Sunday, May 1, 2011

First Step On The Road To Renewed Life: Breath

Disciple: Teacher, why must we find out who our fathers are? It's never been important before.

Odysseus: If you don't know your father, how can you know yourself? ... If I do not know my father, and his father before him, and what these men were worth, what they lived for and were willing to die for, how can I know myself?

- From Ilium by Dan Simmons

It may not be apparent what Οὒκ Ἀγησίλαος means, let along how to say it, unless you know how to read Greek.  Transliterated, it says Ouk Agesilaos (ook ah-gay-SEE-lah-aws).  Translated, it means 'Not A Leader Of Men'.  Thus the connection to the song embedded as a link in the phrase.  

Yet, despite what this phrase may mean personally to me, there is an importance to being a person, in particular, a man.  There is certainly an importance to womanhood, but this is not the focus here.  There are plenty of blogs, journals, and the like out there that speak on the matters of womanhood, or at least the concepts and perceptions in this modern age.  But, I'm more interested in what it means to be a man.  Even what it means to be a leader of men, not to mention leadership in general, and the burden that it bears.

In connection to this particular pondering, I consider what Dan Simmons portrays as the wisdom of Odysseus in his science fiction rendering of Homer's Iliad.  As in the Homeric tale of several millennia ago, the gods and heroes in Simmons' retelling and revision in a future and strand of parallel universes held together by quantum physics theories and the fantastic fictional concept of what if indeed the gods could be resurrected by science and a linked egomania of 'perfection' and utopia mixed in with escapism.  In another way, it is as simple to explain, as Simmons notes in his Author's Notes to his book as an exploration of John Keats' concept of Negative Capability.   

While physicians of our time study the concept of multiverse theories down to the very quarks and quanta in a variety of mathematical and mental leaps of perception beyond most people's want or care to understand, others take on similar concepts in what some coin the metaverse of virtual realities online.  Granted, these realities are fantasies, but, like many concepts of the mind, they only remain so until someone makes it come into being.  Some things remain fantasy and fiction, but other things inspired by the unreal, especially in science fiction, certain things that hold plausibility become explored in the 'real world' and become actuality.  It's from this fantasy to reality that we have cell phones and other gadgets that only some thirty to forty years ago were still in their beginning stages or being used experimentally in places, such as the military. Now, the concept of wireless communication is a day to day lifestyle found in the mainstream for much of the industrial world.

However, as much as the modern  world turns to these gadgets, there are some basic fundamentals to society that remain essential.  I'm not going into the whole 'attack on the family' stuff that many fundamentalist folks churn out.  That is not desirable to what interests me here, nor is it something I find of great importance.  Family, yes, it is important.  Sensationalizing any supposed attack on family is not.  Understanding basic concepts of what indeed is a patriarch (or matriarch) is far more constructive to consider.  If we look back at different cultures and civilizations throughout time, we are certainly going to perceive some of their ideals as barbaric, as they would ours, possibly.  Yet, this is where we get into fiction, because we cannot actually perceive these things without having some knowledge of these cultures and civilizations and what they believed and held as truths.  We can, at best, put up an educated guess, and then run with it in a plausible realism of what we perceive would be their actions and reactions - overall interactions if they were somehow brought into our modern world.  The opposite effect is similarly true on trying to form a concept of us moderns flung into the ancient world, or some parallel universe with a mixture of both.

Inspiration holds sway on much of our imagination and creativity, and what possibilities come from it, both in reality and fantasy, as well as the mixture of it and what may come of it.  At mass today, the local priest spoke on it from the aspect of 'breath'.  Inspiration comes from the Latin for 'breath' and can mean essentially the 'pouring in of breath' upon someone.  The importance of this is how 'breath' has meaning towards 'life'.  That is, while a person has breath, they have life in them.  Yet inspiration, and spirit itself has a metaphysical concept as well.  Life in that spirit goes beyond just the physical breath.  Creativity through inspiration is often the compounding, or otherwise 'toying' with ideas that have been passed on in some way and given a new 'vision' or perception.  

In like way, the concept that Simmons in the Ilium is portraying through Odysseus's concept of knowing one's father in order to know one's self is much in line with knowing one's lineage of inspiration.  Even in Christ's knowing his Father, it is knowing who guides him, and knowing Him who guides Christ is to know the Father, the Creator.  Trying to find the path of inspiration is a challenging one for all.  But, it is a worthy path to travel.  

So why would I say that I am not a leader of men?  Well, in some ways, it's true as to the lyrics of the song, that I prefer to follow.  If I were to be anything of a 'leader' it would be more an attempt to guide, than to try and push people to do something.  I don't want to be demanding to anyone.  Nor would I want people to demand my attention.  But I do have my expectations of people.  Unrealistic?  I'm sure some of them may be.  And sometimes those expectations are compromised.  Other times, I can't compromise.  I'm sorry.  I'm human, despite my characters being something of slightly different nature.  They're still humanoid, though. And there's only so far I wish to explore with them.  There's places I can't go, and things I can't do.  Yet, despite my failings to be more malleable, I hope I can still find people that are interested in trying to travel through similar sorts of things I am interested in exploring as well.  Whether I follow them, or they follow me depends. But, I am retiring from trying to herd cats.  If people wish to follow (or not), then so be it.  

But for now, I'm just going to relearn to breath.

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