Socrates doesn’t like Odysseus. He doesn’t like his mendacity, the cunning, the dissimulation. He only did what Socrates himself did: reserve the truth of his opinion until it became time to reveal himself. The first object of training in the Republic for the Guardians of Socrates’ just society, is education: the training of the soul and the mind. And the first aspect of their training is concerned with the morals of the pseudos – fictions or lies is the translation, depending upon the context or boundary conditions – told by Homer.
For Socrates has a serious objective in his training of the Guardians: the ideal State. Athens needs leaders, the city-state needs a philosophy to unite and bind the disparate parts into a unified force. IT will not do if the Guardians of the One Truth should be imitating Odysseus or his grandfather, so cleverly portrayed in The Odyssey, making a virtue out of lies. If virtue is to be equivalent to skills, a sense of doing or an increase in the ability to perform – as he laid down in the meaning of the good and just and wise man for Thrasymachus – then there can be no room for falsehood. Say exactly what you mean. Do not portray the gods as liars or storytellers. We humans who are fallen into language, lacking the divine communication, can tell lies to save someone from harm. The lies we tell will benefit the city-state as a whole. In other words, for economic reasons, we may invent a fiction, a pseudos.
So let us tell the tale of the education of our imaginary Guardians as if we had all the leisure of the traditional storyteller.
Homer’s epic were to the Greeks of the time what the Bible is to some cultures today. It was a source of morals and collective values. Ulysses is Joyce’s epic modern invention of the Odyssey.
The book is a repetition.
275b: oak and rock – this was a proverbial pairing, representing anything dense and insensitive.
Robin Waterfield, translator (a footnote in Oxford’s World Classics, Plato’s Phaedrus)
In any event this book was terribly daring. A transparent sheet seperates it from madness.
James Joyce (speaking of Ulysses)
It is a symbol of Irish art. The cracked looking-glass of a sevant.
Madness is a transport. Ulysses has been described audibly and audinarily as the “work of a pretentious wanker. And if you like it, you’re a pretentious wanker too.”
The book has a dense narrative for a modern love story. Joyce stands accused of being insensitive to the reader, making the book difficult, to demonstrate hs own cleverness; “daring,” he called it.
How much of modern love is embedded with narcissism? The chivalry of knights jousting for the hands of their beloved maidens. How our partners “complete” us… Poldy cooks breakfast for his wife, waits on her hand and foot. Marriages are complex – there are no easy solutions. Henry Flower is “naughty.” Extra-marital affairs are as old as the Greeks.
– The wandering jew, Buck Mulligan whispered with clown’s awe. Did you see his eye? He looked upon to lust after you. I fear thee, ancient mariner. O, Kinch, thou art in peril. Get thee a breechpad.
Well, Freud thought homosexuals were narcissists… Leopold Bloom is the hero of the narrative. Socrates – a seducer of young men? “What’s that you’re hiding under your toga there, Phaedrus?” Homo-erotic relations. Self-same sex produces no offspring. In the flesh. Platonic love. Yet that quality of Beauty, the sublime and divine, transports our selves.
Plato for Prozac. Exercise produces serotinin.
Dialectic? Exercise for the mind.
Under the influence of mind-altering substances. Intoxication is the precondition for art to take place. Nietzsche.
Drink: the curse of Ireland. Bloom is a teetotaller.
There’s a touch of the artist to old Bloom.
Homer, Ovid, Shakespeare? just writers, poets… artists. Dangerous to play around with the meaning of Truth, Love and Beauty. The real and sober work of philosophy belongs to the likes of Socrates, to dialectics, division and unity.
Beauty makes us forget ourselves. Beauty intoxicates – like a drug (I swallow).
To Create is to Remember; Memory is the Basis of Everything.
Dangers demand immanent criteria, rules of caution – “inject caution.” (Deleuze and Guattari). Lines of flight can turn into black holes.
Know thyself. A boy and his desiring machines.
Nothing wants to die. Leopold’s father committed suicide. He drank poison.
Suicide is a species of madness.
Ask Romeo and Juliet.
The story of the Egyptian king and Thoth – a Platonic invention:
Your invention is a potion for jogging the memory, not for remembering.
Maybe a Monad. Substance. A unity of body and soul, the originary division, the earth and sky, writing and speech, encapsulated into one. According to the legend (of a map of lost origins – what does the river represent in Waterhouse?).
A legend. Stream of consciousness. You could rebuild the Dublin of Joyce’s times from the pages of Ulysses.
Does oak and rock have soul? A proverbial pairing.
Active ideas? Dense and insensitive.
Substance. Cause of itself. Like God. Free cause. “I rock therefore I am.” statement of a Subject.
Who would have thunk it?
An independent eksistence. Met him pike hoses. Marion Bloom says.
Made a cuckold out of Leopold.
Leopold perambulates. The Odyssey of Bloom. Metempsychosis – the transmigration of souls. Becoming an other. Never the soul the same.
Self-mastery? a ruling class – the Guardians of the Republic of Ireland. With no recourse to discourse, to the violence of the letter, Odysseus-Leopold Bloom returns home with Telemachus-Stephen Dedalus, communicated by an inner dialectic.
Homer’s legend was the Bible to the ancient Greeks, the instructor of morals and values. The barre. Plato – the Philosopher King – meant to succeed him. For better or for worse – he succeeded – “for Christianity is Platonism for ‘the people'” (Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche). Ironically, a religion of the Book.
The written word. Agenbite.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear, Jesus said.
– Yes, of course, [Haines the Englishman] said, as they went on again. Either you believe or you don’t, isn’t it? Personally I couldn’t stomach that idea of a personal God. You don’t stand for that, I suppose?
– You behold in me, Stephen said with grim displeasure, a horrible example of free thought.
– After all, I should think you are able to free yourself. You are your own master, it seems to me.
– I am the servant of two masters, Stephen said, an English and an Italian.
– Italian? Haines said.
– The imperial British state, Stephen answered, his colour rising, and the holy Roman catholic and apostolic church.
– I can quite understand that, he said calmly. An Irishman must think like that, I daresay. We feel in England that we have treated you rather unfairly. It seems history is to blame.
Rejoyce and be glad. Homer met him pike hoses.