Advice Literature

Explaining My Alias: “Hesiod”

Readers of this site know that I use the pseudonym Hesiod. My real name, though, is plastered all over this site too. Paul Krause. Why, though, do I write under the name Hesiod?

It began, really, as an inside joke. Before starting Discourses on Minerva (itself signifying something about me and my background as explained in the “About” page), I wrote under the blog name “Hesiod’s Corner.” Hesiod, of course, is the great Greek poet and was contemporary of Homer. He is most famous for Theogony and Works and Days, his only surviving works.

As an undergraduate, I was educated in economics, history, and philosophy. Going back to high school, I was an honors and advance placement (AP) English student. I’ve always loved books and art and stories. Going back further, in the seventh grade, I stated I wanted to be a writer despite winning science student of the year. Funny how things turn out to be true. I never imagined myself a literary critic though. In fact, I was dismissive of the enterprise as a snot-nosed undergraduate. I had bigger aspirations. I meandered to Yale for a master’s degree in religious studies (theology & Bible) and also crossed the Atlantic to study with Sir Roger Scruton for another master’s degree in philosophy before he passed away.

By the end of my undergraduate days, however, I had rekindled that passion and love for art and books, literature, that I always had.

In the battle between the poets and philosophers, though I have spent six years of my life studying philosophy in a formal setting and often lecturing and writing on philosophy for the public, I unequivocally say I prefer the arts to philosophy. The arts are more moving than philosophy ever can be. Not that I dislike philosophy. Au contraire. It is my philosophy background—much like with Roger—that has given me greater appreciation of the arts. I understand the arts in a way previously inaccessible to me. A combination of my studies in history, religion, and philosophy have opened up art—high and low—in ways previously unimaginable and unseeable. For that I’m thankful.

Being a devotee of aesthetics and having written my MA thesis in philosophy on the political aesthetics of Edmund Burke, aesthetics—as you can guess—is very important to me. Burke bifurcated aesthetics into the sublime and beautiful. They do not overlap in Burke. Burke was, in my mind, broadly correct in seeing the emotions and pathologies of the sublime and beautiful. He was wrong, though, to keep a neat separation between them. The sublime and beautiful sometimes intermix.

This brings me back to Hesiod. Hesiod was a poet of the sublime as defined by Burke: dread terror, asymmetry, violence, an aesthetic of the most intense passions. Passion is what is lacking in modernity. By taking the penname Hesiod I am signifying to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear where I stand in this great divide in modernity. It also signifies my stance in aesthetics.

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Hesiod, Paul Krause in real life, is the editor-in-chief of VoegelinView. He is writer, classicist, and historian. He has written on the arts, culture, classics, literature, philosophy, religion, and history for numerous journals, magazines, and newspapers. He is the author of The Odyssey of Love and the Politics of Plato, and a contributor to the College Lecture Today and the forthcoming book Making Sense of Diseases and Disasters. He holds master’s degrees in philosophy and religious studies (biblical studies & theology) from the University of Buckingham and Yale, and a bachelor’s degree in economics, history, and philosophy from Baldwin Wallace University.

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