Ordinary Oblivion and the Self Unmoored: Reading Plato's Phaedrus and Writing the Soul

Ordinary Oblivion and the Self Unmoored: Reading Plato's Phaedrus and Writing the Soul

Ordinary Oblivion and the Self Unmoored: Reading Plato's Phaedrus and Writing the Soul

Ordinary Oblivion and the Self Unmoored: Reading Plato's Phaedrus and Writing the Soul

Synopsis

Rapp begins with a question posed by the poet Theodore Roethke: "Should we say that the self, once perceived, becomes a soul?" Through her examination of Plato's Phaedrus and her insights about the place of forgetting in a life, Rapp answers Roethke's query with a resounding Yes. In so doing, Rapp reimagines the Phaedrus, interprets anew Plato's relevance to contemporary life, and offers an innovative account of forgetting as a fertile fragility constitutive of humanity. Drawing upon poetry and comparisons with other ancient Greek and Daoist texts, Rapp brings to light overlooked features of the Phaedrus, disrupts longstanding interpretations of Plato as the facile champion of memory, and offers new lines of sight onto (and from) his corpus. Her attention to the Phaedrus and her meditative apprehension of the permeable character of human life leave our understanding of both Plato and forgetting inescapably altered. Unsettle everything you think you know about Plato, suspendthe twentieth-century entreaty to "Never forget," and behold here a new mode of critical reflection in which textual study and humanistic inquiry commingle to expansive effect.

Excerpt

We are porous creatures. Our lives are saturated with repletion and incompleteness. Brimming and leakage abound. There is a surfeit of the self, even as much of what flows into a life slips to the margins or becomes obscured from view, often lost without a trace. Sometimes the fugitive surfeit of the self drifts back into our lives, as a rekindled intimacy with who we have been and who we are. Sometimes it remains fugitive, a ghostly vestige imparting knowledge at a distance. My primary interest has been how this lost surfeit of the self creates fissures in self-knowledge that are not empty or vacant, though they are spaces where something has gone missing. What would it mean to build an understanding of the human person from such spaces? Do these spaces suggest a way of understanding the sacred? What is their ethical significance? This book focuses on the first of these questions. Subsequent writing will engage the remaining two queries, informed by the endeavor presented here.

The whole of this book is evoked by the title. Reflecting on it, prior to reading the remainder of the text, would engender a more dialogical encounter with what I propose. a few remarks to bear in mind, if you embark on this suggested interruptive reflection:

“Ordinary oblivion” is how I have named the spaces in a person described above, those fissures best characterized neither wholly in terms of presence nor wholly in terms of absence. Literally and figuratively . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.