Saturday, January 31, 2009

coincidence? or the wisdom of folly?

while turkey is engrossed in a heated and obnoxious debate over tayyib efendi's davos walkout on pres. shimon peres and how diplomatically unbecoming and philistine (1) his behavior is - though also endearing touncouth, sycophantic, aggrieved and outraged hordes of losers; i came accross an article by prof. alexander nazaryan (2) about how wine could be a resource in classical times to help moot suchpubliic and potentially embarrassing outbursts as from both pres. peres andp.m. tayyib efendi.

nazaryan writes, according to james davidson (3) in the wealthier households of athens (4), "men of stature" would engage in lively debate, as bowls of wine were "dispensed under the careful watch of a symposiarch (a sort of strict toastmaster)... " as depicted in plato’s “symposium” where socrates and his friends, "still hung over from the previous night’s carousing, decide on an evening of light drinking". temperance pays off: in the ensuing discussion, they summon an overarching vision of love that has endured in the western imagination for more than two millennia" (5).

but then, as the japanese say, no rules in love or war...

enter alkibiadis in the symposium, young and handsome. he "drunkenly tries to cozy up to the older socrates", with "no patience for his prurient come-ons and intimations". alkibiadis was eventually subdued; only to be pursued by a group of boozy revelers bursting in. then “there was noise everywhere, and everyone started drinking in no particular order,” grumps a plaintive plato, the voice of moderation. according to the philosopher, the party ended unceremoniously because thus the "love of drink overpowered love of truth". so much for the platonic version of "in vino veritas"...

however, maybe "alithea" (6) is less in what wine does (or in plato's pro-temperance case, does not) makes us say than in what it makes us do: for, thus spake homeros through odysseus of ithaka :

(wine) sets the wisest man to sing at the top of his lungs,
laugh like a fool – it drives the man to dancing…it even
tempts him to blurt out stories better never told.

nazaryan, referring to the immortal e. r. (eric robertson but he always used his initials only) dodds remarks "for the greeks, a measure of irrationality in the dionyssiac form of wine drinking checked the (absolute) rule of reason".

garfucius tends to differ slightly: if you are a child or an amante of the aegean, you realize how rationality is but a mere method to maintain sanity over the beauty proceeding from that sea and the life she nurtures. one has to experience the urge to dissolve in, maybe sacrifice one's soul and being to her eternal light and glamor, in order to comprehend what a burden sanity is in tthe face of sheer, unadulterated beauty... how it arises from that consuming passion the aegean instills in her lovers and bestows you with the persona, so you can act upon her stage... wine is not fluvial in that manner; it is the vessel, the holy grail, from which through sense and ratio, you may drink the joy that defines the life that is her, and keeps you floating on a ship like odysseus the unwary explorer - that ship is called rationality and it won't sail with sobriety.

that is why, "in vino, veritas", as is wisdom in folly.

(1) no need to intend a pun, it is there...
(2) "the tipsy hero", nyt, january 30, 2009. i do not know if mr. nazaryan is a professor at some college but i use the title in its generic sense, as teacher.
(3) courtesans & fishcakes: the consuming passions of classical athens
(4) probably no less in ephesus or bergamon or korinthos either...
(5) love is dual natured, it is both ephemeral and eternal andd therefore a bridge between those two worlds - just as is philosophy. for the purposes of this post, so is wine...
(6) truth

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