Above image from http://www.jpaulneeley.com/process.html
To remove a single ring from the image above would be to change it, to effect each and every aspect of it. Like a thread hanging from a sweater that promises, if pulled, it will behave, only to wrench some inner joint of the fabric, so is it for me to write on a Platonic dialogue.
What I can discuss in class in the context of conversation, that is, with all the intuitive incompleteness and interchange implied in speech, becomes, in the written form, a betrayal and an impossibility. Without past conversations, without the promise of future development, it is nearly impossible to draw a single thread cleanly from the pattern without snapping it off from that which gives it life and distorting the whole.
This is why many of the greatest writers on Plato, themselves wrote in a dialogue form, surrendering to the incompleteness of human speech, and thus inviting the greater completeness of dialogue (which itself points to a Logos which remains transcendent even as it is the source and context of all our words).
There is a certain phenomena which C.S. Lewis knew well. To understand, we must abstract, analyze, rearrange, isolate, but in doing so we are further from the thing itself. Ultimately, this kind of intellectual modeling or mapping helps us see the thing, as long as it is never confused for that thing. This is the meaning of the New Critic, Cleanth Brook’s essay The Heresy of Paraphrase.
All good work, and especially the best works present us with this difficulty. It is the difficulty of encountering things bigger than ourselves–that is, the difficulty of encountering on the page that which we encounter in life.
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