On David Mamet
November 27, 2019
December 19, 2019


Photo by Ivan Obolensky

Akrasia is “the state of mind in which someone acts against their better judgement through weakness of will.” –Oxford. Some might call it ‘having a moment’. The term comes from Ancient Greek (a– without, kratos, power, strength).

According to Plato, Socrates held that no one goes willingly toward the bad, and that nobody chooses to act poorly, or against their better judgement. Perhaps, he is correct, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

I have often wondered why.

In previous posts, I mentioned two possible causes: até and homeostasis.

The first, até, is a divinely inspired moment of madness. Not all would agree such a thing is possible, until it happens to them and then what? They have to rethink much of what they thought they knew. Those pesky gods may not be dead after all. And that is troubling.

To most, homeostasis is a far more plausible explanation given our technological world. It is the result of a stubborn infrastructure that has supported our existence yet simultaneously holds us fixed in its web. We get stuck in a rut and deviating from it appears far more costly than submitting to the status quo. We know we should change but are unable.

There is a third, I think. I’m not sure what to call it. Some have called it fate.

It is a peculiarity of life that we live in the present. Consequently, our choices can never be fully understood from that location. The final arbitrator of all is called the future. Bad decisions sometimes have brilliant results, and brilliant ones, disaster. Is that fate, or humor?

As a teller of tales, it is likely that the unnamed thing is the source to all that we call tragedy and comedy, those wonderful subsets of our human heritage: Drama.

How the tale is told determines which it is.

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