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The Renaissance: a Platonist revolution

Saturday, 14 October 2017 at 22:04

Eleusinian gods on Dr John Dunn.

At the climax to the Comedy,Dante conjured a vision of Eleusinian light, epoptika! - a participative union with the ‘glory of Him who moves all things’, capax Dei. mind was struck by a flash
In which what it desired came to it.

The power of man’s imagination, and the creative freedom from servitude to sense perception were central, literally central, to the participative nature of man’s relationship to God explored in the Comedy.

With the imagination, man is of all animals uniquely endowed to look forward, contemplate new futures and, above all, hope. As such man has an active rather than a passive relationship to God. Man’s creativity, expressed through art, was the hallmark of the Renaissance, a movement that had its seeds in Dante’s imagination.

Dante’s experience of the One is Eleusinian, it revives Plato’s own employment of the Eleusis metaphor of philosophical enlightenment. Jesus is absent from Dante’s great Christian work, despite the incarnation, ‘our effigy’, being prominent.

Being platonic in metaphor, Dante's devotional epic was out of a tradition that was firmly rooted in the Hellenist origins of Christianity. Dante was consciously reviving that tradition from under the accretions of Judaism.

The Renaissance can thus be seen as a Platonist revolution, with an aim to restore the Hellenic tradition in religion, as well as in culture more generally.

© John Dunn.

Nietzsche called them the superfluous and so they remain

Friday, 13 October 2017 at 21:44

Nietzsche on Dr John Dunn. Who are these that steal the works of creators?

Who are these that vomit their bile and call it a newspaper?

Nietzsche called them the superfluous and so they remain.


Behold the superfluous! They steal the works of the creators and the treasures of the wise. Education, they call their theft -- and everything becomes sickness and trouble to them!

Behold the superfluous! They are always sick; they vomit their bile and call it a newspaper. They devour each other and cannot even digest themselves.

Behold the superfluous! They acquire wealth and become the poorer for it. They seek power, and the lever of power, much money -- these impotent ones!

See them clamber, these nimble apes! They clamber over one another, and thus pull each other into the mud and the abyss.

They all strive for the throne: this is their madness -- as if happiness sat on the throne! Often filth sits on the throne. -- and often also the throne on filth.

Madmen they all seem to me, and clambering apes, and too eager. Foul smells their idol to me, the cold monster: foul they all smell to me, these idolaters.

My brothers, will you suffocate in the fumes of their maws and appetites! Better to break the windows and jump into the open air!

Escape from their foul stench! Escape from the idolatry of the superfluous!

Escape from their foul stench!

Posted by John Dunn.

Truth comes before error

Wednesday, 11 October 2017 at 20:47

Plethon on Dr John Dunn. Alternatives to modernist progressivism in the work of Gemistus Pletho, or Plethon.

In The Nomoi, (Plethon’s Book of Laws)there is a clear allusion to contemporary ‘sophistry’ and especially to Christian eschatology that was dominant in Plethon’s time. There is a difference between Plethon’s ‘wise men’ and these contemporary ‘sophists’: the former are not misled into thinking that the truth could be posterior to ‘what has been falsely said or what is falsely attested’. Truth comes before error. If an error is now identified, then one should turn back in order to recover truth. This statement targets Judaeo-Christian revelation and what we would now call modern progressivism. Though it does not indict a purely Christian theology of resurrection, a re-birth and fresh start through the new Adam.

It is not surprising that Ezra Pound thought that Plethon had developed the mysterium in new and interesting ways, very relevant to modern times.

© John Dunn.

Ezra on the Enemy

Tuesday, 10 October 2017 at 20:49

Ezra Pound on Dr John Dunn. Ezra Pound by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska

EzraPound believed that the Renaissance was an uprising against the ruling oligarchy. This had implications for any future such uprising.

“[We]have not defined the hostility or inertia that is against us. We have not recognised with any Voltairian clearness the nature of this opposition, and we have not realised to what an extent a renaissance is a thing made — a thing made by conscious propaganda.” Ezra Pound, The Renaissance.

The answer to the following questions, so ably put by Ezra Pound, is USURA.

Who destroyed the mystery of fecundity, bringing in the cult of sterility? Who set the Church against the Empire? Who destroyed the unity of the Catholic Church with this mud-wallow that serves the Protestants in the place of contemplation? Who decided to replace the mysteries within theChurch so as to be able to destroy the Church itself by schism? Who has wiped the consciousness of the greatest mystery [Eleusis] out of the mind of Europe - to arrive at an atheism proclaimed by Bolshevism...?* (From Ezra Pound, A Visiting Card?)

*For Bolshevism insert liberalism to bring this up-to-date.

© John Dunn.

Learning begins where you are.

Monday, 9 October 2017 at 20:29

Ezra Pound on Dr John Dunn. Pound wrote, “It doesn’t . . . matter where you begin the examination of a subject, so long as you keep on until you get round again to your starting point. As it were, you start on a sphere, or a cube;you must keep on until you have seen it from all sides”. There is no danger of starting in the wrong place if you keep moving, enlarging your sense of the present moment.

This approach echoes Santayana who wrote, “A philosopher is compelled to follow the maxim of epic poets and to plunge in media res”. Things may have no origin and consist of an endless succession, or if they have an origin it is unavailable at the outset of inquiry. In either case, “nothing would be lost by joining the procession wherever one happens to come upon it, and following it as long as one’s legs holdout”. There is no first principle of criticism.

George Santayana

Above quoted on unattributed paper submission

© John Dunn.

Eleusinian mysteries and Transfiguration: Thoughts

Sunday, 8 October 2017 at 19:44

The Eleusinian gods on Dr John Dunn.

Eleusinian mysteries and Transfiguration: Thoughts

Flash of light - epoptika of philosophy, the final and highest revelation

Theevents at the height of the Greater mysteries may have involved a marriage and the birth of the child, as well as a flash of light from the Anaktoron as the hierophant emerged to produce the highest revelations. John Dunn and Eros. It is likewise in the Symposium: a human being guided rightly by Eros (or a daimonios anēr-philosopher such as Socrates) weds himself to the divine Beauty in itself and produces a sacred child, beautiful virtue in the soul; and contact with the Beautiful comes in a sudden flash.

the ultimate beauty does not share our mode of being and that is we attribute existence to it at all, we can do so only analogically. The beauty is beyond being.

Eleusinian mysteries an allegory.

Inparallel to Diotima's experience in the Symposium, here Plato writes that the highest philosophical knowledge cannot simply be transmitted tothe uninitiated. The themes of suddenness and reproduction are also repeated, and, in another passage in the Letter, Plato again emphasizes that the road to becoming a philosopher is difficult and requires effort:

Myth in the service of truth as METAPHOR

UnderstandingPlato's philosophy in this way also makes sense of his use of mythical language. Because the highest experience of philosophy the transcends human language and understanding but still must be accounted for and communicated to others in some way, Plato continues to use myth at the center of his philosophical investigations. These myths are not to be read as dogmatic statements about what Plato believed, nor are they to be read as fictions written to fill in the shortcomings of a primitive mind.

Both the mysteries and philosophy move in the in-between region of the human soul where man feels the desire to seek out the divine--indeed where man feels that he has something of the divine inside himself.

Mark’s Gospel compared to Greek tragedy
Eleusinian mysteries compared to transfiguration

Demeter's "Transfiguration"
"Thetransfiguration in Mark 9:2-8 has parallels with Greek mythology that also would have likely evoked thoughts of gods walking the earth in human form. [...] A prominent example comes from the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. [...] When she chooses to reveal her true identity, her transformation is described in terms reminiscent of Jesus' transfiguration: "the goddess changed her stature and her form, thrusting old age away from her: beauty spread round about her...and from the divine body of the goddess a light shown afar. Like Demeter, Jesus reveals his divine nature by thrusting away his humble disguise inexchange for resplendent clothing."

...from "Descending Spirit and Descending Gods: A "Greek" Interpretation of the Spirit's "Descent as a Dove" in Mark 1:10" by Edward P. Dixon, in Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 128, No. 4, 2009

© John Dunn.

A few observations on Dante's De Monarchia and Ezra Pound

Friday, 6 October 2017 at 21:31

Ezra Pound on Dr John Dunn.

Ezra Pound by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska

Pound and Autocracy: From Medieval to Modern
Matthew Feldman
Teesside University

("On Monarchy" or "A Treatise on Government") was published in 1313. In this work, Dante argued that the authority of a secular ruler is not derived from the authority of the church, nor conferred by the Pope, but derives directly from God.

Yet certain medieval tropes have not been analysed in terms of ‘preparing’ Pound for his quasi-religious devotion to Mussolini; and thereby, Italian Fascism.

Above all, two sources stand out: Dante’s De Monarchia,which is effectively dealt with in Dasenbrock’s pivotal article; and Ernst Kantorowicz’s Frederick II, which has received much less attention.

Reed Way Dasenbrok, “Ezra Pound, the Last Ghibelline”, in Imitating the Italians: Wyatt, Spenser, Synge, Pound, Joyce (John Hopkins UP: Boston, 1991)

Ezra Pound - Poet, Volume 2
By A. David Moody


Will, a complex word implying a will to do something or to have something done, is the key word in Jefferson and/or Mussolini, which Pound once said was his De Monarchia, or blueprint for efficient government. ‘Will-power’ adds an emphasis,, meaning a power to effect what is desired; but the will-to-power is excluded from Pound’s lexicon, at least so far as it signifies the desire for power for its own sake. Moreover, before concerning himself with the power to govern, Pound nearly identifies the will to govern with the intelligence to do so, so that the intelligence, knowing the desired end, shall direct the will’s power to that end. Directio voluntatis, he insisted, taking the Latin tag from Dante’s De Monarchia:what matters is that the will-power be rightly directed. At the same time, as he insisted with equal force, intelligence counts for nothing ‘until it comes into action’. What might be a good idea is no good untilthere’s the will to do it.


De Monarchia: EP to Carlo Izzo, 23 Aug. [1935]. EP’s Poetry and Prose IX, 97. Dante’s De Monarchia is concerned with the problem of how to achieve a just society on earth, and there are indeed close parallels with
Jefferson and/or Mussolini,.Dante states that the well-regulated society will be achieved when love of natural perfection directs the will to act justly (directio volontatis); he declares the opposite of Justice to be Greed; and he maintains that only under a single ruling or guiding power, a king or anemperor, will the earthly paradise be attained.

Posted by John Dunn.

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