Book X of Plato’s Republic and A Breath of Reflection

FALL 2020

by Rikiesha Metzger

Cohort ’19

At this moment, I am sitting and I am taking time out to breathe, to breathe for jus(tice) this one moment in time that allows me to be, just to be me. As I sit here reflecting on my 2020 Summer Residency experience at IDSVA, I see the rise and the fall of my chest, as I inhale and I exhale. I am reminded of a similar moment in time of a Topological Studies lecture that was given by Professor George Smith. George used Book X of Plato’s Republic in his lecture to speak to the consciousness of the artist-philosopher as he helped move us to “a different kind of education and a different kind of cultural consciousness” in which he preserved space for us to talk about the political and social climate in the United States and beyond.

Book cover: Book X of Plato’s Republic. Image courtesy of the author.
Book cover: Book X of Plato’s Republic. Image courtesy of the author.
Rikiesha Metzger: Breath for Justice, 2020. Digital Media

In a space where I sometimes feel excluded and silenced, George made room for me in class to use my consciousness in this world as a female, as a black woman, as a mother, as an artist-philosopher (to name a few) to represent for the Other; the Other that often never have the chance to breathe (like George Floyd.) That day in class allowed me to reflect on my mood and everything that I repressed up until that time. As I sat at my desk on my computer in the privacy of my own home, I could actually feel the hurt that I regularly experience as a Black person living in America. Sitting there, I reflected on the desire for me as well as my sons to be seen as human.  Looking back at that beautiful moment, for just a moment in time, in my state of vulnerability, I was able to let my heart speak. For me, this is comparable to George’s response to a theory of subjectivity in Kant’s subject/object relationship that states the “object conforms to the subject’s consciousness.” Thinking of Kant’s subject/object relationship, my heart being the object, conformed to what I repressed in my ontological thinking and overall helped me to process what I felt as a beautiful moment in time. My heart represented what George said “try to approximate Plato’s notion of ideal beauty, ideal truth, and ideal form as best as possible without ever getting to perfection.” While Plato’s notion of beauty as an eternal form tries to reach “perfection,” George suggested that we can only come close to it. Consequently, on that day, my heart only approximated beauty as truth based on my experience(s). My heart represented only a fraction of my world, which was and is not based on any one particular event. The hybridity of connections made from George's idea of how to think about Plato's eternal form, Kant’s theory of subjectivity, and my overall life experiences helped me understand becoming an artist-philosopher.

Works Cited

Smith, George. “Sophocles and Plato." Art in Theory 701: Topological Studies. 04 Jun 2020. IDSVA. Class lecture.