Hi folks, I'm continuing my series on the ancient paths to see what I can glean for us. Socrates was one bold-thinking dude, and I have been a major fan since I was in high school. I can see him, sort of a lazy bum, moving from one group to another in ancient Athens. It's a place of beauty and he's an ugly guy. I believe he gets the irony. He dresses like a homeless person. He won't take money for his philosophical teaching, because he feels that the second you take a red cent for what you think then, blah, they own you and every thought you share.
Instead he's a blue collar guy, and makes his cash as a stone mason (I like to think this is true but it's not verified) when he needs to eat. He's the gadfly of Athenian society, a biting fly that can direct a horse. He doesn't go with popular opinion and always sticks with his own opinion. His whole attitude finally causes the leaders of the city to put him on trial. They ask him what should be his punishment and he has the cheek to say a pension and free food for the rest of his life. He's convicted of the terrible crimes of "corrupting the minds of the youth" and "causing those kids to question their current gods and their government." Huzzah! Of course, he's given hemlock to drink and put to death for his heresy.
So what, writerly stuff do I take from the original "marching-to-my-own-drum" guy? Well, yeah, let's corrupt young minds! And add this on, let's do our part to cause kids to question their current gods and their government. Add that into your writer's toolbox and I'm pretty sure the content of your writing is going to get interesting. You may spend some time out in the cold in terms of publishing though because you don't jump on vampire-fantasy-dystopian-suspense-thriller bandwagons. You will see lots of notes that say, wish there was room for your original stuff in this tight market. When your books come out, finally, the storm stirred up by people who find you subversive won't be pretty. But don't let that stop you.
I'm going to wrap this up with a favorite Socrates idea. Don't just believe stuff. Turn over every stone. Don't live an unexamined life, not just for your writing but for yourself too.
Hope this little story lights a fire under you. You go ahead and stand up for what you believe, even if its not politically-correct or popular. Seize the day, creative folk.
This week's doodle is called: "Tangled Hearts."
This quote is Plato's account (old Soc knew how to pick friends) of how Socrates felt about being put to death because he was willing to think his own thoughts. I hope we will all be swans.
From Plato's Phaedo: Socrates said and smiled. . .
I am not very likely to persuade other men that I do not regard
my present situation as a misfortune, if I am unable to
persuade you, and you will keep fancying that I am at all more
troubled now than at any other time. Will you not allow that I
have as much of the spirit of prophecy in me as the swans?
they, when they perceive that they must die, having sung all their life long, do then sing more than ever, rejoicing in the thought
that they are about to go away to the god whose ministers they
But men, because they are themselves afraid of death,
slanderously affirm of the swans that they sing a lament at the
last, not considering that no bird sings when cold, or hungry,
or in pain, not even the nightingale, nor the swallow, nor yet
the hoopoe; which are said indeed to tune a lay of sorrow, although I do not believe this to be true of them any more than of the