Delight Springs

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Walk or ride

"I go for a walk through the forest near my house, just as Aristotle walked along the beach at Assos," writes Arthur Herman, recounting the bounteous profusion of nature's teeming, towering, bewildering, constantly changing flora and fauna at his feet. "This is nature, the real world buzzing and blooming around us."

Herman says Aristotle was already onto the core truth of evolution millennia before its time, noting nature's dynamic of identity-through-ceaseless change. It's a truth that eluded Mayberry's Goober, when he briefly adopted the appearance of a philosopher and wondered "if a man's hisself, how can he change?" We're all continuously becoming something, all the time, turning potentiality into actuality or into something short of it. We're all on a journey.

Our journey through the forest struck Plato's and Aristotle's heirs, the Hellenistic Cynics, Epicureans, Stoics, and Skeptics, as an opportunity to make themselves at home there and everywhere. Initially, writes Jennifer Michael Hecht, they "felt a desperate desire to get out of the seemingly endless, friendless woods." But thanks to the applied philosophical therapeutics of their "graceful-life philosophies" they learned to love the place. "Hang a sign that says HOME on a tree and you're done.

But, back to Plato. For him the journey was an attempted ascent from  the cave. For Aristotle, whether we ever actually spill out into a metaphysically higher light or not, every increment of fresh observation in the forest, on the beach, under the open sky is an opportunity to shed a little more light. [Nice and timely poem today, Seamus Heaney's "The Skylight" - "...extravagant Sky entered and held surprise wide open..."]

Image result for diogenes the cynicAnd for Diogenes, to whom we turn tomorrow in chapter six, the journey is a search for honesty and freedom. That's a quarry that can be especially elusive. Better bring the dogs. Don't let the Emperor or your teacher or anyone block your light.

My good friend the new Gradual Student offers another nice metaphor, of life's journey as a rickety bus ride. They killed Socrates when he went back to the cave. Will the other riders be more forgiving, when the enlightened rider re-boards?

"I think we're all bozos on this bus," whether we've read the Republic or not.

And I think Ken Kesey was right, we're all a little cuckoo. "You're either on the bus or off it." We've got a ticket to ride, but I'm with Aristotle. I'd prefer to walk.

6 am/5:41, 54/77, 7:46

1 comment:

  1. I too love the mornings. I love the quiet, the sound of the birds, the trees moving In the morning breeze. This is when I sit and meditate, or think, or read something new and interesting. Actually I am quite possessive of my mornings and can get quite irritated( unhappy) if interrupted by my husband or some technology.