Gaia is the word for "unity-of-life-processes". The experiment here is to unify the various threads of voice and sense of self together into an undivided unity. Spirituality, economics, politics, science and ordinary life interleaved.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Greek Yes, Jewish No

The Greeks say Yes. The Jews say No.

From these great Yeas and Nays the singularity of the West emerges.

Historical singularity begins with Herodotus, who sets the tone. For Herodotus many small singular facts lead up to a wonder. Many wonders combine in the imagination to create the modern world, the cosmopolitan millieu of the sixth century before the common era, which is a singularity.

The pattern goes like this: facts -> wonders -> millieux -> singularity.

For example, the wealth of Croesus of Lydia, a wonder supported by many facts, gives rise to his astonishing attempt to attack the Persian empire, then ruled by Cyrus. This in turn leads to the behemoth of Persia turning attention towards the Greek peoples who lived beside the Lydians, and the singularity of the Persian wars.

In Thomas Mann's Joseph novels, by contrast, the language is delightfully marked with missing ideas, concepts which the writer has negated from the text as a way of highlighting them: the past for Mann is a well which no-one can guess the depth of, and the figures of the early Jewish nomads are the combined myths of many men of the same name. Multiple Jacobs, manifold Abrahams - the entire Jewish tradition negates image and passively accepts textual interpretation. The effect is of sophisticating out of existence clear assertions one way or another. We are negated towards truth.

Greek and Jewish patience underlines the difference. The Greeks struggle against the circumstances, creating tragedy and comedy thereby. The Jews accept and move with their sufferings, crafting from the living stuff of everyday and historical pain something indestructibly true and actual.


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