We can be Homeric heroes.

Greek Gods were anthropomorphic, with human shape and human passions. In the old days, they used to behave like immortal humans, like spoilt little children who never grew old or bore any responsibility or duty. They did not perish if they fought in a battlefield, and they could spend the eternity partying, drinking, having fun, enjoying whimsical love affairs, having sex disguised as animals or weather elements with the object of their desire, be it human or divine.

On the other hand, Homeric heroes share some features with heroes in traditional Greek mythology, such as areté – excellence – which makes our Homeric hero brave and virtuous, he is also more human than the previous specimens, and thus he must suffer and die and not even his Gods can intervene in order to avoid that fact. And that is exactly the seed, the core and the essence of his heroism; what makes human goals different from those of the Gods? Death. It is the certainty of our demise which leads us, humans. Gods can waste their time with their nectar and ambrosia, because they are immortal, but humans? Given that human life is limited, the hero must seize his life to the limit through action. He knows his life must come to an end, it is ephemeral, but when he does so, he shows his attachment to something which transcends life, something that Gods cannot experience. And it is not that he is being rewarded in afterlife, achieving heroic deeds will not be rewarded outside itself. Homer dismissed the traditions of the Elysian Fields or the Island of the Blessed as a reward, and his heroes just died, their only reward consisting of being remembered after their death, although they would not be there to be conscious of it. There were no such thing as an afterlife reward in Homer.

When you are conscious of your own disappearance from the face of Earth, the smallness of your existence in the immensity of the Cosmos, in the aeons of time – like one day in a thousand years – , when you are ill and you know that you have a deadline and your time is running out, when you are old and your friends and acquaintances die around you, remember: nothing makes you different from a Homeric hero…

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Hoffman’s death

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I have just read an interesting article related to P.S.Hoffman’s tragic death last 2nd of February. Its author was wondering why would someone who has been sober for the last twenty-odd years have a relapse on his addiction. According to this article, the experts assert that most people who have been able to stay sober for five years would stay so indefinitely. But an addiction is an ongoing situation in life despite remaining sober. It is enough to have one drink, to smoke one joint, to snort one line, to have one fix and our body will remember; whichever connections were rewired, they will remember and it would take little time to start a vertiginous inverted spiralling movement into addiction.

All those years gone by without the slavery of it, can make one feel one’s above it as if it never took place, can make one feel overconfident, can make one say those words: “I can control it”, “it’s just this one time”. It can make one put a larger dose into a body readjusted to sobriety, as it happens to so many people, causing death.

It is really a feat being able to stay sober for twenty-odd years being surrounded by Hollywood people, many of whom may see nothing wrong with using drugs as if it was part of their profession. Even ordinary people are usually bombarded with friendly invitations by others who do not see anything wrong with it, who do not consider themselves as addicts and just want to share something which is nice for them with others, disregarding the fact that some people are addicts. It just happens everyday. Alcohol, for instance, is used as a social facilitator in formal situations, and the minute you refuse to have a drink you become a weirdo and a suspect. They insist on your having a drink in social occasions. The only way to avoid it which comes to my mind is by getting out of the closet and saying “I’m an addict”, but it does not work, as people keep on insisting. They will insist and when the damage is done, nobody will help you, because it just takes one time to lose it and on many occasions, the same people who offered you whatever, will then laugh at your weakness. They will not make amends for what you lose. But anyway, this is only one of the factors implicated, the environment. There are so many factors involved, and we are just imperfect human beings.

So long, Philip Seymour Hoffman…