As a part of my course work in my post-graduation diploma, I had to read quite a bit about Plato, Socrates, Aristotle & other such Greek philosophers. It did remind me of what I’d read back in under-graduation school too. A lot of it came back to me while Prof. Arun lyer from IIT Bombay started romanticizing everyday life just like I like to. But he explained these passages from such a fresh perspective. I did agree with most of it. I say most, because I wrote this piece right where he started comparing Plato & Aristotle. His ability to dumb this concept down for such a varied class-room is what inspired me to write, at that point in time itself.
|| Act I ||
While explaining passages from Plato, he emphasized mostly on the creation of something out of nothing. I intend to dumb it down even further. I’ve had this conversation with a person. A person so important to me. A person so so close to me. A person that I considered to be Plato.
Is there a kind of good we like for its own sake and also for the sake of what comes from it- knowing, for example, and seeing and being healthy? We welcome such things, I suppose, on both counts.
And do you also see a third kind of good, such as physical training, medical treatment when sick, medicine itself, and the other ways of making money?–The Republic By Plato
The above is a debate between Plato & Socrates. Plato’s constant debates about the world with Socrates I feel are very important in bringing Plato & Aristotle together. Yes, in my head, in today’s world, it is possible for them to be together. Back in ancient Greece, with the time lapse, it was sad that they couldn’t.
Now, no one, it seems, would be so incorruptible that he would stay on the path of justice or stay away from other people’s property, when he could take whatever he wanted from that marketplace with impunity, go into people’s houses and have sex with anyone he wished, kill or release from prison anyone he wished, and do all other things that would make him like a god among humans.–The Republic By Plato
In this context I consider myself to be Aristotle. Romanticism is the true way to describe me. But like Aristotle, who believed poetics only rose due to the decline of Greece, I believe that tragedy builds intimacy.
We’ve had a version of this conversation a few years ago, sitting in a room with idols he happened to collect. Yes, he’s a collector, a hoarder, a traveler. Idols he got from Banaras in Uttar Pradesh. What I liked about the idols, and what basically started this conversation was the fact that these idols were imperfect. Humanizing god in a country that breathes religion. That mutual to and fro of similarity was an experience. An experience I don’t think I will ever be able to describe in words. But I’ll still try.
I should create a facade of illusory virtue around me to deceive those who come near, but keep behind it the greedy and crafty fox of the wise Archilochus–The Republic By Plato
But these are the very people who tell us that the gods can be persuaded and influenced by sacrifices, gentle prayers, and offerings.–The Republic By Plato
Would you believe it, we’ve discussed this too! About what God meant to each of us. A conversation I’ve even had with my own grandmother. Her open-minded thoughts on the matter were what lead to this other conversation with my Plato. My Plato seems to think that a piece of wood or even the bench we were sitting on having this conversation at 12 am in a coffee shop desperately trying to kick us out, is another memory frozen in time for me. I absolutely agree with my Plato though. So why am I writing about it? Were you expecting a debate? I don’t always want oppose a thought! Definitely not with My Plato. With a Socrates however, the story may vary.
Mystery rites and the gods of absolution have great power. The greatest cities tell us this, as do those children of the gods who have become poets and prophets.–The Republic By Plato
The more I trust you, however, the more I’m at a loss as to what to do. I don’t see how I can be of help. Indeed, I believe I’m incapable of it.–The Republic By Plato
So the essential minimum for a city is four or five men?–The Republic By Plato
The above thoughts are parts that later arose in Socrates’s mind, the reason why Plato felt the need to kill him in-order for the Republic to exist, as any philosophy professor would teach you. We both have our Socrates, more than one perhaps, or so we thought. At this point is where I felt completely lost. Lost as to whether I was Socrates or Aristotle.
|| Act II ||
When a dog sees someone it doesn’t know, it gets angry before anything bad happens to it. But when it knows someone, it welcomes him even if it has never received anything good for him.
It judges anything it sees to be either a friend or an enemy.
But surely the love of learning is the same thing as philosophy or the love of wisdom?–The Republic By Plato
Like I said I felt lost about my own identity. A sever case of identity crisis. A strong need to run away from everything, an even stronger will to leave it all behind and just be with my Plato. My only hope in an otherwise tainted world. But like I said, me being ‘lost’, is the key word to focus on here. Lost as to whether my admiration for the pure was making my mind condition itself to believe that everything that my Plato said or asked me to do, was the opposite of what I really wanted to.
Relax, I’m alive, how else would I have written this piece. He didn’t see me like a Socrates at all. He’d smile if he ever read this, but I am a derivation of him in some sense. He’d also maybe disagree at times, but that smile is enough to keep us going.
|| Act III ||
What will their education be? Or is it hard to find anything better than which has developed over a long period-physical training for bodies and music and poetry for the soul?–The Republic By Plato
I however took some time to clear my head, experience a man that I’d admired for so many years, devoid of devotion in a sense. Devoid of the feeling that he was too fragile, too pure, too perfect to be damaged. For him to experience my tragedies layered with comedy was important, for us to break a bubble of romanticism. Aristotle, or in this case , I myself, gave my Plato a reality check. It was as if we opened each other’s Pandora’s boxes. A line between morally good and true emotion was completely shattered.
I showed him a tragic, anger filled joyless experience of myself, so vulnerable that I too hadn’t felt before.
A sea or waterfall rather of emotions that are too difficult again to put down in words.
Words can’t even begin to describe my emotions for this person. It is truly an experience. But I hope I did a better job this time. I hope he does read this some-day and yes, smile again. Because back then, a smile was a little hard for the two of us to put on at times.
|| Act IV ||
Education in music & poetry before physical training?
Stories under music and poetry ?–The Republic By Plato
This particular quote is very open ended actually, and here is where I draw the line. The line between what romanticism or love ,for a derivative way of understanding these two philosophers, is to two individuals. Not just two individuals but our society in general. What I may consider to be soulful or pure, someone else might totally disagree. Hence the question of the importance of Socrates comes back.
Like I said, we each have our set of Socrates, pulling us down, distracting us from actually perusing something so special together. But then again these various versions of Socrates in today’s already established rule driven world are something we personally need to figure out. At this stage, I would like to help you, the reader, decide what you might think is the correct approach to this so called love story. Then again it’s a love story in my head, and maybe for him it isn’t. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But I write in the hope that one day he has the courage to confront me again.
His confrontation may not be in the same terms as it was last time. Or maybe the message might be the same. But honestly, I’ve lived with this feeling for so many years, nothing is more important to me. Knowing that I found something so pure out there in today’s deceptive world, is enough for me to go on with my life.
|| Act V ||
I’m a purist, I can’t stress on that enough. So my Plato can take all the time in the world, all the experiences on his/her bucket list. I’ll still cling on to the rigger that he once showed me. Showed me how to truly enjoy and live life. Showed me how to get on with the day without a care in the world. Exposed me to this danger filled happiness that I don’t find in any other person I’ve ever met. Nothing for me will ever be above my Plato. But at the same time nothing scares me more than going too far with my anger. Other emotions mixed with pace & timing are something I would like to learn before I confront my Plato again too.
But there is one thing that has, will and never matter to me, is the definition of a human relationship. Even of a creator. The creation for me is more important. Be it a piece of poetry, a song I can’t stop listening to, a dance form, a song that makes me move or groove to a dance form, an art piece and mostly in my case an architectural form.
The fragility of human existence combined with confrontation of tragedy is what makes up this love story for me. I may have romanticized it too much in my head. But that’s just who I am.
A pure romantic at heart.