Song in philosophy of the good that could be

Perhaps it feels that a storm is afoot, or that it is already raging. Someone asked a poet today: "How do you see what you do as a poet in the face of the triple threat of the modern age: postmodernism, globalization, and materialism?" The poet considered, besides the occasional wish to run for the hills and retire to the idylls of yesteryear, that in fact poets mostly thrive on discord. He added that poets are not to be trusted and then invoked the (oft-misunderstood) reference in Plato's Republic where poets are banned. I write misunderstood because Plato himself quotes poets as authority in some places, and uses poetic techniques. Plato takes issue with how poetry is used.
And so the storm continues - from whichever vantagepoint we might be taking. It is funny to think that it exists even for those choosing not to attempt to pursue the classical ideals - like truth or justice or love. Maybe these lessons find us anyway, along the way, even if we do not name them, like a poet who takes up residence in indeterminacy. For it is possible to compare: the vague and the exhortation let your faults die before you die - Seneca. Time is ticking. The storm blows on.
Here is a Senecan quandary (all references below to LXXXI): to be asked by a former student, most of whom are on promotion highways, for class outlines and articles. Seneca writes: it is better to get no return than to confer no benefits. When this person then responds belatedly and perfunctorily after being given the golden mean of help: by which I mean, having been treated as one wants to be treated but without having been given the entire silver platter (especially as it was taught in class the first time round!), Seneca advises when the outcome of any undertaking is unsure, you must try again and again, in order to succeed ultimately.
It is possible to become bitter, unless one has developed the love of wisdom which always says that life treats us better than we treat life. Perhaps for this reason that despite our efforts we will always be falling short in some respect, I aspire to adhere to the advice Seneca gives Lucilius: forget the injuy and remember the accomodation.


The problem lies with how to use criticism: how to recognise a shortcoming without anger, by simply declining to support such behaviour. To retire, withdraw - and not déchirer (with the shears that word suggests). And if one is calm enough, it might be all right in some situations to name the shortcoming, to assist one's self and others in locating what needs improvement - not to remember it like by labelling another person, but to toss it away as soon as it has been addressed. To name something calmly, or to move on, as Seneca suggests, calmly to the next person, but -
There is a storm. Sometimes we stir it up with our own ignorance or lack of character. I think it requires the combination of philosopher and poet to navigate through it - just like the philosopher Plato references the poet Hesiod's opening to the Theogony in his passage in the Republic about what children should be taught (and we readers are like children of the truth). Hesiod's proem begins with the Muses saying: "we know how to speak many false things as though they were true; but we know, when we will, to utter true things". The poet picks up on what the philosopher clarifies.
We may learn that we have words for storms. We can choose to believe that life is good despite them - and suddenly, meaning is nascent all around us.
Plato is not against poetry but in favour of a reminder of the good that could be. Such as, a world without storms or a person who does not have to be flawed. The answer to the storm requires that conditional, but also the philosophical reason to guide it.

Brush: Misprinted type.

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