Clementina Mihăilescu has successfully embraced and applied trans-modernism on Ackroyd’s ”Plato’s Papers”, due to Booth’s suggestion that values and commitments are inherently non-rational and non-cognitive and ”indefensible in the courts of reason”. The author of the article  has conversely read Booth’s assumption from a positive constructivist perspective. Since the theoretical background of the article is trans-modernism, Mihăilescu Clementina has confidently approached its ”ethos” associated with the idea of a new type of humanism based on unity in diversity which implies the unity of past, present and future, of spirituality and science, of man’s harmonious relation with himself, with his fellow creatures, with cosmos itself.

Sandu’s approach to the appearance of trans-modernism as a natural consequence of the ”spiritualization of the epistemologic frontiers”, with the implication that the last frontier is not outside but inside ourselves, has made the author of the article to regard it as a source of human revival involved in awakening the individual’s creative capacity and in rendering self-transcendence possible. All these reverberate in Ackroyd’s novel ”Plato’s Papers” firstly approached by Mihăilescu Clementina via Cornea’s concepts of the Ideal Man and of the third man which, to a certain extent, resemble Lupașcu’s ”comprised third person”.

If previous approaches to Ackroyd’s novel focused on parallel worlds of a dystopic mind (Lidia Vianu in the After Mode), Mihăilescu’s contribution is clearly constructed in strict opposition with the postmodernist deconstruction of reality due to her interdisciplinary grid.

It has been stated in the article that Sandu’s syntagm ”spiritualization of frontiers”, considred by Mihăilescu a new and genuine entry to Ackroyd’s novel, is consonant both with Cornea’s and Lupașcu’s theories as both are based on the concept of the Ideal Man, called by Lupașcu ”comprised third person”, who, in Ackroyd’s novel, stands for Plato himself, a Christ figure, emblematic of the original pure, pious, right creature who, through Logos (his thinking self) mediates with the other peopleʹs Pathos (their emotional self) through his personal Ethos (his acting self) in order to create the third man (of the present and / or of the future) prepared to build up and live in a new world: the society of conscience, of awareness.

On the other hand, Mihăilescu, tackling Riemann’s mathematical theorem, a logical attempt at approximating the earth in maps through assuming that two imaginary points on earth, no matter where they are located, will always meet at some point in the infinite, has productively thought it as a valid ”choice” of approaching the syntagm ”spiritualization of frontiers”. The textual implication descovered by the author of this article  is that the Age of Decadence (Plato’s past, actually our present age) and some age in the future, which stands for Plato’s present, that of the year 3700 will unconditionally meet at some point in the infinite, in the Age of Enlightenment due to its being infinite as concerns the “reawakening”  and “reestablishing” the virtues of humanity. Such a reading has been extended by applying Kelly’s alternative perspectives on Ackroyd’s novel, as a means of decoding its intricate significance.

In addition to the previously mentioned specialized vocabulary for analyzing Ackroyd’s novel, Kelly’s fundamental postulate has been considered a significant part of the methodology employed by her to decode its hidden meaning. So, Mihăilescu states that  this postulate reveals the fact that ”a person’s processes are psychologically channelized by the way he or she anticipates events”. Anticipating events stands for making suppositions or creating expectations regarding what will happen if he or she acts in a particular way. A person chooses that alternative in a “dichotomized construct” through which he or she anticipates the greater possibility for extension and definition of his or her system of ideas.

It has further been revealed in the article that the alternative enunciated in Ackroyd’s novel is that of recuperating “light” which, according to Mihăilescu, equates with spiritual values. Light and culture are closely related to each other, the latter being often referred to through misinterpreted literary bits and pieces, interpreted by Vianu as instances of the involution of human intelligence. Here is the passage where the author of the article stands up with Vianu with respect to the symbolic value of light: ”Vianu claims that Ackroyd has imagined a ’parable’ focused on the necessity of cultivating our inner self. ’Light’ stands for inner truth, but those people belonging to old times (our civilization) didn not realize that the universe is an emantion of human intelligence’ and, consequently‚ the sun vanished’. According to Plato’s philosophical theory, the sun stands for truth”.

Mihăilescu’ approach to the idea of recuperating light, no matter how  symbolically it has been stated in Ackroyd’s novel, impresses through her commitment to such an issue. Paraphrasing the author, she reveals the fact that ˮto recuperate light meas to recuperate, to revive, to rewrite old myths”, an idea which resembles Mircea Eliade’s concern with the spiritual history of mankind. Convinced of Ackroyd’s stand, the author of the article x-rays the literary text and identifies those arguments meant to strengthen the readers’ will to take such matters seriously. She insists on the item of information regarding the fact Plato, who has been projected into the future actually addresses us speaking about the earth, about us.

The insistence on how Plato is like, namely that he is shorter than his country-man, has has been commented in terms of the fact that in this way he is made to resemble us, not those of his age, an interpretation taken from Vianu but assimilated and convincingly rendered by Mihăilescu.

The perspective proposed by Plato (that of intelligent beings existing in various parallel worlds by wisely accepting relativity) could have represented a greater possibility for their personal evolution, asserts Mihăilescu.

Following Vianu’s reading and Kelly’s approach, Mihăilescu claims that what Ackroyd actually proposes to the readers is a double way of regarding the world, a limited perspective, and, another one, a more flexible one and insists on the fact that the author’s intention is to educate us in the spirit of relativity, that sort of relativity full of spiritual connotations.

Mihăilescu refers to the importance of Ackroyd’s “metaphor of vision” and asserts that Ackroyd’s intention is to make us see, which means to make us take account of facts which have been disregarded so far or to assign new values to those facts. In the case of the article reviewed by us, it means to make us consider and reconsider our moral and spiritual values and to teach us how to meditate using not only our mind but our souls as well, as “the mind equates with the soul”. This meaning can be regarded as Ackroyd’s attempt at transfiguring reality in order to make it bearable and meaningful.

In terms of conclusions regarding the interdisciplinary novelty of Mihăilescu’s  approach to Ackroyd’s novel, we suggest that this is due to the employment of Lupașcu’s theory of the comprised third person. Mihăilescu, in tune with Lupascu’s theory, claims that Plato, who is simultaneously A, as he belongs to the Age of Decadence (his past, actually our presen tage) and non A, as he actually belongs to the Age of Enlightment, can be regarded as the ”third person” comprised within this duality.

Equally surprising, due to the novelty of the interdisciplinary grid applied on the Ackroyd’s novel, is Mihăilescu’s concern with the non-contradictory manner of solving the decadence-enlightment duality on a high ontological level, in accordance with Lupașcu’ theory, solving which consists in depicting Plato’s infinite concern for ”reawakening” and ”reestablishing” the virtues of humanity, thus ”spiritualizing the frontiers” and establishing unity in diversity in a ”multidimensional reality”.

It seems that Mihăilescu has taken her mission of educator and literary interpretor very seriosly construing Peter Ackroyd’s ˮtheology of literature as rhetoric”. Why „theology of literature”, because Plato has been regarded by Mihăilescu as a modern „theologue” concerned with lessoning his contemporaries into properly appreciating moral values so as to be finally healed and cured of existential fears and anxieties.

Under such circumstaces, the conclusion reached by us in relation to Mihăilescu’s analytical work of ˮidealistic realism”, the basic feature of Ackroyd’s novel, is a sociological and synthetic one, namely that if the ˮrhetorical waters were to be cleansed”, the idealistic realist writer Ackroyd and his character Plato would be taken seriously as regards choices that are to be made and responsibilities to be taken via some sort of ˮreaders/ writers contract” which sets morality as the only criterion for literary judgment.


Assoc. Prof. Dr. Lucia Stoicescu, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu

Recenzie publicată în revista Demersuri Creative nr. 27/ iunie 2018



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