The Commonplace Book Tag (and some comments on reading Platonic texts)

So, I’ve started a new tag on this blog called commonplace book. Whenever I share a roundup of quotations from what I’m reading, it will have this tag. I’m consolidating various types of content on this blog, which is exciting to me because it will have somewhere stable to live.

Within the commonplace book tag, most of what I will quote will be about polytheism itself or about Platonism, with some occasional forays into fiction, Buddhist texts I’m reading as ancillary things, and occasional comments on poetry I’ve read (because a lot of people write such stunningly beautiful things, and I should link to their stuff). I’m still working out the correct ratios of what to quote, how much from each source or type of source, and whether I should stick to the quotations themselves or add personal notes/synthesis.

A big reason I find reading Late Platonists (and ancillary texts) so exciting is that I’m a poet, and the rich symbolic space that philosophers like Hermias/Syrianus, Proclus, and Plotinus inhabit in their work is so vividly beautiful. It was hard for me to get into the commentaries before reading Hermias’ lecture notes on Syrianus, though, probably because I am very susceptible to the Phaedrus already. It, the Symposium, and Ion are my favorite dialogues.

For months now, I’ve been reading them and working with ideas in verse — see the prayers/poems I’ve written here:

and from a mythography/speculative fiction standpoint, it was sudden and shocking how many of the philosophical and theological things were already there because I use speculative fiction to work through thoughts about theology and Gods.

Another reason is that the discussions of traditional ritual and their theological meanings are like jewels, which is much more self-explanatory. I am a bookworm (not a nerd or geek, though; I am not in any fandoms, nor do I do collecting), so I get excited about what I read very easily and hope to spark excitement in others.

I just started reading the lecture notes of Damascius talking about the Philebus, and trees just came up with an entire footnote about places Plato and the Platonists have talked about tree life/perception. There is nothing more that I want to do right now than look up all of them. (Trees scream when you cut them down, and I understood this as a child long before botany experiments verified it. One of my first memories is my horror at seeing a clearcut forest and not understanding what happened or why.) There’s a push and pull, and this is the kind of thing that I’m not sure belongs in a commonplace book-style blog post because me gushing about plants is less useful to others.

Finally, there is the idea of cultivating virtue and increasing one’s ability to do right by the Gods and other people. That’s a topic I’ve discussed heavily on this blog because, especially with what’s happening in the world right now, this seems like something I can stress that will at least contribute to the good and to healing instead of to its converse.


One thought on “The Commonplace Book Tag (and some comments on reading Platonic texts)

  1. For what it’s worth, this inspired me to pull out my (as yet unread) copy of Damascius, simply to find the footnote on the plants. Later today, I’ll be following up those references myself. Thank you for the inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

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