Monday, January 21, 2008

Empathy for the Devil

HEDLEY LAMARR
My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought
cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives.

TAGGART
God darnit, Mr. Lamarr, you use your tongue
purtier than a twenty dollar whore.

Too often I find myself thinking like Hedley and speaking like Taggart. Hopefully I write somewhere in between.

The solution to all life's riddles can be found in BLAZING SADDLES

My mind HAS been flooded with a variety of rivulets lately, and they seem to be begging me to tie them together somehow.

Here they are, separately:

1. A desire to finally write down definitions of classically descriptive terms like "pathos" and "bathos" that I (and many others) seem to misuse and often misunderstand.
2. A desire to finally write down translations of still-in-use Latin phrases that I (and many others) seem to misuse and often misunderstand.
3. A desire to finally write down crib-sheet style descriptions of all the philosophers and thinkers overtly referenced in the character names in LOST in preparation for the premiere next Thursday.

We'll see, I suppose, if there's a connection other than the tenuous one that they were all in play at one time or another as I pursued my BA in Poli-Sci. Hopefully, at the very least, they'll look purty all wrote out in a row.

pathos: Greek for "to suffer".
  1. The aspect of something which gives rise to a sense of pity.
  2. In its rhetorical sense, pathos is a writer's attempt to persuade an audience through appeals involving the use of strong emotions. In this sense, pathos is not strictly limited to pity. In its critical sense, pathos denotes an author's attempt to evoke a feeling of pity or sympathetic sorrow for a character.
  3. In theology and existentialist ethics following Kierkegaard and Heidegger, a deep and abiding commitment of the heart, as in the notion of "finding your passion" as an important aspect of a fully-lived, engaged life.

The urge to make a groan-inducing pun with the word "bathos" is all-but overwhelming

bathos
: Greek for "depth". Used metaphorically from 1638 (Robert Sanderson). First used ironically by Alexander Pope (Bathos, 1727), in contrast to "sublime".
  1. Depth, Bottom.
  2. An abrupt change in style, usually from high to low; an unintended transition of style; an anticlimax.
  3. Triteness; triviality; banality.
  4. Overly sentimental and exaggerated pathos.
pathetic:
1. arousing pity, esp. through vulnerability or sadness : she looked so pathetic that I bent
down to comfort her. See note at moving .
• informal miserably inadequate : his test scores in Chemistry were pathetic.
2. archaic relating to the emotions.

empathy:
1. the intellectual identification of the thoughts, feelings, or state of another person
2. capacity to understand another person's point of view or the result of such understanding

sympathy:
  1. A feeling of pity or sorrow for the suffering or distress of another; compassion.
  2. The ability to share the feelings of another; empathy.
  3. (psychology) A mutual relationship between people such that they are correspondingly affected by any condition.
  4. (physiology) A mutual relationship between organs such that a condition of one part causes an effect in the other.
a priori: deductive reasoning, from cause to effect

a posteriori: inductive reasoning, from effect to cause

factotum: one who does everything

sine qua non: fundamental cause; necessary precondition

flagrante delicto: in the heat of the crime
(I always thought this had a more lurid meaning...)

persona non grata: an unacceptable person

cogito ergo sum: I think, therefore I am (first busted out by ya boy René Descartes in 1637)

amor fati: (this one I've been thinking about a lot lately because of the beautiful Nietzsche quote I stumbled across, so excuse the lengthier wikipedia definition in this already lengthy post)

Amor fati is a Latin phrase that loosely translates to "love of fate" or "love of one's fate". It is used to describe an attitude in which one sees everything that happens in one's life, including suffering and loss, as good. That is, one feels that everything that happens is destiny's way of reaching its ultimate purpose, and so should be considered good. Moreover, it is characterized by an acceptance of the events that occur in one's life.

The phrase is used repeatedly in Nietzsche's writings and is representative of the general outlook on life he articulates in section 276 of The Gay Science, which reads,

I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who make things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse; I do not even want to accuse those who accuse. Looking away shall be my only negation. And all in all and on the whole: some day I wish to be only a Yes-sayer.

John Locke is named after John Locke (1632-1704) the Enlightenment philosopher who dealt with the relationship between nature and civilization, later to have great influence on founders of democratic governments. He believed that, in the state of nature, all men had equal rights to punish transgressors; to ensure fair judgment for all, governments were formed to better administer the laws.

Anthony Cooper is John Locke's father. It seems he's based on two Anthony Coopers:
Anthony Ashley-Cooper (1621-1683) was an English politician who was the mentor and patron of real-life philosopher, John Locke.

Anthony Ashley-Cooper (1671-1713) was an eighteenth-century moral philosopher who posited that people are basically good, and that morality is a foundational (if not innate) part of humanity.

"Desmond" David Hume is named after David Hume (1711-1776). Hume was the first great philosopher of the modern era to carve out a thoroughly naturalistic philosophy. This philosophy partly consisted in the rejection of the historically prevalent conception of human minds as being miniature versions of the Divine mind; a notion that has been entitled the ‘Image of God’ doctrine. This doctrine was associated with a trust in the powers of human reason and insight into reality, which powers possessed God’s certification.

Danielle "Rousseau" is named after Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), a philosopher and composer of the Enlightenment whose political philosophy influenced the French Revolution, the development of both liberal and socialist theory, and the growth of nationalism. With his Confessions and other writings, he practically invented modern autobiography and encouraged a new focus on the building of subjectivity that would bear fruit in the work of thinkers as diverse as Hegel and Freud. His novel Julie, or the New Heloise was one of the best-selling fictional works of the eighteenth century and was important to the development of romanticism.

I think Alpert's backstory will go a long way in telling us if time travel is in play on LOST

Richard Alpert (the eyebrowish "Other" who recruited Juliet to the island) is named after Dr. Richard Alpert (born April 6, 1931), also known as Baba Ram Dass, is a contemporary spiritual teacher who wrote the 1971 bestseller Be Here Now. He is well-known for his association with Timothy Leary at Harvard University in the early 1960s, both having been dismissed from their professorships for experiments on the effects of psychedelic drugs on human subjects. He is also known for his travels to India and his association with the Hindu guru Neem Karoli Baba.

Mikhail Bakunin (aka "Patchy") is named after Mikhail Bakunin (1814-1876) was a well-known Russian revolutionary and anarchist philosopher. He "rejected governing systems in every name and shape", every authority figure, including God, or a sovereign. Bakunin denied the concept of "free will" and advocated a materialist explanation of natural phenomena. Bakunin believed that the proper form of social organization is that of free association between individuals and between communities. Thus, "The freedom of all is essential to my freedom."

Whew. I feel better now. Thank you to Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Apple's Dictionary, Latin Phrases & Quotations by Richard A. Branyon, and Lostpedia.

Finally, for other LOST fans beginning to loosen up their theory-belts for Season 4, check out this intriguing line of thinking at Lost in Shangri-La.

2 comments:

Mr. CFA said...

Mr. & Mrs. CFA now have a whole night of things to talk about. Thanks Word Dude!

Mr. Word Player said...

I aim to please. Now you have Junior Miss CFA's first Latin primer ready to go...