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► “Hermes & Writing in Ancient Greece”: “Collaboration with Alan Severs”✍️:

Statue of Hermes/Mercury. Roman copy. 200 AD.


Summary:

“Hermes”, by W. B. Richmond. From “The magazine of art” vol. 9, 1886.

♠Divided into three sections, this article revolves around three main themes: Hermes, as The Greek God of Writing and his equivalents in other cultures; Plato´s derogatory ideas of writing, amidst the prevailing Oral Tradition; and how this eventually would change, as writing became a most accepted form, when the Greeks adopted the Phoenician Alphabet.

Greek God Hermes was the equivalent of the egyptian God Thoth, and from both of them resulted a Hybrid God: Hermes Trismegistus.

Hermes´roman counterpart was Mercury

In Norse Mythology, his Homologous figure was Odin.

Hermes and his associated figures are described in the first section.

♠The second section refers to Plato´s dialogue “Phaedrus”, emphasizing Socrates´quite negative statements concerning writing in that dialogue.

In “Phaedrus”Plato denies the legitimacy of the written word in favour of the oral tradition. With that purpose, Socrates tells us a myth, featuring Thoth (also known as Theuth and Hermes´egyptian equivalent).

Greece’s transition to literacy, was slow, and it augmented and transformed the traditions of oral culture which had for centuries been instrumental in the handing down of certain forms of cultural knowledge.

Before the advent of writing, Greek citizens’ knowledge of their history, the ways of their gods, and the attitudes, mores, and taboos of their society were orally transmitted. This occurred not only through parent-to-child communication and transmission within a community, but also through the poetry of the bards, most notably Homer and Hesiod.

The third section  delve into this issue, taking into account how writing effectively evolved in Ancient Greece.

As a matter of fact, Writing went through different phases, summed up as follows:

>Linear A Script: It was the written language of the Minoans of Crete, remains undecipherable.

>Linear B Script: It consists of the Mycenaean Civilization and the only partially decipherable Linear B script of Crete. 

>Phoenician Alphabet: It was the alphabet of ancient Phoenicia, which first came to Greece sometime before the 8th century BCE, from whence it spread.

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Section I. Hermes, Thoth, Hermes Trismegistus, Mercury and Odin:

Hermes was son of Zeus and one of the Pleiades, Maia

Hermes, Greek God. 540 BC

The name Hermes appears to have originated in the word for “stone heap.”

Probably since prehistoric times there existed in Crete and in other Greek regions a custom or erecting a herma, consisting of an upright stone surrounded at its base by a heap of smaller stones. Such monuments were used to serve as boundaries or as landmarks for wayfarers. A connection existed between these simple monuments and the deity named Hermes.

Hermes had many attributes and represented many things. Hermes was the Olympian god of herds and flocks, travellers and hospitality, roads and trade, thievery and cunning, heralds and diplomacy, astronomy and astrology. Besides, he was the herald and personal messenger of Zeus, and also the guide of the dead who led souls down into the underworld. 

He was also a god of science and wisdom, art, speech, eloquence. And, most importantly: “the God of Writing”. 

The Greek God Hermes, as God of Writing, finds his analogue in Egypt as the ancient Wisdom God Thoth (sometimes spelled Thouth, Theuth or Tahuti). 

Thoth, Egyptian God of Writing.

Thoth was important in many myths of Pharaonic Egypt: he played a role in the creation myth, he was recorder of the gods, and the principal pleader for the soul at the judgment of the dead. It was he who invented writing. According to relevant sources, he wrote all the ancient texts, including the most esoteric ones, including “The Book of Breathings”, which taught humans how to become gods.

In ancient Egypt,  Thoth created script. Besides, he was connected with the moon and thus considered the ruler of the night.

Furthermore, Thoth acted as an emissary between the contending armies of Horus (Egyptian God of the sky and kingship) and Seth (god of the desert, storms, disorder and violence in ancient Egyptian). Thoth eventually came to negotiate the peace treaty between these two gods. His role as a mediator between the opposites is thus made evident, perhaps prefiguring the role of the alchemical Mercury as the “medium of the conjunction.”

Both Hermes and Thoth were gods of writing and of magic in their respective cultures.

Hermes, the Greek god of interpretive communication, was combined with Thoth, the Egyptian god of wisdom, to become the patron of astrology and alchemy. In addition, both gods were psychopomps, guiding souls to the afterlife. Hermes Trismegistus may be a representation of the syncretic combination of the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth.

As Alan Severs says in his post “The Grammar of Magic”:

“Writing and magic have always been closely associated. The Egyptian God Thoth was thought to be  the inventor of writing and the patron of every magical art. The considerable cultural contact and resulting overlap over the centuries because of conquest and trade between Egypt, Greece and Rome led to the deities Hermes and Mercury who shared many of the same attributes as Thoth before they all further blended together, creating the composite figure that was to later an immeasurable influence in the history of ideas, Hermes Trismegistus”.

Last, but not least: there is still another Egyptian parallel. Specifically, in the figure of Anubis. In classical mythology, Hermanubis was a god who combined Hermes with Anubis (given that they were both conductors of souls).

Hermes Trismegistus, floor mosaic in the Cathedral of Siena. 1480s.

Hermes´roman equivalent, Mercury had essentially the same aspects as Hermes. He also wore winged shoes and a winged hat, and carried the caduceus, a herald’s staff with two entwined snakes that was Apollo‘s gift to Hermes. He was often accompanied by a cockerel, herald of the new day, a ram or goat, symbolizing fertility, and a tortoise, referring to Mercury’s legendary invention of the lyre from a tortoise-shell.

Like Hermes, he was also a god of messages, eloquence and of trade, particularly of the grain trade. He was also, like Hermes, the Romans’ psychopomp, whose ability was to lead the newly deceased souls to the afterlife.

Thoth. Hermes Trismegistus and Mercury.

Another related God, given his attributes, is Odin.

Odin is a prominently mentioned god throughout the recorded history of the Germanic people, from the Roman occupation of regions of Germania through the tribal expansions of the Migration Period and the Viking Age. In the major mythological Old Norse texts, the Poetic and Prose Eddas, Odin is depicted as one-eyed and long-bearded, frequently wielding a spear named Gungnir, and wearing a cloak and a broad hat. He is often accompanied by his animal companions: two wolves and two ravens named Huginn and Muninn (Thought and Memory). As well as being the Germanic equivalent of Hermes, Odin appears to have marked shamanistic tendencies as he frequently has ecstatic visions in other realms after undergoing various trials and ordeals.

In Norse Mythology he was associated with healing, death, royalty, the gallows, knowledge, battle, sorcery, poetry and the runic alphabet. In the long Eddic, gnomic poem Havamal (The Words of Odin the High One) Odin sacrifices himself to himself by hanging from a tree (presumably Yggdrasil, the World Tree) for nine days and nine nights in order to obtain knowledge of the runes, which is suggested throughout Norse mythology as being a symbolic alphabet used for magical purposes. 

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►Section II. Plato´s dialogue “Phaedrus”, in which Socrates pronounced himself in favour of the prevailing Oral Tradition and, thus, against writing:

In his dialogue “Phaedrus”; Plato denies the legitimacy of the written word as capable of conveying knowledge in any truly significant way.

In this dialogue, Socrates puts the case against writing into the mouth of  Thamus, the Egyptian equivalent of Zeus.

When Thamus is presented by the god Theuth (Thoth) with the invention of writing, Thoth claims it “will make the Egyptians wiser and will improve their memories, for it is an elixir of memory and wisdom that I have discovered”. But Thamus replies:

‘Most ingenious Theuth, one man has the ability to beget arts, but the ability to judge of their usefulness or harmfulness to their users belongs to another; and now you who are the father of letters, have been led by your affection to ascribe to them a power the opposite of that which they really possess. For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom, for they will read many things without instruction and will therefore seem to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise, but only appear wise’. (Plato´s “Phaedrus”. Line 140 and following).
Socrates adds his own conviction that written words are inhuman, unresponsive to questioning, and indiscriminate as to whom they address themselves. At best, they can only “remind him who knows the matter about which they are written” (Plato´s “Phaedrus”. Line 278).

Walter Ong points out in his book “Orality and Literacy” [*Click here to read book] that these denunciations can by the modern reader as the same ones levelled by many against computers. This analogy is instructive because it allows us to understand in some small way the nature of the enormous change that was taking place in early Greek culture at the time of Socrates and Plato: the transition from a dominantly oral mode of transmitting knowledge to a slowly emerging literate one.

The Egyptian god Thoth, or Tehuti, in the form of an ibis. With him is his associate, the ape, proferring the Eye of Horus.

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►Section III. Towards a Literate Society: Writing in Ancient Greece:

1) >Linear A and Linear B Scripts:

Linear A (1700 BC)  was the written language of the Minoans of Crete. It consists of 60 phonetic symbols representing syllables and 60 symbols representing sounds and concrete objects or abstract ideas. There is no consensus on how to translate the Linear A symbols

Linear B (1450 BC) was first studied by Sir Arthur Evans, but it was not until 1952 that it was deciphered by Michael Ventris.

Linear B  is generally seen as a more simplified and less pictorial version of the earlier scripts . It is also far more cursive in its shape. The script consists of about 87 symbols, which each represent a syllable, as well as some ideograms which represent an entire word or idea. It seems that the Myceneans used writing not to keep historical records but strictly as a device to register the flow of goods and produce into the palaces from a complex, highly centralized economy featuring regional networks of collection and distribution. [To see examples of  decipherments of Linear A and Linear B Minoans tablets, please visit this guest post at “The Shield of Achilles”].

2) >The Phoenician Alphabet in Greece:

The alphabet of most modern languages was originated in ancient Phoenicia (11oo BC) and first came to Greece sometime before the 8th century BC, from whence it spread. Homer’s “Illiad” and “Odyssey”, written around 800 BC, are early examples of the Greek use of the Phoenician alphabet, as are the classics “Theogony” and “Works and Days”, by Hesiod.  Homer’s poems appear to have been recorded shortly after the script’s invention: an inscription from Ischia in the Bay of Naples, dated 740 BC, appears to refer to a text of the “Iliad”; and illustrations inspired by the Polyphemus episode in the “Odyssey” were found in Mykonos in 715 BC.

Herodotus claimed that the Phoenician alphabet was brought by Cadmus to Boeotia where he founded the city of Thebes.

The early Greek alphabet, based on the alphabet of the Phoenicians, was different from the linear and hieroglyphic scripts preceding it in that each symbol represents a single consonant as opposed to a syllable.

The Phoenician alphabet consisted of 22 characters with vowel sounds built into the symbols. The Greeks modified the Phoenician alphabet by changing some of the symbols as well as creating separate vowels.  They also made their alphabet more phonetically correct.

By using individual symbols to represent vowels and consonants, the Greeks created a writing system that could, for the first time, represent speech in an unambiguous manner. Furthermore, while Linear B seems to have only been used for inventories and lists, the Greek alphabet was used for literary purposes. Writing became not simply a means of recording events, but also an art form in itself.

⇒Writing from right to left. Bidirectional writing. Writing from left to right:

In the earliest versions of the alphabet, the Greeks complied with the Phoenician practice of writing from right to left and the letters had a left-facing orientation.

A good example of writing from right to left is shown in the inscription on the so-called Nestor’s Cup, a clay drinking vessel of the 8th century BC, which bears a famous inscription.

The text of the inscription runs:

Nestor’s cup, good to drink from.
Whoever drinks from this cup, him straightaway
the desire of beautiful-crowned Aphrodite will seize.

The so-called Nestor’s cup from Pithekoussai, Ischia and its inscription.

This was followed by a period of bidirectional writing, which means that the direction of the writing was in one direction on one line but in the opposite direction on the next, a practice known as boustrophedon.

During the 5th century BCE, however, the direction of Greek writing was standardized as left to right, and all the letters adopted a fixed right-facing orientation. 


Conclusion:

So far, we have seen that there are clear and effective similarities, when it comes to certain Gods.

Gods Hermes, Thoth (and the hybrid resulting of both: Hermes Trismegistus); as well as Mercury and Odin, they all represent similar ideas.

They all seem to be fused in an eclectic space of cultural juxtaposition, despite the cultural differences.

This could prove Carl Jung´s thesis of the Collective Unconscious. According to him, the human collective unconscious is populated by archetypes and universal symbols, shared among beings of the same species.

Worth noting that Hermes and his equivalents were mainly considered here keeping in mind their specific roles as “Gods of Writing”.

Plato was a keen defender of Oral tradition, against writing. This is evident particularly in his dialogue “Phaedrus”, in which Socrates (by retelling an Egyptian myth), states that Writing will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory.

Pisistratus (6th century BC/ 527 BC) was tyrant of Athens whose unification of Attica and consolidation and rapid improvement of the city’s prosperity helped to make possible it’s later preeminence in Greece.

Pisistratus clearly supported Oral tradition. And he did so, by specifically encouraging Dramatic Arts and TheatreIndeed, theatre was a key technological factor of specialization in Greek culture. The choral poetry offered a fissure through which the choir was first sung until the actors took over in order to visually stage the oral poetry.

Probably, this was the most evident symptom of the transition from an Oral culture to a hybrid, semi-oral or audiovisual Culture, which dominated the fifth century BC and classicism. At last, by the end of the century, Writing prevailed.

When introducing writing, (Linear A, Linear B, and especially alphabetic writing), the Ancient Greeks privileged the visual sense against other senses such as seeing or hearing. Alongside this change, their conception of space and time was also altered, going from discontinuous to a linear, homogeneous conception. Hence, the chronological narrative and History itself arose as new types of discourses.

By objectifying words and making meaning accessible to a much longer and more intense meaning of what is orally possible, writing fostered private thought and increased awareness of individual differences.

Thus, Writing led to free initiative and creativity of the Ancient Greek society as a plural “whole”, while preserving the value of the individual forms. Such a tendency could be also considered a “call for democracy”, as a political correlate of literacy, expressivity, abstraction and individualization.



♠About Alan Severs: Alan defines himself as an occasional writer of fiction, poetry; and essays on modernism, mysticism, mythology, magic and mystery. His blog, Cakeordeathsite covers many of these and other interesting subjects. Please check it out hereThank you, Alan! 🐬

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Click to visit Alan´s blog.-

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Links Post:
https://http://www.ancient.eu/script/
http://www.omniglot.com/writing/lineara.htm
http://www.ancient.eu/timeline/writing/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nestor%27s_Cup
https://cakeordeathsite.wordpress.com/2017/03/24/the-grammaire-of-magic/
http://www.ancient.eu/Greek_Alphabet/
http://www.theoi.com/Olympios/Hermes.html
http://www.john-uebersax.com/plato/myths/phaedrus.htm
http://www.csuchico.edu/phil/sdobra_mat/platopaper.html

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 “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”:
“Fictional Universes and their effects on Reality”:
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 “Intersections” by Anila Quayyum Agha. Contemporary artist.

“Intersections” by Anila Quayyum Agha. Contemporary artist.

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►About Jorge Luis Borges, author of  “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”: 
borges

Jorge Luis Borges (1899/1986).

Jorge Luis Borges (1899/1986) was an Argentine writer, acclaimed in many other countries.

“Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” originally appeared in Spanish in “Sur magazine” in may 1940. It was then published in book form in “Antología de la Literatura Fantástica” (december 1940), then in Borges’s 1941 collection “El Jardín de Senderos que se Bifurcan” (“The Garden of Forking Paths”). That entire book was, in turn, included within “Ficciones” (1944).
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“Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”: Synopsis. Structure. Points of View (POVs):
Synopsis: The narrator (Borges) randomly comes across an article about a region called Uqbar. He then finds an Encyclopedia about Tlön (a country in Uqbar). The enigmatic story reveals that Tlön and Ubqar are fictitious places, invented by a secret society called Orbis Tertius.
Structure, and Points of View (POVs)The story is divided into three parts.
The Points of Views in “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius are basically two.
First Person, when the actions of the story are filtered through the observations of one character. Present in the first section, as a protagonist. 
Third Person; Predominantly Objective in the second and third section (postscript), but with Omniscient/all-knowing features in the postscript, as well. (For more about Points of View, check out Jeri Walker´s thorough post: “Picking a Point of View”).
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►”Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”:
Detailed summary and analysis by sections:
tlon__uqbar__orbis_tertius1) ♠In the first section, the narrator and his friend and writer, Adolfo Bioy Casares,  discuss a hypothetical novel in the first person, whose narrator would omit or disfigure the facts and indulge in various contradictions” (Page 1, according to University of Yale´s transcript).
The mirror in the hallway reminds Bioy Casares of an article in The Anglo-American Cyclopaedia  about a country named Uqbar.
Casares then quotes a saying he remembers from a heresiarch of Uqbar: “Mirrors and copulation are abominable, for they multiply the number of mankind”. (Page 1, according to University of Yale´s transcript).
Borges asks him where he had found that quote. Casares believed that Uqbar, along with the quotation, was catalogued in The Anglo-American Cyclopaedia. Borges also has that same book in his place, but oddly it does not mention Uqbar, so he asks Bioy for further details. The following day, Bioy Casares brings him a copy containing the entry on Uqbar, with the quotation he had paraphrased.
There is something very interesting when it comes to the narrative structure here. It all starts with the apocryphal quotation, a sort of riddle that leads to an enlargement occurring in a staggered form: From the discovery of the text, to the imaginary country called Uqbar (vaguely situated in Asia, according to the article in The Anglo-American Cyclopaedia) and then to Tlön (one of the two regions of Uqbar, alongside Mlejnas).
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2) ♠The second section describes the narrator’s discovery of a volume of the Encyclopedia of Tlön, left behind in a bar by an Englishman, Herbert Ashe. This happens in 1937, meaning two years after Bioy Casares and Borges´ first knowledge of Uqbar and Tlön. Ashe´s manuscript  was the eleventh volume of a complete Encyclopedia surveying the imaginary city of Tlön.
The volume has on its first page a stamped blue oval inscribed “Orbis Tertius” (“third orb,” in Latin).
According to Borges, this encyclopedia entails a methodical and orderly infinitesimal plan, devised by a sect.
Borges describes some of the characteristics and features of Tlön and its people, based on the volume of the Encyclopedia he had found.
We can summarize some of the main points as:
-Tlön is divided in two hemispheres. In none of these hemispheres, nouns are included in their languages.
-People of this imaginary planet are “idealist” and do not believe in the material, objective existence of their surroundings.
-The world itself is understood as a series of mental processes lacking temporal duration. The lack of spatial relations across time lead to a distorted conception of identity. 
berkeleyThe philosopher Berkeley is mentioned by Borges as a referent in Tlön. Of course, not in practical way but more as Borges´interpretation. Bishop George Berkeley (18th century) was an Irish philosopher whose primary achievement was the advancement of a theory he called “immaterialism” or “subjective idealism”. This theory denies the existence of material substance and instead contends that objects are only ideas in the minds of perceiver and, as a result, cannot exist without being perceived.
Berkeley believed God to be present as an immediate cause of all our experiences.
Here is Berkeley’s proof of the existence of God: “Whatever power I may have over my own thoughts, I find the ideas actually perceived by Sense have not a like dependence on my will. When in broad daylight I open my eyes, it is not in my power to choose whether I shall see or no, or to determine what particular objects shall present themselves to my view; and so likewise as to the hearing and other senses; the ideas imprinted on them are not creatures of my will. There is therefore some other Will or Spirit that produces them”. (Berkeley. Principles #29).
Inhabitants of the imaginary Tlön hold an extreme form of George Berkeley’s subjective idealism, denying the reality of the world.
Their world is seen not as a concurrence of objects in space, but as a heterogeneous series of independent acts.
Borges says: “The nations of this planet are congenitally idealist. Their language and the derivations of their language – religion, letters, metaphysics – all presuppose idealism. The world for them is not a concourse of objects in space; it is a heterogeneous series of independent acts. It is successive and temporal, not spatial”. (Page 7, according to University of Yale´s transcript).
But Tlön is a world of Berkeleyan idealism with one critical omission: it lacks the omnipresent, perceiving deity on whom Berkeley relied as a point of view demanding an internally consistent world.
The idea of eternal present appears in the second section.
Aristotle (384 /322) .

Aristotle (384 /322) .

Borges mentions: “One of the schools of Tlön goes so far as to negate time: it reasons that the present is indefinite, that the future has no reality other than as a present memory” (Page 8, according to University of Yale´s transcript).

The idea of time as Indefinite Present could be linked to Aristotle. Aristotle argues that the essence of time is the now, to nun.  
The “now” is given simultaneously as that which is no longer and as that which is not yet. Aristotle defines time as “a number of change in respect of the before and after”. As time implies a sense of a before and after, for Aristotle time is the coming-to-be and passing-away of nows moving in an irreversible, lineal way.
The First Encyclopedia of Tlön makes reference to two types of special objects: hronirs and urs
Hronirs are lost objects that could be found, or better said “produced” by people or animals. They entail a sort of duplication, being somehow clones or copies of the original object.
But, Borges suggests that a copy of another hronir would be deficient: “Curiously, the hronir of second and third degree – the hronir derived from another hron, those derived from the hron of a hron – exaggerate the aberrations of the initial one”. (Page 12, according to University of Yale´s transcript).
Furthermore, Borges states that according to an experiment done with Tlön inmates: “expectation and anxiety can be inhibitory (when it comes to produce the secondary objects)” (Page 11, according to University of Yale´s transcript).
He also says that the reverse can occur: “Things became duplicated in Tlön; they also tend to become effaced and lose their details when they are forgotten. A classic example is the doorway which survived so long it was visited by a beggar and disappeared at his death” (Page 12 , according to University of Yale´s transcript). 
Finally, Borges also mentions a different type of secondary objects: Urs.  “An ur is the object produced through suggestion, educed by hope”. (Page 12 , according to University of Yale´s transcript).
Walter Benjamin (1892/1940).

Walter Benjamin (1892/1940).

The description of Hronirs, and especially how the copies might be defective could be linked to Walter Benjamin´s idea of “loss of the aura”. In his essay, “The Work of Art In The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, Benjamin-one of the most well-known members of the Frankfurt School describes the so-called “loss of the aura”, in the context of mechanical reproduction of art. The aura represents the originality and authenticity of a work of art that has not been reproduced. In the age of mechanical reproduction, mass consumption is the cause of the loss of the aura, and, therefore, the loss of a singular authority within the work of art itself. However, for Walter Benjamin, a distance from the aura is a good thing. The loss of the aura has the potential to open up the politicization of art, whether or not that opening is detrimental or beneficial is yet to be determined.

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3) ♠Third and last section (Postcript):  The postscript reveals that Tlön and Ubqar are fictitious places, invented by a secret society called Orbis Tertius. This society worked for three hundred years and came up with the imaginary lands Uqbar and Tlön.
In his postcript, Borges notes several “intrusions” of Tlön into the real world, the most notable being the 1942 discovery of a Tlönian artifact in the hand of a dying man: a small metal cone of unknown material which was inexplicably heavy.
Borges says that all forty volumes of the Encyclopedia of Tlön were discovered and published in a library in Memphis. The material then became accessible worldwide, and immensely influential on Earth’s culture, science and languages. By the time Borges concludes the story (presumably in 1947) the world is already gradually disintegrating and transforming into Tlön. Besides, every domain of human knowledge has been rewritten to accommodate the truths of Tlön, and Borges expects the process to continue in the future.
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“Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”: Final Thoughts:
Based on a very complex temporal structure, this short story consists of three parts and two moments of enunciation. That is, the first part introduces Uqbar; the second presents Tlön; and the third, Orbis Tertius.
Also, the first two parts were, according to the fiction itself, written in 1940, while the third was written in  1947.
However as previously mentioned, this short story was first published in 1940.
The passage of time has diluted the effect that Borges sought and, instead, has favored the erroneous assumption that he added the postscript at the historical, “actual”  date of 1947.
anglo-american-cyclopedia1The three stages of the same plan are revealed through two texts: The Anglo-American Cyclopaedia entails the discovery of Uqbar. The First Encyclopaedia of Tlön, leads to know about the fantastic planet called Tlön, while the letter addressed to Herbert Ashe, explains plans and contingencies of the society Orbis Tertius. These three texts are either copies, or give birth of them.
The Anglo-American Cyclopaedia is a Fallacious copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Besides, the literalness of The Anglo-American Cyclopaedia is a hoax, as only in one volume of three the characters managed to find the article on Uqbar.
In this same line of analysis, although the narrator refers to the original text of the eleventh volume of A First Encyclopaedia of Tlön, in the postscript a second version of that encyclopedia is mentioned.
This newest version also distorts its original. At least as far as the eleventh volume concerns. The volumen that the narrator found in 1937 is modified in the version exhumed in 1944. The modifications refer to certain “incredible features”, such as the curious objects that duplicate in Tlön, the hrönir.
Finally, the Postcript suggests that the letter addressed to Herbert Ashe might have been reproduced in order to publicize the existence of Tlön and its imminent invasion of Reality. The narrator (Borges himself) is included in this work, summarizing the content of the letter.
Plato (427/347 BCE).-

Plato (427/347 BCE).-

The duplication and proliferation of copies  might allude to Plato´s Theory of Forms

In his dialogue Phaedo, Plato defends the world of the archetypes (Ideas/Forms)  by comparing it with the sensible world. While the Idea or archetype contains within itself an absolute and immutable value, the sensible copy reproduces this value in a partial, nether degree. 
In “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius,” the Platonic attitude of disdain towards copies is enunciated from the beginning, with the imprecise quote that Bioy Casares mentions and which Borges attunes, later on.
Back to the quote, not only mirrors and copulation multiply and spread the universe. It seems that texts also do. In this sense, multiplication tends to alter the reproduced texts (simplifying them or modifying them). However, when it comes to the subsequent development of the encyclopedias in this story, one could conclude that the copies might “improve” the respective originals.
globe-glassDisorted Copies and Mirrors are elements that relate one to each other.
The mirror in Borges appears as a sort of unifying element between Reality and Fantasy. The perfect symbiosis between the real and the Fictional world ultimately demarcates the limits of the mirror.
In the case of Tlön, the narrative is constructed as a mirror. The image reflected is a “distorted and parodied” image of our own Culture.
Tlön is presented before hand as unreal, to finally persuade us that fictional planet is our world.
The resource used in this story is to render unlikely any event of reality. We could conclude that mental facts have woven a warp of such real consistency that it reaches the “real” world, introducing doubts to the reader.
On the Left: Hyperbolic tessellation: Circle Limit III, by M. C. Escher. 1959. On the right: Butterfly by M. C. Escher. 1960´s.

On the Left: Hyperbolic tessellation: Circle Limit III, by M. C. Escher. 1959. On the right: Butterfly by M. C. Escher. 1960´s.

This short story has both detective novel and dystopian novel elements.
In the first sense, the crime here described is the proliferation of fiction in the world of the narrator.

Or, said in other words, the death of reality due to the effects caused by the multiplication of Tlön:

“The contact and the habit of Tlön have disintegrated this world. Enchanted by its rigor, humanity forgets over and again that it is a rigor of chess masters, not of angels. Already the schools have been invaded by the (conjectural) “primitive language” of Tlön; already the teaching of its harmonious history (filled with moving episodes) has wiped out the one which governed in my childhood; already a fictitious past occupies in our memories the place of another, a past of which we know nothing with certainty – not even a that it is false…. If our forecasts are not in error, a hundred years from now someone will discover the hundred volumes of the Second Encyclopedia of Tlön.  Then English and French and mere Spanish will disappear from the globe. The world will be Tlön“.  (Page 16, according to University of Yale´s transcript).
Speculation is necessary here. For fiction to affect reality until it is annihilated, as happens when Tlön -as invention- influences reality, certain coherence is required. That is why, as we have seen, Borges´jigsaws, characters and researches are purely intellectual. Being these strategic elements of the genre available, a “real” world (the narrator’s) is constructed, as opposed to the “unreal” world of Tlön (which, however, is also made up of ideas). This is what allows Reality to be annihilated by Fiction.
As to the Dystopian factor, it is worth highlighting that the secret society Orbis Tertius had planned a textual conspiracy, directed to operate through a series of speeches and aiming to subjugate humanity. Subjugation subtly occurs Language, implying a perversion of rhetoric.
Taking this interpretation further, the disappearance of “English, French and Spanish” could allude to the Third Reich project of destroying the heterogeneity of civilization in favor of the predominance of a superior “race”.
Finally, the Dystopian element is surreptitiously expressed in the use of language (Otherwise, and also, as a resource of Power).
The story begins with a memory of Bioy Casares extracted from an apocryphal book. It ends with a destructive invasion of the real world by “objects” (which are nothing else but ideas) from a false world, published by an apocryphal book: the First Encyclopaedia of Tlön.
In fine, the story as a whole seems to contain an otherwise positive warning, about the limitations of language.
Language, without more reference than itself, can not allow us to distinguish between the apocryphal and the authentic, between what is false and what is true.🔚
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➰☑️ “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”:

►Read “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” by Jorge Luis Borges.

Translation to English from Yale University. Click Here. 

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►Links Post:
http://art.yale.edu/file_columns/0000/0066/borges.pdf
http://ciudadseva.com/texto/tlon-uqbar-orbis-tertius/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tl%C3%B6n,_Uqbar,_Orbis_Tertius
http://jeriwb.com/picking-a-point-view-57117/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BxOE3bO6SM&t=14m2s
http://hyperallergic.com/75485/borges-and-xul-solar-illuminating-an-artistic-friendship/
http://losojosdeborges.blogspot.com.ar/2004/12/tln-uqbar-orbis-tertius.html
http://ficcionesborges.blogspot.com.ar/2005/05/tln-uqbar-orbis-tertius-sobre-lo.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Berkeley
https://belate.wordpress.com/2011/02/17/aristotle-definition-of-time-in-physics/
https://frankfurtschool.wordpress.com/2008/02/28/summary-the-work-of-art-in-the-age-of-mechanical-reproduction/
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►Philosophy: “Plato´s Cave and Fifteen Million Merits” (Black Mirror):

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Hello readers! This is a post in collaboration with Christy Birmingham, from Poetic Parfait and When Women Inspire. You might wonder how the idea of writing this post came up. Well, basically, I had begun watching Season Three of Black Mirror, which was recently released on Netflix. I told Christy how much I liked it, and, from that moment, we started chatting about the series. Soon after, Christy watched “The Entire History of You”, which is the third episode of the first season, followed by “Fifteen Million Merits” (the second episode of the same season).

We discussed both episodes. And we decided to do a post on the latter. Therefore, this complete post was a result of the exchanges of points of views. But each one of us focused on particular themes.

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Christy Birmingham

Christy wrote about Abi (before and after “Hot Shot”), the concept of being overweight (as it is socially considered and shown in this episode), and added the final thoughts. She also had a major task proofreading the entire article and helping me sort out doubts along the process. For all this, I wish to take the opportunity to convey my gratitude to Christy.

As to me, I wrote other parts of the review, the allegory of the cave, and the ending section concerning the existing analogies between Plato´s Allegory of the Cave and this episode.

With that being said, keep in mind that you can watch this episode of Black Mirror on Netflix or here. Thanks for dropping by and we hope you enjoy the reading. 

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⇒The Allegory of the Cave:

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is written as a dialogue between Plato’s teacher Socrates and Plato’s brother Glaucon at the beginning of  “The Republic”, Book VII (514a–520a).

In the allegory, Plato likens people to prisoners chained in an underground cave, unable to turn their heads.

All they can see is the wall of the cave, upon which shadows of the world above are thrown.

The puppeteers, who are behind the prisoners, hold up puppets that cast shadows on the wall of the cave. These so-called “puppeteers” are just people outside the cave who walk along this walkway, who presumably carry things on their heads. Hence, what the prisoners see and hear are shadows and echoes cast by objects that they do not see, believing that the shadows of objects are real objects.

One of the prisoners then is freed from their bindings and leaves the cave.

Blinded by the light, he is unable to see anything and longs for the familiar darkness. But, eventually, his eyes adjust to the light. Finally, he beholds the sun, which is the main source of knowledge. 

As he becomes used to his new surroundings, he realizes that his former view of reality was wrong.

But he is despised when he returns to the cave. Those who never left the cave ridicule him and swear never to go into the light lest they be blinded as well.

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The allegory of the Cave explains Plato´s Theory of Forms.

The Theory of Forms maintains that two distinct levels of reality exist: the visible world of sights and sounds that we inhabit and the intelligible world of Forms that stands above the visible world and gives it being. The visible world or World of Appearances consists of Images and Visible Things. But images have less entity than visible things (tangible things). In the Intelligible World we have the mathematical objects (not important for this analysis) and The Forms. 

Plato (427/347 BCE).-

Plato (427/347 BCE).-

For Plato, the Forms were basically the Ideas (also called Essences behind the visible Things).

Forms are not mental entities, nor even mind-dependent. They are independently existing entities whose existence and nature are graspable only by the mind, even though they do not depend on being so grasped in order to exist. Things are “useful” because as they allow us to recognize the Idea or Form behind and Beyond them. 

An example concerns the Idea of Beauty. All the beautiful things we can see are beautiful only because they participate in the more general Form of Beauty. This Form of Beauty is itself invisible, eternal, and unchanging, unlike the things in the visible world that can grow old and lose their beauty. This applies to all objects, as they are ideas for them too. Natural objects, such as trees and animals each link back to their respective Form or Idea. As to manufactured objects, that´s a different issue as Plato would rather consider them “artificial”; meaning “images of Things” (and so that was the case for Plato with all artistic creations, for instance).

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⇒Fifteen Million Merits:

Black Mirror is a British television series created by Charlie Brooker that features dark, speculative fiction and examines modern society, particularly with regard to the unanticipated consequences of new technologies.

This series has three seasons so far, and it streams on Netflix. 

Fifteen Million Merits is the second episode of Season One of the series.

The episode depicts a society in which people have to generate the energy that runs the entire society, pedaling on stationary bikes for hours at a time. This is a world where technological pleasure and instant gratification always depend on computers, where the real world and the virtual world are completely intertwined and almost everything natural has been replaced by technology. 

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“Fifteen Million Merits” has all of these elements. It is also a satirical approach to the capitalist society from a technological perspective. Characters are mainly clients and their “money” is a fungible value. Not money, though, but “merits” instead. The idea of merit, rather, seems to respond to the demands of a society in which  the Division of Labor is no longer needed. 

So, basically, everyone plays the same role. Each individual is both a creator and consumer of manufacturing inputs. Besides, leisure time and working time are not clearly divided. While people work (pedalling to generate energy), they are allowed to watch television.

Everyone wears grey clothes, except those who clean the place, who wear yellow and are most times bullied and even depicted in video games as “targets” to shoot.

The cleaners wear bright yellow outfits, which is in sharp contrast to the blasé grey sweat suits of the peddlers. Look closely at the cleaners, who carry dust bins and brooms, and notice that they are all overweight.

Soon it becomes clear in the TV episode that their weight relates to why they are cleaners rather than peddlers, and that being a cleaner is a job that is beneath the people on the bikes. For example, one very excitable man on a bike taunts the workers whenever they come around him. He mocks the outfit and weight of one male cleaner, who never talks back to him.

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It seems that when a person becomes overweight, they are removed from the bike work and put to work cleaning the floor instead.

There are many issues being brought up here. Firstly, the way society is organized is that overweight people are considered lower-class citizens. Fitness is considered a strength while being large is symbolic of the weak.

Also, there is obviously bullying going on here, from a “higher” class of society to a “lower” one. Being bullied for a person’s weight is something that happens today, but Fifteen Million Merits takes it to a whole new level in the future.

Aside from talking down to the cleaners, the people in grey outfits also shoot at the yellow figures who appear in video games. The yellow people who look like the floor cleaners are part of games that are similar to “Call of Duty”. They are shot at by the peddlers on the bike and the shooting games continue when the peddlers return to their homes too.

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Furthermore, if people are not working at same sole task, they are locked in their prison cell of video screens that cover every surface from floor to ceiling, pumping out an endless stream of inane comedy, reality TV and softcore porn. It is worth noting though that under these televisual circumstances, there is no place for intimacy. Being spectators of TV shows means that you appear in the show as an avatar who makes your reactions public .

We could assume that this “world” is the result of some sort of energy crisis. Hence, the population is needed to power their lights instead. Their existence is pretty miserable to contemplate; so much of the energy is used to distract the same citizenry as they perform their mundane tasks.

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The story has two main characters. Bing and Abi.

Bing is confronted with an artificial, media-saturated world, and yet he is hungry for something more.

Like most dystopian stories, he gets a hint that there could be something more when he meets the pretty Abi, and soon after he hears her singing, he falls for her.

Her innocence and naïvety are attractive to Bing, but her singing hints at something even deeper.  In his eyes, her beauty is something that goes beyond everything,  in a world covered with dark multimedia screens (black mirrors).

Even if they don´t have physical contact (there is an occasion when they briefly hold hands in an elevator, though), there is something magical between them, a spark of reality, so to speak.

There is symbol which seems to represent their bond. The little penguin, which recurrently appears.  It probably represents “something lost” (maybe Nature as it seems the characters are locked and pent-up in a “fake” world where real things are barely available).

This little animal appears many times throughout the episode as an origami penguin, carefully folded by Abi. Besides, Abi´s avatar wears a dress with penguins on it. And, at the end of the episode, the penguin motif takes on a quite heart-breaking significance at the episode’s conclusion, as Bing has a statue of a penguin in his luxurious but minimalist penthouse.
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Abi and Bing´s relationship is good. But, that’s just the beginning of the story. In a world where everything is a spectacle, where everything can be objectified, repackaged and sold back to an always hungry viewership, what happens with feelings and with human experiences?.

That´s when the we learn about “Hot Shot”, as an equivalent to “The X Factor” or “American Idol” in this episode, which seems to be the entrance to fame and a life free of duties (the bike).

“Hot Shot” depicts pretty much a “roman circus”.

abi2The committee on the TV-show “Hot Shot” consist of three judges named “Wraith”, “Hope”, and “Charity”. The theological virtues of Christianity are “Faith”, “Hope” and “Charity”. These were traditionally the path to follow in order to attain salvation. The change from “Faith” to “Wraith” is justified because our faith is now on the virtual world. The new salvation is to be successful, to obtain a more real virtuality.

Bing is so charmed by Abi´s song that he spends his dead brother’s 15 million merits to get her on “Hot Shot”, where she’s an instant sensation. Drugged by some sort of milk called “Cuppliance” (which is a composed word, resulting of the sum of “cup” and “compliance”), she goes along with Judge Wraith and becomes a porn star, in a wrenching twist.

Celebrity culture entails a sort of moral nihilism, the show in question leads to a dark voyeurism, which goes deep into other people’s humiliation, pain, weakness, and betrayal. Spectators appear as avatars, a crowded, anonymous audience facing the stage, staring at the contestants while they are just watching the screen in their cells (and represented as avatars in the audience).

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The crowd starts to chant for Abi to take the spot offered to her by the judge to become a porn star. In this case, when Abi is on stage, having drunk the “Cuppliance” beverage, she gives in to the social pressure of the crowd. While she is uncomfortable with the idea of becoming a porn star, as shown by her hesitation, the crowd’s chanting become gets stronger and louder.

Abi is being bullied. After all, the floor cleaners are not the only ones bullied in this society. She is being harassed digitally, which we can already see happening in real life today with death threats on Facebook and Twitter, for example. We soon learn the negative impacts of intimidation when we see the career that Abi ends up feeling forced to choose.

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In addition to the bullying, Abi is also submitting to something bigger than herself, which happens in many societies today. Whether you call it peer pressure (the crowd) or the pressure of authority (the judges), or a combination of the two, this Black Mirror episode takes the influence of others to the extreme. She wants approval, as so many people do in the world today.

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But Abi suffers terribly for getting this approval. She enters the porn world, as the judges and audience both encouraged her to do, and soon videos of her being demoralized by men are flashed across digital screens everywhere. While she no longer has to ride the bike all day, her new role is demeaning, including an image on the screens of a man putting his finger into her mouth and she is physically beneath him, which shows he has the power over her, body and all.

Abi is now officially part of the “Wraith Babes” stream that has “the hottest girls in the nastiest situations” as the announcer’s voice on the stream repeatedly says when it is shown on screens. So sad, as no girl says that she wants to grow up to star in pornography. Instead, Abi – like some women in today’s world – have been pressured into doing degrading sexual acts to please others. It is a depressing look at women’s bodies being exploited for the instant gratification of other people.

This example of Ali is taken to the extreme in a few ways. Firstly, she is viewed by Bing as being pure and innocent, including having an angelic voice; she is the ultimate example of peer pressure’s consequences. Also, the pornography featuring her is spread across huge digital screens for everyone to see, rather than being viewed on private websites or seedy theaters.

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Once Abi is caught in the porn universe, the ads featuring her torture a broken Bing. He destroys his room and sets upon a revenge mission, earning another shot on the show and giving a rough speech with a shard of glass pointed at his neck. The sequence in question is perfectly done.

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It is mostly an act of rebellion that leaves the audience numb and silent until  Judge Hope proclaims it the most heartfelt thing they’ve ever seen on the show. Soon after the Judge´s evaluation, the audience begin to cheer and clap hands in a standing ovation.

Bings´s speech is a little bit of the major irony here. He speaks out the truth (maybe because he cheats and avoid drinking the beverage Abi had when she performed, as he had hidden the dispenser under his bed).

Judge Hope says he is deeply moved by his words and offers him to have his own show twice a week for half an hour each. And Bing, persuaded by the judge and audience, accepts. 

So, ultimately he also sells himself out. In other words, he becomes entertainment himself. Speaking trite truths about consumerism and vociferating sold out prejudices concerning non-genuine life. While using the glass in his throat while he speaks, in a threatening tone as if he is going to commit suicide. 

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⇒Concluding Thoughts on Fifteen Million Merits:

As with the other Black Mirror episodes, Fifteen Million Merits is a smart hour of science fiction television. It shows a dark side of technology and the excesses that the world could come to in the future if electronic devices are not used wisely by humans. It could wind up that the world is short on energy, that we cannot get away from digital screens, and that bullying is a bigger side-effect of a tech-savvy lifestyle than ever before.

But, perhaps we have to squirm in our seats watching this kind of television to be able to make more sense of the world, our place in it, and how to use technology responsibly in the future.

Or, it could just be that we recognize that technology can also challenge our ways of thinking about the future, human nature, and electronic gadgets. What we know for sure is that we do not plan to buy or wear a grey sweat suit anytime soon.

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⇒Fifteen Million Merits and Plato´s Allegory of the Cave:

The interrelations between this episode and Plato´s Allegory of the Cave could be summarized as follows.

People´s approach of Reality is given basically through images of things. These things are screen images, and all sorts of images most times on the screens, of the cells or on TVs in front of the Bikes.

People are represented by avatars, meaning by images of themselves, the merits are charged to those avatars, as if it was a video game.

Most importantly, people are prisoners of a cave.

They live locked up there. Everyone has his own cells, in which each perimeter consists of screens.

The screens  continuously emit shows and do so unless it is the night. 

If the prisoner wants to watch a show, he´ll have to pay for it. And if he wants to skip ads, he´ll have to do the same.

The main shows are hosted and owned by the Judges of the show “Hot Shot” (Judge Charity, Judge Hope and Judge Wraith). So, basically, the Judges are somehow the puppeteers.

Bing is the “released prisoner”. After Abi´s performance and after she enters the Porn Industry (hired by Judge Wraith), he begins to see images as things, so to speak. The scene in the elevator, in which the main characters hold hands, is quite meaningful and one could even say it is a hinge moment.

Bing´s speech in “Hot Shot” shows that he is somehow the philosopher. The one who has a sharp intellect. 

Bing’s awakening makes evident the fact that the system is a huge lie and that the ideals proposed by power are alienating people instead of making them happier. Having seen the light, which is paradoxically darkness as it has to do with Abi´s prostitution, he wants to tell his former fellow prisoners about his experiences, as a sort of revolutionary leader would do. He tries to raise awareness.   

But, the irony here is that even if Judge Hope gives him the credit for his “moving” speech, whilst highlighting the importance of being “genuine”, he is not taken seriously, at least in the expected terms.

Judge Hope (who would be a sort of Crowd Pleaser) takes him to his own  field and beats him, once there.

Bing becomes an entertainer, and of the system he was defying. Light beyond the screens is unattainable as we can see in the last sequence of the episode, when he looks through a big window something that could be both thing: a real landscape or… even something more sinister: a landscape digitalized image on yet another screen.

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You can watch this episode of Black Mirror here and/or here. 

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Links Post:
https://goo.gl/bJ7PDQ
https://goo.gl/5bk0NS
https://goo.gl/9vq3JW
https://goo.gl/oO4nKy
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►Icarus´Fall: “The Myth. Symbolism and Interpretation”:

"Icarus and Daedalus", by Charles Paul Landon

“Icarus and Daedalus”, by Charles Paul Landon.-

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Icarus´Fall: “The Myth”: 

Icarus’s father Daedalus, an athenian  craftsman, built the Labyrinth for King Minos  of Crete near his palace at Knossos  to imprison the Minotaur, a half-man, half-bull monster born of his wife and the Cretan bull. Minos imprisoned Daedalus himself in the labyrinth because he gave Minos’ daughter, Ariadne, a or ball of string in order to help  Theseus , the enemy of Minos, to survive the Labyrinth and defeat the Minotaur.

Daedalus fashioned two pairs of wings out of wax and feathers for himself and his son. Daedalus tried his wings first, but before taking off from the island, warned his son not to fly too close to the sun, nor too close to the sea, but to follow his path of flight.

If he were to do so, Daedalus explained, the wax that held his wings together would melt, rendering them useless, and Icarus would fall from the sky to his death.

Icarus, however, was overcome by the incredible feeling of flight. He was so taken by the experience, that he flew higher and higher. He flew so high that he got perilously close to the sun. Just as his father warned him would happen, the wax on his wings melted into a useless liquid. The wings fell to pieces and Icarus fell from the sky. The water into which Icarus is said to have fallen is near Icaria, a Grecian Island in the Aegean Sea. The island is named for the legendary flying man. Icaria is southwest of the island of Samos.

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SlideShare: “Daedalus and Icarus”:

Click on the image above to watch the SlideShare.-

Click on the image above to watch the SlideShare.-

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Icarus´Fall: “Symbolism and Interpretation”:

Symbols are insightful expressions of human nature.They are the external, lower expressions of higher truths and represent deep intuitive wisdom impossible by direct terms.

Joseph Campbell defined symbols as “giving expression to what is absolutely “unknowable” by  intellect”.

In the psychiatric mind features of disease were perceived in the shape of the pendulous emotional ecstatic-high and depressive-low of bipolar disorder. 

Henry Murray  having proposed the term Icarus complex, apparently found symptoms particularly in mania where a person is fond of heights, fascinated by both fire and water, narcissistic and observed with fantastical cognitio.

The myth of Icarus´moral is to “take the middle way” by warning against heedless pursuit of instant gratification.

In this sense it highlights the greek idea of  Sophrosyne (Greek: σωφροσύνη), which etymologically means healthy-mindedness and from there self-control or moderation guided by knowledge and balance. 

As Aristotle held, as shown in the post , “Aristotle´s Ethical Theory: On The Concept of Virtue and Golden Mean”, virtue is  a kind of moderation as it aims at the mean or moderate amount.

The flight of Icarus could be interpreted as a lesson in the value of moderation. The danger in flying “too high” (i.e. melting of the wax wings) or in flying “too low” (i.e. weighting down the wings by sea-water spray) were advocations for one to respect one’s limits and to act accordingly.

The moral of this myth could be also linked to Plato´s analogy of the divided line, in which the Sun symbolizes the highest Form (Idea of God). Therefore according to this perspective, Icarus has flown too high . He tried to become wiser than Gods whilst achieving Knowledge and, as he defied the godess,  he was punished for that reason.

A similar interpretation is found in Plato´s myth of Phaethon, as it appears in his elderly dialogue “Timaeus”.

Moreover and going further, considering Plato´s allegory of the cave, Icarus could be linked to the  escaped prisoner, who represents the Philosopher, who seeks knowledge outside of the cave (labyrinth).

Icarus´s myth may also be related to Plato´s analogy of the chariot. When flying high with his waxed wings, Icarus´ chariot  was driven by the obstinated black horse, which represents man’s appetites. The fact of disobeying Daedalus´advice proves that his rational part of the soul which should rule over appetites wasn´t strong  and determined enough to do so. In other words, the black horse beats the rational charioteer .

Icarus’ age is an aspect of the myth that deserves a mention here, for it is a characteristic of the period of adolescence to impulsively follow the appetite for life, to rush into the unknown adventure, to chase dreams, to follow temptation and not to heed warnings of danger.-

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"The Sun, or the Fall of Icarus" by Merry-Joseph Blondel

“The Sun, or the Fall of Icarus” by Merry-Joseph Blondel

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"The Lament for Icarus" by H. J. Draper.-

“The Lament for Icarus” by H. J. Draper.-

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Icarus´Fall: Paintings:

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 Links Post:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icarus
http://www.shmoop.com/daedalus-icarus/myth-text.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophrosyne
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phaethon
https://aquileana.wordpress.com/2007/08/05/icaro/
https://aquileana.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/aristotles-ethical-theory-on-the-concepts-of-virtue-and-golden-mean/
https://aquileana.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/platos-phaedrus-the-allegory-of-the-chariot-and-the-tripartite-nature-of-the-soul/
https://aquileana.wordpress.com/2014/04/03/platos-republic-the-allegory-of-the-cave-and-the-analogy-of-the-divided-line/
https://aquileana.wordpress.com/2008/01/21/andre-comte-sponville-el-mito-de-icaro-tratado-de-la-deseperanza-y-de-la-felicidad/

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►”Happy Easter 2014″:

Best Wishes, Aquileana 😛

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Plato’s “Phaedrus”: “The Allegory of the Chariot and The Tripartite Nature of the Soul”:

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In the dialogue “Phaedrus”, Plato presents the allegory of the chariot to explain the tripartite nature of the human soul or psyche. 

The chariot is pulled by two winged horses, one mortal and the other immortal.

The mortal, black horse is deformed and obstinate. Plato describes the horse as a “crooked lumbering animal, put together anyhow… of a dark color, with grey eyes and blood-red complexion; the mate of insolence and pride, shag-eared and deaf, hardly yielding to whip and spur.”

The inmortal, white horse, on the other hand, is noble and game, “upright and cleanly made… his color is white, and his eyes dark; he is a lover of honor and modesty and temperance, and the follower of true glory; he needs no touch of the whip, but is guided by word and admonition only.”

→In the driver’s seat is the charioteer, tasked with reining in these disparate steeds, guiding and harnessing them to propel the vehicle with strength and efficiency. The charioteer’s destination is the ridge of heaven, beyond which he may behold the Forms, Truth and absolute Knowledge. These essences nourish the horses’ wings, keeping the chariot in flight.

The charioteer joins a procession of gods, led by Zeus, on this trip into the heavens.

The ride is turbulent. The white horse wishes to rise, but the dark horse attempts to pull the chariot back towards the earth. As the horses pull in opposing directions, and the charioteer attempts to get them into sync, his chariot bobs above the ridge of heaven .

If the charioteer is able to behold the Forms, he gets to go on another revolution around the heavens. But if he cannot successfully pilot the chariot, the horses’ wings wither from lack of nourishment, or break off when the horses collide and attack each other, or crash into the chariots of others.

 When the chariot plummets to earth, the horses lose their wings, and the soul becomes embodied in human flesh. The degree to which the soul falls, and the “rank” of the mortal being it must then be embodied in is based on the amount of Truth it beheld while in the heavens.

The degree of the fall also determines how long it takes for the horses to regrow their wings and once again take flight. Basically, the more Truth the charioteer beheld on his journey, the shallower his fall, and the easier it is for him to get up and get going again.

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The Tripartite Nature of the Soul and the Allegory of the Chariot

 Plato conceives of the soul as having (at least) three parts:

  1. A rational part (the part that loves truth and knowledge, which should rule over the other parts of the soul through the use of reason)→ The Charioteer represents man’s Reason
  2. A spirited part (which seeks glory, honor, recognition and victory) →The white horse represents man’s spirit (thymos:θύμος).
  3. An appetitive part (which desires food, drink, material wealth and sex) →The black horse represents man’s appetites.

Worth noting: In the dialogue “The Republic”, Plato states that justice will be that condition of the soul in which each of these three parts “does its own work,” and does not interfere in the workings of the other parts (Check out this post: “Plato’s “The Republic”: “On the Concept of  Justice”).

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Plato’s “Phaedrus”:

Click on the image above to read the dialogue "Phaedrus" by Plato.-

Click on the image above to read the dialogue “Phaedrus” by Plato.-

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Slideshare: Plato’s “Phaedrus”: “The Allegory of the Chariot and The Tripartite Nature of the Soul”:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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Links Post:
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ancient-soul/#3.2
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chariot_Allegory
http://outre-monde.com/2010/09/27/platos-metaphors-the-chariot-allegory/
http://www.english.hawaii.edu/criticalink/plato/guide6.html
http://www.john-uebersax.com/plato/plato3.htm
http://www.scandalon.co.uk/philosophy/plato_tripartite_soul.htm

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♠ Plato´s “Republic”: “The Allegory of the Cave and the Analogy of the Divided Line”:

Plato (427/347 BCE).-

Plato (427/347 BCE).-

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Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is written as a dialogue between Plato’s teacher Socrates and Plato’s brother Glaucon at the beginning of “The Republic” Book VII (514a–520a). This allegory is presented after the analogy of the sun (507b–509c) and the analogy of the divided line (509d–513e). 

In the allegory, Plato likens people untutored in the Theory of Forms to prisoners chained in a cave, unable to turn their heads. All they can see is the wall of the cave. Behind them burns a fire.  Between the fire and the prisoners there is a parapet, along which puppeteers can walk. The puppeteers, who are behind the prisoners, hold up puppets that cast shadows on the wall of the cave. The puppeteers are just people outside the cave walk along this walkway, who presumably carry things on their heads including; animals, plants, wood and stone.

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Here is an illustration based on the whole description of the Cave:

Plato´s Allegory of the Cave.-

Plato´s Allegory of the Cave.-

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►Description: “The Allegory of the Cave”:

►The prisoners, the cave and the shadows:

The prisoners are unable to see these puppets, the real objects, that pass behind them. 

What the prisoners see and hear are shadows and echoes cast by objects that they do not see.  Here is an illustration of Plato’s Cave.

Such prisoners wou ld mistake appearance for reality. As they had never seen the real objects ever before, they believe that the shadows of objects are real objects.

► The Game:

Plato suggests that the prisoners would begin a ‘game’ of guessing which shadow would appear next. If one of the prisoners were to correctly guess, the others would praise him as the most clever.

 ►Departure:

One of the prisoners then escapes from their bindings and leaves the cave. He is shocked at the world he notices outside the cave and does not believe it can be real. As he becomes used to his new surroundings, he realizes that his former view of reality was wrong. He begins to understand this world. He is first able to see only shadows of things. Next he can see the reflections of things in water and later is able to see things themselves. He is then able to look at the stars and moon by night and finally he is able to look upon the sun. Finally, he is able to behold the sun, which is the main source of knowledge.

►Return to the Cave: 

The prisoner returns to the cave, to inform the other prisoners of his findings. They do not believe him and threaten to kill him if he tries to set them free.

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►Video: “The Allegory of the Cave”:

The Allegory of the Cave (Animated). Click on the image above to watch the video at YouTube.-

Video: The Allegory of the Cave (Animated). Click on the image above to watch it at YouTube.-

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►The Allegory of the Cave: Symbolism and General Meaning:

The escaped prisoner represents the Philosopher, who seeks knowledge outside of the cave and outside of the senses.

The Sun represents philosophical truth and knowledge. 

The prisoner´s intellectual journey represents a philosopher´s journey when finding truth and wisdom.

In this sense, the Allegory of the Cave is an attempt to explain the philosopher’s place in society

The other prisoners reaction to the escapee returning represents that people are scared of knowing philosophical truths and do not trust philosophers.

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The analogy of the sun (Excerpt of Plato´s "Republic").-

The analogy of the Sun (Excerpt of Plato´s “Republic”).-

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► “The Allegory of the Cave and the Analogy of the divided line”:

 

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A & B: THE PHYSICAL WORLD: “APPEARANCE”

Thus A represents shadows and reflections of physical things, and B the physical things themselves. These correspond to two kinds of knowledge, the illusion (εἰκασία eikasia) of our ordinary, everyday experience, and belief (πίστις pistis) about discrete physical objects which cast their shadows.

→Method to achieve knowledge: In A, the eye makes guesses upon observing likenesses of visible things.

→Method to achieve knowledge: In B, the eye makes probable predictions upon observing visible things

 A & B: The Visible World in The Allegory of the Cave

A: BOUND REAR OF CAVE. SHADOWS PROJECTIONS. (SHADOWS, REFLECTIONS, ETC).

B: UNBOUND: FIGURES PROJECTING SHADOWS. (OBJECTS/THINGS).

C & D: THE “INTELLIGIBLE WORLD” (FORMS/IDEAI): “REALITY”

C involves  mathematical reasoning (διάνοια dianoia). There  abstract mathematical objects such as geometric lines are discussed. Such objects are outside the physical world (and are not to be confused with the drawings of those lines, which fall within the physical world B).

→Method to achieve knowledge: In C, the Psyche assumes hypotheses while making use of likenesses, always moving towards final conclusions.

D includes the subjects of philosophical understanding (νόησις noesis).

→In D, knowledge is achieved by the method of dialectic, “using the hypotheses not as first principles, but only as hypotheses — that is to say, as steps and points of departure into a world which is above hypotheses, in order that she may soar beyond them to the first principle of the whole” (511b)

C & D: The Intelligible World in The Allegory of the Cave:

C: OUTSIDE AND DAZZLED BY THE SUNSHINE, THE PRISONER SEES ONLY SHADOWS (LOWER FORMS)

D: ADJUSTED TO BRIGHT SUNLIGHT, THE PRISONER PERCEIVES VISIBLE OBJECTS AND APPREHENDS THE SUN (HIGHER FORMS).

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►The Allegory of the Cave, The Analogies of the Divided line and the Sun & the Theory of Forms:

The Allegory of the Cave, The analogy of the divided line and the analogy of the Sun are related to Plato’s Theory of Formsaccording to which the “Forms” (or “Ideas“), and not the material world of change known to us through sensation, possess the highest and most fundamental kind of reality.

Only knowledge of the Forms constitutes real knowledge. 

For Plato’s Forms are not mental entities, nor even mind-dependent. They are independently existing entities whose existence and nature are graspable only by the mind, even though they do not depend on being so grasped in order to exist.

The dialogue Phaedo” contains an extended description of the characteristics and functions of the forms: 

•Unchangeable (78c10-d9).

•Eternal (79d2)

•Intelligible, not perceptible (79a1-5)

•Divine (80a3, b1)

•Incorporeal (passim)

•Causes of being (“The one over the many”) (100c)

Are unqualifiedly what their instances are only with qualification (75b)

Other dialogues fill out the picture: •non-temporal (“Timaeus” 37e-38a); •non-spatial (“Phaedrus” 247c); •they do not become, they simply are (“Timaeus” 27d3-28a3).

 

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Plato (427/347 BCE).-

Plato (427/347 BCE).-

 

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►Links Post:

http://faculty.washington.edu/smcohen/320/thforms.htm

http://faculty.washington.edu/smcohen/320/cave.htm

https://aquileana.wordpress.com/2007/07/29/32/

 
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♠Plato: “The Republic”: “On the Concept of Justice”:

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In “The “Republic” (Greek: Πολιτεία, Politeia. Books I, II and IV), Plato treats justice as an overarching virtue of individuals (and of societies), meaning that almost every issue he would regard as ethical comes in under the notion of justice (dikaosoune).

After criticizing the conventional theories of justice presented differently by Cephalus, Polymarchus, Thrasymachus and Glaucon, Plato gives us his own theory of justice according to which, individually, justice is a ‘human virtue’ that makes a person self-consistent and good; socially, justice is a social consciousness that makes a society internally harmonious and good.

→”Justice is doing one´s own job”. (Book IV, 443 b).

Justice is thus a sort of specialization. It is simply the will to fulfill the duties of one’s station and not to meddle with the duties of another station, and its habitation is, therefore, in the mind of every citizen who does his duties in his appointed place. It is the original principle, laid down at the foundation of the State, “that one man should practice one thing only and that the thing to which his nature was best adopted”. True justice to Plato, therefore, consists in the principle of non-interference. The State has been considered by Plato as a perfect whole in which each individual which is its element, functions not for itself but for the health of the whole. Every element fulfils its appropriate function. Justice in the platonic state would, therefore, be like that harmony of relationship where the Planets are held together in the orderly movement. Plato was convinced that a society which is so organized is fit for survival.

→”Justice is Harmony”. (Book Iv, 434 b).

For Plato, justice is a virtue establishing rational order, with each part performing its appropriate role and not interfering with the proper functioning of other parts. 

Justice is, for Plato, at once a part of human virtue and the bond, which joins man together in society. It is the identical quality that makes good and social. Justice is an order and duty of the parts of the soul, it is to the soul as health is to the body. Plato says that justice is not mere strength, but it is a harmonious strength. Justice is not the right of the stronger but the effective harmony of the whole. All moral conceptions revolve about the good of the whole-individual as well as social.

Both Plato and Aristotle were rationalists as regards both human knowledge and moral reasons, and what they say about the virtue of justice clearly reflects the commitment to rationalism. Much subsequent thinking about justice (especially in the Middle Ages) was influenced by Plato and Aristotle and likewise emphasized the role of reason both in perceiving what is just and in allowing us to act justly.

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►Plato: The Republic”:

Click on the image above to read it.-

Click on the image above to read it.-

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►Poll: Vote Here: “Which Definition of Justice do you think is more accurate?”: 

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►Bonustrack: Greek Mythology: “Dike, the Goddess of Justice”:

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The Greek goddess Dike was the personification of justice. In Hesiod´s  “Theogony” (lines 901/904), Dike – or Justice – is identified as the daughter of Zeus and Themis:

“His second wife was radiant Themis; she bore the Seasons, Lawfulness and Justice and blooming Peace, who watch over the works of mortal men, and also the Fates, to whom wise Zeus allotted high honors.”

And although the goddess of justice was in many respects more important in literature than religion, she still played a significant role in the lives of the ancient Greeks. It is suggested in some sources that Dike was instrumental in punishing wrong doers and rewarding those who did good deeds.

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♠Links Post:

http://www.iep.utm.edu/republic/

http://www.ohadmaiman.com/displayessay.asp?PageNumber=21

http://www.mythography.com/myth/welcome-to-mythography/greek-gods/spirits-1/dike/

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