Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dialogue at South Luangwa

"Ask the same for me,"
for friends should have
all things in common."

No remark stands alongside this dialogue of Phaedrus and Socrates, unless it's the one between Diotima and Socrates in The Symposium, a conversation between the queries of the broad African plain and the éclat of its great falls. Diotima patiently explains: 

"Why don't we say everyone is a lover, if everyone always loves the same things; why do we call some people lovers and not others? It's nothing to wonder about. What we're doing is picking out one kind of love and applying it to the name, love, that belongs to the whole class, while we use different names for other kinds of love .. You know that composition forms a general class. When anything comes into being which did not exist before, the cause of this is always composition. So the products of all the crafts are compositions, and the craftsmen who make them are all composers? .. But you know, they aren't called composers, but have different names ..

Here, they are differentiated by names - Beth Nelson, for the gift of the Phaedrus, typeset by a master printer from San Francisco and framed in her house by the ocean - and Ivan Terestchenko, for the gift of photographs congruent with the most important conversations in the life of this species. Is this, trying too hard, or is it composition; and what does Diotima say this is? That 'the good' is a verb, not an object; hence, when the good of seeing gives something being, which did not exist before, "the cause of this is always composition." To those who adore their objects, this must always seem like trying too hard.

427-347 B.C.

The Symposium
Christopher Gill, translation
Penguin, 1999©

Camp stools, South Luangwa
Friends, Victoria Falls
July, 2011


  1. You do read Guy Davenport, yes?

  2. Nope. I know well a Davenport, a Mattison, and a Guy (and then some), but not in the sequence you propose. Now you've piqued one's interest, even at the expense of calling upon oneself to read. As you see, I'll do anything for the constituents of rmbl, if I'll do that. :)

  3. You will be rewarded.

  4. dear laurent,

    we play with words, we read , we think, we walk , we post

    and we marvel

    at life. for it is a feast indeed...and

    for this, i thank you. . .



  5. Mon cher JtB - Oh, no! Not that! Better, forgiven.

  6. Dear Beth, Yes, more walking. Lots more walking for me. Thank you, for the reminder. L

  7. No amount of wealth could bribe the sitter of those camp chairs, and no amount of gold can give Man the gift to capture those chairs & transform them into longing. Ivan is very rich.

  8. In the most ethical way, too, by "composition" asking and giving the same for others. Blows one away; but if you need an illustrator for the text Beth selected, much less of its immortality, then there you are. The perfection of rapport between these gifts, as I surmise to exist between these people, is one of the most splendid sights I have ever seen; and I do not feel it to be amiss, to supply the human face of desire for it.

    I think you must have been astounded to find these radically unguarded transmittals, tumbling into your in-box in response to the kindly impulse of your gesture - until you saw, perhaps, that they belonged in publication, and first of all by you.