There be dragons!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Achilles and the devastation of rage


Personal responsibility. A man is responsible to friends, parents, siblings, the whole human race. What Achilles’ pride blinds him to is how vital this responsibility is and how his actions can cause so much devastation in the lives of others. Man is a sorrowful beast – to learn about this sorrow in a personal way is a painful, terrifying business but vital if we are to see the world as it is and not as we want it to be; bent to our inexorable will. To experience sorrow leads to greater knowledge of ourselves and all humanity.
Yet the sorrow never goes away. There is no “happily ever after” for those who eat the bread of this earth; such poor wretches as we are, scuttling between heaven and earth. Rather, an adult, a man, carries always with him the sorrow, knowledge, pain over his own mortality and his ability to destroy and the inevitable, miserable Ragnarok of all things beautiful. This weight of sorrow is a teacher which reveals reality to the initiate and gives him an insight into who he is. Such insight is not available yet to self-centered immature whelps, lost in their own innocence. It is a knowledge both somber and liberating.
Achilles’ rage clears the way for this mature realization; burns away all obstacles, leaf, flower, tree, from the landscape of his soul such that all the pretty, bucolic Eden of youth is eternally lost; the whims, illusions, pretences and luxury of pettiness to which young people are prone. Once the rage burns itself out, Achilles stands in that fire-blasted terrain, barren of tree or grass or living thing, amidst the devastation caused by his own hand and the unearthly, inhuman silence in which no birds sing and there realizes his own capacity for violence and his own utter aloneness. And he weeps.

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