He used Plato’s metaphor of the cave as a way he understood the learning process and it was about going from darkness to light. In the cave, when you were dark everything was close, it was comfortable. You didn’t know it was dark. It was dark, but you didn’t know it and so you went around the cave with your hands and fingers, everything was proximate, it was comfortable. You had been there before. You were at home in some fundamental way. He thought Williams was a place where you were supposed to be taken away from home; taken somewhere else.

Bob loved that metaphor at the cave, you start in the cave and it’s dark and you can’t see a thing. So there’s no self awareness. You don’t know it’s a cave. You have no contextual awareness. And Bob insisted that all of us started there. That’s blind. Blindness to sight. At the end of the day blindness to sight meant coming to light and understanding. Bob clearly talked about certainty to uncertainty. Because one of the things you do in the cave is you know it. It’s called home. So the occasion of certainty to uncertainty was very powerful. Bob thought that we had allowed the tensions in our lives to be resolved and couldn’t see them anymore. And he worked so hard to say, “No, there will always be tensions.” That you will find two right answers and two wrong answers or many right answers and you’ll have to decide among the best of all right answers. And so tension was irreducible…life is to sight and light, certainty to uncertainty. It was clear that all of this was about making us move.

Learning was an unnatural act. It had to frighten. Things you held most dear–the church you grew up in, the mother and father that you love dearly, the friends you had, your fears about homosexuality, your ignorance about race in America–all those things had to be dealt with. You had to move or you would never see it. Starting and staying in place was an absolute failure, absolute failure.