Column: Resiliency and the Spirit War

“6-3-6: The concept of politics has then become completely absorbed into a war of spirits.” —Nietzschemanteion

Or as Diane di Prima wrote, “the war that matters is the war against the imagination/all other wars are subsumed in it.” The enemy is despair, but secular ideologies of progress will never be enough to keep the enemy at bay. It takes a certain kind of sympathetic magic to counter despair. The seeds of what one is fighting for must be contained in one’s actions. If you want to live in a world where the relationships between the gods, the ancestors, the land and human beings are in harmony, then you have to put effort into strengthening and balancing those relationships right now.

Aeneas: Patsy For Imperialism?

Was Aeneas, the mythical survivor of the Trojan War and founder of Rome, a hero of civilization or an apologist for imperialism? Edward Rothstein of the New York Times examines the question on the occasion of Robert Fagles new translation of the Aeneid.”But in recent decades, when even the notion of civilization has come under challenge for its claims of ethical and social superiority, Aeneas has sometimes been portrayed as a kind of patsy for imperialism, mouthing higher goals while succumbing to reckless fury as he spills the bowels of his enemies on the earth. The argument has been made that Virgil’s project was actually ironic, anti-Augustan: he showed how civilization itself is drenched in blood, with self-celebratory history being written by the victors.”In the end, after weighing the case, Rothstein agrees with translator Robert Fagles’s assessment. That the story of the Aeneid (in the hands of Virgil) is something of a cautionary tale.”The Aeneid, he has suggested (thinking, he had said, of contemporary events), exhorts empires to behave. But it does not dismiss the ideal of civilization or the labors demanded or the persistent dangers faced; it offers a realist prophecy of war and peace, heralding civilization along with its discontents.”Was Virgil trying to flatter Rome (and Augustus) while at the same time trying to warn of the excesses of empire?