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Jon Hamm Narrates a Modernized Model of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, Serving to to Diagnose Our Social Media-Induced Narcissism


The Matrix gave a technology or two purpose to rethink, or certainly first to think about, Plato’s allegory of the cave. That era-defining blockbuster’s cavalcade of slick visible results got here delivered atop a plot about humanity’s having been enslaved — plugged right into a colossal machine, as I recall, like an array of residing batteries — whereas satisfied by a direct-to-brain simulation that it wasn’t. Right here in actual life, about two and a half millennia earlier, certainly one of Plato’s dialogues had conjured up a not-dissimilar state of affairs. You possibly can see it retold in the video above, a clip drawn from a type as consultant of the early Twenty first century as The Matrix‘s was of the late twentieth: Legion, a dramatic tv collection based mostly on a comic book guide.

“Think about a cave, the place these inside by no means see the skin world,” says narrator Jon Hamm (himself an icon of our Golden Age of Tv, because of his lead efficiency in Mad Males). “As a substitute, they see shadows of that world projected on the cave wall. The world they see within the shadows shouldn’t be the true world, however it’s actual to them. In the event you have been to indicate them the world because it really is, they’d reject it as incomprehensible.” Then, Hamm suggests transposing this relationship to actuality into life as we all know it — or somewhat, as we two-dimensionally understand it on the screens of our telephones. However “not like the allegory of the cave, the place the persons are actual and the shadows are false, right here different persons are the shadows.”

This propagates “the delusion of the narcissist, who believes that they alone are actual. Their emotions are the one emotions that matter, as a result of different persons are simply shadows, and shadows don’t really feel.” And “if everybody lived in caves, then nobody could be actual. Not even you.” With the rise of digital communication usually and social media specifically, an important many people have ensconced ourselves, by levels and for probably the most half unconsciously, inside caves of our personal. Over the previous decade or so, more and more sobering glimpses of the skin world have motivated a few of us to hunt diagnoses of our collective situation from thinkers of the previous, comparable to social theorist Christopher Lasch.

“The brand new narcissist is haunted not by guilt however by nervousness,” Lasch writes The Tradition of Narcissism. “Liberated from the superstitions of the previous, he doubts even the truth of his personal existence” — wonders, in different phrases, whether or not he isn’t one of many shadows himself. However, he stays “facile at managing the impressions he offers to others, ravenous for admiration however contemptuous of these he manipulates into offering it,” and depending on “fixed infusions of approval and admiration.” Social media has revealed traces of this persona, belonging to at least one who “sees the world as a mirror of himself and has no real interest in exterior occasions besides as they throw again a mirrored image of his personal picture,” in us all. It thus offers us pause to do not forget that Lasch was writing all this within the Nineteen Seventies; however then, Plato was writing within the fifth century B.C.

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Primarily based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and tradition. His tasks embody the guide The Stateless Metropolis: a Stroll by means of Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video collection The Metropolis in Cinema. Comply with him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Faceboook.



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