Wonder

Seven forty.

The weather this morning is fine, but I’ve got a sore throat from my dental cleaning last week. I want to stay home and take it easy for a day or two, as I feel wiped out lately. Sometimes I feel that it’s not fair for people to push me into situations and things that I don’t want to do. After a while of complying with the wishes of others, there’s an anger and resentment in me that goes from a simmer to a boil until the kettle blows its top; and meanwhile nobody ever knew I was feeling that way. So it’s really better to address how you feel from the beginning than to build up a grudge over time and let it explode later.

A mourning dove out front makes its cooing sound, a little like an owl, but owls are nocturnal. I just canceled an appointment that was set for this morning. All that I asked for was a little time to rest and recuperate, and it looks like I’m getting my way. While the sun is out, the sky bears a whitish complexion like a haze or something. Aesop my dog just had his breakfast and I plan to get some reading done today. I’m wondering if free will and fate can coexist on the same dimension and be valid at once. I only know how it feels to look at a tragedy by Aeschylus: you feel so small and overawed by natural forces we don’t understand, which shape the events of our lives. To the Greeks it was a big mystery, a feeling people today can share in with ineffable depth of amazement and incredulity. This is the religious sentiment. I also ask myself if pride and humility run along a continuous pole. Yesterday I considered getting out my book of Parkers’ Astrology from curiosity, yet I realize again that the zodiac is a weakness of mine, a silly superstition that pops up now and then. Although it would be neat if horoscopes were really true and accurate. The room is as silent as a sepulcher, broken only by the whine of my tinnitus. It should be a pretty nice day. It seems I planned it that way. 

Zodiac My Weakness

Nine ten at night.

I think maybe I missed my calling in life: I should have been a clinical psychologist and helped people with their problems. But first I had to surmount my own stuff, like the schizophrenia and alcoholism. By far the alcoholism was the deadlier disease. And it’s possibly the kind of thing that runs its course until you come to an impasse of choosing life or death. The spirit of intoxication is really the devil in a bottle, or perhaps it’s the Grim Reaper with scythe poised over your head. Who else carried a sickle in mythological tradition? It was Saturn, the Roman agricultural god, known to the Greeks as Cronus, father of Zeus. According to the tradition, Saturn showed the Romans how to make wine. The name of Saturn was probably related to the name of the devil for Hebrews, but the only evidence I have for that is in a book of astrology by Ronald Davison, and he gives no sources for his claim… So much for impressionistic thinking on alcoholism. Now I’ve lost my train of thought.

I was just on Amazon and ordered Parkers’ Astrology, a book that was recommended to me by a bookseller friend about twenty years ago. The copy I bought from her I ultimately threw away because of the superstition that was prevalent in 2009 or so. But today I feel free to come and go on the topic of the zodiac. It’s a fascinating thing, the way it puts mythology into practice, assigning meanings to the planets, which in turn exert an influence on human fates; unless it’s all a self delusion. Still, astrology is an art that has been around for a few thousand years. In a nonspecific way, even Thomas Hardy subscribed to the fatalism of the stars, whether provident or improvident, and he wrote his novels so persuasively, compelling you to believe his worldview. But the greatest confrontation with fate is to read Ancient Greek tragedies by such playwrights as Aeschylus… 

Aeschylus: a Letter

Today I read the whole play of Prometheus Bound, largely from curiosity about Greek cosmology and how this affects human freedom. Aeschylus is the oldest known tragedian, coming before Sophocles and Euripides. Reading him in English translation is odd because you know that the translator has studied Shakespeare and Shelley prior to his treatment of the Ancient Greek. My little Loeb edition has the parallel Greek, which I wish I could decipher on my own rather than depend on the English rendering which sounds too much like Shakespeare or the King James Version. Interesting, though, when Zeus is referred to as “God,” as if the Greeks had been monotheistic (which they were not). I’ve seen some English versions of Plato that confounded Christian theology with the Greek as well. Every translator brings a personal bias to the original text, as I know you are aware (we discussed this before). Still, the Smyth translation tries to preserve and to revive the grandeur of the original.
I learned from it that human fate is determined by the “triform Fates and mindful Furies,” and not by Zeus. Actually, Zeus was a newcomer to Olympus, having overthrown his father Cronus and messed things up for the old Titans such as Prometheus and his brother Atlas. Zeus had planned to wipe out human beings and replace them with a better race, but Prometheus had compassion on us and stole fire kept in fennel stalks of the gods and gave it to humanity. He also says that every art known to humankind is what he taught us. So that the fire comes to symbolize the light of reason and knowledge hitherto unavailable to human beings. People had been living underground with eyes that couldn’t see and ears that couldn’t understand. And these acts of kindness on the part of the Titan were freely willed by him. It is his stubbornness and self will and defiance of Zeus that get him in trouble. His fate would have been to be released from the crag where he is chained by Heracles (Roman Hercules), but instead, Zeus blasts him with a thunderbolt straight to Tartarus, another word for hell or Hades. With Prometheus perishes the secret of the future overthrow of Zeus. The daughters of Oceanus also disappear with him in the end.
It’s interesting to me to consider how Prometheus the Titan is older and more informed than Zeus, who has only now usurped the godhead from his father Cronus. Zeus is referred to as a tyrant, and Prometheus gets a lot of sympathy from other divinities and mortals. And his punishment comes about all because of his compassion for the race of humankind. How deserving were we, anyway? We had no defense and no weapon, not even the fire of reason, to keep us alive, until this old Titan showed us the way. It’s quite a story, isn’t it?
I hope July proves to be a good month. June had its ups and downs. The coronavirus snafu just isn’t going away, so I wonder if I may never get to play music with other people again. A moment ago I thought of my sobriety, which had been so far from my mind during my retelling the tale of Prometheus. Maybe storytelling is a way to occupy my time rather than music in all this uncertainty and hullabaloo. Aesop hates it when I play my bass guitar plugged in. Perhaps he will get his way and the music will not pan out. The future is totally unforeseen, and every day is one at a time. I’m certainly getting tired of the lockdown however. I guess the answer is to surrender. To say que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be. Like fate that is entirely inscrutable.