The Lost Room

3071 Dec. 72

 

For those of you who like a nice season of what do the little people do when they run into the deeply weird, I highly recommend a made for TV mini-series called “The Lost Room”. I believe it had hopes of a second session, but never went on. That is why I like to call it a mini-series, although it was not designed as such. A strange event has happened in a motel room, leaving objects scattered about that ­­are fragments of some greater power and possessing little powers all their own. It is another look at what has floated through film for years; what happens when someone is given god-like powers?

I bring it up because something crossed my mind the other day. The image of the single room as a metaphor for humanity’s view of the universe. Plato has his cave of shadows, I present to you the room.

Picture a person inside a room. It can be any shape, a cube, a cuboid, even a dodecahedron: any three dimensional shape with walls. On each of these walls, there are doors: wood doors, metal doors, sliding doors, but they are all locked from the outside, and there is no key. Each wall also has a window, but the curtains are drawn from the outside. They cannot be opened. Maybe some of them have black out curtains.

There is a light switch somewhere outside the room, and someone, or something turns it on and off on some kind of regular schedule. The light source can be seen, maybe it is a beautiful chandelier. Maybe it is a bare bulb on a bit of insulated wire. It helps regulate when you sleep and when you wake.

The person in the room has everything they need to be happy. There are other people if they want them; there are no people if they do not. There are games. There is food. There is adventure. There is peace. It is all there.

They really do not need to know what is outside the room, but one night they stay awake after dark and notice that through the curtains a little light seeps in, at least with some of the windows, others do not. Sometimes there is a little light under the door. They begin to wonder what is out there. They do not have to, but humans seem to do that.

It becomes one of their games, their conversations. Why light in some windows, not in others? Why do the windows and doors not open? Is it all an illusion? Is the light under control, or does it just work like that? The windows and doors and lights could just be there for no reason. How can we find out?

I cannot help but think that things have changed since Plato’s cave metaphor. Our reality, at least my own, has become much more inside/outside oriented based on the idea of the room rather than on the room itself.   Was Plato’s cave of shadows based upon a real cave and observation, or was it an idea of an idea. My room metaphor seems to be a construct of a construct. Has the X number of years of humanity stepping back from the natural world allowed us to make more use of ideas about ideas, and has our ability to observe the world around us and to draw theories from it been blunted by lack of use? Maybe that is why I have such a hard time with extrapolating substrata in geology while looking at a surface in the world, too many preconceive ideas.

I have watched more and more movies based on videogames, not on real events. There have been movies based on books probably since the beginning of film. If not books, then the pulp magazines.  So these would be made up stories about made up stories.  Maybe this is why film has a classification called documentaries.  I might even through in the “based on a true event” films as made up stories about stories.

It was over Thanksgiving that I ran into my my niece and nephew, they are much bigger than the last time I saw them. They are in high school and college now. One of them had just discovered Plato’s cave and were just as intrigued by the picture as I was when I first heard it. I never did get around to asking if they had heard the one about Socrates being shown writing for the first time, and him saying this looked like a bad idea. People could learn things without having the wisdom to use or not use them. I think that story was attributed to Xenophon, but I have yet been able to source it.

So I have a metaphor of a room. It is based on an idea of a room, not drawn from some experience of a room. As a writer, I wonder if that is as good of a mechanism for telling a tale, or is it better to have a real, slap in the face contact event to draw upon than just an idea.

The preface of “Lyric Ballads” talks about powerful emotion remembered in moments of calm. So it would seem they favor the experience over the idea. I favor it myself, but my inner Hobbit is less enthusiastic to those “nasty uncomfortable things that make you late for dinner”.   It has been that way most of my life. Maybe it has to do my frail younger years, and I turned inward. Then I was forced by life to turn outward.

The question remains to be explored: metaphor of metaphor, or life creating metaphor? I lean toward gnostic learning, personal contact. What is your take?

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About johnsmithiiimxiii

John Smith, IIMXIII is the avatar of an award winning poet, artist, etc. who still lives in the Palouse country of the Pacific NW. He has not received much notice with his prose . . . but as his avatar, I hope that he keeps plugging along.

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