We're Gonna Need a Bigger Cave

Ah, the Starbucks at UCI. There are few better places to score (or, in my case, just scope) erudite chicks.

Right now there's a blonde sitting nearby who could pass for Galadriel: tall, willowy, with eyes like emerald searchlights. Or maybe they're hazel - to find out would require exceedingly creepy staring. But as lovely as she is, that's not what strikes me - it's what she's reading: Plato's Ethics. Darling. Plato's ethical concerns centered around a virtue-based well-being; the classical philosophical term for well-being/satisfaction is eudaimonia. Go show off in Starbucks with that, Akeelah fans. Aristotle believed eudaimonia was all about acting rationally with excellence. Sounds like something Bill and Ted could get behind. If you did what logic suggested and did it to the best of your ability, you'd have a good life. But Plato's most enduring concept to me is his Allegory of the Cave. Basically, the human intellect is like a guy kept in a cave since birth, with nothing to see but shadows on the wall cast by a fire. As the shadows are all he knows, the man believes them to be reality. The idea is to move outside of the cave, to see the world as it really is rather than smoke and mirrors, tricks of the light. This resonates strongly with me, probably because once in high school I actually submitted a 1x1/19 scale model illustrating Plato's allegory, complete w/ fire, shadows and cave mouth - all made out of Play-Dough.

That prettiest of proletariates, Rebecca Schoenkopf, surgically dissected this illustrative quote from TV's Real Desperate Housewives of Orange County: "What are the powers and capabilities of the human subject for aprehending the Real?" Now more than ever, perception is reality. Unless you don't like what you're perceiving, of course. Just look at Laura Bush discounting her lesser half's low poll numbers.

Nowadays the major concern isn't getting out of the cave, it's adding more logs to the fire. Besides, when White House press conferences are scripted and we're deluged with knowns, unknowns and known unknowns, who's to say that escapees from the shadows and the flame don't just find themselves in a much vaster cave? Where Halliburton has a no-bid contract to supply firewood? Today's Reg contains a discussion of The Da Vinci Code hype. My take? It's fiction, you ape-children. Calm thyselves. Ann Pepper writes:

Detractors worry that readers and viewers won't separate fact from fiction and that what they consider blasphemy or bad religion will spread.

Of course they're worried. We're presented with fiction-as-news every single day; fiction-as-religion could have the same ability to erode the integrity of the institution. Liberals bash Fox; Conservatives bash the liberal media; everybody hates USA Today, and news outlets everywhere are feeling the lack of the public's trust, thanks in no small part to phenomena like Stephen Glass and Nasdijj (unmasked in our red-headed stepsister-paper LA Weekly). Apparently, some in the church are worried The Da Vinci Code could undermine faith in the church.

Jeepers, who'd have thunk the one-time author (under a female pen-name) of 187 Men to Avoid would one day shake the foundations of Western religion?


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