Erotic Ascension And Stylistic Hoverance : The Symposium Body

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Erotic Ascension and Stylistic Hoverance: The Symposium Body
The initial sentence of the Symposium—“In fact, your question does not find me unprepared”—operates with an odd and mordant brevity. The close sandwiching of “in fact” and “does not” is a performative linkage of qualifiers that, in consideration of later text, functions as stylistic foreshadowing—what might be read as subtle mockery of the dialogic form (in that the sentence responds to an unknown provocatory referent) also hesitantly establishes an opacity that accurately exemplifies the Symposium’s widespread use of stylistic hoverance: its complex layering and alternations among comedic, pedantic, philosophical, and didactic registers. “Does not find me unprepared” is gratuitous hesitance, a signpost for the winking comedic rhetorics of salutatory debate. In fact, your question does not find me unprepared—of course I shall fabricate an explanatory ascendance laced by the performative codes of circuitous humor. Just the other day, as it happens… Threads similar to the above rendition of (impudent) stylistic interpolation continue throughout the Symposium, and often center particularly around questions (and imagery) of ‘the body’ as an ambivalent object of discussion, description, and desire. Diotima’s espousal of an ascendancy—arguably Plato’s ‘philosophical climax’—from bodily desire for the physical beauty of a young boy (“devot[ion] to beautiful bodies”) to a singular beauty that is eternal (“just what it is

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