File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_2000/bhaskar.0009, message 49

Date: Tue, 19 Sep 2000 08:30:28 +1000
Subject: Something on the Iliad was Re: BHA: Bhaskar and God

Interesting, Carroll. I am currently reading though the Iliad. (Will get 
onto Capital eventually.  Promise) Have I come across anything religious so 
far?  Well what is most striking is of course that the gods are present 
everywhere.  Truly this is the world of the bicameral mind. The opening of 
Book 4 is especially terrifying is it not? The gods are all on the golden 
floor watching the humans prepare to slaughter one another. The spectacle 
amuses them.  Hebe passes around the nectar and the party is in full swing.

We live in the world of the uni-cameral mind, if you accept Jeynes' 
thesis.  Certainly the gods are no longer part of our everyday 
experience.  They have as Heidegger acknowledged departed. Nevertheless 
underlying the spectacle of the gods tuning into the human soap opera lies 
a fundamental question about the dharma and karma of humanity.  The poem 
address suffering and when Priam beseeches Achilles for the body of his 
son, Hector we get one of the great themes of all literature do we not? How 
are we to cope with the truth of suffering?

Achilles's answer is surely a variety of stoicism:

"Zeus has two jars of the gifts that he give, standing upon the floor 
beside him, one of good things and one of evil things."

This scenario gives us the opposite of Kierkegaard's god who will not let a 
sparrow fall without knowing of it.  Shakespeare 'As flies to wanton boys 
are we to the gods.  They kill us for their sport' is a much more accurate 
rendering of the Iliad experience. These seem to me to be the opposite 
sides of the great question of how is a good all-powerful God possible in a 
world of suffering. So in that sense the Iliad is definitely religious even 
in a modern sense.

BTW I have not found anyone who can, as Milton wanted to, 'justify the ways 
of God to Man'.  I suppose Job came closest with his God that demands from 
out the whirlwind 'Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?'

Carroll, I stand corrected on the prevalence of religious experience.  I 
should not have generalised from my own circle, which being predominantly 
Irish, is  full of hints of the transcendent.

warmest of regards


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