Preliminary: Socratic

[Cat - Ptolemaic period Egypt]

Valéry's Socrates [These excerpts are all taken from Eupalinos, the dialogue on architecture]:


I know even better, by my very experience, that our souls can, in the very heart of time, make for themselves sanctuaries impenetrable to duration, eternal in their inner selves, but transient with regard to nature; where they at last are what they know; where they desire what they are; where they feel themselves to be created by what they love, and render back to it light for light and silence for silence, giving themselves and receiving themselves again without borrowing aught from the stuff the world is made of, nor from the Hours. They are then like those sparkling calms, circumscribed by tempests, which shift from place to place on the seas. What are we during these abysses? They imply the life they suspend ....

But these marvels, these spells of contemplation, these ecstasies do not illuminate for me our strange problem of beauty. I am unable to connect these supreme states of the soul with the presence of a body or of some object which brings them into being.


And on language, specifically the 'face' or countenance of the third, highest sort of word he says:

how am I to figure it? .... It would have to be some inhuman countenance, with features severe and subtle as those which the Egyptians, it is said, were able to give the faces of their gods.

[Phaedrus]: And truly said. Craft, deep enigmas, an almost cruel precision, an implacable and half-bestial cunning, all the signs of feline watchfulness and of a fierce spirituality are visible in the images of those stern deities. The skillfully proportionate blend of acuteness and coldness produces in the soul a peculiar sense of uneasiness and disquietude. And these monsters of silence and lucidity, infinitely calm, infinitely alert, rigid and seemingly endowed with imminence, or with a suppleness about to be, have the semblance of Intelligence herself, in the guise of beast and animal -- impenetrable -- all-penetrating.

Such a glut of language used to describe itself.