Tracking a tradition of avatar in the West, to locate a set-up for an invention. The tradition supplies the slots for a poetics of avatar. What do we need?
1) Theory: Neoplatonism describes human being as a fall (a breaking off) from pure spirit into matter. The original descent is “natural” (birth). Embodied, one chooses between a vicious or virtuous descent (to embrace or reject sensory pleasure). Wisdom prescribes a practice of “attention,” devoting one’s life to a “return” to pure spirit.
2) Allegory: Plotinus treated Homer’s Odyssey as an allegory, to dramatize the circular journey of descent and return. Ulysses demonstrates the middle stage of striving, between Procession (the going down) and Epistrophe (return). (See M. H. Abrams, Natural Supernaturalism ).
The fourth mode of descent is “artificial,” undertaken for purposes of wisdom, experiment, education. Ulysses leaves Circe, and follows her instructions to enter Hades (via ritual sacrifice), to learn from the shade (manes) of Tiresias how to return home. How many “avatars”? Four.
3) Trajectory (movement, path, Weg ): The shape shared by the theory and the allegory, extracted as measure.
Instruction: find electrate candidates to fill these slots.
Clockwise, counter-clockwise: Is there a difference?