after weeks of θαύμα «wonder», επιζητώ «seek, call for», ροή «flow».
Samos, Greece. October 2022
Our culture is obsessed with the realness of appearances. Look around you; what is fake, fraud, cheating, copy, illusion, is always a sensation worth millions, because it grabs your attention. We are constantly looking to see what is behind the veil, the curtain, the facade of an appearance. And no wonder, we don’t want to be fooled by someone’s appearance, then the joke’s on us. I am not denying the value of assessing the realness of appearances, but we always have to ask; for what purpose? What is the intention? We appear to be completely obsessed with disclosure of fakeness and fraud, divulgence of gossip, the reveal of the someone’s facade – without any interest of actually continuing life in contact and alignment with what is more real, genuine, authentic, sincere, true. Addiction to disclosure and suspicion of appearance is our social reality, which of course is made much more possible with the invention of social media. The ability to look into someone’s personal life around the clock, follow everyone’s steps and missteps, primes us to crave disclosure and suspicion. Illusions becomes more salient, and therefor more desirable, than the actual real things.
“take a mirror, if you wish,
and carry it around everywhere.
you will rapidly make the sun,
and the things in the heavens,
and the earth and yourself
and other animals
and objects and plants
and everything else just mentioned.
– yes, the appearance of them,
but not the things themselves
as they truly are. “
Plato, Republic 596e
Plato’s allegory of the cave is a great metaphor for contemplating appearance and realness. The value of assessing the realness of appearances aligns and relates to the purpose of seeking more realness in your life. According to the allegory, most of us live like cave-dwellers who are tied to their chairs and see only the shadows displayed on the wall. Since we are unable to turn around and see the fire behind our back, much less get out of the cave and see the sun, we believe that the shadows are reality itself. With further interpretation from philosopher Ran Lahav, most of us are preoccupied with the shadows of life: limited, superficial, self-centered ideas, hopes, fears and the like. Our concerns usually focus on improving our life as it is within the cave, on satisfying our current needs and interests: how to get along with our boss, how to feel better about ourselves, how to buy a new house or a bigger car. As Lahav points out, many of these desires may be understandable, but as the allegory imply these needs are actually not about living in contact with what is more real. For the cave-dweller to be able to escape the shadows and illusions, they must seek to transcend the life within the cave, towards the φως «light» outside the cave.
φως «light», ήλιος «sun»
I find this metaphor to be a beautiful reminder and illustration of the importance of always asking what we are seeking, yearning and committing our lives to. If there is something more real behind an appearance, what is the goal of seeing and revealing it? To live more in alignment and contact with what is actual and true? Or because the obsession and addiction to disclosure and suspicion of appearance is too great?
Furthermore why do you actually care about the realness of things? Why do you care about revealing what is behind an appearance? If your life is an illusion, filled with false appearances, shadows and safe chains – would you want to know? And like Plato, seek a life in contact with what is more real than your current existence?