Sunday, November 26, 2017

Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Price of Hubris

(This is the first time I've actually posted a blog post in some time. I hope to make this a habit.)

When I taught Greek tragedy, I described hubris, often called "arrogance before God," as "thinking you're hot shit." The Greeks knew the danger of thinking you were all that and a bag of chips and smashed it into our faces with Oedipus Rex and Agamemnon. Tragic heroes became so full of
Melpomene, Muse of Tragedy
themselves that they forgot their own humanity. The word "human" has the same root as "humus," which is dirt. To humiliate someone is to make them feel like dirt. To gain humility is to remember that you are made of the same stuff you can buy in a 50 lb bag at the garden center at OSH. When humans gain notoriety and the privilege that attends it, they more often than not forget that they are no more important in the eyes of the universe than the worker in China who assembled their smartphone. When this sense of proportion is lost, and the sense of importance takes hold, the human steps closer and closer towards becoming a sociopath. No other human matters but them, their agenda, and their appetites. I believe I heard a recording of Alan Watts once, commenting on the idea that an enlightened person realizes that God is within them, but if they don't realize that God is also within everyone else, that epiphany becomes toxic. We have been flooded recently by revelations that certain humans of note and privilege have forcibly used other humans as playthings. This is nothing new. It is the hubris that has attended patriarchy for millennia. And what is patriarchy but a sociopathy in which the male is supposedly the true person and the woman is a mere object to be possessed, bartered, manipulated, and played with? The Greeks may have been patriarchal as hell, but they also knew about the price of hubris. Greek tragic heroes experience, before the final catastrophe (the word comes from that moment in the play when everything goes to shit), a moment of recognition called anagnorisis in which they realize that their downfall has its origins in themselves. I suppose some of our current crop of sociopaths may have their moment of humility, enlightenment, and redemption from their exposure, but I fear that most will weather their catastrophes as blind in their patriarchal privilege as they were when they robbed other humans of their humanity.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sunday, November 5, 2017

This Week's Calogrenant

We lose ourselves in books. We find ourselves there too. -Anon