Phaedrus

Having the Phaedrus as the last reading on the Program is a poetically beautiful touch. It is beautiful not just because it provides roundedness or closure, but because (you will see) reading it again will remove (for a time) a terrible tension from your shoulders. It will be lovely to discuss the old “simple” questions, but it will also be sad, as you see yourself in a new relationship to the interlocutors: how unlike Socrates you were, how unlike him you are now, but also how unlike Phaedrus you are now. During my Phaedrus seminar, we reached a point where once again Socrates had shocked us into doubt and uncertainty. The question of “What is left?” was raised by the tutor. A student with a dark, but intellectually honest, disposition growled: “Will to power.” And then a silence descended that would have ended the seminar on a normal night. The tutor opened his mouth as if to start a new conversation, but that would have been senseless stalling. Another student interrupted to ask if someone in the seminar would mind reading the prayer at the end of the Phaedrus. They suggested that he read it, which he did. Though he had been waiting to ask the question for ten dread-filled minutes, he had not looked at the actual words in the prayer. It was the words “keep my heart pure” that made his voice hitch.