Fun with the Icon
The guy to the left and below is the one we usually think of when the name Sokrates pops up in a conversation, the intellectual, the philosopher, the icon of Western culture pondering profound and weighty topics with his buddies at a drinking party.
Above, Roberto Rossellini's version of Sokrates.
More on Rossellini here.
Statue of Sokrates at the Academy of Athens
Sokrates. The man, the figure, the myth. Quite the icon. We find him in movies, memes, jokes, on T-shirts. If he were here today one might wonder what he'd be up to. Would he be blogging? Don't think so, since his method would require pretty much the same approach, a Q & A up close and personal. Would he be harassing fair citizens in the median of a modern boulevard, holding up a raggedy little cardboard sign that reads: "Know thyself, friend?" Maybe hobknobbing with the political elites at their fundraisers and taking the blowhards down? Maybe he'd be homeless from having lost his job at the local high school because he just couldn't stomach another semester of teaching to the Test. I'm not sure where he'd be. I can't see him working at Home Depot in the Garden section. And if he was, he'd probably always be late. God, what a headache to supervise. "Sokrates, isn't this the tenth or twelfth time we've had a little talk about your tardiness?" "Well, ole chap, hmmm. Guess that depends on what the definition of isn't is. Got a moment?"
I don't believe that he would be put off by our modern culture, not surprised at all by the recurrent violence, the popularity of modern sports, the endless wars and struggle for power. He grew up in a pretty rough era. He might be shocked by the pace and speed of modernity, though. He might agree with Vizinni in Princess Bride when Vizinni asks the Man in Black, "Have you ever heard of Plato, Aristotle, Sokrates?" "Yes," the Man in Black says. "Morons!" Vizinni snorts.
I think Sokrates would probably find hilarious Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. I'll just say it. I find it hilarious each time I watch it. And I think he would simply roll his eyes at Vincent Canby's (may he RIP) snippy assessment of the film in the New York Times or Hal Hinson's remarks about this "dilapadated comedy" as "paltry and undernourished" in the Washington Post. C'mon, this ain't rocket philosophy here. I wonder how many teens and twenty-somethings flipped through an encyclopedia to look up So-Crates or Napoleon after watching the movie. A few, I'd bet., and it was probably the first time they had opened an encyclopedia, and we can thank director Stephen Herek for that. So in defense of Bill and Ted and Stephen in their most triumphant and excellent adventure, click here.
Other items of interest:
Sokrates referenced in Rap? Yes!
Steve Martin's tripping Sokrates? Yes!
Sokrates doing his thing with University of Virginia law students? Yes!
Sokrates known for his invention of the pie? Yes!
Sokrates' Tomb found? Not!
Sokrates retried over 2000 years later? Yes!
Sokrates got what he deserved? Yes!...(according to Professor Paul Cartledge.)
We find Sokrates in explicit references and allusions pretty much everywhere. Whether with Chris Knight in Real Genius ("I was thinking of the immortal words of Sokrates who said, 'I drank what?'"), Dan Millman's Way of the Peaceful Warrior, Sanderson Beck's plays, gatherings at the Socrates Cafe, or The Philadelphia Story, Sokrates is alive and well in the modern world. I expect he'll be with us for another millennium or two.
"Be excellent to each other!"