free-geek

because cool kids are boring

Bacchus

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Last week I was in Borders and picked up a copy of Bertrand Russell’s The History of Western Philosophy. For those unfamiliar with the book, it is possibly the most widely read introduction to western philosophy in print. I started reading the book yesterday and came across the below quote in an early section talking about the Dionysus/Bacchus cult in ancient Greece.

“It is evident that this process can be carried too far, as it is, for instance, by the miser. But without going to such extremes, prudence may easily involve the loss of some of the best things in life. The worshipper of Bacchus reacts against prudence. In intoxication, physical or spiritual, he recovers an intensity of feeling which prudence had destroyed; he finds the world full of delight and beauty, and his imagination is suddenly liberated from the prison of every-day preoccupations. The Bacchis ritual produced what was called “enthusiasm,” which means, etymologically, having the god enter into the worshipper, who believed that he became one with the god. Much of what is greatest in human achievement involves some element of intoxication,* some sweeping away of prudence by passion. Without the Bacchis element, life would be uninteresting; with it, it is dangerous. Prudence versus passion is a conflict that runs through history. It is not a conflict in which we ought to side wholly with either party.”

* “I mean mental intoxication, not intoxication by alcohol”

I’ve been coming across quotes like this for a couple of months now and I always end up contemplating how they fit into the passion that is the heart of being a geek (no matter what kind of geek you are).

I probably need to just bite the bullet and start researching the Dionysus cult.

Hey Paul, you still reading this blog? Put that philosophy degree to use and give some leads on books, will ya?

So, that’s it. No major revelations or reviews or rants. Just sharing a quote that I’ve been chewing on.

Written by Matt

July 15th, 2007 at 9:04 pm

Posted in Thoughts