Tonight's insights are brought to you by this evening's Odyssey class, in which we read Book VI of Plato's Republic, where Plato's Socrates delineates the characteristics of a good ruler, and also where the theory of forms is presented: IOW, the meat of the dialogue. We started class with a little geometry lesson. I asked the students to draw a circle and used the notion of 'circlehood'--that form we all had in our minds which we knew we were trying to achieve but which our lame little renderings never could: my circle's ends didn't quite meet, and one students' circle looked a lot like an egg. But something like circleness or what Soc. would call 'the circle itself' helped to illustrate the theory of the forms, while the formulaic rigidity of geometry helped us get at the difficulty (impossibility?) of the dialectic method.
But the better lesson of forms was driven home for us when a student raised her hand during the second part of class and pointed out that Plato/Socrates' description of an ideal ruler sounds an awful lot like a job ad.
That's exactly right. Job ads, with their glittery prose about what bright and positive (and multiple) qualities and capacities the ideal candidate would have, are the perfect everyday contemporary instance of the 'candidate-itself'--and its impossibility--i.e., the candidate that only exists in the abstract realm of Platonic form.
The wobbly ovals and the rounded line with ends that don't quite meet are far, far more interesting to me. I suppose that's why I study rhetoric.