Smart through music

Le rock et le pop, ça rend intélligent. Avec une discussion du mythe de la caverne.

  • 2004-11-24

Rock and Pop, that is. We knew already that your brain’s boosted by listening to Bach and Brahms.

There is, at the very least, quite a bit of anecdotal evidence suggesting that the task of decoding allusions in their favourite songs can send kids to the library or have them start earnest dinner-table discussions with their families.

For me, this offers the occasion to share what I believe is the funniest pop culture allusion to Plato’s allegory of the cave. It’s in the song No One Knows My Plan on They Might Be Giants’ album John Henry:

When I made a shadow on my window shade
They called the police and testified
But they’re like the people chained up in the cave
In the allegory of the people in the cave by the Greek guy

And I looked up the story of John Henry, too.

Note, in passing, that this particular chunk of Plato’s philosophy (to be found at the beginning of book 7 of his Republic) goes by quite a variety of names. In English, in addition to allegory I have found (the) analogy (of the cave). Analogy comes close to what the Germans use: Gleichnis (which I’d translate as parable, but there’s something to be said for analogy, since gleich means equal). In France, it is refered to as a myth, le mythe de la caverne. I got laughed at when I tried my luck with la parabole de la cave. My friends must have thought I was talking about how not to install satellite TV. In Plato’s thext, though, this comes out as storytelling and is presented as a, well, Gedankenexperiment. You can read it here.

Related posts: Björk, Analysons Brassens, Pensée nocturne

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