Rereading the Republic, and I wonder if this process could go any slower. I have to ask myself why I’m doing this – because I want an article, dammit – but no amount of ambition can relieve confusion. A discussion of factionalization, what is lacking/what is partial, is easy enough. But what makes the Republic indispensable is that it doesn’t give me stories like Xenophon or Thucydides about democrats and oligarchs killing each other to take power. Instead, it gives a “city in speech” that has a unity which in its very character is elusive. Something about piety and justice creates that unity, and what makes my head hurt is thinking about how to relate the more specific considerations of the Republic to a general picture of politics as actually practiced (i.e. people actually voting, fighting with each other, etc.). The most interesting thing is that the two pictures of political life do not seem to add up, not at all, even though one is clearly a profound comment on the other.
I suspect if I can solve this puzzle I might have mental power sufficient to be Professor X.