There be dragons!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Pi - Darren Aranovsky

Not a movie for the faint of heart. Violent, spooky, disturbing, and incredible.

Here the interesting thing is the coordination of number patterns.

Plato suggests that The Good is known by analogy; we approach it by studying one form after another, from particulars to generals, or from physical to patterns to consistent repeaters to Forms. I think the neo-Platonic accretion of some metaphysical realm where the perfect form of "chair" floats about for eternity is a canard. Rather, the Forms are those principle patterns from which all other form or structure emanates - descending into matter and taking on the incarnate form of crystalline structure in the material world. Not a Gnostic hatred of the physical, but rather that the physical is connected to something far far greater. That greater thing, greater even than Being qua being is The Good. To learn of it we study the Forms in their various manifestations and acquire a vision of the beauty of life's structure.

But Plato fails.

The vision he provides is magnificent and can indeed create a great hope in us of the complexity, beauty and immensity of which we are but a small part. Yet his philosophy offers no consolation for our own misery. It is little consolation to suggest that we are part of a greater beautiful pattern, or that death allows us to see what is behind these pasteboard masks, or that we can face terror (the Minotaur) gracefully. We still are in our misery. Moreover, we don't really live by philosophy, even philosophy as great as this. We live and are inspired by the knowledge that another greater than we suffered and died and endured all those things the worst of which we too endure and yet never gave in to the animalian desire to despair. Thus The Christ surpasses Socrates b/c the image of His death provides us with encouragement that another (whether in historic reality or mythological reality) was able to overcome human pain through love; to hang on to humanity and endure the worst dregs of suffering.

I've been called a neo-Platonist pagan. No. Plato is phenomenal and in many ways his philosophy surpasses the modernist philosophy of the doctrinalist Christian. But the early Church and indeed those things most powerful in the Church are themselves based on the Platonic imagery, improve it, and perfect it. Where Socrates died in a mythical peace of hemlock-induced calm, I, like the Christ, might be less fortunate. And when the time comes to call for mercy and help it will be to the Anointed one and not to the philosopher that I make moan.

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