our greatest blessings come to us by way of madness Phaedr. 244a

2011/04/25

agalmata

The synoptic function of the myth whose circular structure duplicates that of the cosmos enables it to integrate in one vision the manifold experiences acquired by men through contact with things. As in a theater the representation of the invisible takes shape and puts rhythm into space. At the center of the enclosure built on a hill and opened to the outer world, the drama that holds together the lives of men with the lives of gods, as well as the forces of heaven with those of the earth, enacts the meeting point of all the perspectives to which it communicates its primal unity. Jean-Francois Mattei, "The Theater of Myth in Plato," in Griswold, Platonic Writings, Platonic Readings

The exercise of stepping outside, the need to observe, seems to be one of the main functions of art, tales and myths, it seems to me. I think of the "Pagans" (a late imposed pejorative: "country person"; "bumpkin") framing it out in plays, holding huge festivals and important competitions, leaving us some of the greatest and most complex (as in a grasping of paradox) works of wisdom that stand to this day.

The Christian Church would later similarly act things out in Mass in the sacrament of Transubstantiation. Very magical. The presence of the congregation, the church, the priest, the words in the rite: The conscious participation of all parties *collectively* imagining the material / physical "god" of the bread (earth /clay /flesh) and wine (spirit / blood) -- pure, essential magic, and all very Greek:

from Robert Lloyd Mitchell's Hymn to Eros A Reading of Plato's Symposium:
(from Alcibiades) :
 . . . Alcibiades speaks of Socrates by means of images. Socrates, he says, is like those figures of Silenus, made by craftsmen, which sit in carver's shops: the kind that portray the satyr with a pipe or flute in his hand, but are made so they can be opened, revealing images of gods within. . . .
. . . .Here the word for 'image' is *agalmata*: originally, images specifically of the gods, though eventually coming to refer to statues generally. But it did so out of an original meaning of 'praise', 'exultation', 'rejoicing'. In other words, these images do not just stand there like our 'sta-tues', 're-presenting' their object. Instead, they glory the gods, they rejoice them. * It is out of this activity that the gods come to visibility in these images. *