Friday, May 13, 2011

One Piece & Another

That afternoon I had found a copy of Plato's Complete Works at the Friends of the Library store at the Beverly Hills Library so this bulky book was in my hand when I walked over to the opening of the OnePiece store down on Robertson.


What's the connection? asks the young women helping out with the catering. She studies philosophy.


- We have presented here a hooded sweatshirt sewn together with sweat pants. One piece clothing, sleep ready and suggesting rest. Put it along side the idea of the good as single and without definition. Talk is action, beauty is in quiet and peace. Work is particular and never completely satisfactory. Home is calm and contemplation and true readiness for love. Now you give it a try.


- Ok. Plato in the Republic describes the soul as having three parts, the reasoning, the desiring, and the demanding or passionate. The idea is to get them all working together as one. In one piece.


- Not bad. But think about this. I just talked with a guest who told me he spent the first part of his life in finance making money on the East Coast. Now he has come to L.A. to start a new life, giving back. He performs his music for free for people who need it.


You might say - actually he did say - he was re-establishing balance in his life. I expressed my doubts. Or rather I said to him he was leveling out selfishness and generosity in his action, but what's going on in his mind, his soul?


In Plato's Republic, each class of citizen represents one part of the soul, and no one is really happy, though the whole city is in balance. Why should we think an individual acting the parts of the soul in sequence would be happy? Each action is still only partial. It didn't sound like happiness.


- You're saying the soul doesn't balance actions?


- I am saying it does, but does it like Plato's city: the city as a whole doesn't feel, doesn't love, doesn't see.


- Then what good is keeping balance?


- Look at OnePiece. The fashion business, the opening party. Nobody would say something very important is going on here. It's clothes. But why are they made, why do people buy them? They remind you to be happy.


The reminder to be happy is therapy, like getting angry can clear away the weight of sadness, like eating and drinking like we are doing now can calm you down, like reading Plato can wake you up. Restoring balance is nothing in itself. It gets you ready for the important business in life.


- Which is?


- Feeling at home in the world.


- In one piece.