Fishing in the Lake of Philosophy [part 2/4]

This is an excerpt from my 2009 novel, N. Awakening.

On Power

His spirits were lifting not because of the beer, but because he loved talking about philosophy. “The Republic creates an intensity of thought,” he set down the beer. “In book II, Plato describes the Ring of Gyges.” He looked at Nasha’s hands, “When a person puts this ring on they become invisible and what would you do with that power?” He eyed his granddaughter, “And in Plato’s view what people would do is ‘great proof that no one is willingly just but only when compelled to do so.’ What do you think?”

Nasha just shrugged her shoulders. She sat empty of instant answers. She concentrated on catching a fish as if by staring intently at the bobber a fish would be drawn to her worm. “If I could be invisible,” Nasha uttered and slowly turned to Mitchell, “I would catch a really big fish!” They laughed, “Really grandpa, I would really catch a fish! This is our third time out and I’m having quite a bit of trouble catching something. Is there some secret I should know about?”

“No, grandchild. Simply be patient and enjoy the serenity. There is a hungry fish out there and it smells lunch as we speak. It will not be long before that bobber sinks and then you must pull back the fishing pole. Young one, if you could be invisible, I am sure you would do something more than just catch a fish.”

Mitchell watched Nasha and waited for her heart’s answer. She said nothing, but intensely watched her bobber. Her frustration began to shift from her inability to catch a fish to the day’s discussion. After reading reform after reform after reform last night and assuming that no one ever read his reforms, agitation flared within her frame. Wouldn’t this be a waste of life? Surely, this is not John Renard’s useful plan!

Finally, Nasha abetted, “If I had a ring that made me invisible… I would follow you. I would follow everyone.”

On Overcoming

Mitchell sensed her frustration and changed the philosopher. “You will also study Aristotle’s Politics. This part of philosophy I’m sure you will enjoy. In fact, Aristotle might speak the greatest philosophical statements you will ever know.”

She spoke to her head, “Will he stop already?”

He audibly continued, “You might cherish Aristotle’s words forever, write them on your buddy list or have them as a signature at the end of your emails.” He began to laugh at his joke. Nasha turned to ask him what he would do with the ring, to interrupt him, but as she turned, her bobber submerged. “Pull!” Mitchell yelled. Nasha jerked back the pole. Excitement and anxiety rushed through her body. The bobber surfaced and remained still. She quickly reeled in her line and realized, as Mitchell so eloquently spoke, “you’ve been wormed!” He quietly laughed as Nasha’s temper crept into every vein. She baited her hook, cast out and hid her acerbic side, “Why can’t I catch a fish?”

Nasha became aware that she knew only high school stereotypes of these philosophers and she pondered how different they might be from convention wisdom—high school wisdom. Pundit wisdom. She fleetingly peeked at her grandfather, sensed his conscious effort to respect her fishing frustration and thought to appease him.

“Go on, grandpa. Why would I write Aristotle’s words as my signature?” She tried to open her mind, like she had when golfing and learned the truth about Thanksgiving. She tried to think of a relevant tune to hum.

On the Male / Female Relationship

With glee Mitchell spoke, “One small thing Aristotle argues is that ‘The relation of male to female is by nature a relation of superior to inferior and ruler and ruled.’” Mitchell smiled and looked at his granddaughter. “How about that?”

She laughed and released what anger she held, “Yeah, that’s about right. I think I will make that my motto and every man I meet, that’s the first thing I’ll say to describe myself.” She spoke with severe sarcasm, “My lover! I am your servant! Rule me!” They laughed together.

********

In introducing philosophers–the greats–I point out weaknesses / stupidity so that the individual (you) can build an unique self-model–without feeling tiny compared to the “greats.”

Of course, I also use Aristotle later in the book to question why the American society completely embraced the former ideas until very recently. ‘Tis worthy of pause.

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