I finally managed to publish the
silly fine thing! Reason and Persuasion, the 4th edition. It is currently available on Amazon. And I made a nice iBooks edition. (Fixed layout. Crisp look. Can read it even on an iPhone 6. I’m still working on the reflowable Kindle version.)
And never forget that
cheap good people can get all the PDF’s for free at the book site.
Tell me what you think! Praise and criticize. Tell all your friends. Hunt typos. (I’ve found three. Minor ones.)
I’m downright pleased. That old 3rd edition had lots of nice bits; but this is what it was meant to be. (Also: too many typos before. Shudder.)
I remain distinctly proud of having produced something so unconventional. And it only got uniquer the thicker I laid on the illustrations. Not that cartoons are everything. But it took a certain independence of design spirit to see this thing through. (Another interpretation: one day I started doodling and then, at a certain point, that flipped over into the fallacy of sunk costs. But if it weren’t for the fallacy of sunk costs, how many really good, long books would get finished, eh? Who’s up for that grief unless they’re making a mistake, probably?)
Not to downplay dear Belle’s role as translator. Quite readable, her stuff. I’m sure most people who read this book will mostly be in it for the Plato, so they’ll be reading her stuff. Thanks to her, it’s good stuff. But it was my weird dream, the book as a whole; and it’s come true, all weird and nice, like I wanted. (Calls down the hall: I couldn’t have done it without you, honey!)
So let’s chat about Plato. Just a bit. In my last thread someone asked what’s my take on
good bad old Thrasymachus. For starters, I drew something clever.
You can read all about it in Chapter 9: the trickiness of keeping up that bad-is-good schtick. But here’s a question for you (to get me off the hook of talking more. I’ve written enough already.) Thrasymachus is fun, sure. But it’s notable that he’s not really a romantic villain. He’s got no Nietzschean flair, no Faustian pathos, no Mephistophelian whiff of Hades. He’s not one of those exciting Hollywood psychos, with the nifty knots and twists. He wants to jack peoples’ stuff. Also, he’s no confabulatory apologist. I didn’t draw a gorgon-as-Gecko: “Greed is good.” He doesn’t tell some story about how it’s best for everyone in the polis for the polis to have its tyrant, to protect it from other tyrants! (Set a thief to catch a thief!) Plus: now the kids will have lots of good jobs in the disinformation economy, calling injustice ‘justice’. (You want kids to have opportunities, don’t you, Socrates?)
Thrasymachus is concerned with PR and polish, sure. But we don’t see him talking himself into that.
In short, Thrasymachus is a bully. A belly, in Platonic terms. An appetite. Do you think that’s a literary design flaw in Republic? A cheat, to make Thrasymachus seem cheaper? Or does it show us that something we expect from a villain – bit of that old beyond-good-and-evil – wasn’t on the ancient Greek radar. Surely Pericles’ funeral oration shows the way, so he can hardly have lacked followers:
The admiration of the present and succeeding ages will be ours, since we have not left our power without witness, but have shown it by mighty proofs; and far from needing a Homer for our panegyrist, or other of his craft whose verses might charm for the moment only for the impression which they gave to melt at the touch of fact, we have forced every sea and land to be the highway of our daring, and everywhere, whether for evil or for good [kakōn te kagathōn], have left imperishable monuments behind us.
It might be kind of fun to propose that as an epigraph for a volume on American Exceptionalism. “And when we were good, we were very very good …”
I’d like to think that about my book. In my modest way.