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The Adventures of Plato and Socrates: The Cycle of Judgment

Socrates stood leaning up against a rock on the white beaches of Greece with a large beer propped on the rock next to him. He sat watching as his students competed in a sand castle competition to see who could duplicate the Pantheon the best while philosophically digesting the meaning of the intention of the competition. But as always at times like these Socrates found himself far more interested in other things. The manner and expression of competition between the boys’ egos. The crashing and soothing sight of the waves washing up against the white sparkling sand. And the site of his faithful student Plato running to meet him with a basket in hand.

P. Dear Gods, Socrates, I’ve spent an hour looking for you. Do you ever teach in the classrooms anymore?

S. I found that nature does a far better job of teaching than I could ever do, my dear friend. And besides, I must work as long as I can on my tan before we have the summer festival. You know how the women of Athens like their philosophers tan.

P. But I thought you care not what the women think of your skin complexion.

S. Yes, and we must keep them thinking that I don’t or else my image is ruined; so keep this out of your sorry excuse for a journal.

P. I wouldn’t dream of such things, but if I do I will get you 30% of the profits.

S. What is in the basket?

P. Pita with chicken and honey. I also brought a bottle of wine but I see you are still working on your beer.

S. But I will need the wine as well with that expression on your face.

P. What expressions are you talking about? You never fail to make things up you lousy old geezer.

S. The expression as you approached me and the way you walked with your head bowed tells me that you are in deep thought about something and have not yet reached your conclusion. Which leaves me to assume that you are either about to be evicted from your apartment again or deeply disturbed by another restless thought of yours.

P. I hate you, why can’t you ask me what’s bothering me like a normal person?

S. I’m a philosopher; it’s my duty to beat around the bush and make extraordinarily simple observations of reality until finally I have found one that amuses others. But if you prefer to be cordial, what is clearly bothering you, my dear dear Plato?
[Taking a large bite into his chicken pita]

P. I have an incredibly silly frustration.

S. I do not wish to credit or discredit how you are feeling, just fucking tell me.

P. Right, well, ever since we began talking only one thing has seemed consistent through the course of our conversations.

S. (Emitting a loud belch of beer.) That you talk more and use my insight to charm younger women?

P. Excuse you on both accounts. What has stood truthfully is that the only thing that brings us closer to an objective opinion is not having an opinion at all.

S. I’m pretty sure I would fail you if this were in essay form, open the wine would you.

P. (Ignoring his teacher yet again) With that said, I am realizing more and more that I am increasingly frustrated by how people attach meanings and connotations and judgments to things that are clearly only material.

S. In your opinion?

P. (Pausing for a second). Yes indeed. Let me re-frame.

S. Please do if my name is bound to be associated with yours for the next few thousand years.

P. We all have meanings and judgments and emotions and NON-related ideas that we attach to material things or actions.

S. But we have been through this before in class, if I remember correctly. We all make judgments. That is not even up for discussion. The opportunity we have after embracing our judgment is to recognize how we judge and perhaps minimize the impact that it makes? Forgive me if I’m too direct.

P. Quite alright, I prefer it when you give me some hint that you do possess a personality.

S. Um Hmm, more wine please.

P. It’s just that I am fed up with talking with people who associate completely irrelevant things together. It’s as if they don’t want to take responsibility for their dark side.

S. (Looking up with a manner of attention) Go on, what do you mean by that?

P. I have talked with many townspeople, politicians, priests and students and for as much as I can see they all attribute certain actions to “the ways of evil”. Not taking responsibility for the pieces of fungus that we all are. Instead of a man facing his wife and proclaiming that he is unhappy with their relationship or sex life, he will secretly participate in infidelity until he is caught. At this moment people will look at the man and proclaim him dirty and evil. But why? Why must they paint him so harshly an image? Why must they so vehemently condemn the man?

S. I’m not sure, can you please tell me?

S. Because we have been the man! And the judgment that we have for ourselves that we wish to be rid of we spit onto him. Ergo when the condemner stands tall and disgraces his fellow for being a coward he himself is sinking, digging and denying his own cowardice, his cowardice to empathize with the man. We have all fallen short of things we have set out to do. We are human, ergo we fail daily. My point is not to give up and roll over but to continue trying new ways of living.

S. But if the man did not do what he set out to do then surely something else was more important?

P. Exactly, so instead of trying to be better than who we are, embrace yourself!
(Socrates wraps his arms around himself as if to embrace.)

P. Do not give up on what it was you set out to do, but you better sure as hell not ignore the signs that you and your own reality are sending to you.

S. I feel as if your point is not finished.

P. I believe it is but with one addition.

S. Yes?

P. The man who agrees to a path that he does not wish to take brings me to ill health. Probably because several times I myself have been that man. Agreeing to courses or paths or rules that I did not agree with so that I could fit in, so that I wouldn’t have to stand out.

S. It’s amazing how many times people betray themselves to fit in with others that have probably done the same thing. Why do you think I don’t have any friends left? But listen my boy, abiding by common sets of rules is something that all of us must do at a point in time until we have found ourselves above or beyond them. Rules are for people who need them, but, like it or not, politicians have the power to force those rules and their consequences upon us.

P. Yes. Yes, you are right.

S. But you seem to complain that everyone has his or her own opinions about “what it is”. Don’t forget that these opinions, judgments and self appointed connotations are what make us different, individual and unique. The fact that I can look at this glass of wine and see it empty and ask myself why aren’t you refilling it is beautiful because you probably see it as still full am I correct?

P. Well yes that is…..

S. Ah Ah, collect yourself. This detail, empty or full, there is where the beauty lies, that we can both stare at the same glass and see two or three or infinite different measurements, that is what makes things exciting and yes, aggravating at times.

P. So I should learn to enjoy my differences with others?

S. My dear, have I taught you nothing? I have no friends, a severe lack of average relationships and I’ll be lucky if this damn country doesn’t try to kill me before I’m through. I am mutually frustrated by others interpretations of what is, but I know that my own is simply a view and anything beyond that can only be separated from what is. You must choose your ideas, thoughts, views and who you share them with for yourself. I at least have chosen to be myself although I may stand outside of what most people might like me to be. But let’s face it, with this pale complexion, I am about the only one who has to sleep with myself at night.

P. You hopeless old cynic.

S. If it helps you to define me that way for your reality to make more sense, then please do, but I prefer to be me, that’s it.

P. I was only teasing.

S. But imagine the adulterer you spoke of, what if he had told his wife that he needs more sex or is unhappy? How many options then does he have? To work things out with her and find a compromise? To leave? To discipline himself and live someone else’s life and to deny his image? Have a secret affair? Clearly there are more options but these are the ones that first come to mind. Either way a few things stand out. He will get what he wants, whether he is up front and honest about it, whether he satisfies himself secretly or whether he wishes to please others more than himself. I believe what we want is already inside of us, the choice we have is how we go about getting it.