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A Portrait of the Scholar as a Young Procrastinator

August 10, 2009, 5:39 pm

Today  I:

1.  Thought of Aristotle’s failure to succeed Plato at the Academy in terms of a proto-tenure-denial, which makes the founding of the Lyceum a totally sweet vindication.

2. Reflected further that if Aristotle didn’t get tenure, it was probably due to teaching and not scholarship (“Outside letters compared his writing to rivers of gold.”)  Pondered what his evaluations must have been like  (“Paces too much during lecture.”)

3. Recalled, while reading Plato, a theory expounded by one of my undergraduate professors that, according to some scholars of ancient philosophy, Plato’s dialogues were originally intended to be performed.  This theory permits the interpretation of some parts of Plato as addressing the audience directly, and allows bits of dialogue to be taken as asides to the audience, or read as intended primarily for humorous effect rather than philosophical value (N.B. no clue whether this is a serious theory or even if I am remembering it properly.)

4. Reflected that as an undergraduate, I imagined the performance of Plato’s dialogues to be grand affairs like productions of Hamlet or Othello.  Declaim!  Expound!  By Zeus, Socrates, I know no longer what I did say!

5.  Thought that perhaps a classic multi-camera sitcom might be the more appropriate analogue.  This makes the Socratic elenchus, for example, sort of like a character’s trademarked walk or entry line, something Socrates did that was fresh in the first few seasons, but later he had to do it once per episode to keep the diehard fans happy.  (“I dunno, Plato, throw in something about flute-playing or doctoring, we’re on a deadline here.”)

6. Tried to figure out where the laugh track would go.

ALCIBIADES (bursting in, drunk)

O Socrates, come squish in between me and Agathon, you lover of boys you!

STUDIO AUDIENCE

[WoooooOOooooooooo!]

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