Thursday, May 04, 2006

Are Utopians Hazardous to mankind's health A Farmer John/ Beakerkin Special

One of my favorite segments are the Farmer John specials where we pose abstract questions. These post have comments that can generate philosophical, theological , historic and Litterary tangents. Farmer John is our official Philosopher of this blog. Hopefully Justin Morris and Warren will add the religious parts. Ducky will likely add Marxist spin with a smile.

I am not a religious man or philosophical in nature. My world is that of the possible
and practical. I accept that Utopia is a religious construct for the next world. As man himself is not a perfect creation and we have free will societal perfection is impossible. Is my acceptance of an imperfect society in this world defeatism or pragmatism.

Much of mans destructive impulse is from people who strive for Utopia in this world. Nazis wanted to create a racial utopia and started an agressive war and commited attrocities in this quest for Utopia known as the Holocaust. Jihadists seek global hegemony and think they have divine sanction to extort from non muslims. Terrorism is part of a Utopian quest to expand the land of Islam. Communist make man into god and have killed 100,000,000 trying to create their workers paradise.

My contention is that utopians of all stripes will make sacrafices to achieve their goals that are doomed to failure. People become expendable in the cause of Utopia which is just about as real as Sponge Bob Square Pants.

What is your take on Utopians ?

39 comments:

Freedomnow said...

Utopians are seeking out certain laws of nature that we are not yet aware of.

As it stands if a species overpopulates, it destroys its ability to sustain itself.

Of course, as humans we have thrown in additional things that can harm us like Nuclear/Chemical weapons, pollution, biotechnology and Socialism.

I have a feeling that we can work things out, but I cant deny that the possibility of failure is high.

Of course if we destroyed ourselves, life will continue or start again. The planet still has about four billion years left of life left before the Sun goes red giant...

Always On Watch said...

Beak,
I gave a little lecture on utopianisms today to my American history class. In fact, I covered many of the concepts which you've presented in this blog article.

The concept of a perfect world in this world is inherently flawed. Old Southern saying: "You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear." Farmer will be able to express this idea in a more erudite way, I'm sure.

Much of mans destructive impulse is from people who strive for Utopia in this world.

Seems to me that utopians are trying to redeem themselves and save the world. That smacks of supreme ego, IMO. And their zealotry and absolute conviction that they know best causes them to force their ideas on everyone else.

You asked, Is my acceptance of an imperfect society in this world defeatism or pragmatism?

My answer: pragmatic realism.

FLORIAN said...

Utopians are fools if there ever were fools. They believe in relativity, so long as it feeds their worldview. They desire to achieve their goals through intimidation, violence, and death if necessary in order to secure their little piece of heaven. It's a failed philosophy, and it's list of failures is many: Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Red Russia, Kingdom of Spain--and later Fascist Spain, Ottoman Turkey, and to a certain extent even the EU today. Current versions of Utopias that will ultimately fail are Zimbabwe, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Saudi Arabia, N Korea, and soon to be added Bolivia.
Only God can produce a perfect Utopia. If/when we see it, we'll probably all be marvelled at what it really is.

nanc said...

when man is put in charge, the entire world suffers.

i'm with flo. and the laws of thermodynamics.

curious as to how farmer weighs in as we discussed the sow's ear silk purse recently.

MissingLink said...

It's not the worst sin of the utopians that they believe blindly in theories based upon totally wrong premises but it is the fact that they belive they have the right to implement them.

Warren said...

We who are Christians are admonished to live in this world but not to "be" of it.

Utopians turn this concept on its head, being of this world but living in an imaginary world.

nanc said...

i wonder where our muslim wonder has been the last few days?

good night all - in the 'morrow, farmer.

Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

Utopia is possible and I'll kill anyone who disagrees with me.

nanc said...

couldn't resist - had to come back for an episode of "leave it to beamish"! nice dress, mrs. beamish.

Robert Bayn said...

hmmm, Beak, where is the roast?

beakerkin said...

Rob I ran out of gas and needed to sleep. I have one more post to write and then it is the cyber roast.

the merry widow said...

Good grief Beaker, when do you sleep? I hope you don't get sick because of the lack!
I'm with Warren and Nanc and Florian- As a christian I can't see mankind doing anything that is ultimately going to work forever. It will just get corrupted, only G*D can produce perfection. The best we can do is to keep it simple, build in as many checks and balances as possible and be flexible. But not to the point of brains and common sense falling out! And leave a door for redress to the governed. BTW, check out BadEagle, Dr. Y. is almost spitting! It's about the 2nd Amendment, the S. Poverty Center and the ACLU(stink!)

tmw Good morning all, a blessed day to you all!

Anonymous said...

Gosh beak, this thread doesn't need me, it's already got a great group of people who share some great wisdom!

I think I'll just mosey over to some other blog today. Besides, the old scarecrow over at Jason's hasn't quite learned how to dance yet, and I think I might be able to give him a few pointers.

Y'all have fun today, heah!

-FJ

-FJ

Anonymous said...

Aristofjanes - Is this the deme where the discussion of utopia's is to take place? I haven't missed anything yet, have I? I'm told you can tell the beginning of a tale by an invocation to a deity. No one has heard one yet, have they? Oh wait, I see a croud over in front of that little house with the "Thinkery" sign over it. Maybe its' over there. I think I'll join the crowd and listen in...

Aristophanes ("Clouds)

SOCRATES. Silence, old man, give heed to the prayers.... Oh! most mighty king, the boundless air, that keepest the earth suspended in space, thou bright Aether and ye venerable goddesses, the Clouds, who carry in your loins the thunder and the lightning, arise, ye sovereign powers and manifest yourselves in the celestial spheres to the eyes of the sage.

STREPSIADES. Not yet! Wait a bit, till I fold my mantle double, so as not to get wet. And to think that I did not even bring my travelling cap! What a misfortune!

SOCRATES. Come, oh! Clouds, whom I adore, come and show yourselves to this man, whether you be resting on the sacred summits of Olympus, crowned with hoar-frost, or tarrying in the gardens of Ocean, your father, forming sacred choruses with the Nymphs; whether you be gathering the waves of the Nile in golden vases or dwelling in the Maeotic marsh or on the snowy rocks of Mimas, hearken to my prayer and accept my offering. May these sacrifices be pleasing to you.

CHORUS. Eternal Clouds, let us appear, let us arise from the roaring depths of Ocean, our father; let us fly towards the lofty mountains, spread our damp wings over their forest-laden summits, whence we will dominate the distant valleys, the harvest fed by the sacred earth, the murmur of the divine streams and the resounding waves of the sea, which the unwearying orb lights up with its glittering beams. But let us shake off the rainy fogs, which hide our immortal beauty and sweep the earth from afar with our gaze.

SOCRATES. Oh, venerated goddesses, yes, you are answering my call! (_To Strepsiades._) Did you hear their voices mingling with the awful growling of the thunder?

STREPSIADES. Oh! adorable Clouds, I revere you and I too am going to let off _my_ thunder, so greatly has your own affrighted me. Faith! whether permitted or not, I must, I must shit!

SOCRATES. No scoffing; do not copy those accursed comic poets. Come, silence! a numerous host of goddesses approaches with songs.

CHORUS. Virgins, who pour forth the rains, let us move toward Attica, the rich country of Pallas, the home of the brave; let us visit the dear land of Cecrops, where the secret rites are celebrated, where the mysterious sanctuary flies open to the initiate.... What victims are offered there to the deities of heaven! What glorious temples! What statues! What holy prayers to the rulers of Olympus! At every season nothing but sacred festivals, garlanded victims, are to be seen. Then Spring brings round again the joyous feasts of Dionysus, the harmonious contests of the choruses and the serious melodies of the flute.

STREPSIADES. By Zeus! Tell me, Socrates, I pray you, who are these women, whose language is so solemn; can they be demigoddesses?

SOCRATES. Not at all. They are the Clouds of heaven, great goddesses for the lazy; to them we owe all, thoughts, speeches, trickery, roguery, boasting, lies, sagacity.

STREPSIADES. Ah! that was why, as I listened to them, my mind spread out its wings; it burns to babble about trifles, to maintain worthless arguments, to voice its petty reasons, to contradict, to tease some opponent. But are they not going to show themselves? I should like to see them, were it possible.

SOCRATES. Well, look this way in the direction of Parnes; I already see those who are slowly descending.

Anonymous said...

Aristophanes ("Clouds")

STREPSIADES. But where, where? Show them to me.

SOCRATES. They are advancing in a throng, following an oblique path across the dales and thickets.

STREPSIADES. 'Tis strange! I can see nothing.

SOCRATES. There, close to the entrance.

STREPSIADES. Hardly, if at all, can I distinguish them.

SOCRATES. You _must_ see them clearly now, unless your eyes are filled with gum as thick as pumpkins.

STREPSIADES. Aye, undoubtedly! Oh! the venerable goddesses! Why, they fill up the entire stage.

SOCRATES. And you did not know, you never suspected, that they were goddesses?

STREPSIADES. No, indeed; methought the Clouds were only fog, dew and vapour.

SOCRATES. But what you certainly do not know is that they are the support of a crowd of quacks, both the diviners, who were sent to Thurium, the notorious physicians, the well-combed fops, who load their fingers with rings down to the nails, and the baggarts, who write dithyrambic verses, all these are idlers whom the Clouds provide a living for, because they sing them in their verses.

STREPSIADES. 'Tis then for this that they praise "the rapid flight of the moist clouds, which veil the brightness of day" and "the waving locks of the hundred-headed Typho" and "the impetuous tempests, which float through the heavens, like birds of prey with aerial wings, loaded with mists" and "the rains, the dew, which the clouds outpour." As a reward for these fine phrases they bolt well-grown, tasty mullet and delicate thrushes.

SOCRATES. Yes, thanks to these. And is it not right and meet?

STREPSIADES. Tell me then why, if these really are the Clouds, they very much resemble mortals. This is not their usual form.

SOCRATES. What are they like then?

STREPSIADES. I don't know exactly; well, they are like great packs of wool, but not like women--no, not in the least.... And these have noses.

SOCRATES. Answer my questions.

STREPSIADES. Willingly! Go on, I am listening.

SOCRATES. Have you not sometimes seen clouds in the sky like a centaur, a leopard, a wolf or a bull?

STREPSIADES. Why, certainly I have, but what then?

SOCRATES. They take what metamorphosis they like. If they see a debauchee with long flowing locks and hairy as a beast, like the son of XenoClinton, they take the form of a Centaur in derision of his shameful passion.

STREPSIADES. And when they see Simon, that thiever of public money, what do they do then?

SOCRATES. To picture him to the life, they turn at once into wolves.

STREPSIADES. So that was why yesterday, when they saw Cleonymus, who cast away his buckler because he is the veriest poltroon amongst men, they changed into deer.

SOCRATES. And to-day they have seen Clisthenes; you see ... they are women.

STREPSIADES. Hail, sovereign goddesses, and if ever you have let your celestial voice be heard by mortal ears, speak to me, oh! speak to me, ye all-powerful queens.

CHORUS. Hail! veteran of the ancient times, you who burn to instruct yourself in fine language. And you, great high-priest of subtle nonsense, tell us your desire. To you and Prodicus alone of all the hollow orationers of to-day have we lent an ear--to Prodicus, because of his knowledge and his great wisdom, and to you, because you walk with head erect, a confident look, barefooted, resigned to everything and proud of our protection.

STREPSIADES. Oh! Earth! What august utterances! how sacred! how ondrous!

SOCRATES. That is because these are the only goddesses; all the rest are pure myth.

Anonymous said...

*********************

We interrupt this transmission to let the patrons of this blog know that they are free to yell out insults to the hippocrites (Hippo is Greek for Horse), and that the hypocrites will be throwing NO dates or nuts into the audience during this performance. Carry on.

************************

-aristofjanes

beakerkin said...

FJ

How do imperfect people create pefection. We are the sum of out ingredients and imperfect ingredients can never acheive perfection.

Anonymous said...

Aristojanes - Meanwhile, in a nearby deme, two men can be overheard in conversation...

Aristophanes ("The Birds")...

EUELPIDES. By Zeus! I could not look at Lepreum without disgust, because of Melanthius.

EPOPS. Then, again, there is the Opuntian, where you could live.

EUELPIDES. I would not be Opuntian for a talent. But come, what is it like to live with the birds? You should know pretty well.

EPOPS. Why, 'tis not a disagreeable life. In the first place, one has no purse.

EUELPIDES. That does away with much roguery.

EPOPS. For food the gardens yield us white sesame, myrtle-berries, poppies and mint.

EUELPIDES. Why, 'tis the life of the newly-wed indeed.

PISTHETAERUS. Ha! I am beginning to see a great plan, which will transfer the supreme power to the birds, if you will but take my advice.

EPOPS. Take your advice? In what way?

PISTHETAERUS. In what way? Well, firstly, do not fly in all directions with open beak; it is not dignified. Among us, when we see a thoughtless man, we ask, "What sort of bird is this?" and Teleas answers, "'Tis a man who has no brain, a bird that has lost his head, a creature you cannot catch, for it never remains in any one place."

EPOPS. By Zeus himself! your jest hits the mark. What then is to be done?

PISTHETAERUS. Found a city.

EPOPS. We birds? But what sort of city should we build?

PISTHETAERUS. Oh, really, really! 'tis spoken like a fool! Look down.

EPOPS. I am looking.

PISTHETAERUS. Now look upwards.

EPOPS. I am looking.

PISTHETAERUS. Turn your head round.

EPOPS. Ah! 'twill be pleasant for me, if I end in twisting my neck!

PISTHETAERUS. What have you seen?

EPOPS. The clouds and the sky.

PISTHETAERUS. Very well! is not this the pole of the birds then?

EPOPS. How their pole?

PISTHETAERUS. Or, if you like it, the land. And since it turns and passes through the whole universe, it is called, 'pole.' If you build and fortify it, you will turn your pole into a fortified city. In this way you will reign over mankind as you do over the grasshoppers and cause the gods to die of rabid hunger.

EPOPS. How so?

PISTHETAERUS. The air is 'twixt earth and heaven. When we want to go to Delphi, we ask the Boeotian for leave of passage; in the same way, when men sacrifice to the gods, unless the latter pay you tribute, you exercise the right of every nation towards strangers and don't allow the smoke of the sacrifices to pass through your city and territory.

EPOPS. By earth! by snares! by network! I never heard of anything more cleverly conceived; and, if the other birds approve, I am going to build the city along with you.

PISTHETAERUS. Who will explain the matter to them?

EPOPS. You must yourself. Before I came they were quite ignorant, but since I have lived with them I have taught them to speak.

PISTHETAERUS. But how can they be gathered together?

EPOPS. Easily. I will hasten down to the coppice to waken my dear Procné; as soon as they hear our voices, they will come to us hot wing.

PISTHETAERUS. My dear bird, lose no time, I beg. Fly at once into the coppice and awaken Procné.

themerrywidow said...

Aristofjphanes- Bwahaahaahaahaaheehehehe!Ieehhh! I shall away to study clouds!

tmw

Anonymous said...

Aristofjanes - Yes, yes Aristophanes, we're all familiar with the legend of Procne, but come on, get on with your story, the croud is growing restless, how did Epops get the birds to go along with his plan?

Aritophanes ("The Birds")

EPOPS. Strangers, who have come from Greece, the land of the wise.

CHORUS (of birds). And what fate has led them hither to the land of the birds?

EPOPS. Their love for you and their wish to share your kind of life; to dwell and remain with you always.

CHORUS. Indeed, and what are their plans?

EPOPS. They are wonderful, incredible, unheard of.

CHORUS. Why, do they think to see some advantage that determines them to settle here? Are they hoping with our help to triumph over their foes or to be useful to their friends?

EPOPS. They speak of benefits so great it is impossible either to describe or conceive them; all shall be yours, all that we see here, there, above and below us; this they vouch for.

CHORUS. Are they mad?

EPOPS. They are the sanest people in the world.

CHORUS. Clever men?

EPOPS. The slyest of foxes, cleverness its very self, men of the world, cunning, the cream of knowing folk.

CHORUS. Tell them to speak and speak quickly; why, as I listen to you, I am beside myself with delight.

EPOPS. Here, you there, take all these weapons and hang them up inside close to the fire, near the figure of the god who presides there and under his protection; as for you, address the birds, tell them why I have gathered them together.

PISTHETAERUS. Not I, by Apollo, unless they agree with me as the little ape of an armourer agreed with his wife, not to bite me, nor pull me by the testicles, nor shove things up my....

CHORUS. You mean the.... (_Puts finger to bottom._) Oh! be quite at ease.

PISTHETAERUS. No, I mean my eyes.

CHORUS. Agreed.

PISTHETAERUS. Swear it.

CHORUS. I swear it and, if I keep my promise, let judges and spectators give me the victory unanimously.

PISTHETAERUS. It is a bargain.

CHORUS. And if I break my word, may I succeed by one vote only.

HERALD. Hearken, ye people! Hoplites, pick up your weapons and return to your firesides; do not fail to read the decrees of dismissal we have posted.

CHORUS. Man is a truly cunning creature, but nevertheless explain. Perhaps you are going to show me some good way to extend my power, some way that I have not had the wit to find out and which you have discovered. Speak! 'tis to your own interest as well as to mine, for if you secure me some advantage, I will surely share it with you. But what object can have induced you to come among us? Speak boldly, for I shall not break the truce,--until you have told us all.

PISTHETAERUS. I am bursting with desire to speak; I have already mixed the dough of my address and nothing prevents me from kneading it.... Slave! bring the chaplet and water, which you must pour over my hands. Be quick!

EUELPIDES. Is it a question of feasting? What does it all mean?

PISTHETAERUS. By Zeus, no! but I am hunting for fine, tasty words to break down the hardness of their hearts.--I grieve so much for you, who at one time were kings....

CHORUS. We kings! Over whom?

PISTHETAERUS. ... of all that exists, firstly of me and of this man, even of Zeus himself. Your race is older than Saturn, the Titans and the Earth.

CHORUS. What, older than the Earth!

PISTHETAERUS. By Phoebus, yes.

CHORUS. By Zeus, but I never knew that before!

PISTHETAERUS. 'Tis because you are ignorant and heedless, and have never read your Aesop. 'Tis he who tells us that the lark was born before all other creatures, indeed before the Earth; his father died of sickness, but the Earth did not exist then; he remained unburied for five days, when the bird in its dilemma decided, for want of a better place, to entomb its father in its own head.

nanc said...

did you used to write for monty python? by zeus!

Anonymous said...

aristofjanes - Sorry folks, there will be a brief intermission. Eat fruits and nuts if you gottem. Go out and get some if you don't... it could be a while before this show gets started again...

nanc said...

and for your commercial break pleasure:

The Pirate Song

Sixteen men on a dead man's chest...yo ho ho and a bottle of rum


(Captain) Avast there mates, ye're sailin' with Long John Black Beard, Peg-Leg, Patch-Eye Hook, scourge of the bounding main. Bloodthirstiest, black-heartiest pirate captain ever sailed the seven seas, ha, ha, ha! What say ye we hoist the Jolly Roger, heel over the yonder Spanish galleon. Lay a few broadsides agin' her timers, swing over on these here lanyards with our cutlasses in our teeth cut 'em to ribbons and split the booty. What say ye to that, me hearties? Heh! Ha, ha, ha, ha!

(Twit) I don't like it....

(Captain) You don't like it?

(Twit) I don't like it and I don't wanna do it. It's tacky,...tacky, tacky...and don't look at me that way

(Captain) Well, if you don't like it, what do you want?



Chorus I want to sing and dance, I want to sing and dance
I want to be a pirate in the Pirates of Penzance
Wear me silver-buckled slippers and me tight shiny pants
I want to sing and dance

(Captain) You want to sing and dance, heh! You don't like plundering, aye? Well, shiver me timbers 'ow 'bout treasuring, huh? Rubies, emeralds and pearls, gold doubloons and British sovereigns. Silver chalices encrusted with diamonds and jewels, necklaces and bracelets of every shape and size, fit for the crown heads of Europe, aye? And all buried in a pirate's chest and I just happen to know where. How about that me bloodthirsty buckos, heh? Ha, ha, ha!


(Twit) I don't like it.....

(Captain) You don't like it?

(Twit) I don't like it and I don't want it....

(Captain) He don't want it

(Twit) And I won't do it...I'm an artiste

(Captain) An artiste, well mister artiste, what do you want?



Chorus I want to sing and dance, I want to sing and dance
I want to be a pirate in the Pirates of Penzance
Wear me silver-buckled slippers and me tight shiny pants
I want to sing and dance

(Captain) Now, listen hear! This ain't no floating Gilbert and Sullivan show, you know for some little flittin' tinkerbell. This here be a black-hearted pirate ship and I would have you keel-hauled if you weren't me own flesh and blood you little twit! So you don't like plunderin' aye?.....


(Twit) I don't like it.....

(Captain) And you don't want no treasurin' ah?.....

(Twit) I don't want it.....

(Captain) And you probably don't want no groggin' and revelin' and wrenchin' and rummin' either I suppose?

(Twit) Well, deep down....you want to know the truth? It's not me, I don't want it.....

(Captain) Well, what do you want...as if I didn't already bleein know?

(Twit) I want to sing and dance and.....

(Captain) I know, I know...and wear your tight little shiny pants. Huh! Okay...we'll all sing and dance (pirates grumble)... I said we'll all sing and dance (pirates grumble)... Or you'll walk the plank,...one - two - free



(Chorus in pirates' voices)
Chorus I want to sing and dance, I want to sing and dance
I want to be a pirate in the Pirates of Penzance
Wear me silver-buckled slippers and me tight shiny pants
I want to sing and dance

(Over chorus, you hear the Captain and twit's voice say)
(Twit) I like it....I like it

(Captain) I kinda like it me own self

(Twit) Thought you would





Sixteen men on a dead man's chest...yo ho ho and a bottle of rum

(Twit) I don't like rum...

(Captain) You don't like rum?

(Twit) Well no, actually...well, I might like a little Perrier

(Captain) A little Perrier?

(Twit) With a lime in it...

(Captain) A lime in it?..... He wants a lime in it.....

(Twit) Well, do you have any Escargot?

(Captain) Escar..what?

(Twit) What's the soup today?...

(Captain) Soup!?

(Twit) Might have a bit of a salad too!...

(Captain) Well, how about a bleeding fingerbowl?

(Twit) Maybe a croissant!...Is that right? Those French make everything so hard! Why didn't they just call it a bun?

(fade out)

and now, back to our regularly scheduled program.

American Crusader said...

Too tough an act to follow.

Anonymous said...

nanc,

That was a performance worthy of one of the Chamberlain's men. Were you ever tempted to sign articles in the cupboard aboard HMS Pelican?

Me, I'm just a travellin' song and dance man.... self-taut.

-FJ

nanc said...

oh farmer - i've been tempted by much, but found the temptation to not be tempted the greatest temptation. perhaps we should start a vaudeville act!

nanc said...

of course, you'll need an avatar...

nanc said...

fern has one he's not using!

Anonymous said...

I think people would see my eyes rolling a little too much. Besides, how ould people know it was me unless all my posts were anon. Wasn't he the greatest poet? (I know, big head).

-FJ

nanc said...

no, fern is not a great poet.

Anonymous said...

aristofjanes - Ah! They have all left the theater to water their shrines. I guess it's time to resume our comedy... as the plot thickens...

Aristophanes ("The Birds")

PISTHETAERUS. The cuckoo was king of Egypt and of the whole of Phoenicia. When he called out "cuckoo," all the Phoenicians hurried to the fields to reap their wheat and their barley.

EUELPIDES. Hence no doubt the proverb, "Cuckoo! cuckoo! go to the fields, ye circumcised."

PISTHETAERUS. So powerful were the birds, that the kings of Grecian cities, Agamemnon, Menelaus, for instance, carried a bird on the tip of their sceptres, who had his share of all presents.

EUELPIDES. That I didn't know and was much astonished when I saw Priam come upon the stage in the tragedies with a bird, which kept watching Lysicrates to see if he got any present.

PISTHETAERUS. But the strongest proof of all is, that Zeus, who now reigns, is represented as standing with an eagle on his head as a symbol of his royalty; his daughter has an owl, and Phoebus, as his servant, has a hawk.

EUELPIDES. By Demeter, 'tis well spoken. But what are all these birds doing in heaven?

PISTHETAERUS. When anyone sacrifices and, according to the rite, offers the entrails to the gods, these birds take their share before Zeus. Formerly the men always swore by birds and never by the gods; even now Lampon swears by the goose, when he wants to lie.... Thus 'tis clear that you were great and sacred, but now you are looked upon as slaves, as fools, as Helots; stones are thrown at you as at raving madmen, even in holy places. A crowd of bird-catchers sets snares, traps, limed-twigs and nets of all sorts for you; you are caught, you are sold in heaps and the buyers finger you over to be certain you are fat. Again, if they would but serve you up simply roasted; but they rasp cheese into a mixture of oil, vinegar and laserwort, to which another sweet and greasy sauce is added, and the whole is poured scalding hot over your back, for all the world as if you were diseased meat.

CHORUS. Man, your words have made my heart bleed; I have groaned over the treachery of our fathers, who knew not how to transmit to us the high rank they held from their forefathers. But 'tis a benevolent Genius, a happy Fate, that sends you to us; you shall be our deliverer and I place the destiny of my little ones and my own in your hands with every confidence. But hasten to tell me what must be done; we should not be worthy to live, if we did not seek to regain our royalty by every possible means,

PISTHETAERUS. First I advise that the birds gather together in one city and that they build a wall of great bricks, like that at Babylon, round the plains of the air and the whole region of space that divides earth from heaven.

EPOPS. Oh, Cebriones! oh, Porphyrion! what a terribly strong place!

PISTHETAERUS. This, this being well done and completed, you demand back the empire from Zeus; if he will not agree, if he refuses and does not at once confess himself beaten, you declare a sacred war against him and forbid the gods henceforward to pass through your country with standing organ, as hitherto, for the purpose of fondling their Alcmenas, their Alopés, or their Semelés; if they try to pass through, you infibulate them with rings so that they can fuck no longer. You send another messenger to mankind, who will proclaim to them that the birds are kings, that for the future they must first of all sacrifice to them, and only afterwards to the gods; that it is fitting to appoint to each deity the bird that has most in common with it. For instance, are they sacrificing to Aphrodité, let them at the same time offer barley to the coot; are they immolating a sheep to Posidon, let them consecrate wheat in honour of the duck; is a steer being offered to Heracles, let honey-cakes be dedicated to the gull; is a goat being slain for King Zeus, there is a King-Bird, the wren, to whom the sacrifice of a male gnat is due before Zeus himself even.

EUELPIDES. This notion of an immolated gnat delights me! And now let the great Zeus thunder!

EPOPS. But how will mankind recognize us as gods and not as jays? Us, who have wings and fly?

PISTHETAERUS. You talk rubbish! Hermes is a god and has wings and flies, and so do many other gods. First of all, Victory flies with golden wings, Eros is undoubtedly winged too, and Iris is compared by Homer to a timorous dove. If men in their blindness do not recognize you as gods and continue to worship the dwellers in Olympus, then a cloud of sparrows greedy for corn must descend upon their fields and eat up all their seeds; we shall see then if Demeter will mete them out any wheat.

EUELPIDES. By Zeus, she'll take good care she does not, and you will see her inventing a thousand excuses.

PISTHETAERUS. The crows too will prove your divinity to them by pecking out the eyes of their flocks and of their draught-oxen; and then let Apollo cure them, since he is a physician and is paid for the purpose.

EUELPIDES. Oh! don't do that! Wait first until I have sold my two young bullocks.

PISTHETAERUS. If on the other hand they recognize that you are God, the principle of life, that you are Earth, Saturn, Posidon, they shall be loaded with benefits.

EPOPS Name me one of these then.

PISTHETAERUS. Firstly, the locusts shall not eat up their vine blossoms; a legion of owls and kestrels will devour them. Moreover, the gnats and the gall-bugs shall no longer ravage the figs; a flock of thrushes shall swallow the whole host down to the very last.

the merry widow said...

Oh, FJ you orate on e'now! Bravo, bravo! No encore yet, if you please, I have a headache! BTW, the rates on my skillets are at Warren and Nanc's! Remember, I'm giving you a 50% discount!

tmw

Anonymous said...

aristofjanes - One last post before beaks' parabasis

Aristophanes, ("The Birds")

EPOPS. And how shall we give wealth to mankind? This is their strongest passion.

PISTHETAERUS. When they consult the omens, you will point them to the richest mines, you will reveal the paying ventures to the diviner, and not another shipwreck will happen or sailor perish.

EPOPS. No more shall perish? How is that?

PISTHETAERUS. When the auguries are examined before starting on a voyage, some bird will not fail to say, "Don't start! there will be a storm," or else, "Go! you will make a most profitable venture."

EUELPIDES. I shall buy a trading-vessel and go to sea. I will not stay with you.

PISTHETAERUS. You will discover treasures to them, which were buried in former times, for you know them. Do not all men say, "None know where my treasure lies, unless perchance it be some bird."

EUELPIDES. I shall sell my boat and buy a spade to unearth the vessels.

EPOPS. And how are we to give them health, which belongs to the gods?

PISTHETAERUS. If they are happy, is not that the chief thing towards health? The miserable man is never well.

EPOPS. Old Age also dwells in Olympus. How will they get at it? Must they die in early youth?

PISTHETAERUS. Why, the birds, by Zeus, will add three hundred years to their life.

EPOPS. From whom will they take them?

PISTHETAERUS. From whom? Why, from themselves. Don't you know the cawing crow lives five times as long as a man?

EUELPIDES. Ah! ah! these are far better kings for us than Zeus!

PISTHETAERUS. Far better, are they not? And firstly, we shall not have to build them temples of hewn stone, closed with gates of gold; they will dwell amongst the bushes and in the thickets of green oak; the most venerated of birds will have no other temple than the foliage of the olive tree; we shall not go to Delphi or to Ammon to sacrifice; but standing erect in the midst of arbutus and wild olives and holding forth our hands filled with wheat and barley, we shall pray them to admit us to a share of the blessings they enjoy and shall at once obtain them for a few grains of wheat.

CHORUS. Old man, whom I detested, you are now to me the dearest of all; never shall I, if I can help it, fail to follow your advice. Inspirited by your words, I threaten my rivals the gods, and I swear that if you march in alliance with me against the gods and are faithful to our just, loyal and sacred bond, we shall soon have shattered their sceptre. 'Tis our part to undertake the toil, 'tis yours to advise.

EPOPS. By Zeus! 'tis no longer the time to delay and loiter like Nicias; let us act as promptly as possible.... In the first place, come, enter my nest built of brushwood and blades of straw, and tell me your names.

Anonymous said...

*****

aristofjanes - And please... no names to follow. Simply fly off for a while and leave droppings in some foreigner's field. Because you know a swarm of Raven's will soon descend and attempt to ensnare you... massed retaliatory raids are not possible at this time.

****

Anonymous said...

aristofjanes - And NO peakin' at the ending...

Let Odysseus' bow string itself.

nanc said...

the ennui is killing me...either that or it's the hummaditty...

nanc said...

does my makeup look okay, farmer?

Possum said...

@freedomnow

"if a species overpopulates, it destroys its ability to sustain itself"

No, it's the other way around. It is a fall in redproductive rate that bodes extinction. Any healthy species tends to overpopulate. Population is normally regulated by competition with other species, disease, predation, starvation, and so forth.

@all

As for utopians.... We are individuals, not some collective noosphere. Utopia would be nice, but the very act of trying to create it worsens the human condition by putting social engineers in charge. Social engineering is all about controlling people. I see no difference between that and religion. The more power the social engineers get to control others, the less control they have over themselves.

Freedomnow said...

Possum,

Thats not what I am talking about. If there are too many wolves then it puts a strain on the species because they overhunt and this brings the population down to a more balanced level.

Humanity is going to reach that point sooner or later. As our population grows we will challenge our planet's ability to sustain us.