Plato’s Cave and the Truth of Secret History
By Jafe Arnold
“Secret history.” This term, or rather notion, evokes passionate intuitions and suspicions. For some, “secret history” immediately rings like a provocative slogan, behind which lurks a Pandora’s box of “conspiracy theories” muddying, twisting, or, as is officially, fashionably said nowadays, “disinforming” otherwise “explainable” all-too-human affairs. For others, however, “secret history” speaks precisely to “all-too-human” reality on a deeper level. On the one hand, it is affirmed that humans have agency, and that the agencies of some (or any for the matter) are never fully transparent to others. On the other hand, the agency of humans is historical, i.e., such is hardly if ever purely “individual” or “subjective”, but rather is part of and realized within long-standing states of affairs, grander pictures, and forces which are hardly explainable by the immediate agencies of any given number of humans alone at any given time.
Between these poles of the “all-too-human” reaction to “secret history”, one often finds themself faced by two most visible extremes: a blind, agency-surrendering faith in some “disclosed history”, which as a matter of course “happens” to be whatever revolves around the “official” one, or dissipation into epistemological chaos, into paranoia before unknowable forces and their actors. In both cases, something truly human and truly historical about “secret history” is lost.Continue reading “Plato’s Cave and the Truth of Secret History”