Art and awareness as a journey into ourselves – Part 5

Plato's cave - equipped with screens

Art and awareness as a journey into ourselves – Part 5

To part 4

The end of the journey

After over 500 years, the journey has come to an end. The earth is not a flat disc, but it is round. We can see it from the outside via satellites – on the flat disc of a screen, however. Photos and films allow us to record the time “objectively”. Films show documents from past times and by means of a video camera everybody can perceive themselves from the outside and from all sides, which used to be possible in a limited way and only in halls of mirrors.

The perspective space between the standpoint and the vanishing point was bridged by a net of roads and communication channels. It is cancelled out in a single place, like the start and the finish on a racetrack. Thus, the spatial, perspective dimension has arrived in the time. The standpoint and the vanishing point have become identical. The human being can no longer leave. He has gone forward and is now behind himself as a driving force. He interferes with himself from behind and tries to remodel himself according to his own, narrow ego picture. The means to do so exist. Instead of “developing through being” there is styling and designing. Instead of core and soul development there is surface polish. Instead of work on the inside there is well-aimed external effect. However, it does not have to be like this. Perhaps a look at Plato’s cave will show us some alternatives.

What has become of Plato’s cave? What does the way of insight look like today?

Plato’s cave today

When Plato wrote his cave parable, everything was as it had always been. This was 2400 years ago. Insight was insight, a thing was a thing, a craft was a craft and the art of painting was artificial. It was imitation and jugglery and good enough to show that the sensory life was nothing else than a reflex of the true, but invisible reality.

Today Plato’s caves are mostly very comfortable. We can see enormous progress. And the fetters, with which the inhabitants were tightened, now consist of infusions of different narcotics, not of rough iron chains.

Most caves have their own light switch now. In them shines a small, sometimes dimmable private sun. The cave walls are equipped with large screens, in which everything that happens outside, at other times or at the same time in other caves, can be seen, saved, retrieved and consumed at any time. The night has become the day. It is a great achievement! The hoped-for enlightenment of humanity has become an illumination. At least that.

The most exciting light now comes directly from the cave wall itself. This also happens with the knowledge about the sun, which is no longer a symbol of insight and enlightenment, but a cosmic nuclear reactor, which lives from its substance. Plato’s shadows have mutated. They now appear as light figures, as heroes, stars and idols. A gigantic and ingenious development has occurred in this cave, without its inhabitants having to turn around to go the tiresome path of insight. Instead, it seems, the resourceful humanity took Plato’s cave parable as a manual to install all the miracles, which can be discovered on the outside, in the cave itself. The fire behind the objects, the light, the knowledge of which those, who were once outside the cave witnessed and spoke, were intelligently recreated.

The most improbable thing has succeeded, namely to make these insights and ideas, even the light itself into shadows and to put them in the service of the shadow world.

Thus the picture of the cave has been reversed. No shadows scurry across the cave wall any more, but it has become luminous itself. Through head-lights and flash-lights.

Now, as the cave wall radiates and flickers, the shadows are behind us and no longer in front of us, like in the old cave parable. If we turn around today, then the first thing we see is no longer the fire burning behind the objects, which are carried to and fro, but our own extended and quivering shadows. Today the way to insight seems to lead out of the overexposed caves with their virtual dimensions only through our own shadow.

The illusion has become serious

And where will we arrive once we have left the flickering shadows more or less behind us? Well, in the free, fresh air, in nature, of course. In the old cave parable this is an illusion as well, isn’t it? But what happens? The “illusion of nature” creates some problems. The ozone levels are too high, when the sun shines, the biodiversity decreases. The wild, threatening environment of once is dominated by the human being and the astounding diversity of wild animals does not occur in the wild anymore, but in zoos and on menus. So, it becomes clear: this illusion is serious.

Where can we find our way out of the cave today, when the world affairs become a medial major show, a flickering ghetto, in which all the disasters have a double character of dismay on one hand and entertainment on the other and we do not know whether it is the television producers who promote wars for the sake of higher ratings to be able to then report about peace and reconstruction and humanitarian help in a dedicated way? And thus, they can keep the people in the good-bad trap, incite their emotions and then milk them, while the stressed ones cannot find their peace and their centre, but remain squeezed between fear and hope in a desperate, meaningless whirl. But perhaps most of us want it this way, they want to stay connected globally in their comfortable caves. This is to be respected. However, for others it is not their fulfilment to become consumed end users. So, there is the question: where and how can we find our way out of Plato’s renovated cave, if it is the way it was described above and if the standpoint and the vanishing point are identical and enlightenment through insight is replaced by illumination through knowledge?

There is still a way out. Or rather a “way in”: the one inwards. Not the one “behind”, but the one “within” – to the centre – to the innermost heart. But it has not been developed. And there is no navigation system. Everybody has only got their own access, which cannot apply for anyone else, their own, distinctive key, which does not fit anywhere else. It is about finding it, or rather: about making and using it. Beside rational-scientific and the emotional-religious intelligence, there is also artistic intelligence, which is the human’s ability to focus the aspects and forces on the aim to open up for the spiritual divine. It sounds like a paradox: To overcome the I, there is nothing else than – as the name Percival expresses – to go through the midst of the I.

To be continued in part 6


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Date: January 14, 2019
Author: Alfred Bast (Germany)
Photo: Pixabay CCO

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