Archive for Socrates

Merchant-minded Diligence

Posted in genius, Philosophy, Reality Bites, The Arts, Wizard Quotes with tags , , , , , , , on October 21, 2008 by wizardsmoke

Visits from the muse, constant haranguing by creative forces beyond the senses — these can drive a man to madness as much as toward any heavenly pleasure. Did I not quote Socrates before?

If anyone comes to the gates of poetry and expects to become an adequate poet by acquiring expert knowledge of the subject without the Muses’ madness, he will fail, and his self-controlled verses will be eclipsed by the poetry of men who have been driven out of their minds.

Over the years I’ve had a wide variety of friends. I’ve found as I age (and I’m not old) that friendships based purely on social chemistry no longer are the name of the game. While those are the most exciting, they’re rarely the most convenient. And so camaraderie seems more likely — friendships based on mutual activities and obligations. It brings to mind the importance of religious groups as a social atmosphere for the elderly.

Most people are creative in some way or another. Most people have some level of cleverness or natural artistic ability, and sometimes more strongly in one region of experience than another. Genius is rare, but almost all people fit somewhere on a scale/spectrum of artistic talent. It seems most often to be a catalyst for personal fulfillment.

But then one thing I’ve noticed amongst a few friends is a total lack of artistic integrity; individuals whose talents seem to lie utterly outside the creative sphere. And I do not mean this in any sort of condescending manner, for they have interesting skills and talents in their own right. I mean to say that I have friends who are incredibly smart, focused and logically minded but have limited creative abilities — much less taste — in regards to music, art, literature and so forth. They might be a brilliant mind at running a business or finances or calculating material gains, but they absolutely cannot distinguish the difference between a schlocky vulgar comedy and a brilliant satire; between folk genius and typical indie-rock schmaltz.

But such people are possibly well-poised to succeed financially. Not because artistically creative individuals are doomed to poverty or any such nonsense, but because a logically thinking person — an individual uninterrupted by creative forces of the imagination, is in a good position to address daily needs or financial concerns. The merchant class will always succeed because it is naturally driven by idleness and a naturally deep calculation of (a desire for?) the materialistic world.

But not me. No, I am cursed to wonder eternally, impotent of all merchant-minded diligence. Oh well, I’ll get by somehow. Donations accepted! Haha…

Poetic Doublespeak

Posted in Mysticism, Occult, Philosophy, Poetry, The Arts, Ultimate Reality, Wizard Quotes with tags , , , , on July 25, 2008 by wizardsmoke

“If anyone comes to the gates of poetry and expects to become an adequate poet by acquiring expert knowledge of the subject without the Muses’ madness, he will fail, and his self-controlled verses will be eclipsed by the poetry of men who have been driven out of their minds.” -Socrates

In other words, a lot of people try to hide the fact that they’re boring and un-profound in their overly articulate writing. That’s what always irks me about newspaper journalists or columnists or popular “intellectual” authors: their writing is more about appearing sophisticated than actually saying anything sophisticated. They write a lot of stuff that sounds all lofty and romantic, but is actually about something boring or normal.

I suppose in the world of martial arts, this kind of pretense is like getting extremely physically strong and trying to force techniques to work. Or in magic(k) it’s like trying to think overly consciously about a ritual or technique after it has been enacted, or talking to people about it. You know, stuff that kills the natural life of the practice.

The issue I have with quotations and academia is that they are not always necessary to write a compelling argument or work. Academic work is so wrought with quotations, it becomes a real headache. It’s no surprise that there are parallels between what two people writing on related subjects would say. Not to mention, since everything in the universe functions on exponentially similar laws, how is it ever surprising to hear a related quote?

Look, it certainly works to quote things, but it seems to function poetically. Like, it adds artistic resonance to one’s writing, unless one is seeking to prove or disprove some theory (uh, then again there is science, law, history and so forth, subjects which would be completely unreadable without quotes… so maybe I’m an idiot). But! A lot of people hide behind their quotes. Complicated terminology and extensive use of quotes tends to be a way to hide shitty writing.

I think it was George Orwell who said one should always used the simplest way of expressing something to express it. Not stupidest or watered-down but the simplest. Meaning, when you write something it should be easy for people–almost all functionally literate people with an attention span–to read. This phenomenon (complicated technique hiding a lack of inspiration) is prevalent in all of the arts.

I’m sure you’ve caught the irony that, if you’re interested in that George Orwell quote, I don’t have the source or authority of its authorship! How easily my argument is de-constructed! Wahahaha!!!

Blech, whatever. Point remains: Socrates knew the score. A genius is their own reward because their own internal ecstasy can never be measured by anything the world can provide. Nothing else can even compare.

Socrates’ Daemon and the Tower of Babel

Posted in Asceticism, Mysticism, Paganism, Philosophy, Religion, society, Technology, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2008 by wizardsmoke

It is interesting how all nations and lineages take pride in the significant moments in their history or timeline as well as those profound people who stand out as remarkable and virtuous to the world. But, as Socrates is credited with saying, virtue is not hereditary in genealogy nor in the lineages of cultures and traditions. The veneration of a notable character for being of the same cultural or social origin, this betrays modest ignorance in an individual and blatancy or confusion in a culture.

This stuff is kinda confusing, but…some genetic traits are predisposed for different things. Like, some bloodlines excel naturally at music, some at visual art, and so on. And actually, it’s more complicated than that, evading even scientific categorization (AMAZING, I know). It’s more realistic to say, some combinations of genes or traits (not necessarily bloodlines) create the parameters for certain “artistic opportunities” to manifest. An artistic opportunity in this definition, is what William Blake would call the “poetic genius”. An individual, whose manifestation possesses the ability to exaggerate the deep, layered, subconscious cosmos through a communicative medium of time-space expression. While it is often artistic expression, there are those with divine intuition in other arenas of the mind, such as math, linguistics or engineering. Such an existence is a window of artistic–and divine, opportunity.

The summarized point here is that a genetic predisposition to craftsmanship in something, especially art, still does not bequeath creativity. And it’s the same with virtue. It is beyond genetic transmission. Some genes and environments simply create greater odds or “luck” for a virtuous person to manifest. But there are no guarantees.

This makes me think of Socrates’ “daemon”. I’ve had discussions with philosophy students who conclude that the concept of a daemon, or active/vocal conscience present in his cognitive sphere, is/was only a metaphor. But one can also look at it without reading into it and take it at face value — that Socrates really did have a familiar spirit or special sense that informed him of the outcome of his potential actions. What makes that so crazy?

Now, clearly we can’t prove anything here about what Socrates himself meant to communicate in our modern language and symbols. But that doesn’t really matter much to me. I can see that it isn’t purely metaphorical in that early language. This is a facet of the ancient world: there does not seem to be such a strict division between something existing as a metaphor and having concrete existence. Due to the absence of any kind of extensive canon to build language and symbols upon, and since Socrates seems (to us, at least) to be creating (via Plato’s dialogs) a lot of archetypal philosophical ideas, the actual assessment of Socrates’ daemon as a spirit lies somewhere between literal and metaphorical.

But this makes the discussion pretty interesting. The gods of empiricism are at large in our modern collective venues of prayer. With the development of technologies, mankind stands at the altar of the machines. The ignorant will never know what they pray to, but most people have a hint that whatever they actively reinvest inspiration into becomes a potent idea, and eventually a bearer of will and being. Those who profess athiesm and materialism pray to these ideas — they bow to them and ask them to manifest in our world with ever greater resonance. They raise their kids amidst this blind technolust and project it upon society at large.

Prometheus (the name means literally, “fore-thought”) brings fire to mankind and is punished by the gods. One interpretation could be that Prometheus changed the pantheon of gods humanity worshiped, or made man fall into belief in demigods. Intensive intellectual thought brings fire to humanity and changes his fears and beliefs. There are a wide plethora of ways to interpret this kind of event.

When I was younger, like many others, I used to wonder whether modern man had lost the ability to see the spirits of antiquity. While most of us in the industrial world may have lost the ability to perceive the gods of old, it is not so much a loss of vision as it is a change in focus. Modern society worships different things, and most people are only able to see the things society worships. Mechanization and industry are actually a result of prayer, creating demigods we see as being holy.

The story of the Tower of Babel involves mankind’s quest to build a bridge to God, to become greater than God. The project eventually falls apart from the petty social squabbles around realizing this pipe-dream. But another symbolic outcome of this story is that mankind unwittingly summons a Satanic archetype — a destructor — which destroys the valuable fruits (virtues) of humanity’s labor (community).