A Forum for and the Background of the Mediation of Dialogue in Ancient and Modern Academies

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Another World: International Plato Society Conference at Brasília, and São Paulo

The IPS conference that took place at Brasília was impressively well organised, so we all thanked Gabriele Cornelli and his team for this. There were many opportunities to discuss the work of young people and equally many opportunities to enjoy the work, with which one is familiar with, of people we highly appreciate and deeply cherish. I was in the pleasure session, together with Richard Parry and Dino de Sanctis, arguing for the thesis that there is a special joy that accompanies the philosopher, in any case Socrates, that is undisturbed by any impediments and twists in the learning adventures. Satochi made a very fine-grained remark, fine as he is, in one of the following chats, which had a life of their own, it seemed to me, that my argument reminded him of Socrates' remark about the swans. They may appear to be sad at the end of their lives, but they are not. David came up with a new model about the aporia as preceding the pleasure of getting to know as a neutral state. Paulo and Michal pressed me on the pleasures related to the myth, whereas Arnaud asked both me and Richard about the philosopher's pleasure and its purity of pain. Francisco put his finger on the lines related to the necessitation and pain in the case of bodily pleasures. The pure pleasures of learning are a title to live up to. This was my tone and the music of stimulating dialogues followed. Der Ton macht die Musik, und das war ein Musik-Fest. And there were many more chats, of course, and much more music than that.

The city of Brasília is a bone of contention. I am so happy to marvel at and follow ideal constructions and experimentations when they are put on canvas. I am thinking of Kandinsky, for instance, but when it comes to cities...should they not be lived in and constructed so as to be lived in? Those tropical trees and birds outweighed everything that could cast a shadow. I had never heard such a joyful bird singing in my life so far. Or, is it rather that they only appear to be joyful, but they are not, in contrast to the swans of the Phaedo?

Roots in the Air (Brasília Palace Hotel). Angels in the Air (The Cathedral of Brasília. Of course one notices that it has been constructed by an atheist).

Now I am in São Paulo, a Latin American city to be lived in, in comparison to Brasília. The meeting with this very interesting city has begun and is evolving. In some of its parts, it very strangely feels at home, and I mean at home in Athens. Shostakovich' strange Lady Macbeth unexpectedly added to our feeling of being at home and the opera building satisfied some of our quest for beauty, to be sure. So does working at the Biblioteca Mário de Andrade do. Agreements about dealing with the debate between reductionism and anti-reductionism, and the opening up of further paths, not yet considered nor imagined, fourth and fifth ones, contributes a special touch to beauty. The article on Malabou and Marcus has been elaborated on, and some things are being improved in the Philebus piece. I am ending the summer with the second piece on Marcus. 

The Opera of São Paulo behind some palm trees that intend to grow out of their species

That said: this is a new world to me. New World, inhabited by a new language and new rhythms. How can one prepare herself to encounter a new world?

Am I Greek enough? Are we Greek enough? Can we be Greek enough?
And how can one share beauty? Does one chop the animal in its natural joints? And if so, where is the divine knife to lead the way?

In the meantime - for, who can foresee what the will and whims of divine knives will be! - here are some verses by Odysseas Elutis (from his poem Ο Ήλιος ο Ηλιάτορας, 1971), verses I read here for the first time, just before the celebration of the Prophet Elias, July 20. The sun is talking as follows in this poetic theatre play:

Μέσα μου ρίχνει ο χρόνος ασταμάτητα
του κόσμου όλα τα βρόμικα και τ' άπλυτα

Κι όσον καιρό κρεμιέμαι πάνω απ' τα νερά
κι όσον περνώ στα μακρινά τα Τάρταρα

Τυραγνίες ζηλοφθονίες φόνους παιδεμούς
τ' αλέθω για τους χρόνους τους μελλούμενους

Τ' αλέθω τα γυρίζω και τα πάω στη γη
που 'δωσε το σκοτάδι φως για να το πιει

Κουράγιο περιστέρες και ανεμώνες μου
Οι ωραίες κι οι συντροφιαστές κι οι μόνες μου

Όπου μαυρίλα κλώθεται και γνέθεται
Ήλιοι μικροί γενείτε κι όλο αλέθετε

Σ' ευλογημένη μέρα βγάζει το κακό
σε δημοσιά πλατιά το στενοσόκακο

Κι είναι στη σκοτεινιά και στην ερήμωση
όπου ριζώνει κι ευωδιάζει η θύμηση

PS: After a while, I realise that I have to put aside Greek poetry and think of new devices in order to face this new and unfamiliar world. Even the moon is so... wrong! It smiles in São Paulo. I had never experienced a smiling moon so far! What's wrong with everything: the light, the moon, the rhythms? Suchlike question marks are spontaneously arising. And the moon's smile, in reply, ever deepens. Not in the language, how can one participate and share in this world? And if so, how is one to deal with otherness, when currently not having time to learn the language? One dives. But how? One entertains another attitude than that one usually has nurtured toward studying languages with all the required seriousness before making any steps. One dives with a skill that is on its way to be acquired. Deep breath and wide openness, and here we go, accompanied by lots of humour and playfulness. This is the right time and place to read Rashomon and to experience Russian opera and watch a fine Almodovar with Portuguese supertitles or subtitles, in the breaks. Therefore, beyond work, at which I feel so at home anywhere and as ever, I provoke encounters with utmost otherness and extreme alienation. 

like with the Degas one stumbles upon in the MASP. I had never loved a Degas so deeply. 
A Degas, or, is it not a Degas?