Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Audacity of Hope™

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Yea, the phrase is trivial and empty and meaningless, but operating under the idea that even the trivial and empty means something in the present society, let's take a quick peek. What the hell is "Hope™"? Let's crawl into the way-back machine and go way way back... before the spiritual rebirth of Hope™ in the modern era, before the early Catholic resurrection ("Faith, Hope, and Charity") and go all the way back to the Greeks, with whom almost everything starts (and not just the good "everything", either). What, dear Greeks, is Hope™?

Well, according to Greek myth, Hope™ was the greatest of the evils contained in Pandora's Box. When Pandora loosed these evils upon the world, Zeus suddenly had a change of heart. He decided, charitably, that Hope™, the most powerful of all the evils, could be kept from humanity. At his instigation, Pandora slammed shut the lid of the box when all but Hope™ had escaped.

Only Hope was left within her unbreakable house,
she remained under the lip of the jar, and did not
fly away. Before [she could], Pandora replaced the
lid of the jar. This was the will of aegis-bearing
Zeus the Cloudgatherer.

- Hesiod

Alas, without Hope™, humanity was immediately reduced to despair and rebellion in the face of the other evils. Reluctantly, Zeus bid Pandora to return to the box and release Hope™. And as this worst of plagues was loosed upon the earth, it was accompanied by universal jubilation and relief... because it made the other evils tolerable through the possibility that their reign might be ended, not by the actions of humans themselves, but by the intervention of others, or the action of the fates themselves. Hope™ was the final excuse, worthy of the Gods themselves, for failing to act in one's own behalf.

Hope. Pandora brought the jar with the evils and opened it. It was the gods' gift to man, on the outside a beautiful, enticing gift, called the "lucky jar." Then all the evils, those lively, winged beings, flew out of it. Since that time, they roam around and do harm to men by day and night. One single evil had not yet slipped out of the jar. As Zeus had wished, Pandora slammed the top down and it remained inside. So now man has the lucky jar in his house forever and thinks the world of the treasure. It is at his service; he reaches for it when he fancies it. For he does not know that that jar which Pandora brought was the jar of evils, and he takes the remaining evil for the greatest worldly good--it is hope, for Zeus did not want man to throw his life away, no matter how much the other evils might torment him, but rather to go on letting himself be tormented anew. To that end, he gives man hope. In truth, it is the most evil of evils because it prolongs man's torment.

- Friedrich Nietzsche

It's just a footnote, but interesting, no?

BTW, the Audacity of Hope™ is an oxymoron on the face of it, according to the Greeks. Ain't no "audacity" in it. It is the stuff of denial and cowardice - two other escapees from the box.

Courtesy of anaxarchos.

1 comment:

kelley b. said...

Hope and despair are two sides of the same funny money.

It's always good to see someone else not buying into either.

I'll end up voting for whoever wins the Democratic nomination. Not that it'll do any good: the same Company owns the show. Consider there's always the difference between bad and worse, and when the worst happens it's always good to know you had a better idea.