Dream Door [Triolet]

I dreamt the door looked out upon treetops
and I could walk out on blue sky and cloud
and see the world as would a tall cyclops.
I dreamt the door looked out upon treetops,
but in my dream I plunged into the copse.
Sky walking proved more dream than was allowed.
I dreamt the door looked out upon treetops,
but could I walk out to blue sky and cloud?

City Swallowed [Haibun]

Rubble cubes lie like piled dice. Temples and throne halls collapsed into mossy blocks brought low by the meager -- if inexorable -- forces of water drips and grass roots, roots that became wedges, splitting stone from stone. People push the blocks back together in homage to ancestors, but turn one's back and the hungry jungle consumes. Those ancestors crafted such sturdy stuff out of stout stone blocks. How much more quickly will our planned obsolescent cities be swallowed?


stout stone blocks -
toppled, dissolved, buried -
a city swallowed

BOOK REVIEW: Ion by Plato

IonIon by Plato
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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In this early Socratic dialogue, Socrates converses with a Homeric rhapsodist (i.e. performer of Homer’s stories) who shares the dialogue’s name, i.e. Ion. Socrates leads Ion to the conclusion that the rhapsodist is really a conduit of divine inspiration – as opposed to being an artist. To a large extent Socrates achieves this by showing (somewhat brutally) that there are experts infinitely more competent to comment on Homer’s epic poems that is Ion. For the most part, Ion accepts that expert artists would be more qualified to comment on the correctness of Homer’s words than is he – e.g. an expert on horsemanship would be more qualified to comment on the parts which reference horses. [The only point at which Ion offers a challenge is with respect to military general, where he believes himself equally competent to discuss military campaigns as would be a commander. (Though Socrates tries to disabuse him of this notion.)]

And despite this, no one would argue that Ion offers a special value that those various artists and experts cannot, a unique connection to Homer’s works. For Socrates that value lies in inspiration. The poet, too, Socrates argues isn’t so much a crafter of verse as one capable of receiving inspiration. The rhapsodist allows the intense emotional experience to transfer from the muse / poet intersect onward to the audience member. In less mystic terms, Socrates is trying to make sense of the artistic process and its largely unconscious process and its focus on the experience of emotional resonance, rather than on rational thought. One can see a bit of overlap with a later dialogue, Phaedrus, which discusses divine madness and its virtues.

This short and to-the-point Socratic dialogue is worth reading, even if does come down in needlessly otherworldly territory.

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