Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Come Out of the Cave

As a writer I have to think deeply about my characters inner lives, their archetypal journey and how they grow. And then I have to ‘show not tell’ what new insights they have as a result of that journey.

I’ve recently been thinking about the Allegory of the Cave that Plato used to teach about thinking deeper; using your cognitive abilities (and all your senses) to get out from the influence of those who want you to think a certain way; who try to manipulate you for their ends. Propaganda. Fake news.

No, I’m not getting political—because politics is another ‘weapon’ in the toolbox of propaganda used to influence us. The Allegory of the Cave goes like this:

A group of people were chained inside a cave from birth, never having seen the outside world. Their only exposure was to shadows reflected on a wall before them, caused by puppets creating stories before lanterns on a ledge behind them. The people could only see the shadows. Elaborate stories were enacted by these puppets to create a reality for the chained people.


At some point they were unchained and freed to go out of the cave into the light. They were told about the real world that existed outside. But the light outside hurt their eyes and they didn’t want to go to see this ‘other world’ that sounded overwhelming and scary. What little they saw was too much for them. So some chose to stay in their cave and continue to believe that their reality of the shadows was the better reality, the safer one, the real one.



The world today is changing quickly. The upside down world is being revealed and many do not want to look at it. For many, the change is too great and they rather stay in their cave of misunderstanding and not open their eyes to the changes happening.

Last post I suggested the character of Heyoka may be in the White House. If, as we are told by quantum physics that we are all one and connected, then we may have called forth this archetype at this time in history to prod us to change. Whether you like him or hate him, he is causing changes to happen directly and indirectly by default and by our reactions.

There are things happening ‘in the light outside the cave’ that we are being readied to see. Some do not want to see what that is, and some are eagerly making the changes necessary to digest this new world that is coming into being. It will be disruptive and uncomfortable but it is coming.

And just like the series Stranger Things, the upside down world is seeping out and we have to deal with it, or it will destroy us. The puppet shadows we thought were real are illusions. A new world is being born and we need to be brave enough to go outside the cave and see its reality.

That, writers, is an example of showing and not telling. Did it get you involved? Did you picture the cave? Did it get you thinking deeper? Did is drum up some emotions and engage you? Then think about how you can use that in your writing to go deeper.

In my novel, Dance the Dream Awake, I touch on alternate realities that seep into our world to wake us up. Have you had incidents of déjà vu and/or synchronicities that cause you to stop and think? Share them if you dare.

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