Saturday, December 1, 2007

Saturday December 1, 2007

Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:45 AM
Rhetoric, 1; Dialectic, 0.
— Robert M. Pirsig,  
Zen and the Art of
Motorcycle Maintenance

(Pirsig is describing the response of Phaedrus to an obnoxious member of the Academy in a discussion of Plato’s figure of the horses and charioteer.)

NY Times: Evel Knievel and Norman Mailer

Wallace Stevens,
opening lines of 
The Necessary Angel:

“In the Phaedrus, Plato speaks of the soul in a figure. He says:

Let our figure be of a composite nature– a pair of winged horses and a charioteer. Now the winged horses and the charioteer of the gods are all of them noble, and of noble breed, while ours are mixed; and we have a charioteer who drives them in a pair, and one of them is noble and of noble origin, and the other is ignoble and of ignoble origin; and, as might be expected, there is a great deal of trouble in managing them. I will endeavor to explain to you in what way the mortal differs from the immortal creature. The soul or animate being has the care of the inanimate, and traverses the whole heaven in divers forms appearing;– when perfect and fully winged she soars upward, and is the ruler of the universe; while the imperfect soul loses her feathers, and drooping in her flight at last settles on the solid ground.

We recognize at once, in this figure, Plato’s pure poetry; and at the same time we recognize what Coleridge called Plato’s dear, gorgeous nonsense. The truth is that we have scarcely read the passage before we have identified ourselves with the charioteer, have, in fact, taken his place and, driving his winged horses, are traversing the whole heaven.”

Stevens, who was educated at Harvard, adds:

“Then suddenly we remember, it may be, that the soul no longer exists and we droop in our flight and at last settle on the solid ground. The figure becomes antiquated and rustic.”

Many who lack a Harvard education to make them droop will prefer to remember Robert Craig Knievel (Oct. 17, 1938 – Nov. 30, 2007) not as antiquated and rustic but as young and soaring.

Related material:
the previous entry
(a story for Gennie).

See also the entries for
last February’s
Academy Awards night:
Hollywood Sermon and
Between Two Worlds.

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by WordPress