Thoughts during the plague. № 1. Black vengence of light god. Apollo's strike.
Hello, I decided to share with you my thoughts on the pandemic which is actually spreading. Naturally, I have a lot of thoughts, like everybody, on the topic of what is happening to us, and it may make sense to record a series of conversations, a series of lectures on coronavirus, this modern plague, on associations that come to mind of a philosopher and about the predictions that political scientists and experts in political philosophy and geopolitics can make regarding the future, when it all will be ended.
I suggest that we discuss it, so write to my social networks, I will answer your questions and discuss interesting thoughts that you will express.
But let's start today with a relatively fundamental thing. If we recall the beginning of the Iliad, then we will encounter a situation that is surprisingly reminiscent of what is happening to us. There is Apollo, Apollo is very dark, darker than storm-clouds, that means that the god of light, the god of lightness, the god of clarity, the god of constancy is upset.
Interestingly, he is saddened by a disrespectful attitude towards his priest, Apollo’s priest, but the result of his irritation for the Achaeans is the plague.
So the god of light, the god of muses, the god of harmony, the god of exalted beauty is the source of the plague, the source of the pandemic in the Achaean army.
Another very important point is that when Apollo comes to the feast of the gods in the same part of Homer, then all the gods jump up from their seats, because his coming to the feast does not bode well for anyone. This ominous aspect of the god of light, the god of justice, the god of true judgment in the Greek tradition is very revealing. He carries the plague, he carries the virus, he carries death and extermination. Why does he do that?
And here it is very important: because his priest was disrespectfully treated. If we break away from the specific history of Homer, we can formulate this philosophical myth as follows: the god of light, the god of the vertical, the god of heaven, the god of Hyperborea punishes humanity, which is distracted by some completely inappropriate thing, insulting the solar axis in each of us.
And then the story with the coronavirus, with the pandemic, with the plague, that decimates humanity, becomes understandable.
Apollo is a metaphysical symbol of our appeal to ourselves, to our inner dimension, to our self, to our immortal soul, and when people sin against this immortal soul, when they are completely absorbed in the elements of entertainment, the outside world, bodily fun and constant swarming around the material goods that they either acquire, or receive insufficiently, or want more, or want to spend these goods faster or use them somehow.
As soon as people begin to swarm around non-Apollonian values, when this swarm reaches a certain critical point, Apollo sends a plague to humanity, and this is absolutely true, and this is logical, and this plague makes people return to themselves again.
This was mentioned by Albert Camus in his novel "Plague". He said that the plague is a way to think, it is an invitation for us to think about the most important and fundamental things.
It is not only about quarantine, it is primarily a collision with death, because when we live in a normal state, we don’t remember our limb, we forget about death, it is somewhere outside our attention, our existential zone. And here comes the pandemic, then the coronavirus comes, here comes the plague – and death comes back to us, and we come back to it.
Thus, we return to the essence of humanity, because it is no coincidence that the Greeks called people mortal, βροτοί.
Mortality of a human is its special figure, this is its border, this is its formula, its limits – death – and it is in the face of death that our life expands.
Life only makes sense when it is related to death. Heidegger already at the end of his philosophical process, in the twentieth century defined Dasein as "being to death."
Our presence in the world, our presence here, our thinking stay in the place where we are, acquires meaning, significance and weight only when we visualize death.
Plague or coronavirus moves us to this, it brings us back to our Dasein, in fact, this is a kind of philosophical lesson.
And Apollo is the god of philosophy, the god of thought, the god of light, and it is this light of human limb that is ignited in us at the moment when we encounter our borders.
It is very interesting – limb –, peros in Greek is the border, the limit. It seems to us (this is a separate question why) that everything is infinite: the Universe is infinite, the matter is infinite, and in the absorption of material infinity, the infinite fragmentation of matter, this infinity, we become slaves to infinity, and in this infinity we just fall into the situation of entropy, entertainment, scattering, forgetting about ourselves.
And we want to live forever, and therefore we are talking about physical immortality, therefore we are talking about the transfer of consciousness to cloud servers, and our logical thought is tending to merge with this infinity.
But the Greeks said that the essence of man and the essence of spirit, the essence of God is the limit, peros, not apeiron, not infinity, but namely finiteness, boundedness, and this boundedness, this proportion of life and death, the presence and absence establishing a boundary constitutes the essence of the prominent unity.
Our finiteness, our limitation by death, just constitutes our essence, our light essence. And when we strive to get away from this boundedness, when we try to merge with infinity, we lose ourselves.
Now this is happening, and Apollo is sending the plague to make us recall that we are mortal and finite creatures.
And if we purely technically fight the coronavirus, trying to recover, save our relatives, sit in quarantine (all this must be done for sure), but we will miss the main lesson of Apollo, we will miss the main philosophical message of coronavirus: that we are finite, we are mortal, and this mortality is our essence.
In the face of death, we live, and whenever we truly live, we live only in the face of death.
As soon as death disappears beyond the horizon, life loses its astringency, its presence, it spreads, it falls into the pseudo-infinity of entertainment, domestic worries, constant dispersion of an infinite number of small objects, actions, steps or gestures that attract us.
In fact, only in the face of death our presence, our being in the world is assembled, and only in this state, and only in this position, in the face of our own border, we are able to be ourselves, we are able to exist as people, we are able to collect our thoughts.
Therefore, it’s not about living or dying, it’s about the fact that a person lives only on the border with death, and when it leaves, forgets about this border, stops living, spreads, it commits a crime against itself, and an epidemic is a call to us, maybe the last call to return to our own dignity. This is the philosophical meaning of the plague.
It is amazing that at the Moscow Art Theater we opened the exhibition “Apollo. Manifestation” of the remarkable artist Alexei Belyaev-Gintovt just at the moment when the epidemic began. We did not think about it, we have been preparing the exhibition earlier, at the end of 2019, but it coincided and happened so that this exhibition “Apollo. Manifestation" was underway at the Moscow Art Theater just in that moment.
Obviously, we did not cause this coronavirus pandemic, but it is obvious that this pandemic in the metaphysical sense, philosophical sense, is connected with the Apollo gestalt.
I think that this is perhaps the most important: we must think not just how to save ourselves from the coronavirus, but why and most importantly for what it came to us, whoever stood behind its appearance and whatever the nature of this pandemic - man-made / not man-made, natural or artificial is, it’s not important, it is the sense of it that really matters. And here when it comes to telos, the purpose of something, the meaning of something, then we must turn to the figure of Apollo, who is the interpreter and the true originator, that is, the metaphysical source of the pandemic that happens to people, and it is a healing, albeit rigid, shaping, it is a hand outstretched to us and aid from light metaphysics so that we return to ourselves, that we close our borders, that we close our homes, that we close our eyes and draw them inside ourselves .
So that we finally stay with ourselves, with our immortal soul, which we are about to lose in the postmodern culture and in inseparable from it, constant, penetrating more and more deeply into our culture transgression.
The plague is a call to take a step back, turn into ourselves, shut ourselves off from endless entropy and clearly, piercingly, tragically and at the same time with a new inner hope to realize our finiteness.
Only in the face of death can a person exist authentically, and for this it must look into its eyes.
All the best, you have been watching a new format of appeal to the audience, and with this program, with this short speech, we begin a series of conversations in the era of the pandemic, lectures in the era of the plague.