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Reply To: Lions, and Tigers, Athena, oh my!” with Professor Mark C.E. Peterson”


What a wonderful topic Mark! Another awesome Myth Blast!

I can certainly relate to that particular Athena as I have also stood at her feet.
Took a chance too…carrying a Native American flute into the Parthenon (Nashville: born there originally)

But the gate keepers cheerfully waved me on…there was no crowd so I had a lone audience with Her.
Athena “watched” me as I played my wooden flute and “Panned” around below her bemused gaze.
Now I’m employing my own “bad pun!” As well as engaging in “play!”

I was dancing about but no lightning bolts struck only echoes of the flute.
It is not like Athena hasn’t seen such things before in her mythic history. (Grin)

But back to your Myth Blast Mark!

1st thought: the power of “wisdom to turn to stone.”

So my reflection in response (reflection and response that’s kind of interesting too but need to climb back out of the mirror for a moment heh heh)

My reflection is that the power to turn to stone creates avoidance…or avoidance of approaching or facing the wisdom out of fear.

My thought is it takes a different angle or approach or perspective to deal with the daunting/stone-turning-wisdom.

Wrote a poem once about something similar a stone blocking knowledge or wisdom…no mirrors involved but may have to save that for another time.

Especially as so many excerpts stand out to me in your essay and that’s why we are all here!

I love the “horrible pun,” “reflection,”

feels like it is spontaneously meant to be there!

Another excerpt you mention: “situations where you dig your heels in and refuse to admit you don’t know something you thought you did, especially in those who identify with beliefs whether philosophical, religious or political that cannot endure a closer look.”

 Sometimes I wonder if anything that claims to be end of the line, regardless of the strength of its building blocks, can suffer the same “Frozen” fate? (and no cuing Elsa she’s had plenty of airplay heh heh)

  Eventually the horizon might shine through a chink in the stones—and a sun ray can be blinding.

But there are ways of looking at the sun without blinding oneself.

(My Mother had a few tips for that as an astronomer! Grin)

I love the idea of philosophy and play!

You write: “Philosophy tends to be deadly serious business and most of the time is focused on the logical structure of arguments. This sort of attention to rigor and clarity is critically important when you want to unpack difficult ideas, but it can be dull unless properly leavened with a bit of play.”

That is why I love Joe Campbell!

And what an image “fetishing the skeleton” for the sake of Logic!

Even “Spock,” has a heart—had to dig deep but it was there rooted deeper in psyche beneath logical facade.

Plato: “Enforced learning never stays in the mind and education should be conducted more like play than work.” 

And Mark: “Playfulness produces the kind of wonder about the world that helps us remember the most important thing: that we might not really know everything we think we know”

Love this! It reminds me of my Mother’s approach to teaching astronomy and also the Walt Whitman poem, “The Learned Astronomer” (which is a perfect example of the dry and rote litany—that you were referencing in regards to approaching modern philosophy)

But my Mother was on Whitman’s side!

Yes, she knew the Newtonian physics, but she was more interested in the human connection…allowing people to have their own mind blowing experience of seeing the heavens or a Messier object or Nebula in all its glory through the lens of a telescope.
She wanted the “Spirit,” to still be in the field or if you prefer “transcendent experience.” In other words, WONDER!

She was sad that so many of contemporaries or peers within the field were leaning on the dry and rote and long litany of facts.

As for play, because she was also an artist, my Mother would draw cartoons of Einstein/Copernicus/Galileo/Newton…even Euripides in the bathtub “Eureka Moment!”

She drew the cartoons on colored gel sheets, then put them on a projector.

Very fun for students young and adult alike!

Sometimes the best intuitive moments come from play and spontaneity.

And sometimes the insight or intuition comes when you are not looking for it.

Or perhaps it happens when one gives time for a space of reflection, which allows the Aha! in and the stone-turning-wisdom can be approached a different way!

Wonder seems like a very healthy balance for knowledge and wisdom.

Didn’t Einstein say, “Imagination encompasses the whole world?”

Perhaps wonder is there to help celebrate knowledge and wisdom—and keep growing/evolving/asking new questions…looking towards new horizons.
It keeps us on our toes or in reflection embracing moments of Awe.

May need a disclaimer for this next musing. Does Athena arch her brow? Because it might sound weird:

What if wonder is there to temper knowledge and wisdom by celebrating it instead of “worshiping it?”

Can knowledge which is worshiped be at risk of stone metamorphosis?

It might take a lot of reflection to move around that!

Thats why I like words like reflection and discovery which bring things back home to wonder and inspiration

rather than relying on rote, rote, rote alone.

So thank you Mark for a beautiful

reflection on Athena and wisdom…

now that I’ve finally finished “panning” all around it! *chuckle*