Gregorius Vatis Advena
Greg Ory is part of a new generation of writers in the age of internet and globalization. What are his values? Read the statement on human Civitas and feel free to take part in an open debate.
© Greg Ory 1999 – 2018, Index Operum. This is a selection of works in different languages, under different pseudonyms. The list is regularly updated. Each title is a link, new titles are marked.
|© Apollo an Daphne.||2|
|© Canto Estelar.||4|
|© Lira menor.||5|
|© Word and Dust.||7|
|© Auto das Rosas.||8|
|© O Caso de Amanda.||11|
|© A Bela Adormecida.||12|
|© Canto da Coruja.||13|
|© Poemas de Guerra.||15|
|© Vitória Régia.||17|
|© Retter der Republik.||18|
|© Richard Scharten.||19|
|© An essay on existence.||21|
|© Ars antiquissima.||22|
|© Drei Essays über Geschichte.||23|
The Latin word civitas is usually translated as country, but it also refers to citizenship. As a polyglot who grew up and lived in different countries, I am concerned with the values of universal citizenship rather than apologetic adherence to a country in particular. It is an open debate I lead in myself: What is the meaning of citizenship and how to exert it in a way conducive to justice and to the common good?
My basic assumption is that, as much as you can cultivate a garden, the mind can be cultivated as well. Humanity can be cultivated. The culture of minds requires study, discipline and action. While it is useful for the common good that everybody focus their energy on what they can do best, this attitude should not excuse alienation. Rather, one should always strive to learn and cultivate other areas of theoretical and practical knowledge. This is the way leading to emancipation and happiness. Ignorance only perpetuates slavery: We should beware of societies where specialisation of activities leads to intellectual impoverishment, where everyone is only good at one thing and nothing else, where further cultivation of mind and body is neither encouraged nor even expected. Instead, the civitas I welcome implements education as a never ending process. Sartre made a distinction between an expert and an intellectual. An expert is a nerd that knows his field and nothing else, someone who plays a conventional and predictable role, e.g. as a paid erudite at an university, and never thinks outside the box. An intellectual is someone who meddles in other areas and speaks when expected to be silent, an intruder concerned with more than his own business, humble and eager to learn, but also questioning and denouncing what is not right.
This being said, what is my personal contribution to a global civitas? As Plato asseverates, "the belief in the duty of inquiring after what we do not know will make us better and braver and less helpless than the notion that there is not even a possibility of discovering what we do not know, nor any duty of inquiring after it" (Meno, 86 B). Inquiring after what I do not know is my first existential duty. My second duty is to share my open inquiries with others, so that anyone can judge for themselves whether or not I am speaking the truth. This is why I make use of the Internet to reach others and make known the extent of my thoughts and inquiries, however imperfect they may be. The duty is not to be always right, but to inquire always, to be indeed an intruder, to disturb those who might wonder who on earth I am to say so and so or write this and that, and how arrogant it is to meddle in the fields of experts. Such are mindsets I cannot change, but I will still say, as always, that the authority to inquire and to say what one believes is true is naturally given and does not require any social legitimation.
Writing in different languages, I often resort to poetry to express a subjective transcendence I could not express in an essay. I also use it for dramatic purposes. I agree with Aristotle that being exposed to dread and pity may lead to catharsis, the purification of emotions, a climax I tried to reach in many of my dramatic and epic poems. And yet, I believe that a few traumatic experiences in the past, such as the Holocaust, proved that the power of catharsis, if lasting at all, is fragile. Catharsis is not enough to make us better, and poetry is thus an imperfect means of inquiring after what is good or true. This is why I try to express my personal inquiries in more direct ways, often through dialectic prose and essays. This corpus of writings in poetry, prose and philosophy is a central contribution I am trying to leave to the civitas that will outlive me.
Apart from my personal writings, I embrace some ideas, ideals and practices that could be beneficial to this and to a future civitas. Looking back to history, I recognise the patrimony that Latin has left us, and I promote and cultivate this language as much as I can, lest it disappear from our culture. Latin should be taught and used beyond conventionalism. It is a powerful language fully receptive to modern technological vocabulary, waiting to be explored and revived in innovative ways.
Moreover, looking at the present, I see the meaning of the Internet for our civilisation and realise its irreversible impact on our lives. This is why, as a member of the Internet Society, I advocate the values of freedom, accessibility, transparency and neutrality online. The Internet is a patrimony of our contemporary civitas that can be used for much good but also for evil, and much work is needed to ensure that the benefits will prevail in the long term.
Finally, I look forward to the future and recognise the need to explore alternative avenues of common livelihood. The cooperative way of living, together with sustainable forms of economy, will lead to more prosperity, provide more opportunities and do less damage to the environment. It is deeply distressing to see what is happening e.g. to the Aral Sea. This is why I am always glad to visit communities where motivated friends of different political views work to implement innovative concepts on a small but sometimes self-sufficient scale. I sincerely hope that, in the future, these communities may focus on the life-long education of their members with the same eagerness and seriousness that they focus on the specialization of their work, lest they become but alternative technocrats who are only good at one thing and nothing else. Despite imperfections, I see the potential of these economic cells in improving common livelihood in the future.
The civitas I embrace is the one that enables the existence of a total human being, i.e. where everyone is able to cultivate themselves as much as possible, if not to the full. In such a place, education and erudition will achieve their ultimate zenith, that their members may be less helpless and closer than ever to truth, the fulfilment of their first existential duty.
If you are interested in philosophy, have a look at Gregory Name’s reading list. Get in touch if you want to take this debate further!
On these leaves, a passer-by will find the work of someone who lives for his words. He withdrew from social noise to remain true to himself. A thinker has the whole world before himself, and yet the world owes him nothing. This is a natural condition of existence.
Most people take a writer’s work for granted. It is easy to overlook the amount of time, of energy and money an artist has to sacrifice to give birth to his or her works. More and more, I see the world nurturing its technocratic tendencies, showing always less understanding for the purpose of art and for the life of artists. Those who believe art is but an eccentric hobby of the idle, the rich or the cranky, are leading a sad life.
But many recognise the potential of art. They know that a society without free creativity and critical thinking is breeding populism, extremism and authoritarianism. They know how fragile art is in the age of mass manipulation and mediatic distraction. This is a world that is proving detrimental to any higher cultural ambition. A world where idealism, stoicism and lucidity are badly needed.
To those who have truly read and recognised my work, I may disclose some of the efforts behind them. It is widely known that any writer wishing to bring about a serious contribution to art today will need to provide regularly for:
- a secretary to do any time-consuming research;
- a proofreader to make sure no mistakes are overlooked;
- a web designer to work on a consistent layout for an independent website;
- a lawyer to advise and represent him or her in any case of copyright dispute;
- a promotion advisor to make sure the work will find its public or niche.
Even when these are not regular employees, no writer will not succeed without their work. To the above services, to which I resort frequently, be added travel expenses. I need to meet professionals and go to conferences, events, festivals, talks etc. I gladly pay, for I believe in what I am doing. But costs exist. They are more complex than those could imagine who are only reading the final work on a website.
For centuries, writers have lived not from literature, but for literature. And yet, inspired by technocracy, new writers are trying to become entrepreneurs and live from literature, whose standard they purport to meet with rashly written best-sellers, divided into different castes of so-called genres. This is not my understanding of literature. To me, the priority of a writer is to live for art. Where it is not possible to live from art as well, a laborious artist has a natural claim towards society. This is also a moral claim, the response to which often indicates the moral elevation of a society. Fragility is the condition of any artist, because true art is not designed to flatter, while those who pay for a book usually pay to be flattered. In the past, less technocratic societies understood the condition of art better. Today, it is more difficult to say what you think rather than what will sell. And yet, ideological or commercial compromise is not a solution.
I do not want to sound blunt, but let me remind those men and women of means and birth, wherever they are, of an old French saying which is certainly not flattering, but certainly true: Noblesse oblige. It is not a mere tip that art is asking from them. Fortunately, I can count myself lucky, for I have often received a contribution in gold or silver sent to me, mostly investment coins such as Maple Leaf and Wiener Philarmoniker. Although I do not ask for them, they are always welcome. The beautiful thing about patronage is that it is freely afforded, since not every person of means or birth has the heart for it.
To confront people’s susceptibilities is never popular. Those who dare it are called arrogant. I believe Socrates was very arrogant. His claim was to be fed on the Prytanneum on public expenses, i.e. on the expenses of the rich. Beethoven was quite arrogant too. He expected more than one aristocrat in Vienna to cover his living costs, as his music was not enough ingratiating to afford him a good position as Kapellmeister in any court. But sadly, only Archduke Rudolf was prepared to help. For most of his contemporaries, Beethoven should just get up and work hard instead of leeching on dukes and other hard working people. Apparently, it is the sad duty of the artist and free thinker to utter their arrogant claims throughout the world. But the soul of the susceptible is smart, I know, and will certainly ask: How dare you compare yourself with Socrates or Beethoven? Suddenly, Socrates and Beethoven become divinities against the arrogance of the living. Praise and sympathy for the dead, however, are easy to explain: The dead no longer need any help.
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The second title of the Carolingian series is already available in printing. Word and Dust is an anthology of lyric poetry by Gregory Name.
Contents: The Carolingian series (p. 9), Word and Dust (p. 17), The steps continue quietly (p. 30), Time is something ridiculous (p. 49), Think (p. 62), In the middle of the meadow (p. 71).
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© Greg Ory 2016 – 2018, Nulla Dies Sine Linea. Website by Greg Ory at Flat 7, 18 High Street, Petersfield, Hampshire GU32 3JL, United Kingdom; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org