“Can I get a vodka and bloody mary mix?”
“I’m out of vodka and I’m out of lemonade,” replies the flight attendant. She is off on a quest for both things before I even realize she said lemonade not bloody mary. It’s one am somewhere. In a few moments she has vodka but apologies about the no lemonade – something else?
‘The inner power and inevitability of this problem will assert themselves in due course,’ Cicero says.
“Uh, yeah, bloody mary,” I reply. She has that. And the combo will serve as food and a method of dulling the pain in and below my right ear for the next hour. It usually never subsides fully, no matter what combo of pain killer and decongenstants I use. Cicero was born a chick pea. I was born with chronic ear infections and ultimately eustachion tubes that are “too small” or underdeveloped. I will read through the pain because the pain doesn’t allow me to sleep anyway.
I’d say red-eyes were a young man’s game but the reality is I’ve only ever done it once before. I was twenty-two. It sucked. So, bearing in mind that I recently thought that the Disney Magical Express man said, “Please head toward the blue pudding” and that Lauren said, “It’s socks!” instead of science – here goes my post this week (alas, there was no pudding).
Cicero writes in what I will call his creative non-fiction visit with Brutus and friends, “how the worse might be made, by the force of eloquence, to appear the better cause” (Kindle location 41504-5). Giorgio Agamben engages with this concept with what has almost become the ‘go-to’ reference in politics, the Nazis (“He’s practically Hitler” and “that’s what the Nazi’s would do”) and the conveniently accepted state of exception that is the ironical in name, “Patriot Act”. How could we compare, really? (That’s what Hitler would do). Agamben writes of the detainees and detention allowed in this situation, “indefinite not only in the temporal sense but in its very nature as well, since it is entirely removed from the law and from judicial oversight (4, emphasis added). It made me think immediately of an episode of “This American Life” on ICE and the indefinite holding of illegal immigrants/deportees. You can learn a lot of more on this current state of exception by googling ‘illegal immigrant detention centers’.
“For it is of little consequence to discover what is proper to be said, unless you are able to express it in a free and agreeable manner,” (Kindle location 41898-901) and yet Cicero successfully argued to a dictator for clemency of Ligarius, a man that would eventually plot to kill Ceaser along with Brutus (Delphi classics). I found myself thinking, “how would Cicero argue for the deportees being held to our irrational and unruly senate? How would he make a case for someone under Nazi rule? Could he convince an associated terrorist ‘detained’ under the Patriot Act to be set free?” It is now that I understand Professor Villanueva’s starry-eyed admiration for the classical “rock star” rhetoricians. In a space and place where, “the temporary sacrifice of democracy itself” in the name of maintaining democracy (quoting a quote Agamben 9 ) I’m not sure he could. (And if that concept isn’t crazy-making enough for you, try it at 2 am on a plane on five hours of sleep – no “blue pudding” there. That’s really what it said/read). “[T]hese aporias explode into open contradictions” (Agamben 8). We are living in a time when “the sate of exception appears as the opening of a fictitious lacuna in the order for the purpose of safeguarding the existence of the norm and it’s applicability to the normal situation…an essential fracture between the position of the norm and its application” (31). The noble lie, I think Plato calls it.
And Cicero teaches, “For men will either wonder what all this has to do with that which is the subject of our inquiry, and they will be satisfied with understanding the nature of the facts, so that it may not seem to be without reason that we have traced their origin so far back…But I am aware that I often appear to say things that are novel, when I am in reality saying what is very old, only not generally known.” I believe is was T.S. Eliot that said there were no new ideas…at least that is what I remember Victor saying in English 515. That, and the ‘new’ and ‘news’ is rarely that. And that we create false genealogies in academia to give ourselves a sort of legitimacy. I’m reading Plato and understand it (noble lie?). I’m modeling my modern academic debates after the orations and writings from Cicero (so no one understands me but I sound smart). Of course I teach rhetoric, it’s so old it’s new to these students; it’s classy (truly), high philosophy on language with a moral purpose (Quintilian would teach as much).
“See how entirely free from fear I am. See how brilliantly the light of your liberality and wisdom rises upon me while speaking before you” (pro ligarius Kindle Loc. 26411-12).
“Marcus Tullius Cicero was murdered by decree on December 7th in the year 43 BCE” (http://www.egs.edu/library/cicero/biography/).