Category: Uncategorized

ancient tragedy and modern pain

by Andrea Elizabeth

I’m thinking Elder Paisios and Kierkegaard may not be that far apart on this.

“The same applies to children. They inherit a fault for which they are not responsible, but they should not blame their parents for it. They have an independent and free will and can discard their “inheritance,” if they decide they don’t want it and don’t love it.

In my opinion, the person who has unwillingly inherited the evil, and strives to get rid of it, is more praiseworthy than the one who has inherited good qualities from his parents and was never forced to struggle to acquire it; the first one fought for it, whereas the second one found it ready. God’s judgment will take this fact into consideration. When, for instance, a child has a father who is a thief, he will also learn to steal, if he lacks good will and finally accepts his father’s inheritance. Go will be very lenient in judging this child, as he inherited the tendency to steal from his father, when he was still very young, and could not differentiate between good and evil.” (p. 125, 126 Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain, by Piestmonk Christodoulos

“This also turns out to be the case with tragic guilt. Our age has lost all the substantial categories of family, state, kindred; it must turn the single individual over to himself completely in such a way that, strictly speaking, he becomes his own creator. Consequently his guilt is sin, his pain repentance, but thereby the tragic is canceled. Furthermore, suffering tragedy in the stricter sense has essentially lost its tragic interest, for the power that is the source of the suffering has lost its meaning, and the spectator shouts: Help yourself, and heaven will help you – in other words, the spectator has lost compassion, but in a subjective and also in an objective sense compassion is the authentic expression of the tragic.” (p. 149, Either/Or)

“Intrinsically, the tragic is infinitely gentle; esthetically it is to human life what divine grace and compassion are; it is even more benign, and therefore I say that it is a motherly love that lulls the troubled one. The ethical is rigorous and hard. Therefore, if a criminal before the judge wants to excuse himself by saying that his mother had a propensity for stealing, especially during the time she was pregnant with him, the judge obtains the health officer’s opinion of his mental condition and decides that he is dealing with a thief and not with the thief’s mother. Insofar as the issue here is a crime, the sinner certainly cannot flee into the temple of esthetics, but nevertheless it will indeed have a mitigating word for him. But it would be wrong for him to seek refuge there, for his path takes him to the religious, not to the esthetic. The esthetic lies behind him, and it would be a new sin on his part to seize the esthetic now. The religious is the expression for fatherly love, for it embraces the ethical, but it is mitigated, and by what means – by the very same means that give the tragic its gentleness, by means of continuity…. In a certain sense, therefore, it is a very appropriate discretion on the part of the age to want to make the individual responsible for everything; the trouble is that it does not do it profoundly and inwardly enough, and hence its half-measures. It is conceited enough to disdain the tears of tragedy, but it is also conceited enough to want to do without mercy. And what, after all, is human life, the human race, when these two things are taken away? Either the sadness of the tragic or the profound sorrow and profound joy of religion. Or is this not the striking feature of everything that originates in that happy people – a depression of spirit, a sadness in their art, in their poetry, in their life, in their joy?” (p. 145,146 Either/Or)

speculation on the separation

by Andrea Elizabeth

“As spirit, qualified solely as spirit, renounces this world, feels that the world not only is not its home but is not even its stage, and withdraws into the higher realms, it leaves the worldly behind as the playground for the power with which it has always been in conflict and to which it now yields ground. Then as spirit disengages itself from the earth, the sensuous shows itself in all its power. It has not objection to the change; indeed, it perceives the advantage in being separated and is happy that the Church does not induce them to remain together but cuts in two the band that binds them.” (p. 89 of Either/Or by Søren Kierkegaard)

He explains that in pre-Christian Greek culture the idea of a seducer in general did not exist. “Its love was therefore psychical, not sensuous, and it is this that instills the modesty that rests over all Greek love.” The gods loved women in particular, even if there were more than one, albeit in succession. Don Juan loves femininity in general. If this is true, I wonder if there was any such thing as a serial killer back then.

And why does he say the spirit disengages itself when Pentecost was when the spirit engaged Himself? Maybe there was a different dispensation of spirit before that, and the Church took a more exclusive portion. The Ascension made it happen in heaven and on earth simultaneously, but by raising particulars of the earthbound to heaven to accomplish it? A heavenly earthly existence is not sensuous but spiritual, even though the senses are involved, but in subjection.

Or maybe it could be true that when Christ united mankind in his incarnation, then there became man in general instead of man solely in particular? Not that people lost their individuality, but they lost their isolation? I wonder if psychological transference wasn’t possible back then either, where people “take things out” on surrogate people rather than the particular ones. To do it to one is to do it to all now. I’m probably taking his meaning too far.

the post after this will be about absurdism

by Andrea Elizabeth

Does anti self-negation make one a diva? Here’s a way it could go:

Don’t talk about yourself.

How can one know others if one doesn’t know oneself?

Projection is attributing to others one’s own point of view. Mostly this feels unjustified, but I have a broader theory.

Man in infinite (although with a starting point. Hey, if two rays originate in the same point and go opposite directions, then they take up the same space as an eternal line.), therefore he contains all points of view even if he only accepts some of them, so nothing that is said of anyone is really untrue, even if it is undiscovered. This is related to the knowledge of good and evil.

So, if one knows oneself fully, then they will know everyone else.

So why don’t you speak more in the first person without your exceptions of bringing out your limitations?

I don’t want to talk about it.

You are negating yourself.

Quit looking at me.

Who am I?

My mirror. I prefer to find out about myself through a telescope.

Robin Williams said (on Inside the Actor’s Studio) he hopes to hear God laughing in heaven

by Andrea Elizabeth

So, Robin gets to the pearly gates and St. Peter says, “Don’t you know suicide is a mortal sin and you can’t come in?”

“That’s ok, I’ll just sit out here and tell jokes.”

“They have to be pretty good, or we’ll send you away.”

“Did you hear the one about Chaplin, Groucho and Costello trying to get in the Pearly Gates?”

“Probably not your version”

“You wouldn’t let them in till Costello cried, “Hey, Abbot!” and St. Gregory of Nyssa came up and said to open the gate.”

La Mork de Robin

by Andrea Elizabeth

So sad about Robin Williams. What if he’d found Orthodoxy? I read one quote that he made during his 20 years of sobriety (’86 – ’06) where he said he was the same a-hole sober as he was when not. That reminds me of the week I spent with a clean house chart. It didn’t fix me as much as I thought it would. Life isn’t just fixing problems. We fix problems to be made fit for something higher. I hope he finds it now, please Lord.


Divine right

by Andrea Elizabeth

Reading about Oliver Cromwell is contributing to my running inquiry into revolutions. I know history is complicated, but I wonder if basic philosophical precepts have guided it.

Seems to me the Protestant Reformation was the beginning of popular uprisings, followed closely by the 1600’s English Civil War which was the precursor to the American and French Revolutions, and which pretty much marked the end of monarchy in the world. The events around the Magna Carta in the early 1200’s could be seen as the end of absolute monarchy as it was the beginning of parliament where the nobles could thwart the king, which they apparently did since William the Conqueror. I also read that his reign was the beginning of the castle age, which fortified the nobles, as far as I can tell.

Still, monarchs up to Tsar Nicholas II, believed themselves to rule by divine right. It seems that even though this belief eroded among the people, there was enough support for it till recently, and even a small remnant probably remains for Queen Elizabeth II. What I don’t understand is why monarchs did not have this same respect towards each other. Why would a divinely appointed King invade another King’s divinely ordained realm? Doesn’t seem very faithful to their calling to me.

Unless they actually believed in survival of the fittest, which is either an atheistic or Calvinistic doctrine, instead. This brings me to my next post.

The Knight’s Code

by Andrea Elizabeth

My daughter mentioned The Knight’s Code in one of her assignments today. I hadn’t heard it put that way, so I looked it up on Wikipedia, which took me to Chivalry, which comes from the term, horsemanship. This of course lead me to think of cowboys. Compare these codes, the first from

Léon Gautier in his La Chevalerie of 1883 bemoaned the “invasion of Breton romans” which replaced the pure military ethos of the crusades with Arthurian fiction and courtly adventures. Gautier tries to give a “popular summary” of what he proposes was the “ancient code of chivalry” of the 11th and 12th centuries, viz. the military ethos of the crusades which would evolve into the late medieval notion of chivalry. Gautier’s “commandments” are:

  1. Believe the Church’s teachings and observe all the Church’s directions.
  2. Defend the Church.
  3. Respect and defend all weaknesses.
  4. Love your country.
  5. Show no mercy to the Infidel. Do not hesitate to make war with them.
  6. Perform all your feudal duties as long as they do not conflict with the laws of God.
  7. Never lie or go back on one’s word.
  8. Be generous to everyone.
  9. Always and everywhere be right and good against evil and injustice.

And the second from Gene Autrey’s cowboy code

  1. The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage.
  2. He must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him.
  3. He must always tell the truth.
  4. He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals.
  5. He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.
  6. He must help people in distress.
  7. He must be a good worker.
  8. He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and personal habits.
  9. He must respect women, parents, and his nation’s laws.
  10. The Cowboy is a patriot.

The main difference is in tolerance. The knight isn’t, Gene Autrey’s cowboy is. I think that issue is very confused right now. Nowadays we shoot the shooter, or the beheader, of the infidel. Or we did till recently. Now we don’t shoot anyone, we just give guns to those who do.

Anyway, the origin of chivalry is western. In the east we had the Mongol warrior horsemen, in the mid-east, the Arab nomads, who influenced the indomitable Byzantine cataphracts. But it is a bit muddy because eastern and western Rome was united until the fall of western Rome, which was before the days of Charlemagne, where it technically began and then flourished during the Crusades. The cataphract article only relates to warfare. Combining that with a moral and ethical code seems to be a romanticizing thing to do. Before that, and in other places, who knows how horse soldiers acted?

Ironically, the latest conflicts between the remaining “gentlemen” on the Bachelorette seem to be about balancing the codes governing how to treat women, how to treat comrades, and how to treat rivals. They seem confused about it. Early on it was, this is war, but then they decided to be chums and wish each other good luck. The latest guy who got booted had been complaining bitterly about trying to act happy when other people got close to Andi. She seems to like the guy who is quiet with the others, and only prioritizes her. Still, she says she wants someone who is liked and gets along well with others. We’ll see how that goes. I think the others would have liked him better if he didn’t appear to be winning. Or maybe they would have if he seemed unaware of it. I think they’re secretly hoping that she secretly likes someone else instead.

Here’s what Wikipedia says about the Ukrainian Cossack Code:

“There was a cossack military court, which severely punished violence and stealing among compatriots, bringing women to the Sich [council], consumption of alcohol in periods of conflict, etc. There were also churches and schools, providing religious services and basic education. Principally, the Eastern Orthodox Church was preferred and was a part of the national identity.

In times of peace, Cossacks were engaged in their occupations, living with their families, studying strategy, languages and educating recruits. As opposed to other armies, Cossacks were free to choose their preferred weapon. Wealthy Cossacks preferred to wear heavy armour, while infantrymen preferred to wear simple clothes, although they also occasionally wore mail.”

So women were left out of this code. Interesting. I think there probably is more segregation in the east. Until the Soviets? I think I’ve written before about the Soviets advancing women’s rights, education, and birth control.

Also interesting: “The Cossacks’ strong historic allegiance to the Eastern Orthodox Church put them at odds with the Catholic-dominated Commonwealth. Tensions increased when Commonwealth policies turned from relative tolerance to suppression of the Orthodox church, making the Cossacks strongly anti-Catholic, which at the time was synonymous with anti-Polish.” So that’s the animosity with the Polish.

by Andrea Elizabeth

Tis a beautiful day to be home alone from Church sick, drinking coffee with the dogs basking on the back porch while the trees aggressively compete for sunny air space overhead. 

by Andrea Elizabeth

I neglected to attribute the quote in the last post to St. Ignaty Brianchaninov in The Arena. I’ll try to get the page number later. I think it was about 110.

Our Mutual Friend

by Andrea Elizabeth

This isn’t a post about books, movies, religion, politics, activities or feelings, so what does that leave to talk about? Oh, there was something. Was it about Our Mutual Friend, the miniseries? No, it was teasing something out of some concept or behavior. What was it? Some extreme in a behavior or attitude. Heavenly or earthly minded? No. Practical vs. ideal? No. Spoiling vs. harshness? No. Recklessness vs. overprotection? No. I can’t think of it. So I guess I have nothing to talk about today. Have a nice one.

Well, I can’t leave it like that so I’ll mention that in Our Mutual Friend, I appreciated the equal treatment of people’s susceptibility to the dark side, even Lizzie’s. But was her willingness based on a desire to help, or was it another instance of Dickensonian unrealistic romanticism? I honestly don’t know.



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