Earl’s Commentary on Phaedrus Eight 250d-253c

The
Phaedrus Kit

Earl Jackson, Jr.

Another
Scene


Earl’s Commentary of Phaedrus. Part Eight:The Lovers 250d-253c


Much
of what I say here will be an extension of my Commentary
Seven
.  I’ll try to keep the divisions clear, however. Parts Eight
and Nine are so beautiful I’d rather let them speak for themselves as much
as possible. On the other hand, the logoi of the dialogue really stimulates
the will to speak. Don’t you think? I have a couple super-structural points
I’d like to make.

For one thing, the myth of the pre-natal life of the soul
that has glimpsed the True forms has embedded within two emotive-affective
temporalities: one the future-directed career of the newly stricken lover,
yearning to make the beloved his [I’m using the pronoun deliberately as
this schema is specifically about males]; but one really past-directed,
a kind of cosmological nostalgia. These two temporalities, to my mind,
also demarcate the range and aims of two of the words having to do with
„desire“ that are relatively rare in Plato but appear frequently enough
in the Phaedrus that wrote a little
tract about them
for this kit.
The two words are himeros and
pothos.

According
to Socrates in the Cratylus, himeros
refers to longing, or desire for something that is present. This is like
the longing that the lover feels in the presence of the beloved. It is
also the basis of what I call local phallic melancholia in my Chapter
on Dennis Cooper and Robert Glück in Strategies of Deviance.

Also in the Cratylus, Socrates contrasts the longing for
something present (expressed by himeros)
with pothos, the longing for
something absent. In the Phaedrus, there is an occurence of pothos that
inflects the longing for something absent with the cosmological nostalgia
of the newly corporeally human soul, for the primordial experience of access
to the divine that soul once enjoyed before the „fall“. I will cite the
passage here and point out where the word pothos
occurs in the Greek. It is a  very moving example of pothos
describing the cosmological dimensions of eros in the psyche.


    It is Phaedrus 250c-250d  [in
part part seven in our
online text, actually]. Socrates has already described the train of the
God’s banquets and the benefits those mortals souls got from trailiig in
their wake, and has told of the downfall of the souls into corporeality,
born in this world as humans. The contrast he draws between the exposure
to the divine in the prenatal state with the nature of the world concludes
with the use of pothos I’m getting
at. I quote the paragraph in full here, then will point out where the word
is in the final sentence in the Greek. Here’s the passage:


 

 

For there
is no light of justice or temperance or any of the higher ideas which are
precious to souls in the earthly copies of them: they are seen through
a glass dimly; 
and there are few who, going to
the images, behold in them the realities, and these only with difficulty. 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was a time when . . . we
beheld the beatific vision and were initiated into a mystery which may
be truly called most blessed,

 

celebrated by us in our state of innocence, before we
had any experience of evils to come, when we were admitted to the sight
of apparitions innoent and simple and calm and happy, 
we
beheld the
which we beheld

shining in pure light, pure ourselves
and not yet enshrined in that living tomb which we carry about, 

shining
in pure light, pure ourselves and not yet enshrined in that living tomb
which we carry about, now that we are imprisoned in the body, like an oyster
in his shell. Let me linger over the memory of
scenes which have
passed away.
now that we are imprisoned
in the body, like an oyster in his shell. Let me linger over the memory
of scenes which have passed away. 

;–

Notice the
text
at which you found the hyperlink
to this commentary page. It’s about how the prenatal soul models itself
after the god it identified with in the heavens and now as a lover it sets
up its image of its lover as the image of the god it wishes to emulate.
This is a schematic of the psychomythic dimension of intersubjective narcissism
in the dynamic between the lovers according to Socrates here.

Remember in Commentary
Three
(Remember commentary
three
?) where discussed my interpretation of Phaedrus’s promise to
erect a gold statue at the Temple at Delphi if Socrates succeeded in outdoing
Lysias? There I claimed that the crime that Phaedrus would find himself
guilty of is not knowing himself by not knowing Socrates. This is the passage
I had in mind as the impossible vindication of Phaedrus’s allusion. Check
for yourself by clicking HERE
.

Bonus Round: -Optional, apparently self-serving
homework assignment. In the text above I use the term „intersubjective
narcissism,“ a term I coined and elaborate in my book, Strategies of
Deviance
. Your copy is on the bookshelf in your office, top level,
the area nearest the window. I think your copy of College
Connections Web Resources
is right next to it, although that might
be up in the kids‘ room, the white bookshelf where my edition of The
Complete Poe
used to be. Anyway, if you do take this assignment (yeah,
right ;-)), this is what it is: 


 

  • Read my definition of „intersubjective narcissism in Strategies
    of Deviance
    – pages 21-23 (and if you’re interested, consult the index
    for other pages in which the discussion is expanded and applied, but that’s
    not necessary for this assignment per se, depending upon your approach).
  • Go back to the Phaedrus Part
    Eight
    , or probably Parts Seven
    and
    Eight.
    And read carefully.

    Compare what I say about „intersubjective narcissism,“
    with the situation of the lovers in the Phaedrus, and the contexts of that
    portrait of their condition.

    Formulate either your objection to my attempt to apply
    the term to the Phaedrus’s lovers, or devise a specific way of adapting
    the term to the Phaedrus situation.

    Send your response to me at tomrip5@aol.com

    • Proleptic Meta-bonus Question Try this again when
      we reach the discussion of psychogogia as an aim of rhetoric near the conclusion
      of the Phaedrus

    Ignore the way I altered the note I wrote on the title
    page of your copy of College
    Connections Web Resources
    .



    Backto
    Phaedrus Part Eight


    The Lexica of Desire in the Phaedrus

    Himeros in Plato

    Pothos in Plato

    Safe Greek Fun
    Really Using the Greek Lexicon


    Con-texts of the Phaedrus
    Kit


    Relevance

    Phaedrus Part Nine

    Who Was Socrates?

    Who Was Plato?

    Who Was Lysias?

    Who were the
    sophists


    From the Life of
    Alcibiades


    What were the
    Eleusinian Mysteries?


    The Phaedrus
    – Table of Contents


    On line Resources

    All of Plato’s
    Dialogues and Letters on Line


    Fifth Century
    Sexuality in Athens
    By Dr. Brian Arkin


    How
    I teach


    Critical
    Precision – a Mini-Manifesto


    The Phaedrus
    – Table of Contents


    Introduction to
    this Kit


    All of Plato’s
    Dialogues and Letters on Line


    Con-texts
    of the Phaedrus Kit


    Who Was Socrates?

    Who Was Plato?

    Who Was Phaedrus?

    Who Was Lysias?

    Who were the
    sophists


    From the Life of
    Alcibiades


    What were the
    Eleusinian Mysteries?


    Online Resources

    How
    I teach


    Critical
    Precision – a Mini-Manifesto

    A Greek Lexicon
    selected and prepared for


    Dr.
    Thomas A. Sattler
    , for no apparent reason, by Earl
    Jackson, Jr.


    Earl Jackson, Jr.

    tomrip5@aol.com

    another
    scene