Nocturn is definitely a piece to rival Kate's best. I have found myself getting more twisted into the meaning of this song and how I feel it relates to me. I will elaborate next time I come here when I am hopefully in a better mood, but I believe that I am one of Kate's waking dreamers. It is only a matter of time now.
Everyone is sleeping; my dear one, let us go into the shady garden. Everyone is sleeping; only the stars observe us. But even they do not see us among the branches, And they cannot hear — only the nightingale hears . . . But even he does not hear — his song deafens him; Only the heart and hand can hear: The heart hears how much earthly happiness We have brought here; And the hand, hearing, says to the heart: Something tremulous and strange is kindling in me. I am feverish. And, willy-nilly, One shoulder now inclines towards the other . . . ~ By Afanasiĭ Afanas'evich Fet (1853)
Gurdjieff's basic teaching is that human life is lived in waking sleep; transcendence of the sleeping state requires a specific inner work, which is practiced in private quiet conditions, and in the midst of life with others. This leads to otherwise inaccessible levels of vitality and awareness.
They open doorways that I thought were shut for good They read me Gurdjieff and Jesu...
AWAKENED CONSCIOUSNESS by George I. Gurdijeff Therefore a man who wants to awake must look for other people who also want to awake and work together with them. This, however, is easier said that done because to start such a work and to organize it requires a knowledge which a sleeping man cannot possess. The work must be organized and have an awakened leader. Only then can it produce the results expected from it. Without these conditions no efforts can result in anything whatever. Men may torture themselves, but those tortures will not make them awake. This is most difficult of all for certain people to understand. By themselves and by their own initiative they may be capable of great efforts and great sacrifices. But because their first effort and their first sacrifice ought to be obedience, nothing on Earth will induce them to obey another. They do not want anybody to tell them what to do. And they do not want to reconcile themselves to the thought that all their efforts and all their sacrifices are thus useless. Work must be organized. And it can be organized only by a man who knows its problems and its aims, who knows its methods; by a man who has in his time passed through such organized work himself. consumercide.com/consciousness/gurdjieff_consc.html
"Wake up!" "A good morning, ma'am. Your early morning call." "You must wake up!" "Wake up!" "Wake up, man!" "Wake up, child! Pay attention!"
Could be in a dream Our clothes are on the beach The prints of our feet Lead right up to the sea No one, no one is here No one, no one is here We stand in the Atlantic We become panoramic...
Footprints in the Sand Mary Stevenson, 1936
One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there was one only.
This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints, so I said to the Lord,
“You promised me Lord, that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there has only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?”
The Lord replied, “The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, my child, is when I carried you.”
Nocturn and Aerial could suggest (mystery) religion initiation rites; e.g. baptism (by submersion), being seized by the Holy Spirit, diving into ecstasy and speaking in tongues...
We tire of the city We tire of it all We long for just that something more...
Acts 2:38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
We dive deeper and deeper we dive deeper and deeper...
Baptism is a new beginning like resurrection to begin a new life. One cannot teach baptism correctly without teaching that Jesus rose from the dead. It is through baptism that we become united with Christ in His death and consequently also in his resurrection.
It came up on the horizon Rising and rising...
Many cultures practice or have practiced initiation rites, with or without the use of water, including the ancient Egyptian, the Hebraic/Jewish, the Babylonian, the Mayan, and the Norse cultures. The Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, or Gnostic Catholic Church (the ecclesiastical arm of Ordo Templi Orientis), offers its Rite of Baptism to any person at least 11 years old. The ceremony is performed before a Gnostic Mass and represents a symbolic birth into the Thelemic community.
The chorus: Look at the light, all the time it’s a changing Look at the light, climbing up the aerial Bright, white coming alive jumping off of the aerial All the time it’s a changing, like now... All the time it’s a changing, like then again... All the time it’s a changing And all the dreamers are waking
Romans 13:8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." 10 Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. 11 And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. GOD'S WAKE UP CALL! GOD'S REVEILLE! www.middletownbiblechurch.org/romans/romans13.htm
We dive deeper and deeper we dive deeper and deeper Could be we are here Could be in a dream
OCEAN OF FORMS
I dive down into the depth of the ocean of forms, hoping to gain the perfect pearl of the formless.
No more sailing from harbor to harbor with this my weather-beaten boat. The days are long passed when my sport was to be tossed on waves.
And now I am eager to die into the deathless.
Into the audience hall by the fathomless abyss where swells up the music of toneless strings I shall take this harp of my life.
I shall tune it to the notes of forever, and when it has sobbed out its last utterance, lay down my silent harp at the feet of the silent.
CLOUDS AND WAVES
Mother, the folk who live up in the clouds call out to me-- "We play from the time we wake till the day ends. We play with the golden dawn, we play with the silver moon. I ask, "But, how am I to get up to you?" They answer, "Come to the edge of the earth, lift up your hands to the sky, and you will be taken up into the clouds." "My mother is waiting for me at home," I say. "How can I leave her and come?" Then they smile and float away. But I know a nicer game than that, mother. I shall be the cloud and you the moon. I shall cover you with both my hands, and our house-top will be the blue sky. The folk who live in the waves call out to me-- "We sing from morning till night; on and on we travel and know not where we pass." I ask, "But, how am I to join you?" They tell me, "Come to the edge of the shore and stand with your eyes tight shut, and you will be carried out upon the waves." I say, "My mother always wants me at home in the evening--how can I leave her and go?" Then they smile, dance and pass by. But I know a better game than that. I will be the waves and you will be a strange shore. I shall roll on and on and on, and break upon your lap with laughter. And no one in the world will know where we both are.
NOCTURN Drums: Peter Erskine Bass: John Giblin Guitars: Dan McIntosh Keyboards: Kate Hammond Organ: Gary Brooker Additional Vocals: Lol Creme Percussion: Bosco D’Oliveira
AERIAL Drums: Steve Sanger Bass: Del Palmer Guitars: Dan McIntosh Keyboards: Kate Percussion: Bosco D’Oliveira All Lead Vocal & General Backing Vocals: Kate
Musician's Stories: BOSCO DE OLIVEIRA
Bosco d'Oliveira is a master percussionist who started the London School of Samba.
'In 1984, I started the London School of Samba with Alan Hayman. It's a great thing as it's still going on with other samba schools springing up.'
On this Midsummer night Everyone is sleeping We go driving into the moonlight
Could be in a dream Our clothes are on the beach These prints of our feet Lead right up to the sea No one, no one is here No one, no one is here We stand in the Atlantic We become panoramic
How I came to this music:
I was born in 1952 in Belo Horizonte, a city in Brazil north west of Rio. When I grew up, the radio played Brazilian popular music, Samba, a lot of Brazilian ‘western’ music, a lot of Rock and Roll and the Bossa Nova. It was the folkloric music from the north east which was fashionable and hooked me in, not the pop music.
There was the street music, played in carnivals and music played by the Congados, which was a festival of music and drama in honour of a Catholic saint, but celebrated by Africans or Afro-Brazilians. The plays relate to medieval European wars and feature the King and Queen of Congo, ambassadors and the captain. It’s done to drumming and it's fascinating. One saint, Nossa Senora de Rosario (Our Lady of the Rosary), the patroness of all drummers, was commemorated the day I was born. On my birthday when I was a kid you'd always hear the drums outside as the Congados passed by. That's how my love of the drum developed.
I came to England because my first wife was English. There weren't many Brazilians here in the early 80's but now there are loads. In 1984, I started the London School of Samba with Alan Hayman. It's still going on. Now other samba schools have sprung up out of the London School of Samba like Quilombo do Samba and Paraiso.
I was asked to join Grupa Sambando by John Harborne who'd discovered a group called Fundo do Quintal. He fell in love with their music and decided to start this band. There are three Brazilians in it. This music came out of a very early style of Samba called Partido Alto which had a lot of improvisation. There was a big revival in the late 70s, early 80s. It became know as Pagode, the name for party. So Pagode music is party music.
Could be in a dream Our clothes are on the beach The prints of our feet Lead right up to the sea No one, no one is here No one, no one is here We stand in the Atlantic We become panoramic
Fernando de Noronha is an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. Fernando de Noronha is considered the best scuba diving place in Brazil. Warm water and exuberant subaquatic fauna and flora can be found in dives from 25 to 40 m deep. A Brazilian warship, the corvette NAeL Ipiranga, sank in 1987 and is lying in pristine condition at around 190 feet.
The stars are caught in our hair The stars are on our fingers A veil of diamond dust Just reach up and touch it The sky’s above our heads The sea’s around our legs In milky, silky water We swim further and further We dive down... We dive down
A diamond night, a diamond sea and a diamond sky...
Where I Play:
I’ve always been a freelancer doing loads of different things. I do gigs with my band Arakatuba which plays Brazilian music. We play a variety of styles from Samba to folk with a lot of input from jazz as well. We’ve performed at big festivals in the continent with Brazilian drummers, Dom Um Romao and Airto Moreira while here in England we've played at Rhythm Sticks, the annual world music festival at London's South Bank. I also do gigs with King Salsa which is Afro-Cuban music, and Mr Hermano which is a Latin band from Brighton.
Occasionally I do some teaching at the Guildhall. Mainly I teach at Drumtech, a school for drummers in Acton, West London. I wrote the percussion course there. I do lots of workshops and one-offs in different places up and down the country. You have to keep your fingers in as many pies as possible otherwise you can’t make it!
We dive deeper and deeper we dive deeper and deeper Could be we are here Could be in a dream
Fernando de Noronha Sunset: A sea of honey, a sky of honey... Atlantis Divers is the company locally used for diving in Fernando de Noronha with the best structure on the island. Atlantis run a session in the morning, and also in the afternoon at least during the week, and sometimes also do night dives, too!
When I’m in Rio, I love to play in small groups of 10 or 12 people especially at carnival. You go there at 4 or 5 o’clock in the afternoon around a corner near a bar where people are playing and singing. It goes on all night and you finish at 4 or 5 the next morning exhausted. Of course, you take breaks and turns and you have a drink. You go across to the sea and have a dive and dip and come back. It’s fantastic! I love that. I’d rather have that than almost anything really.[/color]
It came up on the horizon Rising and rising In a sea of honey, a sky of honey A sea of honey, a sky of honey
Sunrise at Christ the Redeemer statue, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Look at the light, all the time it’s a changing Look at the light, climbing up the aerial Bright, white coming alive jumping off of the aerial All the time it’s a changing, like now... All the time it’s a changing, like then again... All the time it’s a changing And all the dreamers are waking
A favourite song:
I wrote ‘Riva’ as a tribute to the great Brazilian percussionists. I mention about 35 different percussionists from past and present, a few samba schools and some afoches and blocos. The chorus goes, ‘On the skin of the drum and on the sound of the berimbau, I pay my tribute to the Brazilian percussionists who have no equals in the world.’ Guys like Nana Vasconcelos, Airto Moreira, Papete and Paolo Braga. There's Pascoal Meirelles who grew up in my neighbourhood called Gameleira. He was a great friend and inspiriation. He was already in Rio playing with famous people when he was 16. There used to be lots of rehearsals at his house. Even Milton Nascimento would come round and play bass. I also mention a lot of new guys like the people from Uakti, a percussion group from my home town.
Olli Saville and I overdubbed all the Brazilian percussion – berimbaus and surdos. The singer is Liliana, who lives in London and works with me from time to time. Mr Bongo wanted all the tracks on the CD to have names of Brazilian football players of the past so when he got to that track he chose the name Riva. I subtitled it ‘Respecto’ – respect!
The image of a waterbird on a 5,000-year-old pot lives today along the Indus River, where archaeologists are piecing together fragments of immense cities lost to history.
In Pakistan’s Indus Valley a group of hunters still practice a 5,000-year-old method of catching waterfowl. Hunters tie pet herons to a hoop in the river, then drop to their necks in the water wearing masks made from real birds. “They'd wiggle their heads to mimic a swimming bird,” says Randy Olson. “Then grab any waterfowl that landed nearby.” Indus Civilization Photograph by Randy Olson
Indus: Clues to an Ancient Civilization National Geographic, Vol. 197, No. 6, JUNE 2000 National Geographic Photographer: Randy Olson Location: Indus River, Mohenjo-Daro, Pakistan.
THE RIVER OF FADED DREAMS Hephzibah Anderson
Empires of the Indus: The Story of a River Alice Albinia, John Murray
This is the story of a river – a river that flows across 2,000 miles and more than 5,000 years. It’s also the story of Sanskrit priests, Greek soldiers and Sufi saints.
In her award-winning first book, Alice Albinia follows the Indus River upstream and back through time. Her journey from sea to source is also a voyage from the violent birth of Pakistan as experienced by the people of Karachi (close to where the Indus enters the Arabian Sea) to the birth of the river itself, high in the snow-capped mystic mountains of Tibet.
During a history as long and meandering as its own waters, the Indus has been many things to many people. Before Partition enforced its own divisive boundaries, the river acted as a natural border, separating Baluchistan from Sindh and the North West Frontier Province from the Punjab. It curbed the ambitions of invading forces from the West. And its eddies are of spiritual significance to Muslims, Sikhs and Buddhists.
The river, Albinia writes, “runs through the lives of its people like a charm”, and it is her encounters with these people – some living, some dead legends – that make her odyssey so compelling. We meet “river saints” like the Shah Abdul Latif, a Sufi poet and chronicler of its lively legends, whose tomb in Bhitshah, Pakistan, attracts Hindu as well as Sunni and Shia pilgrims. A less orthodox figure of unity is Sarmad, a 17th-century Persian-Jewish trader and poet, who converted to Islam, fell in love with a teenage Hindu boy, and roamed India naked as a sadhu. Then there are the Sheedi, curly-haired, dark-skinned Muslims who claim descent from Bilal ibn Ribah, the Ethipian slave who was the Prophet Muhammad’s first muezzin.
Albinia roams around each of her stories, gathering such a wealth of material that she often merely glances on details intriguing enough to sustain pages. In Karachi, for instance, a few sentences sum up several months of adventures that include attending weddings, eating halwa and haleem cooked by refugees who arrived in 1947, and dressing up as a man to infiltrate a gay party at an elite, army-run housing scheme. And then she’s off again.
There is danger, too, some of it the result of Albinia’s own foolhardiness. She crosses the Pakistan-Afghan border illegally, almost forgets to don her borrowed burqa, and hires a Tibetan town drunk as a guide. She even drinks watered-down sewage, though perhaps that’s preferable to some of the food she samples – the opium-infused warthog testicles, for instance. When a Kafkaesque combination of Indian and Chinese bureaucracy threatens to curtail her odyssey, she takes a looping detour to the nearest legal crossing point in Tibet – 4,000 kilometres away.
Throughout, there are ominous notes. For example, the birth village of Guru Nanak, Sikhism’s founder, was once surrounded by forests filled with lions, leopards and tigers. Today, colonial irrigation projects, hunt-obsessed officials and pesticides have left it a dusty plain. The book’s end takes on the timbre of an elegy. At Ali, in Tibet, Albinia finds the riverbed dry, littered with an old blue boot and a bicycle tyre. “Chinese instant-noodle packets are scattered about like flowers”. Thanks largely to dams, the Indus, for so long a vibrant thread of optimism – an emblem of unity in a region too full of strife – is dwindling. “One day,” Albinia warns at the close of this accomplished and spirited account, “when there is nothing but dry riverbeds and dust, when this ancient name has been rendered obsolete, then the songs humans sing will be dirges of bitterness and regret.” www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090213/REVIEW/791925767/1203/ARTSLISTTEMPLATE
We stand in the Atlantic We become panoramic The stars are caught in our hair The stars are on our fingers A veil of diamond dust Just reach up and touch it...
II. The analogies of death and the resurrection are numerous and widely scattered through the Scriptures. Death and the resurrection are facts occasionally spoken of, —facts regarded in the same light as birth and life. There are birth and life, death and the resurrection,—four fixed facts in the natural order of universal experience, which underlie all moral conditions and changes. The first two have direct relation to the present state of existence ; the last two to the future mode of being. They are not moral, but natural experiences. They are not limited by moral conditions, but are universal. They are not dependent on finite will and action but belong to the infinite order of events. They are wholly of God, and are steps in the divine procession of being which he has ordained. These are taken by the divine penman and made fruitful sources of expression, to indicate moral and spiritual conditions and changes. By them the sacred word is made instinct with life. Spiritual forces and experience are made to appear as real things. Essences are embodied. Spiritual scenes become panoramic. Moral consciousness is born, lives, walks, rises and glorifies God. The soul puts on armor and fights its demonic enemies and conquers them ; then soars and sings, an angel redeemed from the flesh and the devil. So are the grandest moral lessons made instinct with life and power, by the imagery borrowed from these natural facts, and the great scenes of spiritual redemption are portrayed with dramatic effect and grandeur. The use made of these. facts is not only artistic in the highest degree, but marvellous and sublime. The sacred word actually quivers and throbs with the life of the Holy Spirit, and the light of God shimmers along its golden pages. ~ The Universalist Quarterly and General Review, Volume 20, 1863.
She is able to associate such imposing words as "beautiful," "holy," "divine," with her own special function in life, and she walks with lofty personages in her dreams. Her own erotically excitable fancy, like the poet's imagination, is freed from humiliating concern. She is secretly vindicated and walks above the petty opinions of her neighbors. She breathes ambrosia and the stars are caught in her hair. She sees Venus in the mirror and hears the swish of a thousand prows breasting the blue AEgean. ~ Annals of the Poets, Chard Powers Smith, 1935, p.406.
The galaxy, like a veil of diamond-dust, winds across the firmament, and all the air is luminous, save where there hangs, as it ever does, a dim shadow between the sea-line and the great source of light above it. ~ Belgravia, Volume 69, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, 1889, p.221.
Kate Bush: "I think that as a very young child, perhaps I aspired to becoming something like a great actress." The Tony Myatt interview (1985)
A diamond night, a diamond sea and a diamond sky...
THE EARTH BREATH by George William Russell
From the cool and dark-lipped furrows Breathes a dim delight Through the woodland's purple plumage To a diamond night. Aureoles of joy encircle Every blade of grass Where the dew-fed creatures silent And enraptured pass. And the restless ploughman pauses, Turns and, wondering, Deep beneath his rustic habit Finds himself a king; For a fiery moment looking With the eyes of God Over fields a slave at morning Bowed him to the sod. Blind and dense with revelation Every moment flies, And unto the Mighty Mother, Gay, eternal, rise All the hopes we hold, the gladness, Dreams of things to be. One of all thy generations, Mother, hails to thee. Hail, and hail, and hail for ever, Though I turn again From thy joy unto the human Vestiture of pain, I, thy child who went forth radiant In the golden prime, Find thee still the mother-hearted Through my night in time; Find in thee the old enchantment There behind the veil Where the gods, my brothers, linger. Hail, forever, hail!
~ from A book of English literature, Volume 2, Franklyn Bliss Snyder, Robert Grant Martin, 1935, p.739.
George William Russell (10 April 1867 – 17 July 1935) who wrote under the pseudonym ¯ (sometimes written AE or A.E.), was an Irish nationalist, writer, editor, critic, poet, and painter. He was also a mystical writer, and centre of a group of followers of theosophy in Dublin, for many years. The most prominent Dublin mystic of the day, AE introduced the major Irish Revival writers to Theosophy and Indian philosophy. Besides his passion for mystical experience, he worked to promote Ireland's birth as a cosmopolitan culture and modern nation. His first book of poems, Homeward: Songs by the Way (1894), established him in what was known as the Irish Literary Revival, where AE met the young James Joyce in 1902 and introduced him to other Irish literary figures, including William Butler Yeats, to whom he was close. He appears as a character in the "Scylla and Charybdis" episode of Joyce's Ulysses, where he dismisses Stephen's theories on Shakespeare. His collected poems appeared in 1913, with a second edition in 1926. AE:
"So did I feel one warm summer day lying idly on the hillside, not then thinking of anything but the sunlight, and how sweet it was to drowse there, when, suddenly, I felt a fiery heart throb, and knew it was personal and intimate, and started with every sense dilated and intent, and turned inwards, and I heard first a music as of bells going away, away into that wondrous underland whither. as legend relates, the Danaan gods withdrew; and then the heart of the hills was opened to me, and I knew there was no hill for those who were there, and they were unconscious of the ponderous mountain piled above the palaces of light, and the winds were sparkling and diamond clear, yet full of colour as an opal, as they glittered through the valley, and I knew the Golden Age was all about me, and it was we who had been blind to it but that it had never passed away from the world..."
"Once, suddenly, I found myself on some remote plain or steppe, and heard unearthly chimes pealing passionately from I know not what far steeples. The earth-breath streamed from the furrows to the glowing heavens. Overhead the birds flew round and round crying their incomprehensible cries, as if they were maddened, and knew not where to nestle, and had dreams of some more enraptured rest in a. diviner home. I could see a ploughman lifting himself from his obscure toil and stand with lit eyes as if he too had been fire-smitten and was caught into heaven as I was, and knew for that moment he was a god..."
The motive, diamonds being fished from the ocean, is an old Indian fable. We meet it in the Supparaka-jataka, No. 463 in the famous Pali collection of Buddha's birth-stories. According to this legend, the diamonds are to be found in the Khuramala Sea. The Bodhisatva was on board ship, acting as skipper for a party of merchants: "The Great Being reflected, that if he told them this was a diamond sea, they would sink the ship in their greed by collecting the diamonds. So he told them nothing; but having brought the ship to, he got a rope, and lowered a net as if to catch fish. With this he brought in a haul of diamonds, and stored them in the ship; then he caused the wares of little value to be cast overboard." ~ The Jâtaka: or, Stories of the Buddha's Former Births, Volume 4, Edward Byles Cowell, 1901.
Then take me disappearin’ through the smoke rings of my mind, Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves, The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach, Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow. Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free, Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands, With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves, Let me forget about today until tomorrow.
Finally, the narrator hopes for a peaceful slumber. Driven mad by visions (”Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves/ The haunted frightened trees…”), no longer in full possession of his faculty after his encounter with Cthulhu (”With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves”) the narrator hopes only to “forget about today until tomorrow”. This verse is sung in a carefree style, as if the narrator were speaking of an innocent desire to forget his worries, sing and dance to the tune of a carefree wandered. As this analysis has shown, nothing could be further from the truth. The narrator is living a life of madness punctuated by intermittent moments of clarity. Only the peace of death, or giving in to the mindless ravings that often overtake him, will allow him to be free of his chtonic burdens. asociologist.wordpress.com/2009/04/20/mr-tambourine-man-enchanting-song-or-warning-of-the-return-of-the-old-ones-a-textual-analysis/
The chorus: Look at the light, all the time it’s a changing Look at the light, climbing up the aerial Bright, white coming alive jumping off of the aerial All the time it’s a changing, like now... All the time it’s a changing, like then again... All the time it’s a changing And all the dreamers are waking...
It seems to me that if you could teach a child, or better yet, his teacher, how to see, how, for instance, to look at the light changing on a building from hour to hour, you'd have something. Art is a visual experience, and can't be expressed in words, except for a highly sophisticated audience. Only the most accomplished professional thinking should be let loose on our children and their teachers. ~ The Art Museum as Educator, 1978
What is the nature of knowledge? And of ignorance? The Allegory of the Cave is a fictional dialogue between Plato's teacher Socrates and Plato's brother Glaucon, used by the Greek philosopher Plato in his work The Republic to illustrate "our nature in its education and want of education", and the difference between genuine knowledge and opinion or belief, and, by extension, multimedia smoke screens and projections.
Inside the cave: Socrates begins by describing a scenario in which what people take to be real would in fact be an illusion. He asks Glaucon to imagine a cave inhabited by prisoners who have been chained and held immobile since childhood: not only are their arms and legs held in place, but their heads are also fixed, compelled to gaze at a wall in front of them. Behind the prisoners is an enormous fire, and between the fire and the prisoners is a raised walkway, along which people walk carrying things on their heads "including figures of men and animals made of wood, stone and other materials" The prisoners can only watch the shadows cast by the men, not knowing they are shadows. There are also echoes off the wall from the noise produced from the walkway. Socrates asks if it is not reasonable that the prisoners would take the shadows to be real things and the echoes to be real sounds, not just reflections of reality, since they are all they had ever seen or heard. Wouldn't they praise as clever whoever could best guess which shadow would come next, as someone who understood the nature of the world? And wouldn't the whole of their society depend on the shadows on the wall?
Release from the cave: Socrates next introduces something new to this scenario. Suppose that a prisoner is freed and permitted to stand up. If someone were to show him the things that had cast the shadows, he would not recognize them for what they were and could not name them; he would believe the shadows on the wall to be more real than what he sees. "Suppose further", Socrates says, "that the man was compelled to look at the fire: wouldn't he be struck blind and try to turn his gaze back toward the shadows, as toward what he can see clearly and hold to be real? What if someone forcibly dragged such a man upward, out of the cave: wouldn't the man be angry at the one doing this to him? And if dragged all the way out into the sunlight, wouldn't he be distressed and unable to see "even one of the things now said to be true", viz. the shadows on the wall (516a)? After some time on the surface, however, Socrates suggests that the freed prisoner would acclimate. He would see more and more things around him, until he could look upon the Sun. He would understand that the Sun is the "source of the seasons and the years, and is the steward of all things in the visible place, and is in a certain way the cause of all those things he and his companions had been seeing" (516b–c). (See also Plato's metaphor of the Sun, which occurs near the end of The Republic, Book VI)
Return to the cave: Socrates next asks Glaucon to consider the condition of this man. "Wouldn't he remember his first home, what passed for wisdom there, and his fellow prisoners, and consider himself happy and them pitiable? And wouldn't he disdain whatever honors, praises, and prizes were awarded there to the ones who guessed best which shadows followed which? Moreover, were he to return there, wouldn't he be rather bad at their game, no longer being accustomed to the darkness? "Wouldn't it be said of him that he went up and came back with his eyes corrupted, and that it's not even worth trying to go up? And if they were somehow able to get their hands on and kill the man who attempts to release and lead up, wouldn't they kill him?" (517a)
Remarks on the allegory: Socrates remarks that this allegory can be taken with what was said before, viz. the metaphor of the Sun, and the divided line. In particular, he likens "the region revealed through sight" — the ordinary objects we see around us — "to the prison home, and the light of the fire in it to the power of the Sun. And in applying the going up and the seeing of what's above to the soul's journey to the intelligible place, you not mistake my expectation, since you desire to hear it. A god doubtless knows if it happens to be true. At all events, this is the way the phenomena look to me: in the region of the knowable the last thing to be seen, and that with considerable effort, is the idea of good; but once seen, it must be concluded that this is indeed the cause for all things of all that is right and beautiful — in the visible realm it give birth to light and its sovereign; in the intelligible realm, itself sovereign, it provided truth and intelligence — and that the man who is going to act prudently in private or in public must see it" (517b-c). After "returning from divine contemplations to human evils", a man "is graceless and looks quite ridiculous when — with his sight still dim and before he has gotten sufficiently accustomed to the surrounding darkness — he is compelled in courtrooms or elsewhere to contend about the shadows of justice or the representations of which they are the shadows, and to dispute about the way these things are understood by men who have never seen justice itself?" (517d-e)
This extract concerns the Release from the cave, when the freed prisoner would be able to look upon the sun itself and see its true nature...
“Consider, then, what would be the manner of the release and healing from these bonds and this folly if in the course of nature something of this sort should happen to them: When one was freed from his fetters and compelled to stand up suddenly and turn his head around and walk and to lift up his eyes to the light, and in doing all this felt pain and, because of the dazzle and glitter of the light, was unable to discern the objects whose shadows he formerly saw, what do you suppose would be his answer if someone told him that what he had seen before was all a cheat and an illusion, but that now, being nearer to reality and turned toward more real things, he saw more truly? And if also one should point out to him each of the passing objects and constrain him by questions to say what it is, do you not think that he would be at a loss and that he would regard what he formerly saw as more real than the things now pointed out to him?” “Far more real,” he said. “And if he were compelled to look at the light itself, would not that pain his eyes, and would he not turn away and flee to those things which he is able to discern and regard them as in very deed more clear and exact than the objects pointed out?” “It is so,” he said. “And if,” said I, “someone should drag him thence by force up the ascent which is rough and steep, and not let him go before he had drawn him out into the light of the sun, do you not think that he would find it painful to be so hauled along, and would chafe at it, and when he came out into the light, that his eyes would be filled with its beams so that he would not be able to see even one of the things that we call real?” “Why, no, not immediately,” he said. “Then there would be need of habituation, I take it, to enable him to see the things higher up. And at first he would most easily discern the shadows and, after that, the likenesses or reflections in water of men and other things, and later, the things themselves, and from these he would go on to contemplate the appearances in the heavens and heaven itself, more easily by night, looking at the light of the stars and the moon, than by day the sun and the sun’s light.” “Of course.” “And so, finally, I suppose, he would be able to look upon the sun itself and see its true nature, not by reflections in water or phantasms of it in an alien setting, but in and by itself in its own place.” “Necessarily,” he said. “And at this point he would infer and conclude that this it is that provides the seasons and the courses of the year and presides over all things in the visible region, and is in some sort the cause of all these things that they had seen.” “Obviously,” he said, “that would be the next step.”
~ "The Allegory of the Cave", Excerpt from Plato, Republic, Book VII, 515-516. Translated by Paul Shorey (Loeb Classical Library/Perseus Project).
I walk, I only, Not I only wake; Nothing is, this sweet night, But doth couch and wake For its love's sake; Everything, this sweet night, Couches with its mate. For whom but for the stealthy-visitant sun Is the naked moon Tremulous and elate? The heaven hath the earth Its own and all apart; The hush-ed pool holdeth A star to its heart. You may think the rose sleepeth, But though she folded is, The wind doubts her sleeping; Not all the rose sleeps, But smiles in her sweet heart For crafty bliss. The wind lieth with the rose, And when he stirs, she stirs in her repose: The wind hath the rose, And the rose her kiss. Ah, mouth of me! Is it then that this Seemeth much to thee?-- I wander only. The rose hath her kiss.
~ from Hound of Heaven and Other Poems, by Francis Thompson (1978).
THE moon looks in upon me through the casement And creeping round to where I lie at gaze, Wide-eyed, and wait in vain coy sleep's embracement, Upon my face her ghostly fingers lays.
I know that sign; she wills me rise and follow Her feet; she lures me with her lamp of white, Till at the window, o'er the wooded hollow, I stand and look upon the silver night.
Pale lies the world and pure as a dead maiden; No birdsong breaks the silence, thrush or merle: The woodlands lie and slumber, heavy-laden With dreams, beneath a dreaming sea of pearl.
From out that moony sea how many a hoping Fain would I raise, that is for ever sped; I go among old memories seeking, groping For what I know is buried with the dead.
Still the moon calls me. What to wait availeth For sleep unanswering? Better forth to go, To wander 'twere, before her fair light faileth, Before her horn th' horizon dips below.
White moon, thou ever wast my friend and lover; Ne'er have I asked in vain for aid from thee; Still all my toils and troubles didst thou cover And drown'dst my sorrows in thy silver sea.
The doors stand barless all; the gates are gaping; The ways are open to the open night, Fulfilled with figures of the moonlight's shaping: So forth I fare into a world of white.
In the wild park I stray, where all is sleeping, Save in the dreaming avenue of elms, Where down the moonlit aisles the ghosts are sweeping, That may not rest in sleep's sepulchral realms.
Like me, they watch and wake whilst all else sleepeth; Like me, the backward, not the forward ways, They tread; like me, they sow when all else reapeth; Like me, they love the nights and not the days.
Like me, outsetting know they, not arriving; Like me, the night's their day, the moon their sun; Like me, for ever, ever are they striving To make the done undone, the undone done.
Among the ghosts I wander, dreaming, deeming, Mid ghosts and dreams myself a dreaming ghost, In the loud world of men a thing of seeming, A wandering wraith amid a living host.
The silence solace brings to thought and feeling; The quiet fills my bleeding heart with balm; The moon upon my wounds pours oils of healing; My cares are half-forgotten in the calm.
But lo! across the hills the dark is breaking; The breeze of dawn sighs shrilly through the trees; The world, so sweet that slept and dreamt, is waking, To run its round of travail and unease.
And them, who needs must wake, whilst others slumber, Who, whilst all rest, the weapon-watch must keep, Will the blue morning quit thee of thy cumber? Shall the day wind thee in the woofs of sleep?
Nay, for thou ever wast a doubter, dreamer, And he whose feet the paths of vision tread Was ever out of grace with Sleep the Seemer; She hath no crown of poppies for his head.
John Payne (1842 - 1917) was an English poet and translator, from Devon. Initially he pursued a legal career, and associated with Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Later he became involved with limited edition publishing, and the Villon Society. He is best known for his translation of the Diwan Hafez and praises Hafez as the greatest poet of the world. He has also known for his translation of Boccaccio's Decameron and The Arabian Nights.