The Mythopoetic Mind of Plato: The Kingdom-Sage’s Muthos in Timaeus, The Republic, and The Symposium (Parts III & IV)
III: Echo Envoi
Cracks crimp, Cold to the cobble— Melodies meandering, And market’s word Ceases in obscurity. Torrents flow Calling the sage To the floor. Body still Mind wild In motions— Waking, unwaking; Shadow, light— Realities in recital. “Tear that tongue, Pour those ears, Skewer those eyes: Walk through this door, Perish in perception— All begone As Nero’s dripping Firestorms aplenty. I will hold your shaky spirit To speak its piety alight, But mind(s) you must cast inside mine: Thy freedom is my surrender— I am demiurge.” Kingdom’s castle Could not hold; Tremors on linings, The terrible life— A murder more prophetic, Foretelling… (is, was, and will) At once— AND the self-same act Supreme history suspends: The old-world god Lost in the new, Not knowing The tips of self, transcendent… “We of mind eternal Sowed seed complete Into necessity’s wide void So chaos would conform— Cruel vessel, remember us: You are free Upon the flood of the firmament.” Clarions unclear, Cuts of consciousness— Stormed, frantic surreal As snowed cerebral shrouds. Mind alone, mind elohim. Timber crashed, thunder spat, Sheddings immortal in fury fused— Disparate dizzied death, Resting on the backs of things. That sage sees all, AND tears would fall If eyes were readied— But bellowing arcs Beached new covenants In deserts woven spectral. No will unlike, Gave gift To dreamings perfect First and prime, The century’s choice: Chiliad’s burning cool. Eternity, an ember in slip, Bloomed new suns, To see what sages saw: These schizoid clusters, Ravished to the depths Of symphonies and drowned sprites. And this woman, the Wetnurse of Becoming, Took the sage’s hand, Palmed with universes, Spent her spirit into its wonder— Changing motion to form, form to motion forever. Not finished… waiting… In warm fashionings wet, And another rough hand, the Receiver, Seized the swarms by energy To hush chaos into creation. Sonorant rushes of shapes to come, Making kind to kind, Quarried with divine geometry quantum. Crackling dawns, Hurried physics Destined as razors In these sage hands that could not Hold strong this roaming sphere— Explosions most white into galaxies, Jubilant to Blackest spaces unseen. The shaking orb teared In-between these sage fingers Calmed by the Receptacle, And it did bite fierce temperatures In its womb of worlds. Flight and will to cosmos Crashed to kindred homes— When sages as demiurges Heard the World-Soul at center. And it was beauty, So the Name-Giver let breath. Warm breezes chilled The sages senses immaculate— Broke to the cobblestone, Speechless as glassed wine Shadowed in grains still, And the sweat of salt seething, An anchor to a fresher existence spined. The sage now but seals continuance, “Our universe, Indeed the only one of its kind, Has come to be.”
The preceding poetic myth retells the overarching events of Plato’s Timaeus, from the point that the creation of the universe is potentialized in Platonic thought with a few of its own twists and inventions. And for the majority of this text, it stays rather close to the original. The sincerest understanding of this practice comes from Eleazar Meletinsky and his discussions of remythification, and this poetic consciousness, through the self and its expressions, is always expanding to re-inscribe mythic identity in new minds from poetry to physics and beyond.11998, 340. Myth is not encrusted in any obvious value systems, but decoded and recoded via the subtle-yet-profound interplays between mimetic excesses of meaning and worldviews, in providing self (and society) with a cosmic map of how to live and how to know. That myths “told may always be retold, that a mythology received may also be renewed, that symbolic world-making is never quite complete”—according to Coupe on Meletinsky—speaks to the character of life itself as a constantly fulfilling and ongoing endeavour, never squandered. And this dynamic frustrates and defies any simplistic notion of justification or truth, such that many ancient and modern scholars have had to bracket it off as a curiosity when the common philosophic language collapses under its pertinence and domain.22003, 13. Yet, the bias of valuing one over the other is entirely unfair and unfounded, given that the features of myth and philosophy arise from the same cognitive structure: the mind that works to create meanings in correspondence with its self and surroundings, that is no less active in triumphantly mastering either. Brisson’s translator, Naddaf, even notes where these terms—myth, logic, and art—are fully interchangeable in ancient and modern contexts.3Naddaf, viii. Brisson himself goes even further to express the sort of paradigm shift that was occurring in the Greek mindset, where the juxtaposition of myth and philosophy was allowing each to be tempered by the other in taking on aspects of the other, such that these concepts faded to a new light and synthetic rebirth.42000, 38-39; 87. And not without a certain amount of growing pains, of course.
A steadfast component of Timaeus is the tumult of myth and philosophy, side by side. Plato introduces the method and character of his account, when prefacing halfway through the dialogue, “[w]e must prefer to conduct our inquiry by means of rational argument.”51997, 1254, 50c The purpose is to put myth to the epistemological test to ensure that it arises from validated true belief, the hieros logos (sacred tales).6The cross-checking of myth against philosophy (and vice-versa) is engendered, encouraged to create a sense of mindfulness and (self)reflexivity in his practice of attaining virtue. The wager as I have gleaned is more about the process than the attainment. Plato desires methods to way-find truth vis-à-vis story rather than a forfeiting and a surrender to ‘absolute’ reality—what perhaps could easily deviate and decompensate into an ongoing, unconscious expectation of it; he wants to prove himself, verify virtue through struggle, and have a measure of accountability and knowledge that something has been gained and improved in himself (and ideally others too). When myth is ratified by truth, there is a grander moment of consensus and feasibly an awareness that each person within that privileged cohort is contributing to the same project of reality, a shared community in-sync to the flow(s) of the universe as each conceives, desires it so. Plato yearns for that belonging and commune, one reached through philosophy and shared cultural values. A language of being.
At this point onward, the intensity between narrative and logic heightens such that every section inside the cosmogony is subjected to philosophical proofs to ensure the history and validity of Plato’s vote for this one universe to its ultimate source, the eternal reality of the Good. The fine telescoping of each kernel of this story to saturate it with philosophic features certainly emphasizes the mechanisms at work in making a world.7Plato 1997, 1255-1256, 52e-53b; 1259-1260, 57a-c; 1261, 58d-59c. The power of myth centers in its retellings that do not lose touch with the adherents and admirers, and this in itself is no exception for the distinct materials invested by Plato and others in re-crafting. The high argument of myth comes into being when the global network of mythology8“Mythology” is a regional-to-global network of muthos, that as mythic parts to a larger entity have actively sustained and realigned each other under a collective deep psychology of spirituality and the self that yields a meta-narrative, its effect being to complete the human condition upon this one vision. is evident in its radical flows and responses, and the deep psychology spiritualized into the divine is expressible into a refined language, modified by foreign grammars and the new frontiers of consciousness. A simple example here would be Plato’s use and response to the forms of the divine in Timaeus: the creator god, the world god, the gods, the demiurge(s), the daemons—each of which is re-inscribed by creation as a critical act in paring down decorum to purpose, through the act of perception and a pristine physics. As Lovejoy talks about the “Two-Gods-in-One,” it becomes unmistakably clearer that Plato conceives of all divinity in terms of this dynamic based in a self-sufficing Perfection and a self-transcending Fecundity that merge into the mystery of the universe animate.91936, 50. Managing and capturing (meta)physics and genesis is then undoubtedly mythic, collapsed into a desire of becoming.
Timaeus is indispensable to Plato in that it embodies the global picture that organizes what universe is as far as a continued lived experience of it for the Greek believer. The dialogue is able to connect one’s sympathies to every conscious construction of this origin myth and all the imagination after that follows it in perfect inheritance. And, as a closer reader, anyone therein impressed cannot help but wonder at what point has Plato shaped the modern physicist? Granted, some of the metaphors may be dated, but the perceptual quest and founding principles are sound. Plato, in Timaeus more than elsewhere, has a strong analytical power for parts, wholes, motion, time, qualities, quantities, and other hosts of aspects. The intent allows Plato to have a cosmological and scientific affinity combined with his devotion towards mythic roots. This unique character presents a sensory physics unparalleled, which is an inherent impression in Timaeus and its Platonic mythopoesis10The term “mythopoesis” indicates either completing a single mythogenic act or constructing a myth both creatively and concretely in the manner of remythologizing consciousness. that engenders a bustling universe buzzing with perceptibility. The presence of a living and cognizant universe (the World-Soul) as a god in this dialogue connects humanity with a never-ending, constant, and fluid process of awareness. That eternal flow confirms human existence as meaningful in the sacred, self-same source of first origins: “And, revolving within itself, it [the World-Soul] initiated a divine beginning of unceasing, intelligent life for all time [and all of humanity]”11Plato 1997, 1240, 36e. Yet, the connection that is necessary to pull these sacred meanings down to the physical plane is less than ordinary. There are many candidates that could encourage this psycho-activity in acts of mystical knowing, but the compound dimethyltryptamine (DMT) has a reputation as being one of the fundamental molecules that is universally present in organisms in regulating reality and consciousness, such that it has been coined the spirit molecule. And if what Plato suggests in Timaeus is accessible, then it occurs in conjunction with such matter and the mind itself. The most significant example would be the fractal geometry, that knowing one piece would enable a Platonic mystic to see the entire history of the universe.12Plato 1997, 1256, 53d. Joel Bakst, a Rabbi, takes position on these alternate realities perceived:
I believe all these experiences, in fact, are fractals […]. They are fractured fractions very, very, very minute […]. If we understand the concept of fractal geometry, no matter how small it is, it contains everything that is in the larger picture [universe], and thus that validates profoundly all these various experiences.13DMT—the Spirit Molecule 2010, 00:51:46-00:52:38
From this indivisible awareness, the mystic sage is fully able to tap into the eternal mind of god, something that would smooth out a translation in terms of human consciousness—and that would give the creative impetus to imagine a text like Timaeus. The brilliant use of catalogues at the advent of the first human souls, from sense to object, object to world, work to demonstrate the meaning, immediacy, and pull of existence.14Plato 1997, 1263-1290, 61b-92c. The full artistic effect renders the senses of individuals experiencing this myth—either in a primary or secondary manner—by the aesthesis, the given simulation that orients the self towards and inside an experienced realism that is fully compelled and completed by that conscious self. The goal being that the individual self is totalized and engrossed in the truth that “[t]his world of ours has received and teems with living things, mortal and immortal. A visible living thing containing visible ones, perceptible god, image of the intelligible Living Thing, its grandness, goodness, beauty and perfection are unexcelled.”15Plato 1997, 1291, 92c.
|↑4||2000, 38-39; 87.|
|↑5||1997, 1254, 50c|
|↑6||The cross-checking of myth against philosophy (and vice-versa) is engendered, encouraged to create a sense of mindfulness and (self)reflexivity in his practice of attaining virtue. The wager as I have gleaned is more about the process than the attainment. Plato desires methods to way-find truth vis-à-vis story rather than a forfeiting and a surrender to ‘absolute’ reality—what perhaps could easily deviate and decompensate into an ongoing, unconscious expectation of it; he wants to prove himself, verify virtue through struggle, and have a measure of accountability and knowledge that something has been gained and improved in himself (and ideally others too). When myth is ratified by truth, there is a grander moment of consensus and feasibly an awareness that each person within that privileged cohort is contributing to the same project of reality, a shared community in-sync to the flow(s) of the universe as each conceives, desires it so. Plato yearns for that belonging and commune, one reached through philosophy and shared cultural values. A language of being.|
|↑7||Plato 1997, 1255-1256, 52e-53b; 1259-1260, 57a-c; 1261, 58d-59c.|
|↑8||“Mythology” is a regional-to-global network of muthos, that as mythic parts to a larger entity have actively sustained and realigned each other under a collective deep psychology of spirituality and the self that yields a meta-narrative, its effect being to complete the human condition upon this one vision.|
|↑10||The term “mythopoesis” indicates either completing a single mythogenic act or constructing a myth both creatively and concretely in the manner of remythologizing consciousness.|
|↑11||Plato 1997, 1240, 36e.|
|↑12||Plato 1997, 1256, 53d.|
|↑13||DMT—the Spirit Molecule 2010, 00:51:46-00:52:38|
|↑14||Plato 1997, 1263-1290, 61b-92c.|
|↑15||Plato 1997, 1291, 92c.|