"Custom is our nature."—Pascal (the first Existentialist philosopher)
The poetry entry was getting ridiculously long, so I decided to start a new one for this. Plus this one has nothing to do with either poetry or Romanticism. If I put the video right in the first post it'll be at the top of every page, so I can easily find it each day to watch the next lecture. I previewed the beginning to see if it captured my interest, and it did, largely because of the Pascal quote above and what it means in terms of this lecture series.
Anybody who has followed along with my perusal of the Moby Dick lectures knows there was a lot of talk about polytheism in it, and the idea that the gods represent our moods (Dreyfus' term for it). One of Melville's big themes throughout was that you should experience all the various moods, that all of them should be sacred and honored, not only the mood of self-sacrificial piety supported by Christianity. Not any one mood in fact, but all of them, the way it was in pagan times. Clearly this is a theme running through all the lectures in this course (called Man, God, and Society in Western Literature—From Gods to God and Back). I'm not entirely sure I agree with him. Thinking for a moment about it I just realized, you aren't confined to only one mood if you're a Christian, you would experience the full range of them—everything from grief and sorrow at times, to patient suffering, to wild exultation and triumph, to fear and trembling etc. So I'm not quite sure I understand what he means, I'll need to think about it some more, and listen to some lectureage.
Oh, as for the Pascal quote, what it means is that human beings are very different in various parts of the world, because we all have different customs, and whatever customs you're raised with determine a lot about what you believe and your ethics etc. In other words there's no single universal set of customs or morals or whatever that defines us all as human beings. So maybe what it all means is that a monotheism like Christianity tries to impose one definite prescribed morality for everyone in the world, and it simply won't work for people who live in certain kinds of cultures. Maybe moods is the wrong word, it makes it sound too trivial and shallow, I think he's going for something much deeper. But offhand I can't think of a better word right now. Well anyway, I'm rambling.
I still have one more Moby Dick lecture to cover before I move my base of operations here. I'm just getting it set up now so it'll be all cozy and warm when I'm ready to start in on the Odyssey.