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[Xmca-l] Re: Imagination: Greek Drama (as radio) with accompanyinghistorical critique

Hi Larry,

This is a great little paper, I have finally read it, thanks for sending it. You know, it fits in nicely with my personal inquiry, not only concerning Greece and the European Union, but the relationships between the general and the specific, the abstract and the concrete, even the gap and the overlap!

What seems "left out" in the Shields paper is discussion concerning the individual as the entity that travels these two "worlds" the oikos and the polis, the private and the public spheres respectively. It's there, just not explicit. In these stories, some individuals appear to be automatons, following a code of ethics mechanically, who consequently "lose the spirit" and become meaningless, while others are quite conscious of self-sacrifice necessary to protect that which is meaningful. Shields doesn't really touch on this angle directly.

Consquently, I could not help but recognize Oedipus as an individual with no oikos to guide him. As an ungrounded figure in the polis, his rendition of polis reminds me of corporatized or privatized governments, which possess no private spheres to speak of (or to speak in). This absence of oikos space in Oedipus's individual development generates what becomes abominable, equivalencies to incest and regicide/patricide, which then blinds the leader from what was right in front of him all along. A strange kind of loop.

Creon, on the other hand, takes the polis as literally his oikos, to be protected in the same manner as oikos. By Creon's concept of polis overlapping (as projection) over true oikos, it becomes totalitarian, rather than as polis as being the gap between many oikoi (oikos - plural) to be filled in by spontaneous civic interaction (of the polis)

It seems that political figures who gravitate toward the totalitarian tragically suffer from this lack "seeing" of oikos, as it is, as oikos is meant to function.

It's easy to see why Freud became fixated upon Greek mythology as a (poetic) language of the mind.

I wasn't really intending to make a direct comparison of Varoufakis to Antigone, but it seems to work easily enough: Antigone travelled outside the polis to bury her dead traitorous brother, and Varoufakis has left Greek government (and Brussels) to tour Europe in the appeal for a European Democracy, could be translated as his moral outrage to bury the corrupt body of oligarchy (traitorous brothers of Varoufakis, as fellow Greeks) against the odds, to protect oikos. There is far more to it than that, because not only does Varoufakis understand the oikos he also understands the ecos, being an Keynesian economist!

Does Varoufakis know he risks to be sacrificed to Athena in the process? I suspect, as Antigone did, he does. (Which I suspect Larry, was a connection you made!)

I would like to offer as another layer to this emerging reading stream, a chapter by David Graeber I've been thinking about. That chapter is "Manners, deference, and private property (or Elements for a General Theory of Hierarchy)" from his book, "Possibilities: Hierarchy, Desire, and Rebellion "(2007).

His observation of anthropological concepts of joking relations and avoidance relations and their presence in "western" history seems to resonate with these concepts of oikos and polis. Particularly if one can see joking relations as an ecological method of protest against hierarchies with no "soul," or, as Graeber puts it, as a solvent to hierarchies that have become too rigid or abstract.

Could be something important to this stone soup?

Kind regards,


Attachment: Graeber_Manners deference and private property or elements for a general theory of hierachy_2007.pdf
Description: Graeber_Manners deference and private property or elements for a general theory of hierachy_2007.pdf