Posted by: glue | October 24, 2008

Procession Epistrophe

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?

The wHole at Eleusis

The wHole at Eleusis

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 Way Home

The Way Home

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.

Birth, Existence, Death

Birth, Existence, Death

Clockwise, counter-clockwise:  Is there a difference?


  1. SL into AL (After Life)

    Ezra Pound begins his Cantos with a version of Ulysses’s descent into Hades to consult Tiresias (one of the classic accounts of Avatar). His method of access involved much sacrifice.

    “Dark blood flowed in the fosse,/ Souls out of Erebus, cadaverous dead, of brides/ Of youths and of the old who had borne much;/ Souls stained with recent tears, girls tender,/ Men many, mauled with bronze lance heads,/ Battle spoil, bearing yet dreory arms, / These many crowded about me; with shouting,/ Pallor upon me, cried to my men for more beasts;/ Slaughtered the herds, sheep slain of bronze;/ Poured ointment, cried to the gods,/ To Pluto the strong, and praised Proserpine;/ Unsheathed the narrow sword,/ I sat to keep off the impetuous impotent dead,/ Till I should hear Tiresias.”

    Second Life must have this option, or its equivalent: the Artificial Descent for purposes of consultation with the living and the dead (from catabasis to databases).

  2. Electrate Set-Up in Progress

    1) Theory
    Deleuze: Plane of Immanence; Expression.

    2) Allegory
    Modern Times, Chaplin.

    3) Trajectory
    Butterfly Phase Space

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