Theoria, Christianity, and Fratire (Pt. 1)

In Ancient Greek Philosophy, Theoria is the moment of clarity when one participates in the spectacle of truth, as when Plato’s Philosopher-King climbs out of the cave and observes the forms. This Theoria came from a cultural activity of travel-logging, where a member of the polis is elected to goto aother city-state (either to Dionysian festivals to watch tragedies, or to some great cultural artifacts), later returning to share their learning from the experience back to the polis. This, mind you, was not an easy job. If the information gathered and shared threatens polis-rule, the learning from theoria will be buried, and one, executed. Later, Aristotle develops theoria beyond the dynamism of travel in the polis or in Plato, to the God that eternally contemplates himself in the spectacle of thought—but this is tangential to the discussion today. 

This concept of Theoria would remind one, if one has any familiarity with the Christianity, of the story of Jesus Christ. The son of God, preaching what he learned in heaven, sacrificed himself for in the process of sharing the ncomfortable truth—for the sake of not himself, but humanity. This is the transmutation of the process of theoria from the level of the polis, the city-state, to the level of the world as created by God, a stage for the struggle of human beings between sin and salvation. 

This is an inspiring narrative. More than inspiring, in fact, but true—by revealing the human pattern of extracting actuality from potentiality, the known from the unknown, which is why, perhaps, theoria is so common a narrative (what one may conveniently call “the hero’s journey”). In Theoria, the more unknown the venture, the greater one’s reward, paralleling how we really do engage with reality. One gains the greatest returns on a stock that no one excepts would perform, is most remembered for a scientific theory that is outside of everyone’s radar, earns the most for invention that no one has even tangentially approached, and learns the most in the more terrifying, unfamiliar situations (outside of one’s “comfort zone”). Jesus, coming from the place that is most alien to ordinary men, Heaven, is the logical endpoint of the theoretic narrative, one that, in principle, should bring forth the most reward—the salvation of all. 

Fratire (epitomized by Tucker Max trilogy: I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, Assholes Finish First, and Hilarity Ensues), despite its apparent superficiality, parallels directly the Christian messianic, theoretic, narrative. The combination of redemption and revelation with constant illusions of Hell reminds one of Paradise Lost, with Satan—and his endless charisma—as its hero. Here is a theoria, à la Christ, but venturing not into Heaven, but into Hell, an the typical Greek Odyssean ambivalence, as the greatest hero but also the most cunning and ruthless (killing hundreds of suitors; telling all kinds of lies; and not mentioning the visit to the Underworld that cannot but remind one of Fratire). Fratire explores the hell in paradise, the snake in the garden, the ambiguity of human affairs, and because of this, it may be a better guide for life than scripture, for it is much harder to do the rightthing than to simply avoid the horrible, grotesque, and despicable in Fratire, since the first collapses endless possibilities into one, and the second, performs the easier task of removing some portions of infinity. 

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