The Sneak: The Sneakcratic Dialogues
|Fernando de Sousa, Wikimedia Commons|
One of the most famous portions of Plato's Republic is the Allegory of the Cave, a purported dialogue between master logician Socrates and Plato's dim but affable older brother, Glaucon. The gist is this: What if a bunch of people are chained together in a cave for their entire lives and never see anything outside the cave? What if, in fact, the only thing they have ever seen are the shadows cast by objects passing in front of a fire and projected onto the far wall of the cave?
You can't blame them for thinking that what they are experiencing is the sum total of reality because this is the only thing they have ever known. They are at once completely rational in their beliefs -- and totally, completely wrong. They are Uwe Boll's Casablanca wrong. They are duck-confit sliders wrong.
In philosophy class I learned that this story was some sort of extended analogy about how philosophers can see beyond perceived reality to some kind of larger truth. What total BS. A bunch of people sitting in a dark cave while a shadow-play is projected from behind them up onto a larger wall?
I know a movie theater when I see it.
|The original Sneak.|
Forget the obvious parallels of the cave and the theater and instead look to the lone philosopher/sneak (philosneaker?) who breaks free of the cruel and arbitrary bonds that prevent her from knowing the true joy of existence. Once she's tasted freedom, she returns to the confines of the cave to liberate the shackled sensibilities of the hungry, timid audience to expand their enjoyment of Shadows: The Movie.
A lot of people don't realize, probably because it is an outrageous lie, that there are extant drafts of The Republic that show a pattern of significant changes to the dialogues themselves. The later drafts show an increased concern with emphasizing the total awesomeness of being a philosopher, including one passage mercifully excised from the final draft in which Plato is mildly humiliated at a resort dance and Hermes comes down from Olympus to declare that, "None shall put him in the corner."
It's believed that the earlier drafts were very close to being transcripts of actual conversations between Socrates and his students. These earlier fragments are not generally translated into modern vernacular because they hold little interest for anyone who does not want to read them in the original Latin. This is a disservice, as the earlier drafts show intriguing spelling variations and a much clearer picture of the master's actual intent.
|Sneakrates would regret sneaking the hemlock.|
Zacon: So, how would you smuggle a sheet cake into a movie?
Sneakrates: A whole one? Aluminum foil lined with wax paper, sheet cake nestled on its side in a courier bag. Possibly a large Tupperware.
Zacon: But what if the sheet cake is of a fragile consistency?
Sneakrates: Poor thing to sneak. I'd have to cut it into individual portions.
Sneakrates: If it must be taken in complete, I'd enlist the aid of an elderly accomplice.
Zacon: Put it on the walker?
Zacon: Hmmm...what if it was frozen before hand to increase its rigidity and was placed (after being properly wrapped) in a man's briefcase?
Sneakrates: But how would you eat it? Also, icing doesn't freeze well.
Zacon: The case would be opened in the middle seat and dispensed to fellow partiers. Pesky icing.
Sneakrates: You could ice it in the movie. But that would be fairly lame.
Sneakrates: I think individual portions may be the best way to go. Or cupcakes, in a box with dividers.
Zacon: That is most true.