Socratic Eros Thought and speech as parts of loving

extracts from the letter sent to students for therapeia 2021.1

Reflection, Persuasion and Intelligent Love

Pompeiian fresco of Peitho (left) taking Eros to Aphrodite and Anteros,. (Naples National Museum)

The Good News is that our Great Investigation Into Love has found time for us. We will continue where we left off, with the challenges of ‘Socratic Eros’. Please read through this chapter, Myth of Analysis, p72-79, as preparation.

There is enough complexity in this small chapter to entertain us for a weekend. Almost immediately, we encounter other diverts, into the lay-by of logos, the side-roads of thymos, and the detours of daimon.

Logos creates the world as tale and as such is a priori to all its contents and happening.” (MoA p73). For this first of those diversions, we would want to check out Healing Fiction, where Hillman explores the way that images tell themselves into dramatic patterns, that we receive and know as myths and stories. From these, we gain insights into our psychic reality, aka the soul.

We could pick out only a few of the most eye-popping passages in Healing Fiction: p11, on mythos; ch 4, and how the stories we tell then tell us, and that therapy requires doctoring the story before doctoring the patient ; p23, that ‘there is a God in our tellings..’ and, critically, the notion of ‘rhetoric as persuasion’ ; and ch 8, ‘Dream, Drama, Dionysus’, that ‘the unconscious produces dramas, poetic fictions..’

It would be worthwhile to review the previous chapter in MoA (‘Eros’, p61-72, especially p69-72), to prepare for what follows. That chapter obliged us to travel by way of ‘The Great Mother’ essay, to understand why Hillman writes the jaw-dropping statement ‘Initiation as a transformation of consciousness about life involves necessarily a transformation of consciousness of sexuality’. So it would also be useful consider the final few pages of The Great Mother essay, (which we attended to in the last series). There, Hillman explains that the game-changing consequences of separating the puer from the mother liberates both men and women into a pantheon of other possible relationships, exceeding those defined through the mother.