Leaning towards classical values?

That's easy for me to say. But when I was looking for something else on my um, hard drive late last night, I found a photo I surreptitiously took of Dionysius, and I saw that it was leaning. So I flipped it to make it lean the other way. But then the gods played tricks on me!

Because then there were two!

And then:


But that's not right, because the Dionysius on the left appears to be leaning to the right, while the one on the right seems to be leaning to the left. Should they both be leaning towards the center?

I mean, shouldn't they be leaning away?


Dionysius, of course, just never seems to go out of style:

From the perspective of more modern criticism, Dionysius shows himself to be a formidable thinker. His system is subtly simple, yet vast in what it encompasses. However, he, like many of his modern counterparts, failed to come to terms with paradox, especially with relation to the problem of evil and the omnipotence of deity.

For Dionysius, God is the transcendent Good. There can be no evil in Him or his creation. Evil is actually a deficiency or imperfection in turning to God. As stated before, this deficiency of goodness is directly related to one's distance from God. This relationship becomes problematic when the question is raised as to the nature and source of this distance. How is it that this distance limits the transcendent goodness of God? Why is creation not uniformly Good? Did God create the distance? If so, then He is the source of the deficiency. If not, then the principle of distance preexists creation. It is the essential source of Evil, which Dionysius so disdains.

Does that mean that evil should be placed in perspective? Or that perspective is evil?

(Who is paying me to speculate about such things?)

MORE: Wrong god! Wrong person, anyway.

Dennis reminds me that this is more complicated than I thought -- pointing out that the Dionysius (in the above quote) is not the god, but the philosopher.

From "Dionysiuses: A Spotter's Guide":

Ancient history, philosophy and religion are full of people called Dionysius. This situation is further confused by the fact that in some cases it is uncertain which Dionysius did what, and a large number of works traditionally linked to one Dionysius have more recently been attributed to an unknown individual sometimes called Pseudo-Dionysius. Therefore, my intention here is simply to run through the various Dionysiuses (and those who might be confused with them), and provide the briefest list of identifying features while hopefully pointing you to other more detailed sources of information. In reading this, it should be noted that Dionysius can be spelt (in stricter accordance with the Greek) Dionysios, and the name Denis (which is derived from Dionysius) is sometimes used for many of these people particularly in religious contexts.

Dionysus. Easily distinguished by not being called Dionysius, Dionysus was a Greek god who in some ways resembles the Roman Bacchus. However, confusion arises here too, because there may possibly be two gods called Dionysus, one the traditional fun-loving god of wine, women and song, and the other a slightly later figure linked with near-Eastern mystery religions. You can find more information in the write-up on him here.

I stand corrected. These damned statues are still called "Dionysius" -- and intellectuals like Camille Paglia routinely use that spelling for the old god. Here's Paglia:
Yes it's coming back. Yes I feel it coming back. They're concerned for the environment and globally it's starting to resurge. And I began noticing about five years ago that my students would, would just quiz me about the sixties that this generation of students is very very interested in the sixties. I began noticing people to class with Grateful Dead t-shirts and so on and so forth. And I felt something is happening. I don't think it's a sentimentalization of the sixties at all because I think the sixties had a vision, a real vision but it was lost in the excesses. What I say in my book essentially you see is Norman O. Brown and Marcuse and so on talking about Dionysius, these are older men okay, who came out of a different kind of a milieu. We are the ones who put the myth of Dionysius into action and we saw - we hit the wall okay because once you release the Dionysian forces, Euripides Bacchi tells you what happens, okay. There is destruction, disorder. No one can control Dionysius and he is not simply pleasure; he is pleasure-pain. Altamont, okay, the Rolling Stones' concert at Altamont shows what happens. The end result of that, the people just turning on each other and beating each other and a murder in front of the stage and so on. That's the Dionysian reality."
Elsewhere she describes Dionysius's cults:
The Dionysian cults were composed of women who tore their victims apart in a crazed sexual frenzy. Try that sometime. You won't see that in Shaker Heights. Bitchin.
I guess revelry corrupts. And absolute revelry. . .

I still enjoy the above speculation by the apparently Christian Dionysius (of which there may have been three conflated into one, which sounds vaguely paganistic.) There's also a longstanding accusation of forgery -- but he's said to have "transposed in a thoroughly original way the whole of Pagan Neoplatonism from Plotinus to Proclus . . .into a distinctively new Christian context."

I've long believed that the pagan/Christian "incompatibility" meme has been a grand waste of time, and has caused much unnecessary grief.

I mean, why wage war over deities when their very existence is being questioned?

posted by Eric on 03.05.06 at 01:16 PM

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