Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Socrates Vs. The Pigs

[SAMID sits on one side of the booth, wearing a lemon yellow tuxedo. THE PLANETOID PLUTO levitates on the opposite side of the booth, one of its poles poking out from the neck of a blue YALE hoody. MEGATRAN, a Chinese knockoff of Megatron made from blue plastic instead of white, sits at the center of the booth, its back blocking the window. MEGATRAN’s arm cannon sits in the center of the table with fondue bubbling inside. The friends casually dip things into the cannon and eat them during conversation. The fondue glows orange with off-brand energon.]

Pluto: So the Mills thing about pigs fighting Socrates? Can you explain it to me again?

Samid: [Puts head in his hands] God help me.

Megatran: Is this about Mills’s claim contradicting utilitarianism? Because it doesn’t.

Samid: I know he said it didn’t. But that’s not the problem.

Pluto: The pigs are.

[UZ MAROON, the waitress, appears to overhear the thing about swine and stops beside the table. She is wearing a blue and pink stewardess costume including a flight cap.]

Uz: What is this about pigs?

Samid: There is a claim in philosophy that being an unhappy Socrates is better than being a happy pig. The pig is a derogatory stand-in for fools.

Pluto: Which is good, because the pig doesn’t have a choice about becoming Socrates. He’s a pig. He doesn’t even get to choose if he becomes bacon or sausage.

[UZ MAROON does the sane thing and leaves in search of paying customers.]

Megatran: The pig or fool just goes for physical pleasure. What they mean is that it’s better to go for intellectual pleasure.

Samid: Which is actually a front.

Megatran: For what?

Samid: Even before neuroscience we knew the mind and body were inseparable. There is no such thing as a totally physical or mental pleasure. Your mind always registers and processes physical pleasures, and your body chemistry enhances any deep thought by releasing hormones and endorphins. You couldn’t recognize physical pleasures without your mind, and your mind wouldn’t be here if not for your body.

Pluto: A brain alone doesn’t last long on the sidewalk.

[UZ MAROON passes by the table and makes a comment, not breaking her stride.]

Uz: The brain looks a little like a pig. It’s the wrinkles.

Megatran: But intellectual pleasure is superior. It’s the higher pleasure.

Pluto: Isn’t that a front for you saying you like this better and so it’s better?

Samid: Because there is no totally physical or mental pleasure, the division is false. It hinges upon an erroneous dualism.

Pluto: Philosophy loves dualism.

[UZ MAROON passes by the table again and makes another comment, not breaking her stride. She grins at Pluto as she does it this time.]

Uz: You need two sides to start a disagreement.

[PLUTO orbits flirtatiously.]

Pluto: And there’s not much philosophy without disagreements.

Megatran: There are things that are more mental than physical. Fucking and contemplating physics are distinctly different.

Pluto: But why is one inherently better? Why isn’t it just you liking it better?

Samid: Because Mills thought for a living.

Pluto: Sick burn!

Megatran: That’s not true. The higher pleasure leads not only to its own ends, but helps complete or fully completes other pleasures as well. That’s why intellectual pursuits comply with utilitarianism – they’re more useful.

[PLUTO revolves a bit, looking for UZ MAROON. She is nowhere in sight.]

Pluto: So fucking while contemplating physics is a high pleasure?

Samid: Except most intellectual pleasures have never been objectively measured. You’re going on your biased memories of what’s been pleasant or successful.

Megatran: There’s history. The clock, the car and the theory of gravity didn’t come from grabbing ass at a bar or playing videogames until noon.

Pluto: But I have had a lot of sex in cars, so they contributed to the greater good!

Samid: Firstly, that presupposes you aren’t exercising your mental faculties interacting with those women and playing those videogames. Newton came up with gravity while doing drugs with a cult.

Megatran: The discovery was still intellectual!

Samid: That’s because the intellectual is inseparable from the physical. Even the dumbest bastard in this pub is going to think today. You’re stuck on an erroneous dualism.

[UZ MAROON walks by the table and pauses beside PLUTO. The two look at MEGATRAN with apparent pity.]

Pluto: Don’t blame him. He’s an evil robot. He was programmed that way.

Megatran: Don’t pity me! I could crush you, and I cooked lunch in the thing attached to my arm.

Uz: Aw. You’re an unhappy pig!

Megatran: I’m a thinker!

Samid: You think, but like all thinking people, you are bound to reflect on the same things over and over with similar ends. I do it too.

Megatran: Of course you do. That’s why you think everyone else does. But some of us think more than others and we’re better for it.

Samid: Having any consistent value or belief means resting on the same conclusions. Just by positing that an unhappy Socrates was superior to a happy fool, Mills was precluding thought and coming to a permanent conclusion. So is you declaring that thinking is always better. That’s how dogma is born.

Pluto: Dogma, and books by philosophy professors.

Samid: Its mental masturbation, which ironically leads to anger and depressed dispositions. And because they’re thinking redundantly, they’re indulging in nothing more than a physical pleasure that they only think is intellectual. And that makes them unhappy pigs.

Uz: Philosophy makes unhappy pigs?

Samid: If you don’t do something. But that would require the physical.

Pluto: [Orbiting at MEGATRAN] What if he dunks your head in the fondue pot?

Samid: If he thinks about it as well as does it? He probably wins the debate.

[MEGATRAN looks at the fondue pot. SAMID excuses himself and goes to the bathroom. UZ MAROON sits down and asks for PLUTO's number.]

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