A few years ago, I watched a contrived controversy on a cable news channel. An exclusive and expensive liberal arts college in the suburbs of Los Angeles was giving students access to time on the campus cable TV channel. Not surprisingly, one group decided to produce pornography. Appearing on the show was a young woman, who was the producer, and a young man, one of the stars of the show.
Of course, the discussion followed the old tired pattern. On one side was the progressive liberated free thinkers and on the other the puritanical reactionary conservatives. Unfortunately, the world, even the educated world, can think only in terms of dualities when they need to think in terms of triads.
The format of the show was clearly designed to excite the two soul powers. One side represented liberated eros, not subject to any constraint. The other side was incensed (thumos) over the degeneration of youth. The missing term of the triad is, of course, nous, the intelligence.
The disappointment is that these privileged students could not conceive of anything higher or more creative than pornography, which doesn’t take much intelligence at all. Suppose, instead, that had attempted some of these more creative projects.
- Weekly series based on stories from the Eddas
- Plato’s Republic has many story ideas
- A story based on the ideal republic (even has its prurient interest)
- A story based on the allegory of the cave
- Contests based on medieval knights. For example, climbing up the inside of a ladder in full armor.
- Legends of Hyperborea, Agarttha, Rama, Orpheus, or the stories of other initiates
Perhaps projects like these have not been done because they can’t be done. Perhaps something has been lost in the transition from an oral, to a written, to a visual society, so it is only the spectacle that captures attention, and not old myths with a metaphysical message. I believe it was Leonardo da Vinci who said that if anyone could witness himself in coitus, he would henceforth give up sex because of its absurdity. Obviously, Leonardo did not consider the visual society, where pornography has become a major industry, and the absurd is embraced.
In the piazzas of Florence where he grew up, he would have seen the puppet shows. In the evenings, the shows would have included sexual innuendos, in particular, mocking the affairs and trysts of the rich and famous. In the visual age, however, a staged photo or a leaked video on the Internet is often the path to stardom. With visual stimulation, the primal drives of eros (sex) and thumos (aggression) can be directly appealed to, as the content of television shows and movies attests to. There is an opposition that sees this, and its attendant dangers, but they have nothing to counter it. They appeal to sentimentalism, and say that man, on the contrary, is motivated by altruism, compassion, and so on. But there is not really a contrary and sentimentalism is often disguised thumos, manifesting as the urge to appear as high status in another’s eyes.
No, the resolution lies in nous. However, nous is non-formal manifestation; that is, there is no visual or other sensory representation of it. Hence, there is no direct way to portray it in any visual medium.