Sunday, December 9, 2012

Relationship Between Aristotle and Alexander the Great, Friendship, and the Delaware River as an Environment Basic to Cultures


Piece following preface was originally published by Recorder Newspapers by the title it assumes, revised somewhat for this post, and concerns walleye fishing. The original syndicated piece dealt with both Aristotle and Alexander, firmly laying lingual groundwork in the notion of environments as basic to cultures, exemplifying the Delaware River, which incidentally is inextricably essential to the history of the United States of America, as George Washington and his troops crossed the river near Trenton very early in the morning of December 26th, 1776, and marched into the present-day state capital of New Jersey to enact the turning event of the American Revolution. Winter Delaware River is what the article is about. That's an environment which implies weather commonly regarded inhospitable. Since the article makes a point about the relationship between Aristotle and Alexander the Great, I want to fill in some more about this.

Aristotle's the author of friendship. His writings on friendship testify to this so fully that I think of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, the Ode to Joy--and friendship--as Aristotelian. Alexander was closely mentored by Aristotle; Aristotle learned much from Alexander, a great mind in his own right.

Aristotle's concept of animal locomotion speaks well for his tutelage of Alexander, the greatest military genius the world has ever known, who moved upon other cultures, conquering them and becoming them himself, although he always remained his own individual character, important to remember for what I'll soon disclose. Alexander conquered, but Aristotle was the prime mover. Without his mentor, Alexander couldn't have achieved what he accomplished. The historical facts involve these two giants together.

But what really happened to prompt Aristotle to say that he would not let philosophy be sinned against twice, recalling the execution of Socrates? When Alexander turned his forces against Athens--where Aristotle wrote and taught at his school the Lyceum--his chief target may have been Aristotle, as if this would be a triumph to relish. After all, Alexander had merely conquered nations and cultures. Perhaps he resented his status as protégé of the world's greatest mind. Could he conquer this greatest representative of what truly moves events?

In any event, Alexander understood that by moving against Athens, he would implicate his former mentor as head of the Lyceum, which he, Alexander, helped finance. Aristotle did not flee just to save his own skin. And he did not flee from Alexander, but the political elite Alexander played upon, who would have executed Aristotle for his association with the conquerer, benefactor of the school. Aristotle's chief concern was the safety of his own family, his wife and children. So much is written, particularly with regard to women's liberation, about Aristotle's subjugation of women. To some he seems to have been a monster. Modern America has progressed a great deal from ancient Greek times. No Greek polis included women as citizens. Above all else, we could not have progressed to our current levels of emancipation without Aristotle.

Together he and his family left Athens. Aristotle's resentment against his former student Alexander for playing a big number on him was a trifle.



  
Delaware River is an Opportunity for Hardy Anglers



          This late in the season a relative few go fishing for recently stocked trout, but most have given up until April. So after November, I always feel I write mostly to entertain, although anyone taking a Sunday stroll or drive along the Delaware River near Bull’s Island, Philipsburg, or Belvidere, for examples, may be surprised to witness either a shore angler or boat fisherman. Very few brave the severe cold, but especially mild afternoons can stir excellent walleye fishing.

          Deep, slow pools contain basic walleye spots until these fish spawn in March. But no creature wants to stay in one place unless they were to hibernate. Fish never hibernate. This is why winter river walleye anglers love mild evenings following an afternoon of the river’s absorbing sunlight and rising shallow water temperatures--slightly rising. It’s like epiphany. Something to anticipate for the joy awaiting.

          I have caught Delaware walleye in December, when I owned a boat sufficient for the requirements of comfort and safety, and have looked forward to doing the likes again as one of the most desirable fishing pursuits. It’s not really as simple as getting out there and conquering weather opposing you. Weather changes an individual. Especially by performing an activity with an objective—walleye fishing—the environment makes he or she more fit for life in general. Possibility expands which anyone encountering it couldn't have realized, until he or she goes out and achieves the potential.


          I like to think of the way Alexander the Great, the ancient Macedonian, conceived of conquering. Not nations really, but cultures. What he subdued modified who he was by his own choice and discipline. However, natural environments are at the root of cultures. Alexander could not possibly have known this fact as well as his mentor, Aristotle. The ancient Athenian philosopher. An earlier Ionian philosopher, Thales, is credited as the first proto-scientist, but the enormous achievement of Aristotle regarding science has led to modern advances. We needed English philosopher Francis Bacon in the interim--at the dawn of the 17th century Scientific Revolution--to make modernity truly achievable. But Bacon sure had a task in Aristotle to overcome.


          Day to day, season to season: weather modifies any environment, each as fluid as another ancient Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, spoke of rivers. No river stepped in a second time is the same river. I am myself of a disposition akin to high atmospheric sunlight—I love jet travel at 38,000 feet or higher—so it’s natural to desire an opposite. I am completely comfortable on a gray, cold day in a small open boat.

          This is the same principle as applies to walleye. No creature wants to stay in the same place. No creature can. By definition, animals have the power of locomotion, as Aristotle described what animals do—move.

          Angling is about moves aligned with keen wherewithal. The fisherman has more to remember than his catch or lack of it. He learns how to find fish by various hand-spun experiments. Big smallmouth bass lurk in slow deep pools this time of year along with walleye as large as 13 pounds, and possibly bigger—state record size. Typically, live shiners suffice, although smallmouth bass as large as four pounds have been caught on tube jigs.


          The idea is simple. Tube jigs have soft plastic appendages. Put the tube on a quarter to ½-ounce stand-up jig head, and let it sit on the bottom of a hole. Slow current will move the appendages like something alive. Some anglers fish this way, letting the arrangement sit for a minute or more while waiting for the feel of a tick. If nothing happens--the usual state of affairs--they move the jig five to 10 feet and do this again. This can seem the epitome of boredom, but although the point is to hook into action, the wider experience is relaxed and contemplative in a way that engages natural substance. That takes things in to engender health and mindfulness. Which creates soul, all but mistakenly thought to be given. After all, something receptive must be present at birth in order to grow. 

          A bare quarter ounce jig-head with a shiner attached is effective, but some anglers swear by simply clamping on a medium to large tin split shot 18 inches above a size six, plain shank hook. A hunk of tin or lead at a shiner’s mouth is not the most natural presentation of the bait, but does make it stay on bottom. Some holes are 30 feet deep or more and a split shot is insufficient. Walleye take the bait like trout, mouthing it by little tugs. If a jig head is used. the hook is set immediately because the walleye may drop the lead weight, but using lighter split shot lead allows waiting as long as ten seconds for the shiner and hook to get into the mouth and possibly catching a fish a jig's hook would have missed. If the intent is to release a fish that’s swallowed a hook, plain-shank size six hooks typically rust away and the gullet heals.

           If you get a glorious, mild, sunny afternoon, stick around into dusk and fish shallows near a deep hole with Rebel or Smithwick floater/diver plugs, or the Rapala Countdown. Even better, perhaps: Rapala Husky Jerk suspending jerkbaits or the likes. You can pause these lures in place. Slow retrieves really work, but especially fish the edges between current and slow water. The Countdown is a real winner because it can probe a little deeper by letting it sink. Sometimes half a dozen walleye over four pounds get caught before dark.

            


18 comments:

  1. I am learning things about Alexander and Aristotle reading this, and your supposition that Aristotle fled Athens not because he was threatened by Alexander, but by his associates who believe him responsible for their predicament is new to me. Sounds reasonable. Didn't realize Aristotle wrote about friendship.

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    1. Some of the most significant portions of the Nichomachean Ethics are devoted to friendship. If you read the history: 1. Aristotle mentored Alexander. 2. Alexander donated very large sums--and specimens--to the Lyceum. 3. But Alexander moved on Athens, thus implicating Aristotle. Surely Alexander knew he would. So I advance at least the implied notion that Alexander had it deep w/in him to conquer even his father figure....Something that Aristotle may not have expected. But wasn't Alexander a murderer? And yet Aristotle continued to associate w/this...murderer. And in the end, seems to have become target.

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  2. Alexander a murderer? Isn't any conqueror a murderer?

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    1. Of course not. Depends on what you conquer and how you conquer. How can anyone move forward in life without conquering challenges? And our mutually author of this past century wrote a favorite passage in one of her books about a hero who conquered mankind and raised his smile of triumph to cheers of multitudes...at some level she actually believed this will be. But her hero is not a conqueror who subjects mankind, but overcomes its obstacle. Everyone is liberated, just as ultimately she was for everyone.

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  3. I guess I was thinking of Napoleon, and the other military conquerors only, and Hitler would fit in that group most heinously. I see their conquests as victims. Back to Alexander. Isn't there a story about him refusing to believe the claim that his childhood nurse or nanny was trying to poison him? He drank what she brought him to drink and lived to tell the tale. Made some statement about 'knowing' her character, her feelings for him, that she would not wish him dead.

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    1. Maybe I vaguely recall the story. I've gone through some personal struggle w/regards to Aristotle's personal association w/Alexander. Nor has it been that I am devoid of admiration for Alexander. (Of course I admire Aristotle greatly.) I have had to migrate very deeply within to step into that distant time and understand as best I can. Nor have I been unprepared. I wrote a naïve paper on Napoleon my senior year, high school, which nevertheless won the lavish praise of my history teacher. I saw Napoleon as wise and needing to make certain decisions to uphold the social order. It never occurred to me that these dictates were secondary to an evil campaign, yet even now I confess a certain admiration for his greatness. And what else could that greatness have done, I wonder. That is what Hegel pondered.

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  4. Making certain decisions to uphold the social order..... Can't you hear Rand saying, "Whose order?" Kajir and I were watching the Star Trek episode where the Klingon legend makes an appearance. I can't remember anything clearly at the moment, except Kajir saying that the people needed to see him as a god to unify them. Unification, social order. Same thing? Necessary?

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    1. If Rand were to say that, she'd sound like a crank. He controlled the social order of France at the highest level. Social order is necessary in some form or other, otherwise, by definition no society would exist. Without some form of cohesion, it goes in that direction--nonexistence, destruction. And you may ask was Napoleon necessary, but that's like asking, "Why was Napoleon born?"

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  5. Take free enterprise and imagine an open market selling meat and veggies and local goods, pottery and stuff. People bartering, each going home at the end of their day with their profits or purchases. Isn't there a natural order coming out of this? And wouldn't the natural order change as the climate changes, as the earth changes? It would be like that picture you took with the red barn and astonishing detail, those tiny details adding up to a moment in time and following the natural order of the day.
    This can be most satisfying--having enough time to indulge in a thought or two.

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    1. Absolutely. I agree. But we don't understand history in the terms of the present or future. What you describe, I hope, is the future, although by money not merely bartering, if cash becomes obsolete. Greatness should be expressed through art, science, adventure, philosophy, exploration, entrepreneurial endeavors that benefit rather than destroy the planet and space as we move beyond. D.H. Lawrence wrote that man's greatest triumph is to fully feel and experience his own life.

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  6. Of course, by money! I didn't want to use money here because right now it is so corrupted. D. H. Lawrence also expressed the simplicity of human needs and desires, and I am adding, if greatness comes out of satisfying those needs and desires, then it came naturally. The craving for power or control is the difficult one to handle.

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    1. Fine point you make about money, spot on. But D.H. Lawrence expressed far more complexity than the simplicity of human needs & desires. His greatness came with great difficultly, as all greatness does. Most who have the potential experience great, flaming bursts of affirmation, loose control and are wrecked by contradictions and ill-chosen commitments. All greatness, I believe, is achieved by most difficult discipline, unless it is a flash in the pan of youth. The craving for power is a condition of disconnection from native power within, but nativity does not simply flourish without the guidance of intellect, unless one is an infant.

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  7. Consider, if you will, the difficulty. To begin with, the potential must be inborn, yet none can simply rely on what's inside as if faith alone, without the partnership of enabling acts of myriad variety, can possibly do or be anything. Think of what social incomprehension implies. Anyone who sets out upon great achievement must develop a private inner sanctum his alone and known alone, despite what people would say to the contrary of the goal he possesses, unless he is fortunate enough to have made early social connections which have showered him with laurels and bestowed upon him sufficient understanding: he needn't expend as much energy creating his own private world while also carrying on in society as one among other ordinary people. Whatever the case, it is difficult and history seems to show that most great men and women pay a price. Is it worth it? Of course it is. Life is difficult for anyone. And at least some degree of achievement of the wonder within, the native, inborn capacity to exceed limits is far better than the suffering that attends frustration of it. People look at Allan Turing, for example, and see such a tragedy, but he triumphed.

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  8. And before I go outside, one of those enabling acts of myriad variety, has to be a driven desire to do whatever it is he must do. And I wonder if this driven state is anything like the manic cycle that some of us go through?

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    1. The best authority on that is Kay Redfield Jamison, especially in Touched with Fire: Manic-Depression and the Artistic Temperament, although Exuberance is also a great book. Another book worth reading is Creativity and Manic-Depression by Jablow & Hirshmann. Not every genius has been artistic, although it's interesting how Isaac Newton--Jablow & Hirshmann devote a chapter to Newton--considered his alchemy more important than his physics, and Albert Einstein claimed that imagination is more important than knowledge.

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    2. I never forget Francis Bacon. "Nature, to be conquered, must be obeyed."

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    3. Mistaken word. Bacon's is: "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed."

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