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The Nestor (or On History)

 
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2016 9:11 pm    Post subject: The Nestor (or On History) Reply with quote

The Nestor (or On History)


Nestor, have you come to us from the East?

Through the sea.

And now you have come back to the life of your people? Here in Pylos.

I have returned to my own. I am old, but still see the light.

They say that in your youth you fought the centaurs?

That is true. They were wild beings once their fighting spirit was roused. But, in many ways, like men. And men too are so wild and animal-like in war.

And why did you get involved in all that?

It was when the Argo sailed. No spirited youth could reject the call.

Then for glory?

Yes, to be sure. The sun shown brightly, and the sea was coloured like the nightingale.

Today, people say glory is only for the small-minded. For the reason that it is egotism.

Yes. They say that because they do not understand what is deathless in fame. And the way it lives in the being of history. What lives as ourselves.

They say that you and Jason wished to subdue the other clans, and enjoy power over them.

That is partly true, of course, but these days too much weight is put on that. What evades this view is the uncanny way in which the adventure broke form what was routine, and thus backlit it, in another light.

How would you describe the current age?

It is an age when people look into the night sky and see darkness, although nothing is wrong with their eyes.

And how was it then?

In those days we saw and walked in the starlight even during the day.

Nestor, in former days men said your strength shown in council, for you not only thought well, but also could say what you thought to others. And you did not seek to be heard, but others came and asked you.

Yes, once that was true. But these days almost nobody asks me anything. Only you and some few others.

When you grew old you must have heard talk of the new knowledge, of the philosophers?

You mean the ones who sought knowledge of what is true in living? Of the way to live? Those ‘talking men’ we used to call them. They found more glory in talking than in anything. And in that way they deviated from my own age. And after that my age was never looked at again. Though there was much talk of it.

In your days did you not ask about life?

O! We did, so it would seem, but for us it was something else that we asked about. The being was different. Already, when the talkers came, they wanted being to be solid as though it stood under them. Let me tell you what it was like, they spoke of constant species, say a Plane tree, and they would say, it always presses towards some noble state, which they called its mature state. But for us, that was ridiculous and absurd. We often laughed at such men, though they could not understand why.

But why did you consider this foolish? Does one not want to know what is better and what is worse?

Yes, yes. But their manner of starting was something outlandish. Why should a Plane tree, you know, always be the same thing? Is it not moving, I mean its whole family in its ageless life. Does it not have a course of life far beyond what can be held in the descriptions of a few men standing in the shade of some house? Why would what is now known of it amount to anything?

And so that is why you were so surprised and leveled such derisive glances on them?

No. Now that you mention it. That is only how it seems now. That age of ours is so long passed. I am not able to go back to it.

But were you not born to it? How can you cease to carry it with you?

No, no. It is not some view one carries with one. Or some thing. It is the region of being that is no longer here. There was some man, for example, who spoke of ‘the night of being.’ He meant that thinking had become everywhere the only thing. In those days, we were in the day world, and we didn’t even think of being. Now we are in the day and we think of being. It is rather like what happened with the ‘talking men’. We are worthy of laughter. We thinking men are absurd.

Yes. There is something absurd about thinking of being. How strange it is, now that you mention it, that we think of being.
But tell me more about that Plane tree?

Yes, but of course one can always say something more. That is why their commitment to that pursuit was doomed. There was no identity, as they called it. Yet, in our time, that is not why we thought them so strange. No, we simply did not want to tell them how funny they were. It was a laughter we could not explain to them anyway. And when, suddenly, one of us could not restrain themselves, and we spoke to them about it, they only replied that, after all, not everything was yet known, and they might get somewhere with their activities. No, you see, they simply could not understand us. That was how it was.

But what did you want to say to them?

You see their world did not make sense to us. It was absolutely a self intoxication on their part, they were not sober men. This seemed rather harmless to us, but we thought them silly men.

But is knowledge something foolish? How can that be, the whole world knows it is a serious matter. And who could deprive it of its very high rank among all activities?

If one wants to ask about it, from this region, then we can only say that being, in the backlight of the things, of all things, like that tree, was moving. And if it moved, it couldn’t be known. But that is not why we laughed at them. We never thought in that way at all. No, they were in some kind of ecstasy. Yet, over what, a dream or some nonsense. That was how it was.

So then perhaps you were merely mistaken in your views. Have you not, after all, seen the fruit of those blossoms, grown so long ago? Surely.

You think of the works of science? Of the thinking that leads one’s hands to make so many things?

Does it not impress you. I mean its fruits?

Now it does. But then we should not have found it in the light of the sun, as we now do. It would have impressed us, to be sure, but not in the same way.

And you say, for many centuries, this has not been noticed, that being is transfiguring the world, not only the inside of this or that animal brain?

The inside of a brain? This brainization is brainless if I might say so. Even today one can say that much! Is there no more healthy common sense in your time?

They say that when there is a biological look at it, the inner biologist they call on the basis of this thought a psychologist, and he looks for a property attendant on the grey matter, and they call it thinking.

Yes. They call it consciousness do they not? Today it is all we have, this current state of the brain, or of its property as they call it. It is our genetic beginning, the beginning of the thinking man’s thought. What a surprise to find ourselves in such a state of affairs. Absolutely preposterous!

Then you do not object to this account?

Oh no! I wouldn’t think of it.

But you just now said something about “common sense,” did you not?

I think now of Apollo and of his sister, who we called the butcher, Artemis. She was from before my own time, and her cult was something darker and it stood there guarding the forest, like some sheltering power. Even in my day we did not understand that at all. We could understand Apollo of course. He who towered above with his beauty.

How has the mention of common sense brought this reflection to mind?

Because I marvel how some things of my youth can still be described so simply. Though it might seem to be a contradiction, and against the theory of being. If it has become a doctrine, or a philosophy, it must be something more than ordinary sense. I remember the face of Menestheus, who I contested in the hunt, so very long ago.

Something has continued. Or seems to have.

One did not think of breaks, of incidents that broke things apart. Not in those days, that being was not like that. But, now I do not remember, and am starting to talk nonsense. Let us not fill the air with empty chatter.

People say that this being might be felt by even some alien on another planet?

That is a mistaken idea. One need not worry about such problems. Don’t revert to that about what kind of thinking a rational being might do, here or there! It is not some thing, like a brain, but the region. But if we name it, we tend to treat it like a thing. For that reason one can only use words to point towards it, when one deals carefully with it, attempting to avoid this danger. One must invigilate over these dangers, and take one’s steps.

Yet, if it were not to come over us, like some wave, in which we might nauseously occupy the belly of the wave, how would we be tossed with it at all? And how should it call to us?

Allow me to say that we shall resume this meeting later. I am an old man, and glad to still be here. I will let you go for now.

Thank you kind Nestor, let us meet again. A great privilege!
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