Saturday, November 15, 2014

EC 446 / GoveRment is an aLien People
Eso A.B.
Another King Fails In Charisma
Translation © Eso A.B.

It is a curious happenstance that when Sigmund Freud lent to the story of Oedipus Rex his famous interpretation of incest [re: Interpretation of Dreams (1899)], he not only proposed a psychoanalytic theory, which we know as the Oedipus  or ‘castration complex’, but brought to prominence a minor element that is only of a secondary importance to the play of Sophocles as a whole.

It is the prominence given to the secondary element and the failure of Western analyst to see beyond this secondary aspect, that not only increases the intellectual significance of the play, but betrays Western scholarly intelligence as entrapped by its solipsist character.

Freud fails to analyze the play properly, and only notices its superficial aspects: that in the course of the plays’s development, Oedipus slays his father and inadvertently marries his mother. Freud fails to notice that this happenstance occurs, because Iocaste tries to save her son from being tested by the Gods (through a mock sacrifice ritual), and that the reason for her anxiety and activities to circumvent her husband, King Laius (another name for King of the People or Ludi)  is that Oedipus, may be at risk of being slain by King Laius during the proceedings, and, thus, denied, what the mother believes to be her son’s rightful role as future King of Thebes.

As my ‘rewrite’ of Oedipus Rex argues (see synopsis of Act I), the anxieties of Queen Iocaste arise from the fact that she is a former temple prostitute. This fact causes her to be pregnant with Oedipus at the time the King of Thebes Laius decides to marry her—possibly because of her expertise at playing and being a desirable and at the same time a ‘divine’ sexual object.

When the child is born, the King follows the old custom of letting the Gods decide whether the child is fit to become the next ruler of the Kingdom by ordering him exposed to the elements of Mt. Cytheron. Not unreasonably, Queen Iocaste is anxious that the King may have got wind that the child is not the King’s, but the result of her liaison with an ‘Unknown lover’, and may use the ritual as a pretext to kill the newborn.

For these reasons the Queen abducts her own child from the mountain and replaces him with a stillborn of another woman. She spirits away her own son to the neighboring Kingdom of Corinth, where her sister Meirope, also a former temple prostitute, has married the King.

As Oedipus grows into an adult, the mother finds herself in the unenviable role of wishing to do what she can to enable her son to become the king of Thebes.

In effect, Oedipus Rex is a play about politics and the entrapment of a group of people (of royal and ludi descent) by the customs of choosing a Kingdom an heir. Rather than a story of incest as Freud’s interpretation and the political prejudices of our epoch have caused the play to become, it is an illustration of how kings in the long ago were legitimized and the risks that such a legitimization entailed.

While the story has many possible nuances, the one that interests this blogger is the role of ‘king’ as leader of society in former times versus the role of leadership assigned to ‘democracy’ in our time.

Indeed, government by King and Democracy may be the north and south pole of a bipolar psychic political system and may be telling us something about the development and history of human society.

If we presume that such a bipolar political model does indeed reflect the reality of social organization of, say, the last ten or twenty thousand years, we may perceive in pareidolia the ‘drift effect’ that takes the place of Earth’s magnetism. As the Earth’s magnetic poles gradually shifts from + to -, from the North pole  back to the South pole, so the story of Oedipus Rex yet tilts toward the ‘kingly’ pole, while the Democratic pole, represented by Queen Iocaste, finds fault with the system and subjects it to a test that turns out to be catastrophic in result. I.e., the entire Kingly ‘political system’ goes down as a result of one woman’s anxieties, just as today our Democratic ‘political system’ may be going down for the simple reason that one presumably ‘democratic’ President cannot—because a of a social tradition traditionally disciplined by charisma his ‘color’ denies him.

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