Traveloid by ideasrex.com Athens, Greece

Venture forth with me and see what I see
as we explore the imaginary

Athens, the foundation of the modern thinking, the laying of seeds that flourished into democracy, academia, medicine, anthropos(human) logia (study), anthropology……the list is almost endless among our many -ologies. Raphael’s The School of Athens summarises the spirit of the times that admired the famous philosophers, scientists and multidisciplinaries before all, that walked and taught through this ancient place.

As the society was stratified in a particular way, they probably didn’t have today’s dilemma of entertain or perish, or at least it was cloaked less prominently in order to allow the force of intellectual concentration that we all witnessed. Initially, it might have been the oral culture and the power of myth that held everything together (maybe not fully together as they had their trials and tribulations as we well know) but on a macro level the sheer power of imagination and visionary actions moulded the abyss of knowledge.

Location

Athens, Greece
Date January 2017
Exploring history, Zeus, Prometheus, Acropolis, Parthenon, Odeon of Herodes Atticus, Poseidon,
Connecting Nietzsche and the abyss, collective, entertained society that suffers today, civilization type I

As it often goes with civilization and monsters, “when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes back at you” as Nietzsche said, and he meant it in the context of the monsters, but almost every stage through which civilization has had to go through besides progressive aspects also had what we consider a monstrous, inhuman features against the law of moral values.

History can’t help but gaze back at us, acting both as a teacher and as a measure of all things which we either accomplished or failed. History is the magnifying glass of all the monsters that visited the minds of those who created for example the myth of a Greek titan Prometheus (his name means ‘forethought’ in Greek), and the suffering he had to endure for his efforts to bring the fire to humankind or the collective. It was the liver which in ancient Greece was associated to human emotions, that had to be eaten every day by the eagle of Zeus. This scenario has been repeated throughout history so many times whenever certain types of knowledge or technology reached the larger population and thus de-powered the ruling echelon.

Possibly or even more likely the story of Prometheus suffering is symbolically universal to all the innovators, artists and new explorers as they almost always face the denial and emotional disappointment from the society surrounding them. However, just as there was a Heracles to save the suffering Prometheus, it remains to be seen what form will Heracles take in our suffering entertained society.

Let’s revisit to Athens and explore it together with Charlie and Earling as they float in their non-material bodies and probe the concept of emotions not only from a theoretical point of view but also from memory because sometimes in the past they existed in the physical body.

Earling: There is a pattern of familiarity or even what could be described in words as melancholy when we look at the Acropolis a sacred rock and site of Athens, which was brimming with activity since the Neolithic Era; however the start of splendour or it may have been the display of power or a combination of both started around 6th Century BC.

Charlie: I thought you are incapable of feeling melancholy in this bodyless form. Are you suggesting that words only mean what you want them to mean or do you truly feel attached?

Earling: Words always mean what we want them to mean, regardless of the audience or interpretation. Lewis Carroll was right, however words are also powerful negotiators, manipulators and murderers. Just imagine how many lives were destroyed during the building process of Acropolis, so many ideologies and evocations of monsters and myth and Gods. I can’t “feel” because I don’t have chemicals to support the sense of feeling, but I can empathize with what they have to go through in order to distil their civilization to type I (according to Kardashev).

Charlie: Type I hasn’t been achieved yet and it is the 21st century now, the time is slow for Earth, but I can see how ideals and visions of Ancient Greece created the foundations for 20th century technological and social acceleration. It was Iktinos and Kallikrates who made the Parthenon an architectural reality, a true testament to the glory of Goddess Athena. It dates back in it’s architectural conception to the Ancient Egypt, as we have seen many similar designs there too.

Earling: If Parthenon was an animate entity, it could look both right to the future and left to the past and see itself replicated in various forms and tweaked designs. I also find it fascinating how it became the fruit of divine vision, being converted to serve Christians as a church after 5th century AD and then into a mosque under Turkish rule.

Charlie: Let’s explore the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, where art was brought forward, built between 160 and 175 AD by Herodes Atticus in memory of his wife Regilla, it was one of the most impressive buildings that was even admired by those attacking and fighting for the territory. It was the abstract aspect of the mind fighting to find solace in art, and the ancient Greeks certainly found their way to tap into art through many forms and while the theatre started in acting and body art, it was later replaced by the Colosseum of ancient Rome.

Earling: Now we are at Erechtheion maybe the most unusual of the buildings on the Acropolis, with it’s dual nature, not so much in the sense of balance between one spectrum and another, but rather as a question of destiny and the prevailing force of Athena over Poseidon. The temple was dedicated to both Gods in order to maintain balance, but according to legend Athena brought forth olives and olive oil which was the deciding factor that pushed the pendulum in her favour.

Charlie: Such an unusual and a very complex architectural project that dates back to 425-406 BC, it seems they dedicated the eastern side to Athena and the western side to Poseidon. I can only imagine the brain facilities of the people who were able to worship multiple deities at the time and still keep the balance that life required of them.

Earling: It may not be that difficult after all “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” F. Scott Fitzgerald but it is time for this journey to explore Propylaea a monumental gateway and the only way to enter Acropolis. It remained unfinished due to the wars and tribulations happening at the time but the start of the building was in 437 BC.

Charlie: I have to connect this whole journey through Acropolis, mythology and several points of view with the 20th century painter Giorgio De Chirico who was born in Greece, and who with his metaphysical perception of reality, left the world in awe. It was in the later periods that he started looking back at antiquity and myth, which he portrayed in his work and emphasised how important it was for him to close the eye and see the abstraction of reality translated into the inner world.

In the meantime, Heraclitus, my most favourite of the ancient philosophers was granted the place in the painting The School of Athens by Raphael, bent over the world and lamenting bitter destiny brimming full of all the shades of suffering while the river of humankind flows endlessly into the change.

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