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Posts Tagged ‘the ancient greeks’

Electra

In skepticism, the ancient greeks on 16/08/2011 at 7:11 am

I turn everything inside out/ looking for new solutions/ to the problems of today,/ always critical, giving/ suggestions for gracious living/ and they come away from seeing a play/ in a questioning mood, with “where are we at?,”/ and “who’s got my this?,” and “who took my that?.” (Euripides, in Aristophanes, The Frogs, trans. Richmond Lattimore, Four Comedies, 1969, 62)

In Euripides’ Electra, Electra receives evidence of the secret arrival of Orestes, offering three signs that correspond to the three signs offered to Electra in Aeschylus’s earlier Libation Bearers. The ‘older’ Electra rejects the possibility that the hair could be anyone’s but Orestes’s (520 – 23), but Euripides’s Electra is unwilling to make such a leap of faith, methodically rejecting the very same arguments given by Aeschylus’s Electra. She rejects the possibility of her brother would return in secret, for she assumes that he would return openly (524-26) and then she goes on (527-29) to note the inherent differences between the lock of hair from a woman and a man and the irrelevance of foot-size in determining relatives. Many unrelated people also have, obviously, similar hair. This here is the new faith in the capabilities of reason, and yet this faith is repeatedly undermined, not just in literature, but in our everyday lives.

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Oedipus

In fallibilism, the ancient greeks on 24/06/2011 at 9:28 am

At the start of Oedipus at Colonus, Oedipus is now old, blind, led around by a child. He cannot act out into the world, at least not in the way he once acted.

The young Oedipus once impressed his will on to the world. Who I am depends on creating myself through action. He understood himself as product of exertions, as acting out into world, creating a new self that will not kill his father and sleep with his mother. Not anymore.

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The Chaos Monster

In fallibilism, skepticism, the ancient greeks on 22/06/2011 at 9:28 am

In Jungian terms, the uncanny breaks down our expectations for how the world is to operate. When we attempt to understand things, we can only see them through our own filter. If you have a hammer, everything you see is a nail. Our preconceived notions of what is normal break down, and when they are violated, we realize how fragile our epistemic assumptions are: the world isn’t full of nails. We’re left disturbed, unsettled, or shaken. We’re confronted with the irrational and the breakdown of fundamental order of the world. Without something to hold on to, we’re left fumbling in the dark.

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The Sphinx

In irrationalism, skepticism, the ancient greeks on 15/06/2011 at 2:30 pm

Most everyone knows the story of Oedipus meeting the Sphinx — how he bests it by solving its riddle, goes off to Thebes, nails his mom, and ruins his life. So what?

The Sphinx is four things in one: the body of a lioness, the torso of a woman, the wings of an eagle, and the tail of a serpent — she is part of the primordial world of chaos, full of monsters and those dark scary things that are hiding just behind you when you’re in the dark, born before the first gods came. Ooga booga!

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