Tag Archives: Plato’s Republic

Shadows and Light

Shadow

There is a large quasi-Palladian window in the bedroom where I sleep at my parents’ house. Draperies cover the main window but the top arch is open. From the bed, I can see the stars, the clouds, and, frequently, the moon as it appears above Shades Mountain through the arch.

Just outside the window, a crape myrtle with rich burgundy blooms stands sentinel in the front yard. As I was going to sleep a couple of nights ago, I was struck by a silhouette on the bedroom wall opposite the window. A bright moon had cast a delicate shadow of the top branches of the crape myrtle. A gentle summer breeze was slightly blowing the branches and there was a lacy arched silhouette swaying against the bedroom wall. It relaxed me as I fell asleep.

Strangely enough, I started contemplating “Plato’s Cave.”

Plato’s “Republic,” from 380 B.C., includes an allegory about prisoners who have lived most of their lives in a cave, facing in only one direction toward the cave wall. Behind the prisoners is a fire and shadows of objects cast from the fire onto the cave wall are their only concept of “reality.” If they are ever able to escape from their cave of ignorance and see the true light, they tend to be distrustful and frightened of the true “reality” beyond their illusions.

It’s more complex than that, but that’s the gist. My political science degree must have kicked in one late night. I may just be excessively contemplative these days because I’m quarantined awaiting COVID test results. However, my night vision made me think about how we may be plagued just now with too many delusional cave dwellers in “leadership” positions and not enough seekers of enlightenment …

Mainly, though, I was struck by the beauty of a shadow on the wall as I sank into slumber a couple of nights ago.

Light