One of the big questions is how complex a recipe for violence is. Many people would believe that violence is an acquired taste, but there are ways to make it taste good. With the right spices, violence can be more palatable. An important spice is the idea of the just war theory which was harvested even during ancient times. Beginning in ancient Greece, philosophers were utilizing this spice to justify state warfare. Aristotle harvested the just war theory in its most basic form when he argued that war as an activity, if done for the proper telos, with telos meaning goal, would be in harmony with the universe. Ancient Greek society often celebrated war and believed it as a justified violence due to the freedom, choice, and resources that it brought the nation. This view could almost be seen as a different type of spice, utilitarianism, in which actions are deemed right if they are useful for the benefit of the majority of the people. While there are more caveats to this theory, this spice has been used to justify violence, and especially war. There is a major difference between utilitarianism and Aristotle’s view however, since utilitarianism only allows for violence if and only if no other course of action would have achieved better results. Through Aristotle, beginner chefs see how this spice can be utilized to lightly season the recipe.
However, for more added flavor, as one moves through history, they come across St. Augustine’s theory of just war. St. Augustine would have been around during the time of the Pyschomachia as he was born in 354 and died in 430. As we learned during class, the Psychomachia was created during the fifth century when St. Augustine would have been spreading the word about this spice in medieval society. St. Augustine argued that violence and war would be easier digested if the only reason of that war was to achieve peace. While arguably paradoxical, through the Psychomachia one can see that this would have made sense at the time. The virtues fight the vices to ultimately achieve peace no matter how bloody the means would have seemed to one who was reading the book at the time. Symbolic or not, the violence cannot be ignored and whether or not one chooses to stomach it, it must be acknowledged. While we cannot be sure if there were ties of the Pyschomachia to St. Augustine, it is probable that the saint could have had some sort of influence in the religious world that would have spread through means of travel and possibly been known to Prudentius.
Lastly, to sort of solidify the spice into what we associate it the flavor of it with today, is St. Thomas Aquinas. Although he was not around for the times of Prudentius and St. Augustine. He is a valuable resource in understanding a more sophisticated reasoning behind why Prudentius may have chosen to utilize such detailed and graphic violence to get his message across. Humans for the entirety of history have always and will always continue to be violent in one way or another. While not all individuals commit acts of violence, they understand that it does happen and the state they live in will enact it to get what they want. What the question is, is can it be made more edible. St. Thomas Aquinas helps in this when he theorizes that there are certain conditions in order for a war to be just. There are two components that he focuses on. The jus ad bellum, whether or not war should be waged in the first place and if it is justifiable, as well as the jus in bello, or how it should be waged. In the case of Prudentius this internal war must be waged in order for humans to ultimately achieve peace and salvation. The vices must be taken out no matter what for people to receive salvation and relationship with God. This justification allows for the reader to fully understand in a more contemporary headspace why Prudentius may have chosen to flavor his piece the way he did with such bloodshed.
While it is heavily debated through the topics discussed during class whether to interpret the violence as symbolic or realistic of medieval society in a sense. It is still important to consider the importance of the recipe of violence and that even if it is symbolic, it is still incredibly graphic imagery of violence. There is no way to ignore the inner turmoil of people, symbolic or not, violence is a part of living, especially to live a righteous life as a Christian.
INGREDIENTS AND CUSTOMIZATIONS FOR VIOLENCE:
- THE PERPETRATOR/AUTHORITATIVE FIGURE: If the authoritarian is deemed “Evil” by the witness, this recipe of aggression will result in bold flavors that are more of the “Violent” style. However, if the authoritarian is deemed “Good” by the witness, this recipe of aggression will result in purer flavors that are reminiscent of the “Punishment.” The human desire for symmetry, which we call “justice” is what incites the aggression that we call “punishment.”
- TIME/PLACE/RELATION TO VICTIM: A “fresh” act of violence or a close proximity in both time, place, and relation is highly preferable when it comes to making the “flavor” of the violence full-bodied and strong. In comparison, a “stale” act of violence has a much paler taste. To avoid this, look out for acts of violence that are old, are imported from far away (the delivery may damage the information in transit or simply add to the staleness), or simply occur to a person you do not care about because you have never met them. However, be warned: if the act of violence occurs to a person you dislike, the formerly bold flavors of violence will begin to taste sweet, aligning in the “Punishment” style of violence. Furthermore, some people love revenge that is cold, so the age of the violence may be nuanced.
- TECHNIQUE OF VIOLENCE: Depending on the techniques and type of tools used, the notes detected from the act of aggression will change. For example if a butter knife is used, the process will be inefficient and the result will not be well executed. The public reaction will either be one of comical bewilderment or horrific shock. On the other hand, an efficient tool will leave no mess: if a gun is used, the lack of mess leaves the consumer unaffected—sometimes the flaws or gruesomeness of an act of aggression gives the act personality, and the distinguishing factors have a larger impact than a perfectly, efficient technique. A well done aggression may be sufficient to leave an impression on the consumer, but red and pinks usually are the preferred levels for maximum consumer satisfaction. An even more efficient tool—such as a bomb—may be used, and the consumer may be temporarily impressed by the number of violences committed, but the effectiveness will quickly fade, as people are pre-occupied with their own lives and do not think about the consequences or horrifying efficiency of a bomb (In Memory of W. B. Yeats, Part I: Stanza 5).
- PRESENTATION MATTERS: To be handed news from a friend is much more impactful than a nameless server. Furthermore, the notes or insights gained from the news of violence will also vary wildly with medium. Just as consuming Totino’s Pizza Rolls™ feels different from a slice of pizza despite the ingredients being the same, watching a live video of a man getting decapitated is different from a stick figure drawing of a man getting his head displaced.
- If you want more customizations, check out this link here!
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Signing off: Group 5 (Chef Cassidy and Chef Donna)