Two Stories

The Sophomore Philosophy Club

It was supposed to be role-play night for the Sophomore Philosophy Club, but it went south very quickly. Schopenhauer had gotten the whole thing off to a bad start by asking Heidegger for twenty dollars, which Heidegger obliged because it suited his theory of linguistic interrogation, thinking that, at last, the old question of Schopenhauer’s coin on the tavern table would be put to rest because he’d have to pay up. But Schopenhauer shoved the bill in his mouth, and Hume argued that Schopenhauer didn’t know where the bill had been, or who had handled it, and the whole business was uncertain, if not questionable ad extremis. Besides, shoving money in one’s mouth was disgusting.

Spinoza who had been watching everything through a large magnifying glass he’d brought with him as a useless prop for the evening said: “Well, that’s the last you’re going to see of that twenty.” 

And then turned to Schopenhauer and said: “You’re an idiot, you should have asked for a brownie or a sunburn,” meaning, according to Berkeley who hastened to explain that a sunburn was a fifty and a brownie was a hundred, that all the money in the world was actually inside him and he just had to find it for himself. 

But Heidegger didn’t get the connection between the slang term for large denomination Canadian bills and thought that Spinoza was telling him to eat shit, and that’s when the fight began.

Heidegger lunged at Hume, but Hume stepped out of the way because he understood the fundamentals of human nature and saw the anger coming, but in doing so tripped over Plato and spilled Nietzsche’s beer. Nietzsche, Hume was certain, threw the first punch, but it was Russell who took it on the chin as Plato tried to dodge the fray and fell backwards into Anselm. Anselm knew there might be trouble as he’d had an a priori premonition that philosophy could get out of hand, even at the undergraduate level, and pulled a hammer out of his backpack, screamed “God!” at the top of his lungs, whirled around, and caught Nietzsche in the side of the head which made him cross-eyed for a second, just like the real Nietzsche who appears on page 365 in Understanding Philosophy by Hunter and Hoote. At this point, Nietzsche, covered in blood and beer, staggered forward with his fists flailing and took out Plato who fell squarely into Socrates who was sitting there asking: “What the fuck’s going on?”

The two Greeks fell to the floor – Aristotle had known enough to retreat to a safe corner in the room where he could get a better definition of what was happening. Socrates fell on Nietzsche’s glass and opened up a huge wound in his hand. He stood up, looking at the blood, and said: “Why am I bleeding?” Hume and I (I’m Leibniz) looked at him and said: “Know thyself.” To which Hume added: “The unexamined hand is not worth shaking.” And we decided to get the hell out of there. Nietzsche was heard hollering at Aristotle: “I’m going to make a tragedy out of you,” as we headed down the hall on our get-away.

A little guy, who was supposed to be Machiavelli but who was late for the real-politick of the evening, met us on the stairs. He was lugging a two-four, and I said: “This is the best of all possible worlds.” And Hume said: “That’s cheating, you’re parodying yourself.” 

And I said: “Well, hell, why not? There’s more beer there than we can put back in an hour.” So the three of us headed off to the park down the street from the dorm.

Machiavelli, Hume and I were joined under a large maple tree by Aquinas who had gotten out via the fire escape. “You know,” Thom said philosophically, “I can’t make any order out of what’s going on in there.”

Hume took a long chug of beer. “It is human nature,” he said. “Just human nature.”

“No, I beg to differ. I think it is perfect. It is the expression of the monads that govern the universe, the beauty that makes each leaf on every tree a work of mathematical perfection. Beer is also mathematical perfection.” We clinked our bottles.

We sat for the next several hours beneath that maple tree. A soft breeze was blowing under the leaves and rustling them in the night. The campus police were busy breaking up the Sophomore Philosophy Club in the dorm … the entire fourth floor had become engaged, engineers battling with psychologists, battling with historians, and so on.

After a long silence, Thom said with a sigh: “You know, that’s what’s fucked up the Western mind. There’s no fucking arguing with the world but that’s what all this philosophy bullshit is about. I’m switching my major next term to literature. At least by the time I get to the last page of a novel I’ll know how it ends, and there’s always that blank page after the final one. That scares the shit out of me, but it makes a pretty profound statement. I always draw a sunset on it, and a cowboy with his back to me, just to ease my anxieties.”

And as he said that, I pictured cowboys riding off into the postcard perfect sunset with silhouettes of mesas rising around them in the afterglow like the last scene in the Magnificent Seven, and considered how we might have saved the village if we’d given it some thought.

It’s a Girl!

Charles and Charlotte Morgan are delighted to announce the birth of their daughter, Megan Antonia Esther, at St. Mary’s Health Centre, the first grandchild for Cynthia Morgan and the late Cecil Morgan, and Esther and Tony Bassingthwaite. Megan will attend Anderson Street Public School until a gun incident in her fifth-grade year after which she will transfer to Saint Ursula’s Girl’s Academy where she will participate in drama and choir while attempting to complete her pre-secondary schooling under the supervision of Principal George Masters who will be charged with molesting Megan’s best friend, Wendy Chisholm. Megan will apply for numerous colleges but will only be accepted into Rockford College because a bout of depression, possibly caused by her educational experiences, will leave her with low grades that will not permit her to enter a better post-secondary university. At Rockford College, Megan will study anthropology, but will fall from a second-story window during a dorm party. Charles and Charlotte Morgan will announce further arrangements and details as they become available after a family-members-only service and ask that their privacy be respected during this difficult time. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to St. Mary’s Health Centre Post-Natal Care Unit.

Bruce Meyer is author of 63 books of poetry, short fiction, non-fiction, and literary journalism.