In a wonderful passage from Phaedrus, Plato tells us the relationship between the soul’s apprehension of truth and the corresponding occupation of the person inheriting it. He says that “the soul which has seen most of truth shall come to the birth as a philosopher, or artist, or some musical and loving nature; that which has seen truth in the 2nd degree shall be some righteous king or warrior chief; …the 3rd class shall be a politician or economist, or trader; the 4th shall be a lover of gymnastic toils, or a physician; the 5th shall lead the life of a prophet or hierophant; to the 6th the character of a poet or some other imitative artist …the 7th the life of an artisan or husbandman; to the 8th that of a sophist or demagogue; to the ninth that of a tyrant”. We certainly understand these terms and professions in a somewhat different sense than Plato did. What is significant here is that this hierarchy would probably have been no more accepted in Plato’s time than it is now. The world at large will always value the politician and the economist more than the lover of truth, the artist, and the musical and loving nature. When you are discouraged about your art, you should remember that what we do has the power to transform lives in a way that is beyond the reach of any politician, business man, or physician. When the conditions are right, we get to have contact with the most intimate inner lives of our audience. That is a high calling and an incredible responsibility. Use your powers for good, and don’t give up when “the mob is swayed to carry praise or blame too far.” It will sometimes happen when you are on your adventure that the most insignificant object can become the magic key that opens the door to a new universe for some of your traveling companions.
Labels: hope, music, Plato