Leaving the cave and facing the fire

Photo by Ben Farrell – roadlesstravelled.me

So, an old philosopher named Plato, had a theory. Hardly surprising, since most philosophers do. This theory is one of ‘Divine Forms’. The best way to describe this is to use his famous cave analogy.

He likened humans to prisoners, shackled in a cave against one wall, not able to move. The only thing they could see was the back wall of the cave. Out the front of the cave was a fire. The prisoners, only being able to see the back wall, couldn’t see the fire itself, only the shadows projected from the fire on the back wall of the cave. The shadows and shapes of people and things were cast up against the cave wall. The prisoners, were never able to glimpse the objects themselves.

They were tied up for so long, they begun to mistake these shadowy forms for reality, believing that these forms were in fact true reality, rather than a shadow cast from the ‘original object’.

The point is that Plato argued that that’s how we all see reality. Really, around us, what we’re seeing are the shadows of original divine objects and matter, not the original matter itself. He argued that there is a divine original that exists, yet our reality is made up of reflections of the original. Cheap imitations if you like… A bit deep?

Well, I stood on the River Thames tonight, swallowing the harsh wind as it battered and numbed my face why I tried to get the perfect shot of the houses of parliament and Big Ben. As I was standing there, the great clock chimed 7 o’clock. It chimed a tune so familiar to me. It’s the tune that my Grandmother grew up hearing every hour as a child. A clock bought for my great-grandmother by her husband after the war would chime the very same westminster tune. I then grew up, listening to the same tune as a child, ever hour, quarter past, half past and quarter to. Never knowing where it came from, I accepted its familiar melody in our household and thought no more.

Now, here I am, thirty years old, my great-grandmother passed, listening to the very same tune, but the original. The divine original in which clocks were made to mimic for hundreds of years. A chill ran down my spine and the hairs stood up on the back of my neck as Big Ben chimed over the River Thames and the familiar childhood tune echoed throughout the streets of London. I’ve seen the divine original. I’ve been released from my shackles, and turned to face the fire outside the cave, as Big Ben stood there lit up warmly in the firelight overlooking London, chiming out… Eerie.

Travelling throughout Europe, this becomes a common sensation. As if, at least for Australians, our reality are shadows of divine originals that exist in the ruins of ancient Rome . Coming from Rome to London, perhaps London itself is a shadow of the original Roman empire, but still a very sharp, accurate and close one. Like creating a shadow puppet, holding your hand close to a lamp, it’s sharp and defined. In Australia the distance is too great and the shadow cast too long. Its edges blurry and non distinct. When you come here you truly feel the original fire and it’s amazing.

Big Ben glowing in the firelight

Below are some pics of London taken today and tonight

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