"Medication" – Queens of the Stone Age
Medication for us all…
It’s a new way,
And we're gonna take it cause we love it
Don't you know?
Is this the dose you've been dreamin' of?
A revelation from a gun…
Overtaken, mine was yours, now overthrown.
It’s copulation in a song.
I'm so contagious, can I come?
In a new way,
All of us cast aside became what has become.
Medication for us all…
You think you know me, well you're wrong.
All of us cast aside became what has become.
Using Derrida as a lens, this simple, to-the-point rock song can described as an anthem, parading the ideas present in "Plato's Pharmacy." The binary of pharmakon being both a cure and a poison is depicted in the second verse. "[T]he dose you've been dreamin' of" seems to pinpoint Socrates himself in his search for Phaedrus and his books: the cure. Although, the "revelation" comes "from a gun," pinpointing the dangers of pharmakon immediately. Even the idea of pharmakon as an addictive substance presents itself in the line: "I'm so contagious, can I come?" The contagion in this context would be the text, and the viscous process of reading being writing, over and over.
Additionally, I would like to add a link to "Feel Good Hit of the Summer", the first song I played in class today. It's a pretty crazy video in itself; there's a lot to talk about there as well... but we'd have to stray from Derrida to cover all of that.
What is writing? Is it a curse or a gift? Does it hold medicinal qualities, or is it a toxic drug? Derrida addresses these questions over and again, while attibuting actual “writing” to be a source of life. Writing is a shameful act if done incorrectly, but can be made honorable if the writer is careful to act in a strictly honorable manner. The myth which is writing can be applied as a well brewed medicine or just as easily as a fatal poison. Derrida will separate and explain the difference.
Main Entry: au·tog·no·sis
Inflected Form(s): plural -no·ses /-sz/
: an understanding of one's own psychodynamics
This word, describing with self-knowledge, struck me as particularly interesting in the Derrida reading, because of its prevalence in other recent readings for class. Autognosis is perhaps the first assumption of an priori knowledge, a Cartesian flaw. It is, as Lacan illustrated, based in projections of that which isn't on to that which is, and therefore, a fallacy.
Derrida’s “Plato’s Pharmacy: Pharmacia” is an interesting debate between reading and writing and the significance of each as a part or a whole. Derrida continues to discuss a common theme in this course, which is imitation. There is a bit of a debate as to the authenticity of and the component of necessity of writing in that it is essentially just copying. He paraphrases Plato in saying that “writing can only repeat (itself), that it ‘always signifies…the same’ and that it is a ‘game’” (65). With this argument, I think it is a matter of the reliance of the author’s ownership of truth or lack thereof. Derrida speaks of the “incompatibility between the written and the true” (68). Derrida also talks about how writing is a drug (pharmakon) of sorts; too much can cause damage but just the right amount can assist the mind in understanding. This whole argument made me think about the differences between non-fiction and fiction; a certain trust is given to the authors of the respective genres. This trust stems from certain types of knowledge and the validity of the knowledge of reality. For example, a lot of attention was given to the book A Million Little Pieces. Many people felt like they were fooled out of a reality when they found out much of it had been fabricated. This whole idea goes along with the themes in Derrida’s piece in that how much knowledge is too much knowledge, how much of that knowledge is copied, and can we trust the knowledge and reality we read?
Basically I found his essay to be just pretty much completely playing on contradictions. This is shown most apparently when he discusses Pharmakon. Is it a poison or is it a cure. This question then stems from him questioning of Socrates attitude towards writing, for writing "is not in itself a shameful, indecent, infamous activity" however, "one is dishonored only if one writes in a dishonerable mannor" (68).
Jacques Derrida has taken writing to a new level. But in what way? Well, I guess both. Writing is both writing and reading, good and bad, good and evil, seemingly and unseemingly, medicine and poison. Derrida offers that writing is seduction, but not just any old seduction. It's a seduction that can destroy or revive. But Derrida also says that if writing is present, it can't lure one into tomorrow. If writing wasn't flawed with the perception of the reader and the writer one would not be led astray. Then no one would pine for it.
I find Derrida to be an intense read. His work is quite dense, but also informative and well-written. He takes us through the idea of text and what writing is, using Plato's "Pharmacia" for illustration.
I believe Derrida's final points in his paper summarize his main purpose in writing this piece. He states that, "the truth of writing...nontruth...cannot be discovered in ourselves by ourselves" (74). He then goes on to speak of writing as "history that is recited" or a myth. So, in a way, writing for a person is introspective, yet verbal history. If morality, truth, memory, and dialectics all revolve around the idea of writing, writing receives its power from what it is. Is writing cunning or simply a repetition? Does it have necessity?
Derrida speaks of Socrates' statement that, "there remains the question of propriety and impropriety in writing, that is to say the conditions which make it proper or improper.." (74). Derrida says that writing is of course improper, but that there are more complexities that Socrates does not cover with clarity, and instead speaks of writing's "truth" in round-about "rumors."
Phrase: "It discovers new chords, new concordances; it surprises them in minutely fashioned counterpoint..."
Derrida uses Plato's Phaedrus to exemplify his "hypothesis of a rigorous, sure, and subtle form" in Plato's Pharmacy. Derrida has a thorough list of qualifications for good writing in the following lines; it must be "patiently interlacing the arguments" and must be filled with "suppleness, irony, and discretion." Derrida wants the writer to get his point across and to use irony to make opposing viewpoints look foolish, but he wants the writer to be sure to cover all his bases, and on top of that he has to tie the whole thing together, even throwing in a "more secret organization of themes, of names, of words." He is confident that Phaedrus is very good writing and illustrates how widely woven Plato's themes are in the work. Writing that Derrida would consider perfect under his hypothesis would surely cause instant death to a reader.
• noun 1 a typical example, pattern, or model of something. 2 a conceptual model underlying the theories and practice of a scientific subject. 3 Grammar a table of all the inflected forms of a word, serving as a model for other words of the same conjugation or declension.
— DERIVATIVES paradigmatic /parrdigmattik/ adjective paradigmatically adverb.
— ORIGIN Greek paradeigma, from paradeiknunai ‘show side by side’
Derrida uses to to describe how everything that we do is a copy of a copy. We have already said all that we know (63). We all play in a game to try and change around what we already know and re-present it. I think we can only go so far in our own "mastery" or words and knowledge (64). We have said all that we know already so now we are subjected to just twisting and turning what we already know and saying it again.
Derrida, Jacques. “Plato’s Pharmacy.” Disseminations. Ed. Barbara Johnson. Chicago: University of Chicago Publishing, 1977. 63-75.
The class of letters and other visual symbols that represent a phoneme or cluster of phonemes, as e.g. the grapheme f consists of the ALLOGRAPHS f, ff, F, Ff, gh, ph, and Ph which represent the phoneme /f/ in fun, huffy, Fingal, Ffoulkes, cough, graph, and Philip respectively; so, in a given writing system of a given language, a feature of written expression that cannot be analysed into smaller meaningful units.
This is basically the same as today’s definition from Merriam-Webster, which reads:
1 : a unit (as a letter or digraph) of a writing system
2 : the set of units of a writing system (as letters and letter combinations) that represent a phoneme
Derrida states that “only hidden letters can thus get Socrates moving” (71). Although he is referring to “the text” as Socrates’ pharmakon here, I found it interesting that he later mentioned graphemes. Though a text is actual letters/words on a page, a digraph (which is a kind of grapheme)is in a sense a set of “hidden letters.” Combined letters (\\t\\ + \\sh\\ = “ch”, as M-W.com puts it) that aren’t actually there create the sound of the ones that are.
Like many things in life there is a fine between medicine and poison. Taken in moderation, sleeping pills can aid an insomniac; when abused, the same pills could have deadly results. In Pharmacia, Derrida defines pharmakon as “the drug: the medicine and/or poison” (70). What is important about this definition is that it illuminates an important aspect of duality, and pressed further, this duality is applied to the tricky business of writing. “Operating through seduction, the pharmakon makes one stray from one’s general, natural, habitual paths and laws” (70). This most certainly applies to writing, for in the best of cases, it forces the writer to look beyond themselves, beyond their own experience, and attempt to achieve in fact a greater sense of being. To abandon convention and press your own personal limits is to toy with the medicine/poison of the unknown, which, as Derrida states “the definition of writing, [...] is to repeat without knowing” (75).
Derrida, Jacques. “Plato’s Pharmacy.” Disseminations. Ed. Barbara Johnson. Chicago: University of Chicago Publishing, 1977. 63-75.
PHRASE: "...if you proffer me speeches bound in books, I don't doubt you can cart me all round Attica, and anywhere else you please"
Derrida suggests that this shows Plato as not wholly dismissing writing itself (although speechwriting is frowned upon, as it is not truth and as myth it harms the writer). Plato, even in his era, knew to treat some myths as "archeological" (73), as non-truths. Socrates calls writings fables, handed down by tradition, and urges his people to "discover the truth" (74) for themselves and quit wasting time.
"...to be learning something is the greatest of pleasures not only to the philosopher but also to the rest of mankind’s, however small their capacity for it; the reason of the delight in seeing the picture is that one is at the same time learning—gathering the meaning of things, e.g. that the man there is so-and-so; for if one has not seen the thing before, one’s pleasure will not be in the picture as an imitation of it but will be due to the execution or colouring or some similar cause.” (227)
· Imitation, mimesis, art
· the function of imitation and the value of discovery
· In Poetics, Aristotle asks his readers to take into consideration three kinds of poetry: comedy, tragedy, and epic, and with these examples he tries to integrate his opinion about mimesis.
· With any type of art, according to Aristotle, there is a certain kind of re-presentation of something
· a new presentation of a work that is possibly in the need of examination or why imitate it?—in recreating something we want to discover something
· Aristotle seems to say that discovery is the reason for exploration into art; through art we try to find a deeper meaning, a window into humanity or at least the artist’s intentions.
· Art is sometimes the filter in which we can discover truth.
· art can often times show us our limited, finite existence
· with this feeling of finality we can begin to grasp the ideas of poetry and of art; we try to feel, or the feeling just comes to us naturally; this feeling of commonality with humanity.
· Imitation is KEY: he says that humans innately enjoy imitation because we learn first by imitation (227). “Art imitates life.”
· One of his main examples of art and his theory on mimesis comes with the example of the tragedy. Many critiques have said that a tragedy is not something that wishes to teach a lesson; instead it is a “purging” of emotion of pity and fear that occur when we watch a tragedy. Not necessarily leading toward one particular truth.
· Aristotle said that “for pity is aroused by unmerited misfortune; fear by the misfortune of a person like ourselves” (55). It is at this moment of discovery that we find meaning in a piece of artwork
· Poetics is that art’s purpose/it’s function is to help a person connect the dots---it’s the feeling we get when we find a connection to a piece of artwork. It’s the truth we have come to find---perhaps a sense of awe---we are presented to an unknown; there in lies the feelings of fear and pity---humankind
· fear and pity are just two examples… it’s really whatever feeling you get when you connect the dots.
· Powerpoint: The Sistine Chapel--- we are presented, in the center of the ceiling, the initiation of life---God gives life to Adam. 9 scenes from the book of Genesis---illustrates literature--- both imitations recreations of an original.
· What Aristotle is trying to say, at least in my opinion, is that no matter what kind of artwork you are looking at, the artist is trying to imitate/depict a moment that will conjure in you a sense of something greater that perhaps you haven’t experienced before----go to passage above. –what’s going to lead you to a higher truth than you had before
· Famous photograph from the Vietnam War--- some may not even consider this art—what makes it art? in the documentary sense. it recreates/imitates/reproduces a single moment in history and with that a greater context---we are brought to the horrifying experience of these children. do we pity them do we fear them? is there a sense of awe?
· through art, we try to connect to humanity.
Even though history is considered documented fact, Aristotle considers poetry a more important study. Poetry reflects human nature and thus will reveal to us more truth about ourselves than past events will. It is closer to who we are, closer to the origin of our actions. By understanding who we are, we can trace our actions to our thoughts and feelings, and than to the system of laws governing our moral sentiments (I just read Adam Smith, forgive me for the economics). Emotion is the rawest form of truth available to us, it is the purest state we know. Emotion is a universal truth, applicable to all. Regardless of the degree of emotion experienced or the person in question, we as humans all have the capability to relate to another, to sympathize with them, and project ourselves onto their experience.
We delight in the imitation of art because it allows us to experience aspects of life never opened to us before. Art allows us to project ourselves onto the scene and experience the action, arousing the appropriate sympathy. This is why the characters of a play are subordinate to the plot - in this way, we are able to project ourselves into the characters. In this way an infinite amount of situations and emotions are available to us. The wider range of reaction and emotion we are familiar with, the more complete we become in our sensibilities. This will allow us not only to understand the past events which history focuses on, but present and future ones as well.
Sorry this post is so late.... :-o
Aristotle begins his chapter on Poetics by explaining that there are three forms of art; Epic poetry, Tragedy/Comedy, and lyre and flute playing (music). "The differences in the imitation of these arts come under three heads, their means, their objects, and their manner." He maintains that art is the imitation of life, that man enjoys the highest pleasure in learning-this he does through imitation. "Man is the most imitative creature in the world, (p. 227) posits Aristotle, claiming this is the differing characteristic between men and animals.
The main thrust of the selected text is the definition of a proper tragedy, which Aristotle believes must be itself an imitation of a "thing that might be," whereas a history deals with what has been. History, even written in verse, would still not be poetry. Therefore, it is not form, but matter which constitutes poetry. "The life and soul of a tragedy is plot" (p.232), according to Aristotle. Converse to modern perception, the character (which reveals the moral purpose of the 'agents') is not of as much importance as the tragedy's containing peripety (that is, inspiring either fear or pity) discovery, and suffering.
“A Discovery is, as the very word implies, a change from ignorance to knowledge, and thus to either love or hate, in the personages marked for good or evil fortune” (237).
In Poetics, Aristotle asks his readers to take into consideration three kinds of poetry: comedy, tragedy, and epic, and with these examples he tries to integrate his opinion about mimesis. With any type of art, according to Aristotle, there is a certain kind of re-presentation of something; a new presentation of a work that is possibly in the need of examination. The imitation of said piece of work is then in route to be discovered. Aristotle seems to say that discovery is the reason for exploration into art; through art we try to find a deeper meaning, a window into humanity or at least the artist’s intentions. In Aristotle’s argument, mimesis and art are synonymous. And, it is discovery, that we can finally understand why the imitation of an event, of an emotion, of a story makes sense. Art is sometimes the filter in which we can discover truth.
In the Oxford English Dictionary, imitation is defined as, “The action or practice of imitating or copying.” Aristotle establishes that poetry uses language to imitate real life (although he does state that it is "form of imitation [...] to this day without a name"), and that it is an art form all it’s own. A further definition of imitation is “a thing made to look like something else, which it is not.” What is it that poetry is looking like? In the use of our language we are able to interpret the world much as a dancer or musician might interpret their art. With language however the interpretation becomes clearer and yet remains an imitation of what is real, for once an event occurs, it becomes a thing of the past. It is this remainder that is the imitation, an attempt through words to capture something fleeting.
"...the life and soul...of Tragedy is the Plot; and that the Characters come second..."
In "Poetics," Aristotle breaks down the necessities of Tragedy, along with characteristic action of imitation, similar to music. He covers not only Tragedy, but also epic and comedy, although not in nearly as much depth.
This particular phrase, where Aristotle is saying that the plot of a tragedy is by far more important than anything else, even characters, is quite a bold statement. He even compares the importance of plot over characters to the importance of order over color in a painting. Characters are like the added color that make paintings attractive, but the paintings are meaningless, (even in color), if they have no plot, represented by order (232).
This is an important phrase in representing, for one, Aristotle's incredible attention to the perfecting of such 'poetics' as Tragedy. This could also reflect his idea that the mimesis within these topics can be found within action, or plot. The plot is the main area of imitation, whereas, characters, props, etc. are just actors in that imitation.
Without this phrase, one of Aristotle's main points would be lost, along with the beauty of his painting comparison, which reveals his personal understanding and passion for his ideas on the elements of Tragedy.
This is definitely a bold claim, in that many would disagree that order is necessary in any poetic, even Tragedy. While Aristotle states this as an absolute, I feel he might have several critiques of the definitiveness of his claim.
So, therein lies humans' attraction to art, the pursuit of learning something. Aristotle contends that we learn from art, mainly through imitation. The learning that takes place is "gathering the meaning of things..." (227), which is something that examining imitations allows us to do. So why do humans enjoy art, and why is art a worthy pursuit? Because the study of imitation is joyful to us and fosters a pure form of learning.
To understand this phrase and why it is important to the reading, one must first understand "poet," as defined by Aristotle. When he speaks of poetry, he references epic poetry like the Odyssey. Therefore, since epic poetry was meant for performance, one could equate "poet" to "playwright." Aristotle tells us that the poet's purpose is to tell a story- not one that is purely a factual report of actions, but a tale that would touch the audience. Theatre, according to Aristotle, must transcend a simple story and become something that will impact those who hear or see it. It must impart a lesson and leave the audience with something more than what they had before they partook in the experience.
Aristotle attempts to make differences between three types of poetry: comedies, tragedies, and epics. He says that imitation is prevalent in all of the different types. Audiences don’t have to be afraid when horrific acts are demonstrated on stage because we understand that this is just an imitation of a human action and not the actual action. One difference between tragedy and epics is the length of each. Epics have one type of verse and are in narrative form and its action has no fixed limit of time (229). All the parts of an epic are included in a tragedy but all parts of a tragedy are not in an epic (230). Aristotle also says that there are six parts to every tragedy: a fable or plot, characters, diction, thought, spectacle, and melody (231). He goes on to explain what each one means in a dizzying amount of words. I think that Aristotle gets his point across about the differences between the three types of poetry but does so in a labor intensive way for the reader. It was easier to pinpoint some of his more simple sentences to make sense out of his more complex ones. It would be so much easier and friendlier to read if as a whole the chapters were simpler. It’s too exhausting to read too much at one time. I took a couple breaks and moved my way through slowly and think I will understand it better after having a conversation about its content.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines catharsis as, “The purification of the emotions by vicarious experience, esp. through drama (in reference to Aristotle’s Poetics.)” In fact, before Aristotle uses the word in his own definition of tragedy, catharsis was a medical phrase that meant the emission of waste from the body. “Aristotle is employing it as a medical metaphor” (Wikipedia). To Aristotle, there is a purifying function of tragedy. In order to best describe the sensation of tragedy and the emotion that quickly cycles though the body, he uses a physical metaphor:
A tragedy, then, is the imitation of an action that is serious and also, as having magnitude, complete in itself: in language with pleasurable accessories, each kind brought in separately in the parts of the work; in a dramatic, not in a narrative form; with incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish it catharsis of such emotions. (Aristotle)
In 335BCE, many people might have agreed with Aristotle, but in today's society people appreciate numerous forms of art, many of which are radically different than what Aristotle would have been exposed to in ancient Greece. For example, abstract painting. I doubt that Aristotle would have had much appreciation for such art, as it often lacks recognizable subjects and does not always 'imitate' anything in the external world. I don't believe that Aristotle could have ever predicted, or understood, that society might come to appreciate forms of art without 'form,' or enjoy works of literature, not because of a complex or ornate plot, but because of an investment in character, which is something that has been accomplished in post-modern literature.
Here is a rough summary of the movie, for those who have not seen it or are unfamilure:
Maximus is a powerful Roman general, loved by the people and the aging Emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Before his death, the Emperor chooses Maximus to be his heir over his own son, Commodus, and a power struggle leaves Maximus and his family condemned to death. The powerful general is unable to save his family, and his loss of will allows him to get captured and put into the Gladiator games until he dies. The only desire that fuels him now is the chance to rise to the top so that he will be able to look into the eyes of the man who will feel his revenge.
“A tragedy, then is the imitation of an action that is serious and also, as having magnitude, complete in itself; in language with pleasurable accessories, each kind brought in separately in the parts of the work; in a dramatic, not in a narrative form; with incident arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish its catharsis of such emotion" (230).
I believe that the movie touches on all aspects of what Aristotle believes Tragedy is, however it is important to point out that there are 2 main differences between a Tragedy and an Epic: time and narration. Where a Tragedy is usually told within the span of a day, an epic has an unset or unlimited amount of time. The story of Maximus in the movie spans much longer than a day, yet I would till categorize it as a Tragedy.
This brings me to the second difference which is that an Epic is told in narrative form or from an omniscient narrator, while a Tragedy is more of a dialogue, which is more like the movie.
I want to explore why some elements of Epics can be found in Tragedy but not vice versa.
Additionally I want to explore why Character seems to come secondary to Plot when it is the Character the viewer or reader identifies with and is the cause of evoking pity or fear in the audience(236).
Lastly, since it pertains to the movie Gladiator, I wanted to discuss the demise of the Hero and why with an authentic tragedy must the death of the Hero always be the product of some fatal choice or action, for the tragic hero must always bear at least some responsibility for his own doom, when in the case of Maximus, it was not his choice.
Is this only reason of why the Hero dies found in poetry, or because we live in a time with so many variations of what a Tragedy and Epic could be in viewable formats instead of literature, has there been an evolution of Aristotle's Poetics?