June 19, 2009

Suffering into truth

"Zeus has led us on to know,
the Helmsmen lays it down as law
that we must suffer, suffer into truth."--Aeschylus, Agamemnon

Lately the theme at Goat Rope has been Greek tragedy, with a particular focus on the work of Aeschylus, the earliest and for my money the greatest tragic poet. For the last two weeks, the focus has been on the Oresteia, the only surviving tragic trilogy.

Its theme is huge and one that I find myself returning to again and again. It's nothing less than the emergence of democracy and social justice after and in spite of generations of violence and excess. The take home message seems to me to be that no matter how awful the past has been, we can do better.

Aeschylus has a very dynamic view of the universe and of human life. For all the terrible things that have happened in the past and continue to happen, we do have the possibility of moving to a higher level of social life. History is not destiny. In his plays, even the gods are capable of evolving and learning and moving to a higher plane.

For Aeschylus--poet, democrat, and veteran of the Persian wars--we can learn from past mistakes and break they cycle of violence and tyranny. It won't be easy, but we can, as he said, suffer into truth.

SPEAKING OF MOVING TO A HIGHER LEVEL, here's a good one about the possibilities of health care reform.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY West Virginia. El Cabrero's beloved state turns 146 today. Here's a state history quiz from the Daily Mail.

MY BAD. Email subscribers to this blog may have gotten an accidental early edition. Sorry about that.


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