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Saturday, December 26, 2015
I was under the impression that PLato just didn't like music, or believed it to be a corrupting element, but it was moral ambiguity in musical experimentation that wrinkled his toga...
Republic (Book 4) musical experimentation that violates traditional musical “laws”: “Lawlessness of this kind can easily go unnoticed . . . because it’s seen as a kind of play that does no harm. [But] it sinks bit by bit into peoples’ actions and character; it then looms up and infects their business dealings, and goes on to treat legal and social norms with wanton disregard, until it finally creates total havoc in both the private and public sphere.” -Plato and Play -
I value the sense of play and experimentation in my art practice and question if it has led to moral relativism. I am more inclined to chalk it up to contemporary circumstances warranting more permeable world views and that moral relativism another way to describe perspectives devoid of entrenched dichotomies. Reading more of that same essay, I realized I am probably the product of Sophists meddling.
The Sophists in particular transferred the idea of serious play wholesale from the arena of athletics, symposia, and war games exclusively to that of verbal skill. They were masters of play: play on words, on moral values, on distinctions between illusion and reality. While they crystallized the idea that paideia was the desirable end product of Greek culture, they also introduced the notion, deeply deplored by Plato, that skill in word manipulation was the principal route to success in society and politics. Sophistic approaches to education provide a contrast to the conservative program of education outlined in Plato’s dialogue Protagoras, where from around the age of six to the age of fifteen youths learned to read, recite Homer and other classics, sing and play the lyre, and practice gymnastics, with the aim of becoming well-rounded “gentlemen.” Sophistic doctrines seemed, by contrast, innovative and subversive. They supposedly undermined conventional religious and philosophical notions and promoted moral, intellectual, and political opportunism. The Sophist Protagoras of Abdera, for instance, taught that “man is the measure of all things,” a doctrine that could support an atheistic and dangerous relativism. The fact that some Sophists claimed to teach an “art of politics” to young men also challenged the traditional view that politics was the domain of age, wisdom, and experience. The influence of aristocratic youths in the political affairs of Athens was blamed for disastrous events such as the defeat of the city’s Sicilian Expedition in 413, its bloody antidemocratic coup in 411, and its fall to the Spartans and their allies in 404 BCE. Plato and Play pg.303
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
“like the picture on the Quaker Oats boxthat shows a figure hold up a boxupon which is a picture of a figureholding up a boxand the figure smaller and smallerand further away each timea picture of shrinking reality itself….” (Lawrence Ferlinghetti)