Politics, philosophy and fiction. Two plus two is four and water is wet.
work is so profound as to be influential for thousands of years. Plato's The Republic is one such series of
dialogues. It explains and explores the relationship
between state institutions and individuals.
One of the central dialogues is called the Allegory of the Cave. Socrates speaks with a fellow philosopher and
proposes that what people take to be reality in total is only a partial reality
or an all out illusion.
Socrates begins "let
me show you in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened
Behold! human beings living in an underground cave." As all like philosophy, the Allegory is
layered, but it is partially about seeking individual knowledge and perspective.
In the Allegory most
people are chained in the cave and forced to watch images on a cave wall. The images are cast by the controllers of the
cave who use a fire behind them to produce shadows. The prisoners interpret the shadows and
whatever noises are made as reality in total, for it is all they know. There are other prisoners in the cave who are
unchained, but are so transfixed with the imagery on the wall that the shadows
are all they see.
It is further
hypothesized what would happen if a prisoner was released. After initial distress the prisoner would learn
to distinguish between real and shadow and would see the fire producing the shadows. And if he was brought out of the cave, he
would first be blinded, but eventually would learn basics of nature. He would learn what is real, what is shadow
and reflection. He would earth and water
and that all is dependent on the Sun from shadows, to seasons to all life. After learning of reality outside the cave
the prisoner would be inclined to return and inform those in his former home
and in his former predicament.
A more complete
and visual explanation of the Allegory of the Cave is available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQfRdl3GTw4&feature=related
The text is
available here: http://www.historyguide.org/intellect/allegory.html
The subject of the Allegory of the Cave is somewhat
insidious despite often going unrecognized as such. It has provided lessons in politics,
philosophy and individual enlightenment since it was penned some two thousand
The story of 1984
takes place within the allegorical cavern as an imagined dystopian future by
George Orwell. The Telescreen, which
ever transmits and as well as oversees, is equivalent to the shadows on the
cave wall cast by unseen controllers.
These images are controlled by the Inner Party. Most people in 1984 are Proles, they are
equivalent to the chained in the cave.
They have been prisoners their whole lives and do not notice the fact
they are chained. The unchained and yet
transfixed with the party line told through the Telescreen is the Outer party. They are so loyal to the imagery they will
believe what they are shown and not what they observe. They will believe two plus two is five, as
the saying goes.
In the Allegory of
the Cave, it is pondered what would happen when a prisoner left the cave. In 1984, George Orwell likely pondered the
same. Emmanuel Goldstein is a character in
1984 who figuratively left the cave, or understood the Inner Party's images
were lies (Emmanuel = God is with, Goldstein = gold rock) and attempted to get
others to understand the institutional lies.
Emmanuel is supposed leader of the elusive Brotherhood in 1984 and is scorned,
even hated by society.
The main character
in 1984 is Winston Smith. Winston's
story is one of a person who attempts to leave the cave. He is privy to certain Inner Party lies and
begins to question and seek alternate perceptions other than the Inner Party
line. Winston attempts to leave the cave
only to be shut in and beaten down, made to hold the party line. Winston's end is not a happy one as well as
Socrates' hypothesized result return of the prisoner.
Some fictional literature is so profound as to
be relevant for decades and even serves as an expansion of language and thought. 1984, by George Orwell is one such literary
work. 1984 is a post WWII interpretation
of the relationship between individuals and state institutions using the archetypal
Allegory of the Cave.
Both the Allegory
of the Cave and Orwell's 1984 contain corresponding layers. Both explore a diabolical form of control through
presentation of information and images in combination with strict surveillance and
imprisonment. Further relationship
between the more contemporary movie, The Matrix and the Allegory of the Cave
are hardly subtle.
The original title
of 1984 was proposed as The Last Man in Europe. Certainly that is the way one would feel, as
if you were the last lone person, when you are aware of lies and partial truths
presented as totality by controllers and accepted totally by everyone else.
George Orwell's 1984
spawned new language for age old procedures, as presented in the Allegory of
the cave, the word Orwellian being one among many. This all encompassing term is reflective of
lies made to be truths, unfair institutional surveillance and logic so
distorted as to not only be convinced that "ignorance is strength' and two plus
two equal five, but to also deny the very basic elements of nature.
strength - to institutions. Everyone has
their own personal cave and we are all figuratively in a larger societal cavern. Coming up with your own questions is the way
get out of the cave and gain enlightenment.
Questioning what seems like a lie, or illusion in the cave, is the step
outside the cave.
There are three types of lies; lies, damned lies and
~Popularized by Mark Twain
solid world exists, its laws do not change.
Stones are hard, water is wet, objects unsupported fall toward the
earth's center. With the feeling that he
was speaking to" and setting forth an important axiom, he wrote: Freedom is
the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.
~George Orwell's 1984
Ethan Indigo Smith is the son of a farmer and nurse who was later adopted by artists. Ethan was raised in Maine, Manhattan, and Mendocino, California. Ethan is a proud dropout. Ethan has traveled the world and has been employed briefly as Private Detective, a dishwasher, a valet, a snowboard instructor and always a poet.
Ethan Indigo Smith meditates, practices Wu Tai Chi Chuan, and yoga. Ethan is an activist, mainly with the pen, always siding with individuals among institutions. All of Ethan's writing, no matter if philosophy or satire, is focused to enhancing consciousness.