I thought I knew the story of Pandora.
It is widely known as a theodicy, an explanation of why there is evil in the world.
Another Eve to blame.
which somewhat misses the subtle meaning of the story.
If the sins and vices are out of the box, like the cat from the bag, the game is up. The shadow of humanity is being made visible by the gods and becomes something we have to address. Each in their own way.
Pandora is raising consciousness. Her other name, Enesidora, means, ‘she who sends up gifts’, which is the propitious way to treat unconscious contents that inevitably make their first appearance in their worst moods. When the oracle says ‘know thyself’, it means the stuff in the box, which, without Pandora, would still be there.
The scam, is the angle we put on Hope being held back.
Oh, poor me, there is so much wickedness out there in the world beyond my gleaming picket fence, but at least there is Hope that someone might come along and do something about it.
As though it were a good thing.
Hope. Be passive. Wait.
What better way to control people than for them to have waiting be their holy duty?
and wait for tomorrow while you are fleeced today.
Which is what Hope becomes when its still trapped in the Box.
This Box is no ordinary thing. It was fashioned by Zeus as a retaliation against humanity for Prometheus’ stolen gift of fire, consciousness.
With consciousness comes…the shadow.
”You want to be conscious? Be conscious of this,..” says Zeus, and introduces humanity to its underbelly….
and its mortality.
but better out than in, hey? Pandora did for humanity the best she could, she let the shadow be visible, something with which to negotiate rather than being hidden away behind lock and key. Like Prometheus she helped us become aware of ourselves and returned the diseases that the old gods had become so that they could return home, to us.
She kept Hope back to be mean, to stamp her individuality on a situation for which she was only meant as a messenger, so that she too could decide her own fate and have a place in history.
Anything kept in the box comes to us as Fate. We idealise it, project it, become it’s tigerbait. And we forget that hope for tomorrow makes passive slaves of today, that hope can make the actual fear of a situation quietly bearable until fear and giving your power away become part of life.
Living in hope can be a way of living in fear or lack without actually doing anything about it. It implies you think you know what you need which is probably debateable.
‘Since when did people know what they wanted?” Morgan Freeman as God in Bruce Almighty.
It also gives the imagined redemption of the situation over to a further imagined other, a heavy burden for any would-be knight…
Living in hope can turn the refusal to live or grasp your destiny into a shining virtue.. a psychological sleight of hand that allows a person to live with the contradiction between who they actually are and a preferred, more polished version, with the landfill of wishing it were different. Such a trick carries a price and keeps us caught at the developmental level of wishing-it-were-so..
and sewing all kinds of pigs ears into silk purses
and prose into candyfloss…
”love is the voice under all silences, the hope which has no opposite in fear… e.e. cummings
Atop his crate of toffee apples, Cummings may speak of ‘hope that has no opposite in fear’, but what else is hope for than the wish to be delivered from something? Without having to be too conscious of what that something might be…
something with teeth, maybe.
Our hope to be saved from it allows it to roam about unchecked.
Zeus did not put Hope in the Box of Evils by mistake. The Shadow of Hope produced ‘Waiting for Godot’, a story of two men who spend their entire time waiting for someone who never comes. The play is excrusiating because you can see yourself in the roles so easily whilst wanting to wring both their necks for their pathetic helplessness at the same time.
Hope had sucked the life out of them.
Irvin Yalom calls it the neurosis of the ‘ultimate rescuer’, the wish to be defended and redeemed from responsibility and saved from the anxiety of being free by some powerful other.
Sometimes what it takes for transformation to take place is precisely for us to lose hope, hope of attaining prefection, of changing someone, of living without anxiety, of living forever.
The sign over the gloom arches of Diss, the gates of Hell in Dante’s ‘Inferno’, are inscribed, ‘Abandon Hope all ye who Enter Here’. Its a useful piece of advice.
Placing to much emphasis on hope is failure to accept your situation. If you are hoping overly for something then you are not in the moment or grounded in what’s actually happening.
You can be herded.
and forged into armies..
because Hope is aggressive, too. It arrogantly knows what it needs and from whence. Then, made a holy thing of it.
Hope is privately at war with what-life-is on account of what-it-should-be…
living, ‘if only’…and so not really living at all.
”Our suffering is as much on account of our resisting the circumstances at hand as the circumstances themselves.” M. Israel.
Something else should be happening.
I was once walking in Wales. I came across a small sign, pointing, ‘llwyber troed”.
It seemed like an interesting sounding place and so I took that direction despite it not being on the map.
..because it was not on the map..
In fact I faithfully followed the signs to Llwyber troed all afternoon, expectant at every bend, before I realised it was Welsh for footpath.
Living in hope is like that. You are looking for something you’re already on.