Let’s start out with a riddle;
“Which creature in the morning goes on four legs, at mid-day on two, and in the evening upon three, and the more legs it has, the weaker it be?”
Read on for the answer.
Anyway, let’s talk Greek. So, it’s amazing on how one very uncommon word can pop up and be discussed one too many times in a span of a month.
A couple of weeks ago, professor J, my sociology professor, invited me over for some second hand smoke; I was passing this bench under the tree where he will sit everyday without fail, summer or winter, sun or snow, for his nicotine and caffeine fix, when he called me over to join him. I think the majority of his students like him; lecturing in 501 jeans and crewneck t-shirt, Freud jokes, and most importantly, he knows how to teach. I was in his class 2 summers ago, the only 'foreigner' and the only engineering major in the class, and the only one who scored above 94% in all the exams (no wonder these people from the other side of campus hate us so much, haha); so, that was how we first got acquainted.
Anyways, we talked quite a bit about everything, from how he still doesn’t get how soccer is the world’s most famous sport, and why baseball isn’t, to his ebony general physician girlfriend from Chicago, to Eastern people’s mentality, to what I think I will be doing after school. So, we jumped about everything for about half an hour, with him dominating most of the conversation with the different theories and quotes from about everyone famous enough.
Then we came to ‘peripeteia’. It started when he was telling me on how easier it’s going to be for someone like me who has no particular passion for about anything. At least he said, I won’t be wasting my time thinking of the things I want to do, but instead, I could just go on with the flow, and discover. But, analyzing is still important, because we don’t want to come to a point in which Aristotle calls a tragedy. So, from there on, he was giving me literature, drama and film lessons, from Hamlet to Oedipus Rex.
(A quick disclaimer, I’ve never really studied the story, so, the facts might not be quite right.)
So, King Oedipus’s story is about this king who was adopted by another royal family from another state, after he was abandoned in a field as an infant instead of being killed as suggested by the oracle his father consulted. Then, once he grew older, he went to see the Delphic oracle, and he was told that he was destined to mate his own mother and kill his own sire. So, desperate to escape his foretold fate, he ran away, not knowing that the king and queen of the state were only his adopted parents.
While on the road, he got in a quarrel with this man on who has the right of passage on a one lane road, which ended in Oedipus killing the man, unaware of the fact that the man he killed is actually his real father. Thus, the first part of the prophecy was fulfilled. And he went on with his journey and entered the city of Thebes.
And before he could enter the city, he was stopped by the smoking hot Sphinx, who guarded the entrance to the city. The Sphinx, known for her riddles, told Oedipus the riddle mentioned earlier. And being a bright king, he managed to solve it; man was the answer, he crawls as a child, walks on 2 legs when old enough, and some will need the assistance of a walking stick at an older age (maybe there weren’t any wheelchairs yet back then, so, the Sphinx left the wheel part out). The Sphinx, so distraught to find someone smarter than she was, killed herself by jumping off the cliff, marking the day on which the zoomorphic species got extinct.
With the Sphinx dead, Thebes was free from the Sphinx’s curse once and for all. Being delighted and all, they awarded Oedipus the kingship, and he married the queen, who is actually his biological mother; the second part of the prophecy, fulfilled. They should have really visited a genetic expert before getting married….
Long story short, Oedipus realized everything (who his biological parents were) when he was trying to solve the case of the murdering of Laius, his wife’s former husband, the former king of Thebes, his biological father. The whole mystery was solved when the shepherd who left Oedipus in the field as an infant who was also the sole witness of the killing of Laius by Oedipus was called to the floor.
And that very moment when Oedpius realized that the woman he was having babies with all this while was actually his biological mother, is called peripetia.
A sudden realization after a tragedy, a turning point maybe. You can always check the dictionary for a more complete and precise definition.
And the story of Hamlet, you can find that yourselves.
The next week after that small pep talk with Professor J, I was talking to my sister on the phone, when we ended up talking about peripetia. And I think you got it right, Freud called his sick idea Oedipus complex.
And last night, after some casual volleyball and basketball at the rec, I was browsing through the videos on TED for some motivation. And I found Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs. Enjoy the video. The earlier part of the talk has a little touch of Chuck-Palahniuk-reading-Guts on it. And he explains the idea of perepeteia very well.
Enough with Aristotle and the Sphinx. Why is it when we talk about passion and love, we always talk about the arts? We talk about the neurotic painter’s passion being reflected and infused in the disturbing abstract of the art he scribbled and nibbled on the piece of square canvas. How about all the doctors, engineers, math teachers and marketing people? And why do these oracles have to talk in riddles and kiasan all the time?
And at last, I’m done with the jacking up the efficiency project. The company having already saved at least $180,000 a year by having unpaid college students coming up with that kind of possible solution, with a possibility of doubling their production at 75% of the cost, memang cilake la kalau tak bagi A.
Yesterday was a special day, with the rain complementing the mood, groups of students screaming after each class session, and some were already seen giving hugs to friends, for goodbyes … it was interesting. Yesterday was the last day of class for the semester.
Cita-cita baru minggu ini......... nak jadi Chuck Yeager.
by the way, the title is a quote by Steak-and-Fries from Cidade de Deus (City of God)..... hmmmm... kena belajar hisap rokok....
X-men on Monday?