chapter  5
43 Pages

The numinous realm

ByP. C. Sandler

Roland rubbed his eyes. “My eyes do trouble me rather. Do you know, I think I must have fallen asleep. I do that sometimes; it goes in a flash. Mostly people don’t notice but sometimes I think they do because they look at me so queerly. Or perhaps it is the dream that I have and forget. It goes in a flash.” Tom seemed to be changing every second into someone whom he knew well, but could not remember. It was awkward that he did not know his name. One of his colleagues too! “Call him ‘Colin’ to myself, but must remember not to say it out loud. It will do for the dream or whatever this is. If it isn’t too high-falutin’ it reminds me of the shadows on the walls in Plato’s cave. You remember”, he said aloud, “that Plato had an idea that what we call reality were really shadows cast on a wall of a very dark cave in which men were sitting, chained, with their backs to a bright light entering the cave from an opening that they couldn’t see, but only were aware of by the shadows that they thought were reality. Well, Plato thought that ‘things’, as we call them, and people are really a kind of precipitation of the ‘Forms’. The Forms (either the concept, or, in so far as concepts cannot be called ‘empty thoughts’, the ‘things-in-themselves’), the ‘noumena’, were not understandable. Plato seemed to think that the 116Socratic Greeks might at least understand the parable of the cave. But between then and now many hundreds of people have tried, oh, ‘ever so hard’, to understand what it means. And some people, like Jesus, have continued the naive idea. ‘If you can’t understand the parable, what am I to tell you?’ he complained when his disciples were not stupid enough to be simple. All that they could do was to decide that Jesus was God and shut him up under a tombstone of heavy, cold, religious adoration. I suppose they were foolish enough to suppose that they could get their shot in first before the opponents, who said they had known him from childhood and he was a carpenter’s son and they were all so fond of him—why! They were his loving brothers and sisters! It was just brotherly love, and no less an authority than Jesus himself had admitted you couldn’t have one who loved you more than a father or brothers or sisters. (Though even he preferred a Father in Heaven and not one at too close quarters.) They had only come to save him because he was beside himself. Or in plain Aramaic, ‘nuts’. Well, since then that story has been taken up, whenever it has one of its periods of volcanic activity, by the scientists and the protagonists of the looney bin, the tomb robbers and the tomb builders, the religious outfit and the scientific blackguards who try to keep the humanists and artists and poets under control by murder; sometimes with ‘loving adoration’ and sometimes with Herodic anxiety to find out where the dangerous embryo is, so that they can worship it to death. Of course, they were crude, but methods have become refined. The ‘tool-making animal’ found out that tools were very useful and anyone could learn to use a tool and no one need know how the tool was being used if it could be covered and hidden. That is where women were so clever. They had an invisible tool and the man had a visible and useless prick. Come, let us find it so we can worship also. So … well, some genius had to discover some way in which lying, deception, evasion and their opposites could be used without detection and how ‘truth’ and noumena-robbing were to be kept inviolate and inviolable. The ‘discovery’ was, in its early stages, difficult because it was so vulnerable. Lying and deception were exposed, usually by some blundering child who could see that the emperor had no clothes, until it had been educated to know better. Hullo! Hullo! No one here? Must have been talking to myself. Well, it’s all practice I suppose!” [I: 46–8]