Plato put up a short video of his lecture ON THE GOOD on youtube last week, and it's no exaggeration to say that the internet's been having fun with it ever since. (I'd recommend searching for "Plato AND Downfall" and read The Onion and their "Old man in subway wonders why no one will talk to him"). I'm not qualified to discuss the contents of the video, but have noticed that no one around here has posted anything, so thought I might publish some comments taken from around teh internets. If anyone wants to write a proper factual writeup of this thing, well, please do.
Plato is of course head of the Academy which is one of those groups which are insanely and disturbingly popular with Hollywood actors - I'd remind you all of the 2008 video that made its way to youtube in which Tom Cruise talks about what the Academy means to him. Other than that most people have a vague idea of what the Academy teaches, but don't know any details. Something called Forms are important to them, and I don't know what else. Which brings us to the latest video. 24 hours before it went online, the official Academy twitter account (@Socrates), tweeted that they were planning to release a "bombshell" and that everyone should get ready to hear what they've been working on all these years.
Sounds exciting, right?
Wrong. It was a bombshell alright, but not what they had in mind. A PR disaster. Why they thought it would be a good idea is beyond me. In my opinion Plato's started to loose his grip on the Academy in recent years - note that all follow up remarks to the media have come from Plato's nephew's office, not from Plato himself - and that this was a final attempt to control the Academy's future.
If you haven't watched "On the Good" yet then do so now. At 24minutes it's probably longer than most of you will be willing to stomach, so check out the 3minute montage clip that's going around. Oh, and even if you have seen the whole thing, check out the "Plato in 15 seconds flat" clip ;).
Onto the comments:
First of all on youtube: Youtube, youtube, you cesspool of asinine hatred, non-existent spelling, and acronyms; bless you all. In the first hundred comments on one page I tallied 28 with strong homophobic connotation1, and another 59 that were one word - mostly wtf and lmao!!1!
There were a few that were, insightful, or at least relatively so, and I've copied two of them here.
@[another commenter] y wud u say that?? my grandfather was a chaplin in the US army for 17yrs and has been to vitnam and korea wars. he never spoke about his time in the wars but he must have seen alot oif his friends died during the wars. 1nce he gave a talk to our church and he said that his faithe was wat made him come home. i dont agree with wat plato and his acadame says about God, but dont just say that bc u dont understand it then it dosn't make sense.
I've seen this sentiment repeated elsewhere, and I think it's something that many religious groups - especially in countries in America - are struggling with. It doesn't make things easier when Christopher Hitchens writes in Slate that "Plato's outburst is a call to the carpenter to hurry up with that coffin. Religion in the West is a secret joke ... we can't talk about it in public and when someone does we look away as quickly as possible".
[Cut out first few lines about whether Plato's talk about "the One" has been taken out of context in the edited clip] I've known The Academy and its teachings for over two years and during that time it has given me a lot of peace. Three years ago my wife left me and took the kids with her. I spent the next 8 months drinking and loosing all my friends until the Academy took me in and helped me make my way again. I'm not a member and I don't plan to be. I'll be the first to admit that a lot about the Academy is problematic, but a lot of it isn't. Everyone's so surprised about Plato's speech. Why? What were expecting? There are a million self-help books out there, but the world's still messed up - the GFC proves that. I can't explain it here but try and be open minded about it, maybe there's something to ON THE GOOD after all. If you're interested please email me at sam dot owl at gmail dot com
I did email him and he sent a stock email saying that his email's been flooded by a mix of hate mail and positive requests. He advises interested parties to go to his website - http://myacademy.blogspot.com - which you can do for yourself, although note that comments have been turned off.
And honestly I wonder whether after all the mess "On the Good" will actually be good for the Academy. "Watch this spot" I guess.
Before wrapping up I'd like to copy out a snippet from the Lyceum's newsletter. I came across it by accident while trawling through twitter's #Onthegood. From what I can tell - i.e. Wikipedia - the Lyceum's some sort of think tank. Here ([link]):
Some of our old friends recently tried to discuss their ideas in the public. Although we don't agree with them, we do sympathize. Today it is necessary to say what you'll say before you say it. As a case in point: hardly any one today would go see a film about which they know absolutely nothing. When did this happen? A hundred years ago so many things were uncertain. My great grandparents fled to Australia without knowing anything about it, they knew only that it was another place. That, admittedly is an extreme case, but surely you see my point. People used to do things that were unknown, that was the point. Today if something is not prepacked with a blurb on top and sign posts all around then we won't ever know it. We can't and we so we mock those things. Plato is wrong (see last week's article by our editor) - but that's not the reason he has been ridiculed. For this reason I am pleased to report that yesterday's meeting unanimously voted that our official policy is that we the Lyceum evaluate "On the Good" as an important public resource and are critical of its negative reception...
1 Plato and boys = one topic I'm not going anywhere near. Want to ruin your next Thanksgiving dinner, bring this up.
Actual references: Wikipedia and Plato's Enigmatic Lecture 'On the Good' by Konrad Gaiser in Phronesis 25(1):5-37 [link].