This idea sat in my drafts too long. So here goes.
Earlier this year I was in the 18th century in my viewing: Outlander, TURN, Poldark…the 18th century started to look pretty good to me compared to the perpetual crisis state of now. Also, everyone’s hot.
Even though the Age of Reason had constant brutal wars, terrible diseases (putrid throat — doesn’t sound good!), battling the forces of nature, encounters with the animal kingdom of the two and four-legged variety, and of course the constant looming threat of rape.
Anyway, there was a scene in one of these series where someone is in jail (on trumped-up charges). The character is talking to the jailor, and says something contemptuous about the brand of justice they are meting out. It was a good delivery; he spit out the word.
This reminded me of something my father used to say. When we were whining, complaining, or attesting to something not being fair he’d say in exasperation: “If you want justice, go to church!” It was an odd statement and required some consideration because it didn’t quite make sense, but the intended effect was that it shut us up.
I think what my father meant was, “if you want to listen to a bubbameister where one gets one’s just rewards, then good luck with that.” Don’t hold your breath, I guess.
My father was highly suspicious of organized anything, but particularly religion. I know that he deeply appreciated the wisdom of the Bible but didn’t feel the need to go a house of worship and have someone interpret and put their realpolitik all over it. A lover of history and philosophy as well, my father relied on his own steam to discover the knowledge he sought.
So, we have religion, the Age of Reason and now: Plato. This is getting stream of consciousness and I have no excuses for the lack of cohesion. These seemingly random thoughts all came up from that one bit of dialogue.
To Plato. The Republic to be more precise. I read it in college and also translated parts of it from the ancient Greek. I remember our Classics professor taking us to a lecture by a preeminent academic on all ten books of the Republic which covers ideas like: the philosopher-king, justice, the just man. Big stuff. This earnest professor giving the lecture was from a country in Western Europe — one of the G7 so no one has to freak out — and English was not his first language. The room was hot and stuffy, the lecture interminable and completely incomprehensible.
I think most of us nodded off after wondering what we had done that merited such punishment.
As this gentleman was wrapping up, he used again a word that was much utilized in his lecture. He had spoken of Plato’s idea of the composition of the human soul which included “re-zoning.” It was only then that we realized what he was trying to say was that one crux (can there be more than one?) of the Republic was Reasoning! Not ReZoning!
I guess you had to have been there but I thought it was pretty funny because there’s some hard truth in the rezoning idea. Since we’re building a republic here, we might as well drill all the way down to the ground and make sure the zoning of this city-state is properly ordered. Rezoning fits in nicely with Plato’s tripartite caste system.
Is there a lesson here? Not sure except I do know that if I write an idea down without notes I will have no idea what to do with it five months down the road. The 18th century seems bawdy, ribald, licentious in a good clean dirty fun kind of way, but of course I’m getting my information from a highly unreliable source.
As far as Plato goes — if you want something sexier, I would suggest the Symposium. It’s shorter too.
I wish everyone well in their search for justice on this side of the veil.
Yeah baby! Bam!
Clare! I went right on your site and read your essay — my Plato is very rusty (lol), but loved the writing! 😘
I really like the collage! And the essay is funny and sweet. Your father was a great man. ❤️