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Posts Tagged ‘Plato

I forget…

 source: Flickr/Lord Rex

As we worry about the skills being lost in our growing dependence on new technologies, we might contemplate Plato’s recounting of Socrates’ dialogue with Phaedrus:

Socrates: Among the ancient gods of Naucratis in Egypt there was one to whom the bird called the ibis is sacred. The name of that divinity was Thoth, and it was he who first discovered number and calculation, geometry and astronomy, as well as the games of checkers and dice, and above all else, writing.

Now, the king of all Egypt at that time was Thamus, who lived in the great city in the upper region that the Greeks call Egyptian Thebes; Thamus they call Amun. Thoth came to exhibit his arts to him and urged him to disseminate them to all the Egyptians. Thamus asked him about the usefulness of each art, and while Thoth was explaining it, Thamus praised him for whatever he thought was right in his explanations and criticized him for whatever he thought was wrong.

The story goes that Thamus said much to Thoth, both for and against each art, which it would take too long to repeat. But when they came to writing, Thoth said, “O king, here is something that, once learned, will make the Egyptians wiser and will improve their memory; I have discovered a potion for memory and for wisdom.” Thamus, however, replied, “O most expert Thoth, one man can give birth to the elements of an art, but only another can judge how they can benefit or harm those who will use them. And now, since you are the father of writing, your affection for it has made you describe its effects as the opposite of what they really are. In fact, it will introduce forgetfulness into the soul of those who learn it: they will not practice using their memory because they will put their trust in writing, which is external and depends on signs that belong to others, instead of trying to remember from the inside, completely on their own. You have not discovered a potion for remembering, but for reminding; you provide your students with the appearance of wisdom, not with its reality. Your invention will enable them to hear many things without being properly taught, and they will imagine that they have come to know much while for the most part they will know nothing. And they will be difficult to get along with, since they will merely appear to be wise instead of really being so.”

Via Lapham’s Quarterly. (C.f. also Josh Mostel’s hysterical dramatization on Media Probes, if you can find it…)

As we chill, we might recall that it was on this date in 1982 that the final episode of The Lawrence Welk Show was taped (for syndicated release on April 17).  The series aired locally in Los Angeles for four years (1951–55), then nationally for another 28 years via the ABC network (1955–71) and– supported by anti-aging tonic Geritol,  sleep aid Sominex, and laxative Serutan–in first-run syndication (1971–82).  Then in 1986, lest a generation of Americans forget the polka, Oklahoma Public Television acquired the rights and began redistributing the programs to PBS stations…  on which they run to this day.

And a one, and a two…

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Written by LW

February 24, 2012 at 1:01 am

What we have here is a failure to communicate…

Summer’s ending, and with it, the Summer Reading Season…  So, as readers shift back into gear, and think back over the books that occupied their breaks, Dan Wilbur offers Better Book Titles, where one will find such clarifying emendations as:

AKA, Guns, Germs, and Steel: Jared Diamond

AKA, The Symposium: Plato

AKA, The DaVinci Code: Dan Brown

AKA, The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo: Stieg Larsson

One can find many, many more– and submit one’s own– here.

As we vacuum the sand from our volumes, we might wish a happy birthday to author Jacqueline Susann; she was born on this date in 1921.  Having been disappointed by her luck as an actress and a model, Ms. Susann turned to the typewriter.  Her first novel, Every Night, Josephine (or as Better Book Titles might have it, My Poodle and Me), was a best-seller.  Her second, Valley of the Dolls (or, a la BBT, Booze, Babes, and Pills) was the best-seller:  it topped the chart for 22 weeks, and by the time of Susann’s death in 1974, had sold over 17 million copies, making it the best-selling novel of all time.  According to The Internet Public Library, it’s still Number One, with current cumulative sales of 30 million (two million copies ahead of runner-up Gone With the Wind).

Jacqueline Susann (source)

The Annals of Symbology, Vol. 27: “Simple Substitution- Rowling Rampant” (Naughtiness Alert- NSFC)…

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Further to the “Plato Code” discovered by Manchester University professor Jay Kennedy to be hidden in the works of Plato (as described in “Special Edition: Too Weird…“), internet scholar “JonJonB” reports (on ICQ):

Purely in the interests of science, I have replaced the word “wand” with “wang” in the first Harry Potter Book…

Some of his results:

“Why aren’t you supposed to do magic?” asked Harry.
[Hagrid:] “Oh, well — I was at Hogwarts meself but I — er — got expelled, ter tell yeh the truth. In me third year. They snapped me wang in half an’ everything.

“Oh, move over,” Hermione snarled. She grabbed Harry’s wang, tapped the lock, and whispered, “Alohomora!”

Harry took the wang. He felt a sudden warmth in his fingers. He raised the wang above his head, brought it swishing down through the dusty air and a stream of red and gold sparks shot from the end like a firework, throwing dancing spots of light on to the walls.

“Get – off – me!” Harry gasped. For a few seconds they struggled, Harry pulling at his uncles sausage-like fingers with his left hand, his right maintaining a firm grip on his raised wang.

Readers will find other compelling evidence– and indeed have the opportunity to search for long-suspected but as-yet-discovered references to Plato in Rowling’s text– at Quote Database.  And readers see/can hear The Pointer Sisters sing this post’s theme song, Willie Dixon’s “Wang Dang Doodle” here.

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As we remember that we promised ourselves to reread Ulysses, we might recall that it was on this date in 1910 that 20,000 people in Reno, Nevada saw Jack Johnson–  boxing’s first African-American heavyweight champ– successfully defend his title against James J. Jeffries.  Jeffries, a prior champ, had retired in 1904 undefeated (Johnson had won the title from Tommy Burns, who received it by default).

In 1910, Jeffries announced “I feel obligated to the sporting public at least to make an effort to reclaim the heavyweight championship for the white race. . . . I should step into the ring again and demonstrate that a white man is king of them all.”  In the event, Johnson proved stronger and more nimble than Jeffries. In the 15th round, after Jeffries had been knocked down twice for the first time in his career, his people called it quits to prevent Johnson from knocking him out.

Johnson’s victory over Jeffries had dashed white dreams of finding a “great white hope” to defeat him.  The result triggered race riots that evening — the Fourth of July — all across the United States, from Texas and Colorado  to New York and Washington, D.C.  Indeed, many “riots” were simply Blacks celebrating in the streets.  In some cities, like Chicago, the police didn’t disturb the celebrations.  But in others, the police and angry white citizens tried to subdue the revelers. In all, “riots” occurred in more than 25 states and 50 cities. About 23 Blacks and two Whites died in the riots, and hundreds more were injured.  Police interrupted several attempted lynchings.

The fight

It was, of course, also on this date– in 1776– that the United States Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Second Continental Congress.

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Special Edition: Too weird…

From Evil Twin Comics

A science historian at The University of Manchester has cracked “The Plato Code”– the long disputed secret messages hidden in the great philosopher’s writings.

Plato was the Einstein of Greece’s Golden Age and his work founded Western culture and science. Dr Jay Kennedy’s findings are set to revolutionize the history of the origins of Western thought.  Dr Kennedy, whose findings are published in the leading US journal Apeiron, reveals that Plato used a regular pattern of symbols, inherited from the ancient followers of Pythagoras, to give his books a musical structure. A century earlier, Pythagoras had declared that the planets and stars made an inaudible music, a “harmony of the spheres.” Plato imitated this hidden music in his books.

The hidden codes show that Plato anticipated the Scientific Revolution 2,000 years before Isaac Newton, discovering its most important idea – the book of nature is written in the language of mathematics. The decoded messages also open up a surprising way to unite science and religion. The awe and beauty we feel in nature, Plato says, shows that it is divine; discovering the scientific order of nature is getting closer to God. This could transform today’s culture wars between science and religion.

Peruse the full story– though filled with more troubling tropes of the sort that litter the passage above, it’s fascinating reading– in this University of Manchester release.

Written by LW

June 29, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Homage is where the heart is…

On the tenth anniversary of the release of The Matrix, Trevor Boyd and Steve Ilett invested 440 hours in painstakingly recreating 990 frames of the film– the famous “Bullet Time” dodge sequence–  in Lego.

See the finished sequence:

And marvel at the extraordinary fidelity of their craft in this side-by-side comparison:

ToTH to Scott Beale and Laughing Squid

Readers might want to tweet the news that the “Top Words of 2009” (as culled by the Global Language Monitor) are in. The winner?  “Twitter— the ability to encapsulate human thought in 140 characters.” (And then again, readers might want to choose their words carefully…)

As we wander around Plato’s cave, we might take celebratory dip in the pork barrel today in honor of Andrew Jackson, whose election as 7th President of the U.S. (as solemnized by the Electoral College) on this date in 1828 both manifest and accelerated America’s shift toward its democratic (if not Democratic) future.

Old Hickory

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