Friday, December 26, 2014

Thinking outside the Arsenal

When was it, last year, the
year before? I was standing
in front of the Arsenal in
Venice, looking at your sta-
tue. You nearly always stand
slightly turned away in your
statues, looking to one side,
as though you wish to avoid 
a conversation.. That after-
noon I had read something a-
bout the divine in a book a-
bout Plato, about how the
Greeks, in moments of terrify-
ing catastrophe or delirious
joy, those moments when every-
thing about our lives becomes
dazzlingly visible in a light
of almost unbearable intensity,
would have an experience of the
divine.. Some gods are still
feared and worshipped, others
languish in books and museums..
they can still rely on their
beauty, but no longer on their
power. Where did the problem be-
gin for you Olympians? With Soc-
rates, who, by constantly think-
ing aloud, began the process of
removing magic from the world,
even though he believed in the
immortality of the soul? 

Or was it earlier, with Xeno-
phanes, who accused Hesiod and
Homer of having given the gods
all manner of negative human 
habits - adultery, jealousy, 
deceit ..? Did you ever devote
any attention to such thoughts?

Of course, that means my writing
to you is a paradox, because the
letter assumes you still exist,
but please allow me my questions..

 Cees Nooteboom
 Laura Watkinson
 Letters to Poseidon
   Letter xx [fragment]
 Maclehose Press, 2014©

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