I am in chains, held prisoner in a cave. Iron fittings hold my head so that I can only look ahead of me, where dark objects appear and move on the far wall. During what I know as the night, I see mostly people and the objects they hold; their figures jump and flicker erratically. During the morning a stately forest takes its place in my field of vision, the tall noble trees standing firmly and then drifting to the left as they slowly shrink back into the ground over the course of about two hours.
Suddenly I hear noises behind me and see a new human figure on the wall, waving his arms and shouting incomprehensible things about “reality.” A few moments later, I have what I assume is a hallucinatory vision. Something like a man appears before me, only he is more than a man. Where men are all the color of the rock in the cave wall, only darker, this man has many colors. The colors make shapes appear where I never imagined shapes could be; you may think I am mad, but this man has details in his inside. No, it is not the inside, either. But if you can imagine a man lowering his arms to his hips and then think of where his hips would be within that dark outline, you might have an idea of what I see on this bizarre figure. Stranger yet, he seems to occupy a new, third dimension: some of these features appear closer to me than others, and – I wouldn’t blame you if you quit reading after you hear this news from the halls of insanity – he can move his arm not just up and down or to the side but across his middle without having it disappear, and then he can move it toward me and cause an urgent physical sensation on my chest.
“My name is Plato,” he says, “and I am here to free you and show you the reality beyond the shadows.”
“I know not what shadows are, friend,” I reply, “and I already understand reality – or thought I did. But you have already shown me a dimension I had never before imagined possible. So release me and teach me.”
“I am a man,” Plato says, “and the shapes of men you see on the cave wall are cast by such as I when we step in front of a source of light. The shapes you have seen all your life are but the shadows of things more real.”
“I have heard of light from my captors. They say it is the space between objects, that it is nothingness.”
“Nothing could be farther from the truth,” he says. “Light is the source by which you see all that you have seen. The shadows you call men are actually the spaces – the spaces between the light, and they are as nothing compared to it. Even the vibrant, three-dimensional Plato you see before you now comes to your eyes because of light. Come, let me show you.”
The chains fall from my limbs, and Plato takes me by the hand. I have seen people hold hands on the wall, but I have never felt it. We walk a while; he tells me we are walking out of the cave. How one can walk out of the world, I do not understand. But that I am leaving all I have ever known, I have no doubt, for suddenly I must close my eyes because of a strange, overpowering sensation.
“What do you see?” he asks me.
“Nothing.” I answer. “You said you would show me things, but you have blinded me instead.”
The story continues here.