Care Plus Thought

This morning, I woke up before the birds. Half in the land of dreams, I thought of Odysseus, making his way down to Hades to visit the war heroes. Acheron could not remember him, or anything, until he drank a sacrifice. Without memories, we die...
I thought, too, of generations: how when I was a student, the professors I respected lamented the changing syllabi, and how I have striven to reach at least part of where they left off, filling in the pieces that had already been chipped off the ivy shoulder, also trying to correct my myopia. I thought of how Pliny the younger writes, it is a noble employment to rescue from oblivion those who deserve to be remembered, but I feel that even today, few want to remember even the recent past: they are too busy demolishing it to create a brand new future, which can make what is for me a grand effort appear futile.
And I remembered something Gadamer wrote - exactly when he was discussing Hades: that in that Homeric myth, Homer seems unaware of Dionysus, yet some kind of death ritual seemed to have existed, with the drink Acheron imbibed. What I love about that myth is that there is an emphasis on memory, and a friend bringing it back. But today, so many seem bent on forgetting.
Once upon a time, I had a history teacher who used to say, "Ignorance is bliss" - which he would pronounce with gravitas, lending the phrase his ethos. Zolla writes of those who attempt to manufacture an ersatz ignorance: "The absolutely new, the rejection of all roots, offers, insofar as it is an act of pure will, only a return to a stage prior to the one that has been relinquished, not  a leap ahead. The virgin territory is merely that of a childhood and backwardness, lived through again in bad faith: to act like a child does not mean that one returns to being a child; to imitate the primitive does not mean that one recaptures their strength... If the writer is not blessed by ignorance, he must again assume the attitude of the refractory student, make parodies of culture, play with it as if it were a jumble of disconnected shards and not the word of life."
There is something Dionysian about that. Dionysus is a tricky god. On the one hand, as a foreigner, he affords the possibility of epiphany (probably through his outsiders' vision), and yet he is also a god of madness. Perhaps this is because chaos does afford a better resettling, but yet chaos can also destroy that which was perfectly fine to begin with.
And then this evening, just before I continued writing this post, I read The Theory Generation. While I realise that an entire generation is working through the postmodern hangover/ shock of capitalism, I long for the solidarity that comes with preservation.

Title from the Greek word μέριμνα.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Creative Commons License