the role vehicles in human society. In many industries, for example, there are vehicles used to expedite certain processes, and these are learned about, experience is available for operation and maintenance of such human-piloted crafts, and these jobs must also be carried out, and so operation of such class of vehicle is a practical and useful application of one’s time to society overall. Pegasus has associations to things moving, the efficient and safe passing of objects across distance, considerations made for time.
The purview of Pegasus goes even further than that, though. Consider Inter-planetary travel is another field which concerns man’s occupation and piloting of vehicles, and so all the way up the ladder of sophistication the denizens of the Pegasus Guild have a place to set their ambition.
What will be the survival instruction curriculum be called?
… Gorgias explains that, by nature, the weak are ruled by the strong, and, since the gods are stronger than humans in all respects, Helen should be freed from her undesirable reputation. If, however, Helen was abducted by force, it is clear that the aggressor committed a crime. Thus, it should be he, not Helen, who should be blamed. And if Helen was persuaded by love, she should also be rid of ill repute because “if love is a god, with the divine power of the gods, how could a weaker person refuse and reject him? But if love is a human sickness and a mental weakness, it must not be blamed as mistake, but claimed as misfortune.” Finally, if speech persuaded Helen, Gorgias claims he can easily clear her of blame. Gorgias explains: “Speech is a powerful master and achieves the most divine feats with the smallest and least evident body. It can stop fear, relieve pain, create joy, and increase pity.” The Encomium shows Gorgias’ interest in argumentation, as he makes his point by “systematically refuting a series of possible alternatives.” It is an encomium (a speech or praise in writing that praises someone or something highly) of the “rhetorical craft itself, and a demonstration of its power over us.” In his dialogue ‘Gorgias,’ Plato distinguishes between rhetoric and philosophy, characterizing Gorgias as a shallow, opportunistic orator who entertains his audience with his eloquent words and who believes that it is unnecessary to learn the truth about actual matters when one has discovered the art of persuasion. In the dialogue, Gorgias responds to one of Socrates’ statements as follows: “Rhetoric is the only area of expertise you need to learn. You can ignore all the rest and still get the better of the professionals!”
Gorgias, as if to be critical of Parmenides, describes philosophy as a type of seduction, but he does not deny philosophy entirely, giving some respect to philosophers. Plato answers Gorgias by reaffirming the Parmenidean ideal that being is the basic substance and reality of which all things are composed, insisting that philosophy is a dialectic distinct from and superior to rhetoric. Aristotle… criticizes Gorgias, labeling him a mere Sophist whose primary goal is to make money by appearing wise and clever, thus deceiving the public by means of misleading or sophistic arguments… Despite these negative portrayals, Gorgias’s style of rhetoric was highly influential… For almost all of western history, Gorgias has been a marginalized and obscure figure in both philosophical thought and culture at large. In the nineteenth century, however, writers such as the German philosopher Hegel began to work to “rehabilitate” Gorgias and the other Sophists from their longstanding reputation as unscrupulous charlatans who taught people how to persuade others using rhetoric for unjust causes. Modern sources continue to affirm that the old stereotype of the Sophists is not accurate.
How can anyone communicate the idea of color by means of words since the ear does not hear colors but only sounds?” This quote was used to show his theory that ‘there is nothing’, ‘if there were anything no one would know it’, ‘and if anyone did know it, no one could communicate it’. This theory, thought of in the late 5th century BC, is still being contemplated by many philosophers throughout the world.
For the first main argument where Gorgias says, “there is no-thing”, he tries to persuade the reader that thought and existence are not the same. By claiming that if thought and existence truly were the same, then everything that anyone thought would suddenly exist. He also attempted to prove that words and sensations could not be measured by the same standards, for even though words and sensations are both derived from the mind, they are essentially different… Gorgias argues that persuasive words have power (‘dunamis’) that is equivalent to that of the gods and as strong as physical force. In the ‘Encomium’, Gorgias likens the effect of speech on the soul to the effect of drugs on the body: “Just as different drugs draw forth different humors from the body – some putting a stop to disease, others to life – so too with words: some cause pain, others joy, some strike fear, some stir the audience to boldness, some benumb and bewitch the soul with evil persuasion.”
Gorgias also believed that his “magical incantations” would bring healing to the human psyche by controlling powerful emotions… He paid particular attention to the sounds of words, which, like poetry, could captivate audiences. His florid, rhyming style seemed to hypnotize his audiences… He believed that rhetoric, the art of persuasion, was the king of all sciences, since he saw it as a techné with which one could persuade an audience toward any course of action.
That’s our AL. AL and Raeff are maybe the most famous people now on the asteroid. All the kids are obsessed with them, and so the trends go. The parents must yield to the titanic yolk and try and find themselves in there, as any Disney era parent knows they’ve got to come to alliance and insert themselves somewhere within the fantasy.
AL and Raeff are the wunderkind duo famous for being the first group to be introduced to the total immersion neuro-gaming technology, the golden-ticket to Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, if you will… and have been icons in gaming ever since.
They are therefore hard-pressed to a conventional thing, but… AL is obsessed with Detective work, and solving homicides, and everyone around him thinks it’s just the idea of this that he’s fallen in love with, and that he couldn’t just become the next Sherlock Holmes… could he? But he joined Gargoyle, became a master of costumes and obfuscative devices, like a stage magician at this point, and applied his genius every bit as much to this endeavor as any other, and his nuclear youthful energy was without permission fully invested in this new persona, and everyone had just step back a few paces and maybe try to surf a little in his wake or else plop and fuck right off into the water.
Why are they fighting?
Instead of Batman and Robin, AL and Raeff become like Robin and Robin. They are gymnasts in manticore first. They become fearless through the air, becoming olympians in their conditioning, but it’s not all they do… sword-fighting, dual wielding plastic clubs was good for strength and conditioning as well as honing technique. Hopping around an obstacle course of a veritable castle of padded gymnastic equipment, there had been built platforms and several spires and watchtowers had been formed with the mass of gym matts and other padded boxes for box jumps and things, bars and a bridge made of straps that are supposed to be used for the rings. The boys focus on use of zip lines, because of Batman, directly, but also for the myriad uses of such, if you just had some time in pre-planning to stage such a performance. Smoke bombs, also straight out of the ‘89 Batman movie, are also great for these sorts of luxurious pre-planning capture and extraction performances.
It was a little over the top, but it was great for the cameras.
The manticore builds to that, and provides a framework for their bodies while they are deeply engrossed in the Playworlds.
In Manticore they are training and becoming fearless with the gymnastic arts, as well as embarking on an array of martial arts to begin their lifelong pledge to pursuit of mastery. The stretching and environment manipulation of room-heating and the cold plunges afterward are all a core tenet of any studio of a manticore.
A master manticore may run a studio with a few full time students or run his studios to the public at large.
Other gym equipment, such as Olympic size pools, fields large enough for football, and grass or astroturf varieties of track and field, as well as weight rooms, and tennis court and things like this are all present at the local centaur training center.
The Gargoyles prefer empty old boxing gyms, defunct preferably but these are run and owned by old Gargoyles and nobody else can even get to them. They also serve as a kind of place for the low points and confessional. When the fighter is at the end of his rope, and he just hit the rock bottom. Rocky’s trainer is there, like a priest for Matt Murdock, ready to hear and rebuke your self pity, and what you think you’ve sacrificed. The ole’ abandoned boxing gym and there for talkin’ anyways, it’s meant for sweatin’, and try to wreck the wood flooring with pouring sweat.
The kids were too young still for those kinds of things.
They were still swept up in the current of gamer fame at the moment, having there been some delay before anyone else was actually allowed to delve into the total-immersion simulated neuro-experience simulators of Topaz society, the emerging movement which brought with it a re-ordering of society which the surrounding culture may or may not get on board with.
The movement was secondary, it was grappling with these new technologies that was their purview and the buzz surrounding their emergence. The cultural Renaissance will have to wait. Total immersion meant that your brain is basically jacked into, like your television set, and the images, sounds, and they said even feelings and smells, are plugged into and your very biological wiring is connected to a machine in the very same room. Unlike the school VR machines now used, where you are hanging, these are like tanks of water, but they now look sleek, you’d certainly say pools describing the later models, but these earliest editions were like some industrial revolution era tank Harry Houdini might drop himself into, that looked like sarcophagi or a knocked over medieval Iron Maiden.
You lay back in them and they submerge you in water, or a liquid that I hope is just water, about up to your nose. You remain entirely still during the entire simulated interfacing. Your nose won’t get any water in it by accident, you won’t twitch, and the water should never be anything but flat and smooth. Nobody ever has moved during the interfacing.
Encounter with Gorgias… (and maybe Draco, to counter Solon)
“Now: are you familiar with the ‘question and answer’ form of verbal communication?”
“Good! Then allow me to begin asking you questions in the hope that you will answer them?”
“Okay… go right ahead.”
“Now, this seems a pattern, the obfuscating black ink could represent the writer’s seclusion, a magician then, the ‘dark arts,’ but we will get to that in a moment; I’m moving on to a separate train of inquiry. The absolute master stroke, that clever black ink, will have to wait. I must know more about how this game works: how it flows, what are it’s rules, what are you seeking, what challenges are there—great or small—how does one ‘usually’ play?”
“Well, I am flattered, as well, you’re too kind. I feel we may learn much together. It is the utmost importance that we speak, I see that clearly now. You must visit regularly, and I will promise to make myself available to you—whenever you should visit!”
Alcibiades Segment Nemesis
Alcibiades didn’t stay on anyone’s side for too long, but as an ally he was quite valuable, and effective. Any alliance with him would be, undoubtedly, a temporary arrangement, however. His unconventional tactics in battle distinguished him as a kind of proto-Alexander. He was also known, however, for his treachery.
Although he had this scandalous reputation, Alcibiades was apparently a masterful orator. He spoke eloquently and passionately, and was hard to resist in even his most mundane requests. Alcibiades, seemed to be a kind of Nemesis for the other satyr-rhetoricians. Ordering around the other satyr-philosophers quite naturally, as the sole warrior amongst pacifists, and they seemed to happily oblige and spring to duty upon his request.
The one seen walking by briefly, Alcibiades, was very handsome and also wearing full body armor amongst silk garments and lining his vestments.
It was strange seeing so many goat-legged, half-naked some of them, walking around, some in white togas and others with, mere fur, and no clothing at all.
Inside the house another little goat-legged satyr-folk could be seen stridently walking by.
He cast a suspicious eye on the group, and then carried on his way as he turned his nose up emoting and believing we weren’t worthy of his time.
Silenus whispers to us, “That one’s Alcibiades. He’s the popular one.”
Another satyr approached, and the population at Agathon’s was beginning to balloon, almost to comical proportions as to the speed of it; as yet another, and then another, and then another satyr seemed to walk up from outside the compound. They were introducing themselves in a clown-like procession, like how many confusing names could they try to give us. There was one named Empedocles, and another named Phaedrus, and another named Gorgias, and there was Aristophanes, and Aescylus, and there was a pragmatic, and structured fellow, named Solon.
He is infantilized, humiliated by sudden and penetrating exposure…
He sees that he has no skill in any articulation done in real time. Under the time constraints necessitated by a conversation, which is a living thing, with few outright rules in which to study beforehand, and open-ended to a degree to be almost impossible to navigate without direct experience.
… How can you teach how to speak well in the classroom, and then have them go out and always say the right thing…
… it’s ridiculous. Impossible.
Alcibiades will be able to accuse the others, due to their ‘lack of support’ for his military campaigns. They saw them as military outbursts of his, and only sometimes legitimately worth embarking upon. He can always have a weapon, though, to use against the other satyrs for their perpetual lack of action, when the time was right, failing to ‘strike while the iron was hot,’ of their idle talk, while he’s out there defending the countryside, as well as fending off conquerors, their mounting and nefarious enemies, who are coming for all of them.
He, Alcibiades, can always point to his record, and to his patronage, for example, of even the arts, and not just warfare, but of sports, and, especially, of chariot races!
Alcibiades can always show greater, outdo another’s peacocking, and challenge any accomplishments of another. He can always produce a better story, and always has bolter intent in the future.
This is very unlike the behavior of the others, the more metaphysic-philosophers, satyrs who would compose a typical hymn to theatre at a symposium at Agathon’s House. Many of the men would have had military service in their record in this group, as most men of their era would serve for a time in their military.
Alcibiades, however, was always competitive, at everything, and always showing great honor to someone by attending their dinner party, in full regalia, so much could be said of you if he chose to attent your dinner party, and he is also always sought after anyways, because his presence usually leads to some kind of uproariously obscene event, which often becomes a spectacle of itself. He is known to always be a good drinking companion, and usually it seems wherever Alcibiades is going is where the history books would be written about for history’s sake in the wake of him…
There’s some of our favorites, Gorgias and Phaedrus, …
Gorgias argues, from the realm of sophistry but also from a true rhetoric almost on par with Marsyas and Silenus, that one should create for one’s self, if indeed they are said designers of bodies and minds, as they’ve touted, a true Nemesis—an adversary approaching equality to, and can there gore challenge, the one who wishes what it means to ‘truly’ learn…
.. and Phaedrus argues that this is indeed true, what Gorgias has said, but if you’re making a good ‘story’ in a context where those ‘bodies and minds’ provide for an entertaining or an educational, emotional or otherwise, and since we are kids, we should not make it so that the outcome of our stories, bodies, and minds, are treated to something more akin to comedy—and that this adversary should stay, and so should the pitfalls and problems of good story telling all be left in and matriculated as well.
Part 2. portrays the darker side of Utopiaoid. They are addicts, a society of addicts, and there is a debate if there is anything necessarily wrong with that. These are not the drugs of the 21st century. These were new drugs, better drugs, better for you, non-invasive—irresistible. If the mineral’s benefits far out-reach the drawbacks, scrutinized at every angle, logical objection after logical objection, computed by the immensely capable super computers of Utopiaoid, and the result was that there were some in the citizenry who argued that “substance-dependence,” in this specific context, is as “morally-appropriate” as taking a shower. The result, say what you will (the debate is certainly on-going) is that the civilization itself has become so absolutely dependent upon a mineral substance (grown and then synthesized in various, designer inflections: Ruby, Emerald, Sapphire, and Crystal) that this very word, this word ‘addiction,’ has subtly lost its entire meaning. ‘Addiction’ became a word entirely replaced by ‘inflection.’ Therefore, the substance affects the user in the state of ‘inflection,’ as understood at a now principal level, which enables one to achieve an alternative perception than the one naturally realized. The Emerald substance; the Sapphire substance; the Ruby substance; the Crystal substance, each of these are viewed as a chosen ‘inflection’ upon a person.
This will be a good opportunity to describe the coral architecture in Utopiaoid as well. Zooming in on the frozen, mineralized, structure of the coral, we see a city of bone-white remains. Living-Death marks the architecture amongst the asteroid rock. We can also really scrutinize the use of this [substance], which they have synthesized in these 5 variations (the [substance] either being grown synthetically or perhaps it is found naturally) upon the rock, and to make an objective assessment on the effects this behavior has on their culture.
Quoted from ‘Plato’s Laughter,’ by Sonja Madeleine Tanner
I will argue that laughter exposes incongruities within oneself as well as the hubristic pretensions to exceed such limitations, and thus that laughter can play a more positive role in regard to the Delphic imperative to “know thyself” than previously acknowledged. These incongruities are what I will call “performative contradictions,” or contradictions between what one says and what one does, and they underscore the significance of action and praxis to dialectic.
The chapters are arranged thematically with the intention of telling a story of Socrates as a type of comical hero, and do not follow any proposed chronological dating. I follow Howland in rejecting the possibility of accurately determining the chronological order of the dialogues’ composition on the basis of stylometric analysis, “maturity of style,” events internal to the dialogues, and other traditional considerations, and perhaps more importantly, of rejecting the hermeneutic significance of doing so. A number of highly controversial assumptions go into establishing a chronological ordering, not the least of which is that Plato was developing his own doctrine through the dialogues, and that if we could only know when he wrote which dialogue, we could more precisely determine their meaning. Choosing to write dialogues would have been a peculiarly ineffective choice, given such an intention, and the availability of earlier, treatise-like works by Anaxagoras and Democritus suggest what would have been a more appropriate medium in which to express one’s personal convictions, if this had been their purpose. Instead, Plato develops philosophical dialogue, drawing from and developing several, earlier forms, including tragedy and, as we will see, various forms of comedy. Interpreting the dialogues as dialogues, and finding meaning in their literary and dramatic elements, as well as the philosophical arguments occurring therein, is thus how this book aims to proceed. There are several dangers to using various dialogues to support the claim that Plato uses laughter for philosophical purposes and that Socrates is something of a comical hero. The first is that, by jumping from one dialogue to another, one does violence to their unique dramatic situations, characters, scenes, and topic. Indeed, this book moves among very different sorts of dialogues and it is impossible to do full justice to the specifics of each, but neither is this the aim. Rather, the first aim is to show that laughter in the dialogues is ambivalent, taking examples from different types of dialogues as evidence.
Quoted from ‘Plato’s Laughter,’ by Sonja Madeleine Tanner
What we will find is a far greater emphasis on the Dionysian in the dialogues than they are usually credited with. From the use of traditional comical techniques, forms, and characterizations to a more direct relationship between the stage and audience, Platonic dialogues contain within them the laughter that Plato has long been thought to be missing. Socrates himself, it will be shown, closely resembles a most Dionysian figure, a mischievous and comical hero at the service of the god of comedy, tragedy, and rejuvenation. Ewegen notes a critical difference: “comedy, unlike tragedy, is self-aware: it draws itself into the parodic critical space that it itself opens up.” Socrates acts as a yardstick against which we, the dialogues’ audience, can measure ourselves, and what we will find is that we bear a closer resemblance to him, including in our laughability. Self-knowledge is thus not rendered impossible by what is comical; instead, the comical helps make possible self-knowledge.
The suggestion with which I began—that Plato is funny—suddenly does not sound radical anymore. Rather than imposing a contemporary interpretation on works from antiquity, this project attempts a return to such ancient perspectives. It takes a “serious” look at laughter in the dialogues, but not in the sense of attempting to reduce all forms of laughter to a singular cause or theory, because laughter will ultimately exceed and evade any such reduction. Instead, I will attempt to elucidate some of the philosophical meanings and consequences of the multivalent uses of laughter in several Platonic dialogues and particularly in the comical portrayal of Socrates. I will suggest that laughter undergoes a historical shift in Plato, one that acknowledges its more positive and philosophical potential.
Cicero suggests a gelastic reading of Platonic dialogues. A discussion of irony in the De Oratore lauds Socrates: “… my opinion is that Socrates far surpassed all others for accomplished wit in this strain of irony or assumed simplicity.” Socrates illustrates a paradigm of refined wit that is suitable to a gentleman. While we might be tempted to read this as another ancient testimony in support of what has come to be called Socratic Irony, Cicero’s attribution of humor to Socrates extends past irony. In the De Officiis, Cicero writes, “There are, generally speaking, two sorts of jest: the one course [illiberale], rude, vicious, indecent [obscenum]; the other, refined [elegans], polite [urbanium], clever [ingeniosum], and witty [facetum] With this latter sort not only our own Plautus and the Old Comedy of Athens, but also the books of Socratic philosophy abound.” One might, at first blush, be startled to find in Cicero an advocate of Athenian Old Comedy as being refined and polite. But what is far more startling is that the “books of Socratic philosophy” are grouped together with Plautus and, by implication, Aristophanes, as exemplary of the recommended sort of laughter. If we can attribute the claims of his interlocutor to Cicero himself, Cicero read the “books of Socratic philosophy” as abounding with wit, humor, and laughter. And while the claim in De Oratore is specific to Socrates as an exemplary ironist, the phrasing of “books of Socratic philosophy” in De Officiis is broad enough to support reading this attribution to Plato and, inasmuch as some of his books constitute “Socratic philosophy,” to Xenophon.
My proposal then is to cast a wider net, to search for many different sorts of laughter, not just in what is said in the dialogues, but also in what is done in them, in the argument as well as in the dramatic action. My goal is not to prove that such incidents or jokes are funny. Anyone who has ever tried to explain a joke knows what a mistake such an undertaking is. A naysayer could find dreariness even in the opening of the Charmides, in which men shove each other aside to make room for the handsome eponymous character next to themselves on a bench, thus sending those sitting on the far ends of the bench tumbling off to much laughter. But if I show that laughter in Plato amounts to more than ridicule, then a “serious” reexamination of Platonic dialogues and the use and meaning of laughter therein is necessary. It might be objected at the outset that a gelastic reading of Plato appears a modern (over)interpretation of, and imposition on, antiquity. While the interpretation espoused here does indeed run counter to hundreds of years of agelastic, or even antigelastic, readings dating back as far as Neoplatonism, it is entirely consistent with several commentators from Greek and Latin antiquity, namely Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintilian, who appear to read Plato’s Socratic logoi as comical. If this is the case, the antigelastic readings of Plato may originate from a later time.
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