Political Aesthetics In The Eumenides:  My Defects And The One Superpower Option
Copyright Ó by Max Herman, 9/19/06

  I think there is a need to study more an ancient play, The Eumenides. Aeschylus wrote it in 458 B.C., showing revenge 
transformed to love. It tells the story of the house of Atreus, and how Orestes killed his mother. I read the Richmond 
Lattimore translation: "Get him, get him, get him, get him." By voting to forgive the matricide, Athena founded the great polis.
The elder gods, the Furies also called, were not destroyed but blessed and changed. In this we see an early vision of art, or 
exosomatic evolution. Why must forgiveness be a part of growth, and sometimes violence go unpunished? Perhaps because 
to punish all, infinitely, rains blood on blood.
  The gods of art and the safety of art cannot such endless devastation permit. We embark now on the new century of art 
history, called Networkism. ‘Network’ is an analogue of ‘polis,’ the tragic cycle working in both. Moreover, the monodeity 
of art compares to philosophy, the learning artifact or system. Thus we understand the blessing of "the kindly ones" is 
needed now. The one superpower option, a U.S.-led War on Terror, needs it. Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, 
please allow me to set the stage. In nineteen-hundred and eighty-nine, cramped by Oberlin orthodoxy, I left for Madison. 
There I had the great good fortune to attend the final class of Barbara Fowler.
  She taught the Albos-Koros-Hybris-Ate cycle of tragedy, adding Dike. She ended the course and her career by reading 
aloud ‘The Shield of Achilles’ by Auden. That year I copied ‘Adonais’ longhand, and read Shakespeare for two semesters. 
For Gingerich's course in Europe’s history I wrote of the origins and blame for World War One. Avoiding my high school 
drinking friends, anxious to learn, Germany reunited. I wondered if that meant all would be roses, never a shot in anger fired. 
I decided rather a vacuum might form requiring expansion (if painful) by the West. I assured myself a powerful presence 
from art could help to give the right its might. Walking down Bascom Hill toward my house on Gilman I felt the danger: 
religious hatred.
  On this conundrum I set my thoughts on heroes and cycles to work, if very slowly. It wasn't the anti-Allan-Bloomian talk 
of Oberlin I loved--I trusted Shelley. Medical theory in tragedy, Hamlet and murdered communication, Interferon. On 
graduating I wrote a novel The Hermit, writer as artifact, art as solitude. What all this means I cannot rightly state, except 
that something was afoot. My mathematical side was angry and wouldn't let go, so I chose to continue. My troubled family 
and circle of friends assumed I was mentally ill, and maybe I was. I’d been labeled a genius by childhood testing, ninety-nine-
plus in GRE’s on top. So what could I have thought, except that I understood War and Peace, not they?
  I guess I made my mind up to rebel right then and there in ninety-two. Therefore continuons, and let your mind’s eye drift 
past a year of housepainting and beer. My after-Hermit stories weren’t liked at Iowa, but Binghamton let me go for pay. I 
argued a lot in class with people and met the bearded guy who invented PoMo. One fall semester and two quite decent 
papers on heroism later I cut for home. I like it writing here on a reclaimed cemetery, now park, flies buzzing around. I felt 
bereft and socially deformed on leaving SUNY-Binghamton. I couldn’t believe that deconstruction and post-colonial theory 
was all there was. I wrote a pamphlet ‘Literary Change’ and xeroxed it for coffee shops.
  About the Second Commandment querelle, I’d say it poured the mold for G2K. On alt.postmodern, a usegroup in green 
text, they mentioned Jurgen Habermas. I checked out PPP from MPL, and then applied to schools again. None let me in 
save Syracuse, an injured place, but they would pay for me. Though mocked by professor and pupil alike, I managed to 
learn a few iota to keep. Marx was soundly off because worker control of means of production was Soviet proxy. This was 
the same as capitalism with representative democracy. Freud was the post-theistic cult of the master analyst, hence Lacan 
et al. Commercial humanism and imagined communities (Pocock and Benedict) also rated.
  In fifty-three the New York Intellectuals chose not to favor Stalin. The crux in Benjamin is where he states some violence 
is true and just. Rescuing criticism, falze aufhebung, weak messianic power. Fitzgerald said enlightened patriotism is the way, 
and I agreed. Early waking and trembling I found were clinical signs of something requiring pills. My Thucydidean hopes for 
a ‘second Syracuse’ where Athens won were false. Beneath all this lay the tragic cycle Fowler taught, my video class and 
the net. Could I will forward my communicative hypothesis, a transitional artifact? The answer was away from the ‘life’ of 
the ‘mind,’ and schools, writing, corrupted clergy.
  Into this somewhat peaceful golden time of living plainly came the idea. Ask people to act like a genius, or say what they 
thought one was, or talk of the fin-de-siecle. Thus Genius 2000 was born--from The Tempest, the dreadnoughts, Blake on 
‘bad art’ and Eliot’s ‘Talent.’ What can the hero do for polis, the anointed selected speaker or ‘special one’? Words 
twice-spoken, Zeus without hard breath and Phoebus stop the rule of one master. Medawar evolves by Thrasymachus, 
destroyer and preserver hear. The question endlessly complicates, nothing for sure, and this is part of the magic. Yet also 
the pain, as Aeschylus knows, ever-seeping into the learning heart. One truth we must heed, if rage and impotence make us 
Eumenidean, is Zeus’s power.
  Zeus is a younger god, younger than Titans, father of Apollo and Athena. Maybe the U.S. has done wrong, or is imperfect, 
as Moynihan’s Pandaemonium states. Yet maybe too Strauss and Benjamin aren’t so far apart, as each knew Scholem. 
Jerusalem and Athens, Michio Kaku’s planetary hominization. Could this be built not in bridges but in the ‘second space’ 
of Miloscz’s book? May God and Heaven be literally real forms in seven or eight or ten dimensions? All this and more is 
archived in my book at quantum nineteen-ninety-two. Why don’t you curse and hound for blood from Stalin, Hitler, Mao, 
or anyone? The U.S. must protect the future hopes of art so think before you curse.


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