Here or Nowhere

The title is from Horace's Epistulae (1.17). It is a contested poem - Fraenkel thought it entirely ought of character for Horace, calling it "upsetting". It is definitely jolting; perhaps it is better to avoid any final conclusions. What I will share here is my understanding of it in recent times.
There are so many things I like about this poem, not least how it begins by the offering of teaching from one who yet "has much to learn". I like how this can be seen to compliment Seneca's disendo discimus - and other approaches to pedagogy that I am writing about in my book.
What is so shocking about the poem is that Horace criticises Diogenes' refusal to interact with the rich as being a form of excess: showing Aristippus as superior, for he can wear rags, as does Diogenes, albeit if circumstance requires, but he can also wear fine garb and eat fine meals. So the poem can be seen to promote parasitism (dining at the expense of the rich) over genuine friendship as the nature of the relations in this poem that are advised are of a purely worldly nature.
Stephanie McCarter's very enjoyable Horace Between Freedom and Slavery suggests that Horace in some of these epistles is the concept of the Aristotelian golden mean, which she writes goes
back to Hesiod. Wilson defines the term as 'the area between too much and too little' and as the 'opposite of excess' ... Aristippus has captured both the adaptability and the moderation that ought to be exercised in every situation.
In 1.17, "Aristippus offers a way of accommodating one's longings for public life and friendship with the great without sacrificing one's independence or consistency of character." This reminds me of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, where the Flyte mother discusses how wealth is not incompatible with the sacred (112-113).

I will be discussing this passage and these citations in my book. But what I want to write about here is the tension between friendship with the great/all the people who one can find in the world and contemplative withdrawal (the critics who do not like 1.17 feel Horace's allegiance to lie exclusively in the latter). Is Horace being sarcastic in the second part of this epistle as some say? Attacking the pursuit of profit? Or is amicitia with great men a test of virtue and modesty?
These are questions that are most relatable, and may represent tension felt from adolescence onwards: does one have a sarcastic relation to the world made by les gens du monde - and so is it the life well-lived to withdraw entirely? Or is it not necessary, foremost for oneself, one's own well-being, to be part of this potentially superficial world? To enter it, it is suggested, is a test.
The phrase "here or nowhere", where it appears in the epistle, becomes a symbol of the acceptance of the validity of participation. Because of this, I use it as my chat app motto: it is the admission that an outer face - while exposed to intricate traps (that even Diogenes could fall into, with his performance art exaggerations performed publicly) - is necessary for the holistic life.
This corresponds with Emerson's thought in "Self Reliance": "It is easy in the world to live after the  world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst  of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude."
It can be seen that this tension is a timeless concern, but its implications and the shape of the trials associated with worldly life in this time in history are (as always) particular and do need especial thought and discernment (to say the least).
This is a tension that I have tried to bring forth (cf. maieutics) in my classes, in one way or another, over the years. Admission of whatever the topics of the moment are is integral to my courses, which are therefore always changing (they also change to attempt to cater to students' needs). But these aspects of the course are never the whole course, just a part of it.
And to that end, some of the links in this week's B/Logrolling section will likely end up being addressed in class (I am still finalising the syllabus).


A Letter From Hong Kong: I admit that from my distance, I did not immediately understand all of the angles of this situation, and this short piece is the best that I have seen. This passage in particular gives pause for thought:
Nor, sadly, can Hong Kong youth expect solidarity from the most militant of Western university students and faculty. They lost their taste for freedom years ago. Israel is apparently a bigger offense to their sensibilities than Communist China (or Iran). In all significant respects, these Westerners are the opposite of the young people I know. While Hong Kong students detest Communism, many of their Western counterparts embrace Marxism. While Western post-colonialists deride Western civilization, Hong Kongers wish they could have more of it. When Hong Kong students talk of a safe-space they mean a shelter from tear-gas and rubber bullets, not a refuge from offensive words. A trigger warning is not a professor’s presage of a painting by Goya; it is the sound of a revolver shot discharged skywards in the Causeway Bay night.
The site of Tim Wu, author of The Attention Merchants, with links to other articles he has written

Privacy is Power by Carissa VĂ©liz (edited by Nigel Warburton - I am quickly becoming a fan, though have followed him for quite some time as he produces Philosophy Bytes, which has had quite a few good programs, some of which, back in the day, I used in my classes)

Who I'd like to have over at a dinner party (I have not introduced the concept for this section of B/Logrolling very well: what I mean to do here is to introduce 'content producers' [for lack of better name] whose sites are not on my static, standalone B/Logroll page):
Tim Hurst, host of WFMU's Techtonic podcast

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