Friday, May 22, 2015



deathless Tithonos
deathless Athena

the shared word, sleepless
the shared soul, speechless

the boundary between
missing notes

©2015 Missing Notes Bug Us stephaniepope


1. Regarding mythical palinode, poetic image-formation describing the danger of cicada’s song and the clever usefulness of it in the Phaedrus by Socrates  with regards poetic ways of seeing, see Myth and Philosophy in Plato’s Phaedrus, Daniel S. Werner (New York: Cambridge, 2012) Chapter 6.2 pp.138-144. Socrates will say that cicadas (the soul of the poet) will grant their gift to the ones who, when lead by sound to cicada soul avoid the enchantment in cicada’s singing; to be led by it, through it is in manner very much like how Odysseus is led by and then through the sound of the siren’s song.

2. The soul of the myth of cicada singing is already part of tradition. Cicadas are seen as divine critters, closer to the deathless gods than mortal man. The poetic palinode is introduced into the Platonic, poetic tradition to reshape it in a discursive psychagogia. But, this cannot ever be a final word. The poetic image for this psychagogic problem is sleepless Athena’s (d)anger(ous) authority.

3. There is a story of Athena inventing deer bone pipes and trying to play music on them. Experiencing the ridicule of goddesses on how ugly her playing music makes her appearance and discovering just what they meant by the comments in gazing at herself playing, she puts down her sound instrument in both senses. She rejects it and she lays a curse upon its flesh. Athena’s response to her own body image dis/played through her music’s sounds seems excessive. She has a similar reaction to cicadas. The story goes that she, after battle and with battle fatigue, curses them for keeping her awake all night giving her no relief from headache. Yet the cicada that ails her is also the antidote. The ancient Greek authors sought out the cicada’s song (poetic soul) as remedy for relief from eros. See footnote 23 p. 137. Athena’s curse; what does it veil about Athena herself?

4. The Greek word for “old age” is also the word for the skin the cicada sloughs See foot note 22 p.137

5. The cicada will not sing in captivity. Footnote 23 p. 137. Said another way, Captivating the souls of persons enchanted solely by the beauty of the palinode (the poem’s form) is not to encounter the poem’s depths, which one must begin to interrogate oneself to hear exactly of what the poem (the soul of the poet) sings. More importantly, who is the poet? Is it not this very autochthonous life and who the poet “is” a skin shed to reveal it?

6. For cicada as a metaphor not for the poet but for the soul of the poet see footnote 20 p. 137. Old advisors and excellent orators are likened to cicadas. (see also footnote 20.) Elsewhere comparisons are made to the sound of old men’s voices as lily-skinned and like cicadas shedding skins. It is also noted how young men in ritual (See the poem by the Hellenistic poet, Theodoridas on the ritual shedding of a young man’s long hair in dedication to the Artemis of Warriors (as opposed to the Artemis of Hunter-Gatherers)  wear a cicada hairpin in their hair to show this autochthonic connection to the Greek landscape, a kind of natural bridging between the soul of the human animal and that of the landscape which contains and embodies them. Today the study of this kind of mythologized soundscaping is called zoomusicology. Elsewhere there is a turning of the ritual image of the cicada hairpin as a reference to (and putting down of) femininity.

7. So then, what soul is femininity and how does a poetry in the soul of depths attempt to (re)embody it?

8. What soul is this soul, shut away, shut up and shut out by Athena’s gaze to which the deep cicadian life, antidote for eros, eternally (re)turns and moves toward in singing a past still present?

9. Finally, how appropriate a re-visioning is the image now of a cicadian band playing a set today in spite of or on account of its outsider status when it comes to knowing and giving an embodiment to the unknown or unseen image in bodies of ruins that bug us still?