The Linnet's Wings The Sorrow - Page 43

The Linnet´s Wings Aphrodite inhabits a brilliant world of "golden" chariots and must be cajoled to abandon her "caparisoned throne" (poikilothrone) to descend to our "unbright earth." Aphrodite is the "Daughter of Zeus", but she is also a "weaver of ruses," (doloploke) a trickster of the heart. Invoked by her devoted Sappho, she is "So suddenly there," and an intimate and humorous conversation ensues. Aphrodite playfully mocks poor Sappho. The goddess is immortal, her features undying (athanatos); the human lover lives in time, in ragged and demeaning repetition. The goddess has been on this mission before: "what was it troubled me this time? What made me call/This time? .. "Whom shall I this time bend to your love?" The repetition of "this time" (deute) marks a comic exasperation in Aphrodite, the Olympian witness to a human heart captive to vagrant passions. The further question "Who is it Sappho/That's doing you wrong?" contrasts a wise older sister who, with gentle humor, understands distressed desire. Though playful and mocking, the goddess sympathizes with pouting Sappho who counts it a moral wrong if her beloved fails to respond immediately. Though expressed gently here, to be gripped by desire is to abandon judgment and in petulance imagine harm where there is none. Sappho would have Aphrodite cast a spell on the beloved so that she too will suffer, whether that is good for her, or is in any way deserved. Only these ruses can free Sappho from "this merciless craving." The goddess has no interest in the welfare of the beloved but only in playing those tricks by which desire triumphs. Neither of these conspirators is honest and just; one can transcend this unbright earth, only through the transforming power of desire. Sexual desire is Sappho's religion, Aphrodite is her goddess, and love is the remedy for the dullness of our days and for the sour recognition of our mortality. 5 Aphrodite represents only one of the great forces Greeks celebrated to understand themselves. We can think of these twelve gods as something like the zodiac's distribution of character types. If so, the Greeks seem willing to accept both joys and pains that come with intense devotion to any one of these mighty beings. Our horoscopes, in contrast, allow for mixed types and rarely require us to pay the bitter price for the unalloyed gifts of nature. As Nietzsche protested, moralism exalted restraint to elevate moral consistency (serving the community, sometimes expressed as the state). This means that all human potentials other than moral consistency and administered goodness are secondary to moderation. Nietzsche mocked this narrowing of the palette of values. If Aphrodite is to be eclipsed by the need for administrative order, the world turns gray and dismal. Banish Sappho, banish all the world. [pic] Athena (Minerva) is the goddess ofwar and wisdom, which seems at first peculiar. However, there is much wisdom associated with war ifwe think ofstrategy as a necessary element. Athena was also goddess ofweaving, a domestic art closely associated with strategy ifwe think ofthe foresight required to produce the image in a tapestry as it takes form on a loom. 43