Tuesday, June 23, 2020

The Final Solution: The Ouroboros

drawing of alchemical tract by Synesius  (Theodoros Pelecanos, 1478)
Serpents are creatures of temptation. The serpent lures Eve with  the forbidden fruit. In one sense a serpent is a snake, but it often seems capable of ambulating in a vertical way like a prehensile creature. Look at the upright serpents bobbing through festivities on the Chinese New Year’s. Serpents are beguiling since they're venomous and joyous at the same time. What goes around comes around.  Serpents are frequently anthropomorphized and often personify human flaws. Fire may emanate from their mouths as a sign of volcanic anger. The Ouroboros is an ancient symbol of the serpent eating its own tail. It’s a little like the cyclical view of history Vico advocated in the Scienza Nuova and also strangely prescient if you look at the arc of recent events. Hegel proposed a dialectics in which opposing historical forces (thesis, antithesis) produced the result (synthesis), but now such an evolutionary prospect seems delusory in this the Year of the Rat.

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