One trouble with pretending to be someone or something else is that there is no stopping it. For Plato, the act of pretending rapidly runs down through a sexist chain of being from men to women to animals to inanimate objects,in a crescendo of degradation. Socrates’s affirmation of this terrible danger in poetry is the classic condemnation of imitation in the Western tradition. Imitation is a species of dehumanizing or unmanning (!) madness. Poetry, for Plato, has authority all right, but it is the authority of radical evil. Therefore the poets must be banished from his ideal republic. This is the most powerful argument ever devised for why not to read literature.

Dose it refer to the verb "run" in the cited context and mean: the act of pretending in this sexist chain that at top of it are men, rapidly spread and its bad influence in the bottom of the this sexist chain is more powerful.?

This context is from a book named: On literature.


This is a figure of speech (which I do not find fully effective).

A crescendo in music is a progressive increase in volume. It is being used here to mean an increase in disparagement, which the author equates to degradation.

I am not sure that disparagement actually results in degradation so the rhetoric seems strained to me. But that is just my personal reaction. The rhetoric has the justification that one who diparages intends to degrade and that increasing disparagement is intended to increase degradation.

To sum up, "crescendo of degradation" means "increasing degree of invective."

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The more it (the "chain of being", an elitist hierarchy) degrades, the louder it gets.

Crescendo of degradation is not a standard collocation but an idiosyncratic phrase.

The "act of pretending" for Plato is synonymous with sub-ideal existence, each corrupt form being a degraded imitation of its paradigmatic ideal form.

Lurking behind this phrase is probably an allusion to the eternal music of the celestial spheres, opposite which, at the bottom of the chain of being, we have the crescendo of degradation.

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