“The first and best victory is to conquer the self.”
“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play
than in a year of conversation.”
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
“What Would Plato Do? The ancient philosopher takes Manhattan, gets a brain scan and tries to make sense of the Internet.” Who could resist this Wall Street Journal headline? Not me!
Every once in a while, I learn about a book that really shimmers and shimmies with a wild, innovative approach to the world as we know it. That’s exactly how I felt when I read about Plato at the Googleplex by Rebecca Goldstein. What a title! What a concept!
In a nutshell, Rebecca wants to know what the works of Plato have to teach us in the 21st century about life, happiness, parenting, love, knowledge, the brain, and truth and beauty. To mine this territory in today’s digitally distracted era, she comes up with an innovative mix, alternating chapters that probe Plato’s mindset and philosophy with novelistic accounts of Plato appearing in modern venues.
We see Plato on a book tour at Google headquarters, acting as a consultant to an advice columnist, appearing on a panel at the 92nd Street Y, being interviewed on cable news, and as a talk-show guest. He even has his brain scanned in a neuroscience lab — just imagine all those synapses snapping!
Surely, only an accomplished, creative writer could make this work — and that’s exactly the point: What a gift a writer gives us when he or she breathes new life and creative energy into the past with sparkling prose. And how rare and wonderful it is when the result is provocative, entertaining, and enlightening.
All this makes me wonder about all the worlds are out there waiting to be explored. And who better to make sense of them all than storytellers like us? What a glorious, generous calling: Write on!