Ted (merovingian) wrote,
Ted
merovingian

Soato

I got the feeling of detachment, yesterday, like I was in a movie or a fairy tale or something. So I went out and did the first storybook thing I could think of: I grabbed some frogs and kissed them.

I was not surprised when none of them turned into Princes Charming, but they did give me a shock anyway.



The first one started talking! "I may have my facts totally wrong here, but it occurs to me that a key point of deconstructionism is the idea of analyzing text to find the 'trace': what's really going on in the text. The method is extended and empowered, though, by the ability to claim that anything is a text or narrative, and can be analyzed as such. It's assumed that this is valuable because the more one understands what's really going on, the better. However, there can be kind of a subtext to this process, of course. Bulwerism. By moving any action into your own scholarly domain, then conjecturing on its hidden motives, you can imply an invalidity in any text, study or process. But here's what I propose: just as Flatland can teach us about what the fourth dimension is like, we can take deconstruction in reverse, by detextualizing everything. Analyze only the object, without text. That's the basis for my school of criticism. There are two rules: things that smell good are good, and things in 3/4 time are good. So, if you want to analyze a book, smell it. If the pages are nice, it's a good book. You can do the same with paintings, sculptures, theatrical performances, and so on. More ephemeral things have some sort of rhythm. If this rhythm is 3/4 time, it's good. Otherwise, it sucks. You can apply this to movies (by their soundtrack), poetry, dance, and of course, music. Of course, I could be totally wrong about all of this."

I gently set down Frog One, and kissed Frog Two.

It spoke as well. "Mind you, I haven't studied the subject much, and this is kind of a kludged-together approximation of a variety of thinkers, but I have some thoughts about existentialism that are niggling me. As far as my limited knowledge goes, the idea of existentialism is that existence precedes essence. What that means is that we come into this world without a purpose or meaning, and until we find a meaning and devote ourselves to it, we live in a void, with no purpose that can stand up to criticism. Once a purpose is decided, however, it becomes the most important thing possible. Here's the thing about that, though, assuming that I haven't totally misunderstood the whole idea. If there is no purpose before one is chosen, then there can be no basis for judging the validity of a purpose, and therefore any purpose is equally valid. If I decide I want to resemble ice cream perfectly, or become the world's best flosser, then that is no better or worse than wanting world peace, or true wisdom, or union with the will of the Creator. And yet I think that goes against reason. I can't explain why - I'm only a frog, of course - but it seems like world peace is a loftier goal than perfect flossing. Additionally, there are some goals preprogrammed into us: survival, social interaction, procreation. Are those just as invalid? I guess in the end, it doesn't matter, and I don't mean to critique greater thinkers than this humble frog, but I just don't understand it."

I sighed, irked, set the second frog down, and kissed Frog Three.

Naturally, it had its own little froggy monologue, "So, I noticed on the news yesterday that someone has found a means to control rats remotely by stimulating their reward centers to make them move in desirable ways. The claim is that they could be used for rescue missions, but let's be honest. The scientists did it because they felt it was possible, and the thing people are really wondering about is whether or not it can be used on humans. I'm no expert, not even being a human, but I have some thoughts on the matter. First, it seems obvious that eventually this will be possible. In a lot of ways, this kind of thing is already done: starving people to make them more susceptible to brainwashing, for instance, or even using booze to give yourself more courage. The question is, what does it mean? If this kind of thing is possible, must we abandon the idea of a human mind separate from the body? Is it possible that there's some interaction, but it's not identical? What about the premise that there is no human body - it's all in the mind? I think that as we get better and better at tinkering with the biological roots of self, we're going to find this idea move out of Descartes' ramblings and into the legal court. Maybe lying to ourselves is the best way to keep an illusion that is ultimately beneficial."

That was enough. I have sort of gotten used to the idea of non-speaking objects talking to me more and more often, but there's nothing I hate more than a pedantic yet self-effacing amphibian.

I brought the frogs to a swamp and left them there. Dumb frogs.


Poll #31577 Test Your Comprehension

The author of this piece is most likely...

A fourth frog
0(0.0%)
An unbiased spectator
0(0.0%)
Translucent wicker pants
7(41.2%)
A restrained but interested party
3(17.6%)
A fifth frog
7(41.2%)

An appropriate title for this piece might be...

"The Joy of Sex with Frogs"
2(11.8%)
"Soato"
4(23.5%)
"A Christmas Carol"
5(29.4%)
"Toward a Metatheory of Self and Purpose"
3(17.6%)
"Talk To Frogs In Three Easy Steps"
3(17.6%)

Who let the DOGS OUT?

Who! Who! Who!
11(100.0%)

If asked about the first frog's theories, the third frog would mostly likely...

Eat a fly.
0(0.0%)
Smell funny.
2(11.8%)
Wear pants and a top hat and do a ragtime dance.
5(29.4%)
Be long-winded and tiresome.
10(58.8%)

How does the author feel about the frogs?

Annoyance
7(41.2%)
Distrust
1(5.9%)
Lumbago
2(11.8%)
Tandoori
7(41.2%)

In twenty words or less, please name all fifty states of the USA.

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