But the word κρίσις originally meant separation, judgment, decision, distinguish - as illustrated in the Sophoclean play by the same name. If in these tragedies God punishes the proud, it is because this punishment brings wisdom.
Socrates in the Symposium outlines some of these wise principles by which to see through the storm of circumstance. One is to look for the order in life by using the heart, then fend off motives of material or physical gain. He says that to see beauty properly one is to be under the influence of true love - to see how everlasting beauty may be imparted to perishable things, to recall this image of beauty in the mind "to become the friend of God" - I might add, to use that image of beauty as an antidote to the temporary image of 'crisis'. In Franny and Zooey, we read, "Desire for the fruits of work must never be your motive ... Never give way to laziness, either ... perform every action with your heart."
Except there is much deception in this world, I think it was Άγιος Ιωάννης ο Χρυσόστομος who wrote that knowledge is won with much difficulty and after much time, but deception happens so easily. Salinger writes in Franny and Zooey, "Scratch an incompetent school teacher, or for that matter college professor, and half the time you'll find a displaced first class automobile mechanic or a goddamn salesman." How much deception might that lead to. Again, the motive is not fruits of labour, nor does one give way to laziness, but works with the heart.
Except: did not the very medium through which we read these words come with the deceptive image of a happy future? Prometheus brought us writing. He brought us medicine, astrology, metallurgy. Alienating man through what he created imaginatively in those arts from nature. We can have writing, but as Socrates warned in the Phaedrus, we may become dumber because of it. Especially forgetting the trickiness of context, forgetting that as there are two sides to every story, if an author is no longer living, who can hear his pleas? We become lazy to imagine them, imagining instead material objects of our metallurgy.
Imagining instead polemics against the past, or arguments for the future, never content with the spontaneous stress of the present, in which we are asked to meet κρίσις and try to make the right decision each time. But we know that we often do not. It is easier to speak in the rhetoric that is legislative, judicial, than the epideictic, in which there is still time to write further scenes and change the script. The present is both praised and blamed, but at least it is uncontaminated with the deception of the happy future here on this perishable earth.
Prometheus deceives us as to our mortal state as we strive through scientism to make with our own hands immortality. This was not the way of the Hippocratic Oath, acknowledging the realm of the incurable, whereby the practitioners would not treat those they deemed untreatable as that would mean presuming that science could go further than it could. It may be that because of this the cult surrounding Asclepius emerged. Those thought incurable would sleep in his temple of snakes hoping to dream in symbols that the priest would interpret for their recovery. Abracadabra, I create as I speak ... in dreams, half symbols, but I speak - so much more in the present than writing, which is already removed from the context that needed it, once it is written.
For the soul is always changing: emotions, interest, fears, never remain the same, as Socrates says, and so too do the sciences spring up and decay. This is implied in the word "recollection," viz., knowledge that has departed but is renewed through recollection, appearing to be the same knowledge, but is really new. I would add it is new because the moment it is recalled, it is connected to new coordinates that the mind didn't have the first time round.
In this flow of life, order is needed if we are to see something beautiful - especially knowing that things seen physically perish; order to retain knowledge of the beautiful ideal the thing stands for. The parents of virtue, Socrates says, are the science of beauty everywhere. To be able to retain the beautiful picture despite the appearance of crisis. The greatest, fairest wisdom is the ordering of states and families according to temperance and justice. Temperance: to not be carried away by the appearance of a moment. Knowing that other moments are to come. That is how Epictetus talks about achieving moderation in the Enchiridion: before one indulges, one is to imagine the state one will be in after careless indulgence.
Therefore the medicine of words is very different if we think of them in terms of τέχνη or technology, which Heidegger defines as a way of viewing nature as a storehouse of raw material (motives of material gain!), and not the τέχνη of bringing forth of the truth, which Hadot describes as an "existing with". Not an attempt to lord over - after all, humans cannot lord over, they can only have the appearance of such, the deception of such. The appearance that mind can extend beyond body, out of time, so out of who we really are.
Abracadabra. It is the judgement and discernment that sees through the pains and contradictions: not because of our human powers but because of the eternal, ordered precepts that can guide us.
We cannot learn these principles by rote, because Matthew Arnold explains that mechanization, or Hebraism, whereby rules are obeyed automatically, is inferior to Hellenization, wherein there is a spontaneous flow around the principles that guide us. After all, we are always trying to learn how to read life and know when to apply which principle to which situation.
Abracadabra. I dream in symbols. My heart, true love, knows the answer that I can but sometimes recollect, summoning hopefully the right the principle to mind to meet the ever new context of the present. Painful and contradictory as it is.
Brush: Lauren Harrison.