"Next, I say, here is a parable to illustrate the degrees in which our nature may be enlightened or unenlightened" (134).
Plato's Allegory of the Cave introduces the notion that passive living is a grave disservice to the self. Consciousness- defined as a subjective state that does not objectively conceptualize visual phenomena-is apt to interpret and structure a world all its own, filled with the imperfections and the limitations of the human condition.
"[The society] may well seem upside down because you occupy its lowest level-and deservedly so..."
Planet of the Apes puts the human race blindly into Plato's cave and asks the viewership to take heed of a satire distinctly relevant and repulsing. How does one deserve to occupy a societal basement? How does one earn ascension? What is merit?
Plato's Allegory- a parable enumerating the journey of a man who breaks the literal and metaphorical chains that bind him in a box of ignorance to see the light- and Planet of the Apes (1968)- the memoir of a man crash-landed upon a planet of "civilized" apes where the biological norms are drastically inverted- both deal directly with perception. Perception, as defined by these two works, is the most important vehicle for truth.
"And if he were forced to look at the fire-light itself, would not his eyes ache, so that he would try to escape and turn back to the things …clearer than these other objects now being shown to him?
Yes, they finally really did it. Colonel Taylor dejectedly beholding the Statue of Liberty at the end of the shore is a capsule of a man wholly shocked by the unforeseeable truth. Plato asked: "What do you think [one exposed to such an enlightenment] would say, if someone told him that what he had formerly seen was meaningless illusion, but now, being somewhere nearer to reality and turned toward… a truer view?" (135). How much more satiable for Taylor would have been the persistence of his ignorance? That his sadistic dissent with the plight of man would have proven unwarranted? That this foreign planet so corrupted by classism and brutality was not the future of his own? Taylor and the enlightened captive in Plato's allegory have one major distinction- Taylor has been left in a sort of dead end whereas the captive gradually adjusts to the at first difficult reality and realizes its beauty. These works set before us the dichotomy of those who see the ultimate truth.
Consider for a moment the predicament of a man awaiting the execution of his sentence to death by lethal injection a mere week away. The everyday events of the non-condemned seem incredibly trivial and the only events that now matter to the condemned are those of self-actualization: placing a capstone on foundational relationships, making peace with your theological convictions, preparing for the time when he must say goodbye to all he has ever known.
Now consider the fate of an individual told by a Committee as soon as he is old enough to reason he will, at an unknown time, be taken by said Committee and put to death by an unknown method. He is told that while the time is partially determined by factors within his control, its coming is largely random and no amount of preparation can wholly divert him from the imminence of their summon.
Are not both on death row? Why are their predicaments so different? In both cases the mundane appears theoretically worthless. Both face a certain, unavoidable physical death that they know is ruthlessly encroaching. But the indefiniteness of the latter situation seems to make trivial endeavors to be consciously bearable while exercise means little to a man headed to the gurney. In order to make the unbearable realities of life more consciously allowable, there must be an element of uncertainty. Where there is unknown there is hope that one can shape that vast uncertainty into a future one can respectfully live with, even if the Committee came knocking at their door tomorrow.