Plato, part 2

SONY DSCMosaic believed to depict Plato’s Academy.
Found in the ruins of Pompeii.

(Continued from part 1.)

Plato never wrote out a full statement of his philosophy in any one place, and the literary aspect of his work makes it difficult to identify what that philosophy even was. In that respect, Losev did a great service just by concisely explaining it. I will therefore turn the floor over to him: Continue reading

Alexei Losev, “Plato” (1977)

platoBelieved to have been sculpted during Plato’s lifetime.
A portrait of cold, distant superiority.

It is easy to form a misleading impression of Plato. An American’s first encounter with Plato usually occurs in a freshman philosophy class; the assigned reading is almost invariably “The Republic,” which is presented as primarily a study of politics, a utopian tract describing the “perfect society” by direct analogy with works by social and ideological thinkers of the 18th and 19th centuries. Plato’s take on it is supposed to be more radical and shocking, since he dares to criticize democracy, but then, clearly the most compelling way to prove the superiority of contemporary 21st-century society is by comparing it to Athens in 400 BC. Continue reading

Sergei Rachmaninov, part 2

rachmaninovconcertAt a concert during the late 1930s.

(Conclusion. Continued from part 1.)

St. Petersburg was decimated almost immediately after the Revolution, even before any organized revolutionary terror had time to start. The complex social roles that comprise any modern civilization become death sentences for their holders in the instant when the infrastructure sustaining them disappears. Lenin himself wrote to other revolutionary leaders, in May 1918, “Petrograd is in an unprecedentedly catastrophic situation. There is no bread. The last remaining potato flour and rusks are being distributed to the populace. The Red capital is on the brink of death by starvation.” The city was ravaged by epidemics of diseases like typhus, which by the early 20th century were becoming a thing of the past in major urban areas. Continue reading

Lyudmila Kovaleva-Ogorodnova, “Sergei Rachmaninov” (2015)

rachmaninovFor more photographs, see also,
the best Rachmaninov resource on the Internet.

We lead ourselves to believe that our time is somehow unique in how fast it moves — that the current pace of technological and societal “progress” has no precedent in any previous time period. This view artificially separates us from the past history of culture, by default implying that the latter has nothing relevant to say to us, and consequently should be forgotten. Continue reading