February 10, 2004

Conversation with Plato

So one night I got bored and I called Plato. We kind of talked and chilled for a while in starbucks drinking our caramel frapaccinoes (but he insisted on coconut tai creme frapaccino with a shot of mint), here's what he told me...

Ladies and gentlemen, first of all I am not against attending plays, musicals and dances. However the type of plays, musicals and dances that I would like to watch are the ones that are useful to us, including the State and all of mankind. Art should inspire us to play our roles in society, so these should be as close to reality as possible. If the Arts were to not serve us, or to have any purpose at all, then there is no point; what a waste of life!
I will tell you this, impractical Art does one thing indeed, it corrupts us all. What do I mean by this? Firstly, Art distracts one from his or her job. We all know our place in society. For example, the baker cooks, the soldier protects the State, and the king rules. We have a system of balance that enables us to function as a strong society/State. What if the king started cooking, and the baker started protecting, and the soldier started ruling? It would take a while before the king figures out which utensils are which. Would the baker defend our State with a fork and a spatula? How would a soldier manage a peaceful State, if he were conditioned to think of war?
Secondly, the Arts appeal to our irrationality. We may have different places and roles in society, but we share a commonality of being rational human beings. The Arts affect our emotions in two ways to make us irrational. Firstly, we can become excessively passionate. We become irrational that our emotions take control of us. How could a baker start cooking, if he were too busy crying or too frustrated that he ends up throwing his cooking utensils all over the kitchen? Secondly, we could have a defect in our emotions and could become cold and depressed. We no longer act like human beings, but instead, we are like lifeless metal boxes: prostrate and inanimate. If I were a depressed soldier, would I enthusiastically defend our State? Most likely not, this is similar to what a sage once said to me: “Emotions are not bad per se, but when it controls a person [then it becomes problematic].” The Arts sweeps us up off our feet and drags us away from reality towards fantasyland, where we lose ourselves.
Not only does Art move us to either end of irrationality, but also we influence others with our irrationality. Under any circumstances, a person functions the way he or she would normally function, but his or her emotions, whether sorrow or joy, when reenacted in public, evoke pity or happiness from others. If a person were to release these emotions in order to have equanimity with his or her mind, body and soul, but he or she should do it in his or her private time.
Aristophanes, I am glad that you lift people’s spirits with humor. But why lift people’s spirits with deceptions and false hope? Yes, I said deceptions. A person may ask how. The artists merely imitate. They do not know the true existence of that which they create. They rely on the appearance of objects because they cannot fully comprehend its true form. The artists are twice removed from the truth because in reality there are three ways of perceiving the truth. The first and true way of understanding the truth is by being able to comprehend its ideal form/idea. We are able to understand this because it is part of our human nature. Secondly, while we are able to understand this form, we are not able to reproduce it in its totality. It is once removed from the truth and it can never be the form. Thirdly, if we were to imitate like artists, we would only understand a copy of the form, which is twice removed from the truth. For example: a carpenter knows a bed from a chair because of the form/idea of “bedness”. When he makes the bed, he expresses this form in a tangible manner. The artist on the other hand, if he were to express this form, he does so with illusions. Aristophanes and other artists (whether poets, playwrights or sculptors), who appeal to our emotions rather than the truth of our existence, deceive us. Would we not feel better if we were closer to the Truth of living a moral life, which, in return, can lead us to a happy life?

Posted by Michael Diezmos at February 10, 2004 3:09 AM

those poor people at starbuck's got more than they bargained for. imagine being innundated with philosophy while you're trying to drown your sorrows in a cup of hot chocolate! those people might not be thinking about the road to happiness in terms of morality, but nice job.and the editing of this is sensational, n'est-ce pas? it flows very logically, which plato would love.

Posted by: the peanut gallery at February 13, 2004 1:46 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?