Author Topic: Arête  (Read 5762 times)

Cramulus

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Arête
« on: September 14, 2007, 07:48:47 pm »
- VS -

Are you Conflicted? Anxious? Doubtful? A Shadow of your Potential Self?

It's likely -- in fact, it's almost certain -- that your are living off balance.


There are two drives at war within each of us - the creation and maintenance of order, and the reckless breakneck chase of disorder.

Visualize a skinny nerd walking a big dog. The dog is trying to pull the nerd where he wants to go, and the nerd is gripping the leash with white knuckles. And you are neither the nerd nor the beast, but both at the same time.



Cut to:
Ancient Athens was a pretty hip joint. In its day, it was the central nexus of rational thought, a unique oasis in a world where most people were busy screaming and stabbing each other with spears. They had this word in Ancient Greece, Arête. Ar-uh-tay. It means Virtue. It means Quality. It means Heroism. And it requires balance.

Odysseus, the preeminent Greek Hero, was not a straight-laced do-gooder, a shield of righteousness and a spear of justice. He was kind of a bastard. He lied, he cheated on his wife, he insulted the Gods, and he killed more people than Rambo. He was both a man and a beast at the same time. But he was not weighted down by his personal Disorder, he made it into one of his virtues. That's Quality. That's Arête.

See, the Athenians believed that man has to romance his chaos. They spent most of the month worshiping Apollo, the God of Light and Reason and Harmony and Rational Thought. But for one or two days out of each moon, they ignored Apollo and worshiped Dionysus, the God of Drinking and Orgies and fantastic fucking Parties.

They had huge, unbelievable festivals which swallowed the whole city. Everybody in the Athens would put down their day-to-day selves and spend all night chanting and dancing and drumming and wearing strange masks. They really let their hair down. One might expect violence, human sacrifices, people fucking in the streets. It’s not just about having a good time, it’s about experiencing those aspects of ourselves which we flee from, like fear and rage and sloppy drunkenness and uninhibited ecstasy.



Who participated in these festivals? Unlike the present day, it wasn't JUST the rebel kids: youths on the cusp of adulthood whose chaos hasn't yet been bled out of them by the Machine. The Bacchanal was attended by both the rich and the poor, the smart and the dumb, the old and the young. These festivals were what they needed - they needed to FREAK OUT and let the animal loose.

See the Athenians thought this was necessary for sanity. If they were going to get their Important Stuff done during the week, they knew they needed to kick out the jams on the weekend. A Greek Hero is balanced between Apollo and Dionysus. He's a warrior AND a philosopher. He's a good guy AND a scoundrel. He is a man, but he is also a beast. He is Apollo, but he is also Dionysus.

"Don't suppress your nature," the Greeks are saying to us. "Once in a while, party with no hesitation or regret. Let your beast loose."

Let yourself succumb to emotions like panic and fear and joy. Allow yourself to get lost in a riotous crowd all cheering at the same time. You'll lose your identify for a little while. Then when you put your Apollo back on, you'll be tempered.

And where are we now? I look around and I see very few people who know how to ride their beasts, let alone take them for a walk every so often. People are afraid of that aspect - they don't want to look in the mirror and see a frazzled, cracked out animal, bloodied and drunk, but still smiling. They'd prefer to see the guy with the neatly combed hair, confident and rational, comfortable and reasonable. The kind of guy who doesn't make waves. A go-getter with everything to lose.



You can't keep the beast tranquilized forever. One day it's going to leak out through your tension and anxiety. It’s going to make your rational-self uneasy. And when you’re loosest, it's going to claw its way out of your heart and murder all the philosophers and poets and innocent bystanders. It's going to hurt them and it's also going to hurt you.

The beast is, by its nature, not comfortable. It's emotional. It's savage. It's unpredictable. The beast is what you're trying to escape with your breathing exercises and iPod. With your drive for homeostasis and your metronomic routine. Living the way we do, we've all learned and internalized dozens of techniques to keep the beast in its cage. But it’s going crazy in there, waiting for a moment of weakness to spring out and tear shit up. Your beast is a big strong dog, and your Rational Thought is a skinny nerd trying to walk him but barely in control. Who's in charge here? Who's leading whom? If you have mastered Arête, one checks the other but they move in unison.

So there it is. Arête. It’s not a mastery one learns by living by the rules and being in control every day. It’s not experienced by becoming the most rational, controlled, stand-up person you can be. It’s found by tempering your brain with your balls. It’s pouring your fire into a shot glass and drinking it
straight up,
no chaser.

Hail Eris

Richter

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Re: Arête
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2007, 07:52:50 pm »
 :mittens:
Anyone ever think about how Richter inhabits the same reality as you and just scream and scream and scream, but in a good way?   :lulz:

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Re: Arête
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2007, 07:58:19 pm »
:mittens:

A-fucking-men, dude.

This makes for a good going away present, thank you. :wink:
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Re: Arête
« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2007, 12:44:10 am »
Damn.
One by one, we break the sheep from their Iron Bar Prisons and expand their imaginations, make them think for themselves. In turn, they break more from their prisons. Eventually, critical mass is reached. Our key word: Resolve. Evangelize with compassion and determination. And realize that there will be few in the beginning. We are hand picking our successors. They are the future of Discordianism. Let us guide our future with intelligence.

     --Reverse Brainwashing: A Guide http://www.principiadiscordia.com/forum/index.php?topic=9801.0


6.5 billion Buddhas walking around.

99.xxxxxxx% forgot they are Buddha.

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Re: Arête
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2007, 11:31:01 am »
nice writing, cram!!

always there to give a good excuse for a PARTY!! :-D

but one thing i don't quite agree with. you seem to imply that most people do not freak and and party anymore. i dunno quite who you're talking about, but who do you think the people on the 4th pic are then? possibly not the most "enlightened" bunch.
as far as i know, just about everybody, maybe even especially the ones we consider to "not think for themselves", goes out and freak at least once a month. maybe not always in a way that we would choose, but tastes differ and everybody can have their own outlet.
maybe i go to a goa or drumnbass party and dance my ass off for a few hours, while others prefer to booze, drop a pill and go to the more "regular" clubbing institutes. even others rent a little vacation house near the beach and spend their weekend smoking a few vegetables, drinking white russians and watching DVDs or sitting on dunetops staring into the black nothingness (incidentally this is what i will do in two weeks).
and it doesn't even need to involve drugs, some of my friends can completely lose themselves in salsa-dancing once in a week.

my point is, can you give real examples of groups of people that do not, somehow instinctively, understand the need to let it all go and freak out, once in a while?
because as far as i know, everybody does it. maybe the elderly [but they don't need "saving", just our care, we cannot change them anymore, and should not want to *IMO*]
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Cramulus

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Re: Arête
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2007, 04:12:36 pm »
but one thing i don't quite agree with. you seem to imply that most people do not freak and and party anymore. i dunno quite who you're talking about, but who do you think the people on the 4th pic are then? possibly not the most "enlightened" bunch.
as far as i know, just about everybody, maybe even especially the ones we consider to "not think for themselves", goes out and freak at least once a month. maybe not always in a way that we would choose, but tastes differ and everybody can have their own outlet.

Yeah the people in the fourth pic are definitely hanging with Dionysus. Especially Jean Luc.


Quote
maybe i go to a goa or drumnbass party and dance my ass off for a few hours, while others prefer to booze, drop a pill and go to the more "regular" clubbing institutes. even others rent a little vacation house near the beach and spend their weekend smoking a few vegetables, drinking white russians and watching DVDs or sitting on dunetops staring into the black nothingness (incidentally this is what i will do in two weeks).
and it doesn't even need to involve drugs, some of my friends can completely lose themselves in salsa-dancing once in a week.

It sounds like you're doing just fine!

Quote
my point is, can you give real examples of groups of people that do not, somehow instinctively, understand the need to let it all go and freak out, once in a while?
because as far as i know, everybody does it. maybe the elderly [but they don't need "saving", just our care, we cannot change them anymore, and should not want to *IMO*]

I'm not so much worried about the PD crowd. But I'd like to take this essay to other places where they might not have the same attitudes towards personal disorder.

My roommate needs a wakeup call, I think. He works a really high stress job then comes home and gets obliterated stoned, but it's more of an escapist tactic than a Dionysian one. I don't think I've seen him off the couch in months, and he's bored stupid but can't muster up the energy to go ignite himself, while there's still time.

I also wrote it as a reminder to myself, because I do find myself regularly choosing comfort over anarchy, and it would be healthier, I think, to have a little bit more anarchy.


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Re: Arête
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2007, 04:30:07 pm »
It sounds like you're doing just fine!

hell yeah you won't hear me complaining!

i have been on a forced "taking it easy" time but (almost afraid of saying it for jinxing it) slowly picking up more steam.

Quote
My roommate needs a wakeup call, I think. He works a really high stress job then comes home and gets obliterated stoned, but it's more of an escapist tactic than a Dionysian one. I don't think I've seen him off the couch in months, and he's bored stupid but can't muster up the energy to go ignite himself, while there's still time.

hm that sounds like my flatmate (does roommate mean that you share one room btw? i always wondered about this, hence i say flatmate, because we just share the appartment)

except that he doesn't get stoned if he needs to work the next day and spends all his time playing World of Warcraft (even when friends are over).

on the other hand, i'm pretty sure he still manages the "once a month" quota.

spending an evening drinking beers with a friend, does not count if you're both playing WoW at your computer or laptop in the same room. seriously .. it's the most annoying thing, i sometimes go there for a bit of company, but quickly return, because .. the internet talks back more often than they :roll:

Quote
I also wrote it as a reminder to myself, because I do find myself regularly choosing comfort over anarchy, and it would be healthier, I think, to have a little bit more anarchy.

to be honest, you also sound like you're doing fine :)

but it's of course a coloured vision, we don't tell eachother (much) about the boring stuff we do or even didn't do :)

so, what we need now is a step-by-step foolproof plan to let the beast out, preferably one that enables us to draw specific others with us as well.

i can probably say beforehand that, however well written and motivating your text is, handing them a piece of paper (or worse, a webpage), is probably not going to do much ;-)
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Lies

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Re: Arête
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2007, 05:20:55 am »
In my mind, Jim Morrison put it quite poetically (as he does...): Ride the snake.

We must kiss the snake on the tongue,
if it senses our fear, it will eat us instantly.
But if we kiss it without fear, the snake will take us through the garden and out the gate.
To our freedom -we must ride this snake. To the end of time.

JOHN
   I think I'm fucked up. I'm not
   thinking right.

      JIM
   You're fucked up John. Go with it,
   confusion is the sound of creation.

      JOHN
   You should see your eyes right now,
   you're death. Look at your eyes --
   you're crazy man, you look crazy.
   You scare me.

      JIM
   No no no John John. God is crazy
   too. God is part insane as well as
   sane. Not in control all the time.
   Dionysus was the God of the wine. He
   made ecstasy but he also made madness.
   Madness is all right. That's what
   you want, isn't it, isn't it? Where's
   that joint?
« Last Edit: September 16, 2007, 05:25:05 am by Lysergic »
- So the New World Order does not actually exist?
- Oh it exists, and how!
Ask the slaves whose labour built the White House;
Ask the slaves of today tied down to sweatshops and brothels to escape hunger;
Ask most women, second class citizens, in a pervasive rape culture;
Ask the non-human creatures who inhabit the planet:
whales, bears, frogs, tuna, bees, slaughtered farm animals;
Ask the natives of the Americas and Australia on whose land
you live today, on whose graves your factories, farms and neighbourhoods stand;
ask any of them this, ask them if the New World Order is true;
they'll tell you plainly: the New World Order… is you!

Cain

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Re: Arête
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2007, 02:10:13 pm »
That song was about the reptilian humanoid invasion of earth, according to David Icke (then again, what isn't, according to him?).

Anyway, interestingly enough (to ride out the Odysseus example), in Ancient Greek culture, you could get away with an awful lot so long as you did it with style.  Our man at the Trojan War, for example, framed a Greek commander and had him executed for "treason", to avenge his pride, and that was perfectly fine.  The only real "sin" in Greek terms was cowardice.  Being too cowardly to have be able to relax and have fun, which I suspect many people of, would almost certainly count.  Look at the prudish Monotheistic Three adherents, who try and teach that Having Fun is a Mortal Sin.  The reasoning seems to be that they are afrai of their own emotions, afraid that put with the temptation of fine food, drink and company, they cannot control themselves.

As I see it, that is their problem, not mine.   8)

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Re: Arête
« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2007, 03:58:05 pm »
interesting

Anyway, interestingly enough (to ride out the Odysseus example), in Ancient Greek culture, you could get away with an awful lot so long as you did it with style.

this kinda reminds me of RAWs "reality is what you can get away with", in a way.

Quote
  Our man at the Trojan War, for example, framed a Greek commander and had him executed for "treason", to avenge his pride, and that was perfectly fine.  The only real "sin" in Greek terms was cowardice.  Being too cowardly to have be able to relax and have fun, which I suspect many people of, would almost certainly count. 

courage. that's a virtue. i'm also guilty to the "sin" of cowardice myself, from time to time.
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Cain

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Re: Arête
« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2007, 04:03:30 pm »
Well, as with most things, its a little more complex than that.  Its more about having a base nature...like many Greek concepts, its hard to translate.  For example, in the Iliad, both the Trojans and the Greeks are the "good guys", because they fight with bravery and cunning.  Contemptible nature is evil and shunned, not actions.

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Re: Arête
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2007, 04:27:05 pm »
is it perhaps sort-of about being "a really cool guy", being the "alpha male", sort of thing?

also, when i read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, "Arete" was translated as "Excellence". i think that is also a nice word for it.
still, i'm impressed how Cram managed to connect it up with freaking out and partying :)
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Cain

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Re: Arête
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2007, 04:46:27 pm »
Kind of....

Its more like using your abilities to their best.  For example, Odysseus was a cunning and highly strategic thinker.  Therefore, when he used that skill, he was being virtuous.  It didn't matter that he was using that skill as part of a personal vendetta to get revenge (although the Greeks did praise such activities, in general) or to ransack a city that had never done him any ill.

Switching tack from Greek legend to modern psychology, being able to have fun and kick back is fairly important.  People who don't get funny ideas, but more importantly, if you like and enjoy having fun, then you should not ever let social restrictions get in the way of that.  Its an extension of personality and nature and should not be repressed simply to please the fun-haters in society, of which there are plenty.  Indeed, acting within your personal nature is a virtue (know thyself, etc).

Thats how I read it, anyway.

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Re: Arête
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2007, 05:02:33 pm »
Ok, so most (if not all) people like and enjoy to have fun, it would be a virtue to find out what is most fun and act upon that, and a sin to let people, cowardice, laziness and even lack of insight/self-knowledge (BIP) get in the way of that.

so does that bring us back to "Do What Thou Wilt" ?
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Re: Arête
« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2007, 06:14:21 pm »
Crowley's Party Manifesto (haphazard extracts from The Book Of The Law)

41. The word of Sin is Restriction

Be goodly therefore: dress ye all in fine apparel; eat rich foods and drink sweet wines and wines that foam! Also, take your fill and will of love as ye will, when, where and with whom ye will!

9. Remember all ye that existence is pure joy; that all the sorrows are but as shadows; they pass & are done; but there is that which remains

Be strong, o man! lust, enjoy all things of sense and rapture: fear not that any God shall deny thee for this.

44. Aye! feast! rejoice! there is no dread hereafter

Tear down that lying spectre of the centuries: veil not your vices in virtuous words: these vices are my service

Wisdom says: be strong! Then canst thou bear more joy. Be not animal; refine thy rapture! If thou drink, drink by the eight and ninety rules of art: if thou love, exceed by delicacy; and if thou do aught joyous, let there be subtlety therein!

Fear not at all; fear neither men nor Fates, nor gods, nor anything. Money fear not, nor laughter of the folk folly, nor any other power in heaven or upon the earth or under the earth.

 Let her be loud and adulterous! Let her be covered with jewels, and rich garments, and let her be shameless before all men!
What makes it so? Making it so is what makes it so.