Tuesday, 26 April 2016

προγονικὸν ἁμάρτημα progonikon harmatema

This morning, at breakfast, in an expensive hotel, in a former
communist country, Ghost Face Critic heard a Scandinavia say (apropos the pollution of the Baltic)

It isn't us in the cities who have caused it. It's the peasants, who put things on the land to make it grow faster.

And this is why Ghost Face Critic remains a Christian. Because the optimistic fallacies of both socialism and capitalism are grounded in human perfectibility.  GFC believes in original sin (progonikon harmatema).

Ghost Face ponders whether the contemporary rejection of religion is not an intellectual triumph (how many people really understand the mechanics of natural selection?) but a desperate attempt to evade responsibility. It's one thing to deny that God exists - and perfectly respectable. It's another to ignore the complex cosmologies (both exterior and interior and sometimes both) that the saints and philosophers designed to explain the nature of being. 

Ghost Face turns harmatema over in his mind. He remembers that it is the same word, more or less, that Aristotle used in his description of tragedy: it was translated as 'flaw' or 'fault', which led to the ever-popular student game of 'find the flaw in the tragic hero'.

But Leon Golden (Tragic and Comic Mimesis, 1992) does not find 'flaw' a helpful translation. It's more like 'missing the mark', an error, a mistake. 

Ghost Face isn't quite ready to find St Augustine in Sophocles, but he does note the continuity (and remembers how Oedipus at Colonus easily became The Gospel).

Besides, Ghost Face knows that he dwells in the darkness, at least some of the time. It's not like he is a bad man. No worse than anyone else... but he knows that harmatema. He's not blaming his father, mind. Progonikon might mean inherited, but it's not his dad's DNA that is the problem. It's being human in the first place. 

Failure is his birthright. And, probably, those things that make him human are those things that make him miss the mark. Language, say. Words allow communication, but they also confuse. Many a slip between cup and lip, and all of that.

"Let's not get caught up," says Criticulous. "There's a good enough survey on wikipedia. Tell me about the Scandinavian."

The GFC replies that in that statement, the sin of the citizen is evident. The failure to accept responsibility, passing the buck ('it's the peasants who did it, not me,' she lies) and othering those poorer, more dependent on immediate success. 

"Why the fuck does she think the peasants are growing food? Not to feed the citizens who can sit in expensive hotels and bemoan the destruction of the ecosystem?"

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