Archive for the 'The Well Wrought Urn' Category

The over-wrought urn

August 2, 2011

There was a period in my life of a couple of years, I think, when one of my neighbors would come over on Sunday evenings and we would read Plato (in translation) together.  (He taught philosophy at a prestigious local private school, among other subjects, and has a Ph.D. in the subject — John Silber was his dissertation director way back in Texas, I think — so he knew what he was doing, even if I didn’t.)  It was actually, I think, his wife Jane’s idea of something that might help me keep my balance after Willy died (Jane helped so much with funeral and memorial service arrangements), and Bob felt he needed to reread the dialogues and thought a reading partner would help him stay with that.

I had read some Plato during college, some in the original Greek, some in translation.  This time around, one of the things that struck me was the image of a female figure as some kind of receptacle or vessel for generation.  I think it’s the passage in the Timaeus that begins at 49.

Yesterday I read a reference to Cleanth Brooks’s The Well Wrought Urn in the NYTimes Opinionator piece by Ernie Lepore.

So, today I happened to be trying to answer someone’s question about how I see myself, and I got to thinking that if I put together my image of what I do in my spiritual work with my difficulties navigating my temporal world, maybe the image of an over-wrought urn conveys how I see myself.