The Rite of Spring
Harmony needs low and high, as progeny needs man and woman. (43)
From the strain of binding opposites comes harmony. (46)
The cosmos works by harmony of tensions, like the lyre and bow. Therefore, good and ill are one. (56)
(Heraclitus, 2001, Fragments)
For Eryximachus, the power of Eros manifests itself in the same manner in music and medicine. According to him, the composer has the mission to harmonize the high and low notes. The harmony established between the high and the low notes creates the musical event by overcoming an initial opposition.44 The creation of a musical chord is thus another way to honor Eros. Eryximachus is so intent on finding harmony between all things that he attempts to include Heraclitus’s thought into his own:
For he says that The One is united by disunion, like the harmony of the bow and the lyre. Now there is an absurdity in saying that harmony is discord or is composed of elements which are still in a state of discord. But what he probably meant was, that harmony is composed of differing notes of higher and lower pitch which disagreed once, but are now reconciled by the art of music; for if the higher and lower notes still disagreed, there could be no harmony. (Plato, The Symposium, 187a and b, p. 314)
Heraclitus also uses a dialectical approach toward reality (thesis, antithesis, synthesis) and thinks that man is but a pale reflection of the potential that animates the universe. However, for Heraclitus, managing disharmony is often even more creative (even more healthy) than reaching a harmonious state. He could also have said that conflicts can become a particularly creative form of harmony. He thus rather announces a form of reasoning that we will find when we will speak of Hume and Darwin. For Heraclitus, Chaos’s work (the antithesis) is as important and crucial for the evolution of the universe (the synthesis) than that of Eros (the thesis). The conflicting dialectic dynamic between Eros and Chaos allows for the emergence of the emotion of love, desire, creativity, and music. This unceasing battle structures the organism and reinforces it. Briefly, if Heraclitus had been a therapist, he sometimes would have put oil on the inner conflicts of a soul, so that she might strengthen herself and learn to manage the conflicts of existence with greater ease.