Maybe a Monad (Phaedrus by the river)

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My Alter Ecko has recently published two posts around Phaedrus – this beautiful dialogue between Socrates and his beloved one, with the impeccable scenery of a mythological river, an oak and a rock, an idyllic setup for discours amoureux.

Yet, while tapping into the conversation between the two, I felt a growing uneasiness. Maybe it was the merciless manner by which Socrates slaughtered Lysias’ speech, unwrapping it from its content (utilitarian love), from its style (rhetoric), from its medium (written on scroll) and [implicitly] from its audience (the crowds), leaving nothing behind, not even some grains of Lysiasian ashes for a hasty funeral.

But most probably it was the erotic love praised by Socrates through never ending parabolas [although beautifully narrated: the black horse, the white horse etc.] that evoked my discontent. For through the mists of heavenly passions I saw a stream, an oak and a rock. By the stream sat Narcissus; by the rock stood Echo [I was hiding behind the oak]. Narcissus-Socrates was looking at Phaedrus, through the watery reflection, remembering the lost heavens of his fallen soul; and Phaedrus, standing by the rock, his heart engulfed with emotions, was watching the figure that was Socrates, seeing nothing but his own image, Phaedrus holding a scroll, echoed back onto his eyes, again and again and again and again.

Echo and Narcissus by Waterhouse

No, this was not a dream: I have it all well written.

The Lover is his mirror.

“And thus he [the beloved one] loves, but he knows not what; he does not understand and cannot explain his own state; he appears to have caught the infection of blindness from another; the lover is his mirror in whom he is beholding himself, but he is not aware of this”.

The Beloved is his clone.

The qualities of their god they attribute to the beloved, wherefore they love him all the more… wanting to make him as like as possible to their own god… for no feelings of envy or jealousy are entertained by them towards their beloved, but they do their utmost to create in him the greatest likeness of themselves and of the god whom they honour.

Oh boy! A mirror and a clone, a love for oaks and rocks.

I’m not sure about my above distribution of the Echo-Narcissus roles; I do feel, though, that this erotic love, although praising the other, is deeply ego-centric to the point that I am willing to concede that indeed each and every one of us is a self-contained monad, all the others being eventually nothing but reflections of one’s own self.

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5 Responses to “Maybe a Monad (Phaedrus by the river)”

  1. ecko4inc Says:

    “What are we here for? We’re all here to go into space. Do I hear any questions about that?!?”
    Burroughs

    Do I hear any questions? the end of dialogue. I have written what I have written. Entropic death. Ends and means, “mean, faced Christian sons-of-bitches” if I remember correctly, storing up their riches for the afterlife eternal… like mummied clones.

    Into space. Flying dreams held a special place in Burroughs’ dreams (My Education). The wings are irrigated by desire (Zeus equates desire with a flow) in Socrates’ palinode.

    Desire is stoachistic. Spinoza calls desire a kind of striving, unconscious of time (Book three of the Ethics).

    “Its the same with men
    as with horses and dogs
    nothing wants to die…
    Boys, you’ll have to find your own way home”
    Tom Waits, “The Fall of Troy”

    The interesting paradox in Phaedrus is the place of writing, written. The palinode Socrates gives (ostensibly to the gods) is written by another, (the blind) Stesichorus (whose eyesight was restored after composing the palinode), the son of Euphemus (“fair speaker”). And the fanciful tale of Thoth and the King of Thebes is fabricated (the creator cannot see the true utility of his creation because he is blinded by love – so says the King of Thebes in refutation to Thoth: “Your invention is a potion for the jogging of the memory, not remembering.”)

    Et in Arcadia ego.
    Monad – body and soul.
    Relation to self. Techne. Art.
    The body signified ” – and often I have asked myself whether, taking a large view, philosophy has not been merely an interpretation of the body and a misunderstanding of the body.” Nietzsche, The Gay Science.
    “L’art pour l’art…” Twilight of the Idols. The image signifier…

    Truth, Beauty, Love.
    Substance, Modes, Attributes.
    Philosophy’s object remains the same: the eternal recurrence of the same.

    A hard saying. Nothing wants to die. Like Ovid’s Metamorphoses, it can be forgotten.

  2. muli koppel Says:

    Dear Ecko, other: Flying. Wings. Mirrors. Desire. The dialogue should remain open. Nothing wants to die (except for Socrates).

  3. Wandering Star « I am emale Says:

    […] of affairs in my (ex-)love life, I am emale – being Muli’s alter-ecko –  came back to this post, on the […]

  4. Musthafa Says:

    Nice … What an amazing story
    I already posted the same term: Narcissus and Echo. Freud make it outside in sexual difference and outside of linguistic approah. Though Derrida states the different things. Hi…I link your picture to my blog. I ask your permission

  5. lola Says:

    hi i love the story

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