The posset here is a drink called a kykeōn, thought to be a mix of ground barley, grated cheese and wine among other possible elements, such as honey or oil. Like any respectable salad dressing, a posset requires a nice stir to stay integrated: if not agitated, it would be altogether too much wine, then a mouthful of cheese, with soggy, settled barley to finish. Somehow, the drink tasted best mixed—though perhaps you or I would not find it initially pleasing.
Heraclitus seizes on the posset to illustrate a feature of his experience. As made clear by the wonderful classicist MM McCabe in the 6th episode of the History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps podcast, Heraclitus is endeavoring to show a paradox of identity, that there are some kinds of things that only come into coherence with what they are to be at the time a jumbling together, a kind of blurring of distinction among other things comes to be. As she puts it in the podcast, the drink only comes to stand still as a posset as it is in motion.
I love this aphorism because it constantly reappears as a companion in understanding almost everywhere I find myself. For this blog, it illustrates something distinct about Calvin that I rather happen to like: I sincerely enjoy how in all these faces, in all this work, in every move-in, all placement of furniture, each plate of food, throughout a thousand laughs and soul-finding discussion, a dear, distinct thing always becoming more delightful to me emerges out of all these kinds of motion and all others possible here: Calvin, the whole and alive, charged with thousands of lives.
The campus is hardly Calvin while we are all gone. Mixed, we all, and the stuff of our lives, and all invested in staff and faculty, are Calvin—and rather like a posset surely must have been, initially strange becoming lovely, a worthwhile taste justifying the difficulty of its agitation toward development. I see the better loving of better loves emerging in my peers constantly here as they participate in generating the very tastes worth tasting, the pursuit creating the pursued. Motion accomplishing stillness among those hopes no longer escaping reach, and joy where uncaught those best things are.
Heraclitus would like it too, perhaps.
It is so good to be back.