Let Out Your Sail

"There's nothing more overrated than a beautiful person with some hideous dreams," croons a singer on the Monstercat album that inspires the difficult parts of all the running I have been doing. Of course, the sentiments in the song hardly live up to Plutarch's prescription for peaceful living but perhaps it helps to let escape, if momentarily and occasionally, surprise at the constellatory route marked out by fellow passengers in life. Let them be, Plutarch's advice may be recapitulated as reading, it does no good to expect people to be other than what they are. But where other people's actions, or lack thereof, leave one, say, with far less pay and far more work, subscribing to wisdom can be tricky, for the question remains: Where am "I" in all of this?
Hitting the pavement. "Meeting with" the pavement (etymologically speaking). Which is to say, travelling in a certain way, for training is travel in terms of reaching new levels of fitness or enforcing the mindset that internalising horizons not visible from Point A is achievable so far as they are ever-newly achieved.
Ever setting goals becomes significant when the people from paragraph one, just being who they are, as Plutarch counsels, do something yet again, further, to demand even more of one's time and effort. If one struggles not to feel overwhelmed, it is likely that contemporary literature will just not bring enough wind to sails badly in need of lifting. These authors don't seem to believe in what they are saying, and there is as much indeterminacy in what they report as the "birds in the air" that Aristotle writes of that one ends up chasing if one is caught up in sense-perception, thinking that anything that appears, just because one sees it, is true - which ultimately leads to the conclusion that reality is "both so and so" (Met. 1009b). Which is to me a hideous dream. Anything goes!
But Aristotle teaches us how to respond to ambiguous relativity. We are to say, yes, things are so and so, but only to such and such a person in such and such a form (Met. 1011a).




Things really can look grim, but I have thought about it and conclude that there is no use in that portrait, unless it is a momentary sigh. Because breath, as we know from training, has its place too, in the lesson of control of difficulty: it is rather inelegant to huff-uff when the same activity can be done in rhythm - I was going to write "in time" and perhaps that is the better phrase, for it is time that favours the faith of patience, which is why it makes sense to keep trying, even when it is hard.
Meeting the pavement: it is this kind of travel and motion, even rush forwards, that can be experienced while reading Pindar's "Pythian 1 For Hieron of Aetna". It is so beautiful that one does not want to spoil it by attempting to retell it, instead preferring to covet it by reading it again and again (this is what I want to do now, but I must finish writing this, since I began it). He asks that he "may make a long cast" of words-akin-to-javelin, brandished in his hand to surpass his rivals. "Would that all of time may, in this way, keep his propserity and the gift of wealth on a straight course, and bring forgetfulness of troubles. Indeed he might remember in what kind of battles of war he stood his ground with an enduring soul". In singing this powerful praise, he continues to ask for his own reward... and this will bring me to my conclusion.



"If you speak in due proportion, twisting the strands of many themes into a brief compass, less blame follows from men." Less blame for himself, less for what he is praising. "For wearying satiety blunts the edge of short-lived expectations, and what the citizens hear secretly weighs heavy on their spirits, especially concerning the merits of others. Nevertheless, since envy is better than pity, do not abandon fine deeds!" Pindar then entreats us, his audience, to see the power we bear together in holding the course for that which is good. 
As if responding to Aristotle's passages on appearance in Metaphysics (which of course he isn't), he writes, "You have many faithful witnesses of both good and bad. But abide in a blossoming temper". Why blossoming temper? Because if we wish good to be spoken of us, and to have a chance to be blessed by favour through Pindar's prayer, we are to be magnanimous, not "distressed by expenses" or "deceived by glib-profit seeking". Instead, he advises, "let out your sail to the wind".
Petty-mindedness is diverted through the travel of our imagination as we remember, through his poem, the travels of others' deeds, like the Diomedes who would not let the battle be won with Philoctetes' weapons without retaining Philoctetes the man. Where am "I" in all of this? In Diomedes, saving the man, spared from war-weariness, not deceived by glib-profit seeking (κέρδεσιν εὐτράπλοις, which also echoes the evasion that is appearance), rather more setting out his sails to the wind, delivering victory from the inside of a horse that echoes the four-horse chariot that is the reason for Pindar's victory ode.
The "I" asks Pindar's poem for answers and learns that if fortune isn't won, there is still a second prize, "to be well spoken of". But it is dangerous in Pindar's poem to be worthy of praise, it is so hard, there is so much envy to contend with. Perhaps this is why his words are so forceful, they are sharpened by the contrast of that which they stand out against. How could his words stand a chance in a culture like ours today, devoid of invocations of conviction.

Brush: misprinted type.

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