Lost in a Cave

Plato was right.

In “Allegory of the Cave,” he presents listeners/readers with a thought experiment.

What would happen if a group of people were confined in a cave and constrained in such a way that they believed shadows on the wall were reality?  What would they do if one of their number was freed and learned that the shadows were merely a ghostly absence of reality, and then returned to spread the truth to his still imprisoned friends?

“You lie!” they would shout.

Thus was born the philosophical idea that our perceptions create our realities (note plural), an idea which helps explains the difficulty of dislodging emotional truths from our minds.

For me, and for the purposes of this blog, it also explains the power of fiction and its ability to insinuate itself into “real” life.

Stephen King, in a piece published in today’s Guardian, has a marvelous take on Trump and Trump voters.  After a deft analysis of the election, he proceeds with a round table discussion with “Trump voters” born not of the womb but of his protean imagination.

It’s a perfect example of how writers of fiction, as Tim O’Brien notes in his novel The Things They Carried, are adept at “making up a few things to get at the real truth.”




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