Thursday, October 24, 2013


Pietzsche and Neachy, two middle-aged philosophers, are preparing for a duel with side arms. They are sipping strong tea beforehand. They chat. 

Pietzsche: I was talking to this pleasant fellow today. I've never even met him--it was a phone call--and out of nowhere he started quoting from the New Testament.

Neachy: I call Christianity the one great curse, the one great intrinsic depravity, the one great instinct for revenge for which no expedient is sufficiently poisonous.

Pietzsche: Yeah, well, I didn't expect you to be overjoyed. But in any case, I'm passingly familiar with the basic plot, so when he launched into Mark 11, I was mouthing the words right along. He said--this was right after Jesus drove the money lenders and salespeople out of the temple--he said, "And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses." That's verses 24 and 25. That's significant, I think, not only because of the sentiment, but also because of the juxtaposition of the events. Jesus pistol whips some thieving scoundrels and turns right around and recommends a contemplative life surrounded by forgiveness. There's a duality, not only of mankind, but of the more cosmic personages, too.

Neachy: What an effeminate religion. A woman may very well form a friendship with a man, but for this to endure, it must be assisted by a little physical antipathy.

Pietzsche: Nice point--and a clever way of changing the subject. Look, I used to be very much like you in my thinking about virtue. I thought all that hippy-dippy love child stuff was a load of crap, right? But I keep coming back to Plato--of all people--

Neachy: Plato was a bore.

Pietzsche: I didn't know you'd met. Anyway, the question about, you know, what kind of world do you want to live in and why don't you become that world? Well, that's where I think I am now.

Neachy: Sometimes in the course of conversation the sound of our own voice disconcerts us and misleads us into making assertions which in no way correspond to our opinions.

Pietzsche: Right, right. I'm just delusional. Fine. And you probably really are the true father of psychoanalysis, the progenitor of Sigmund himself. But I'm also serious about this. God, man, I've been living most of my life as if the only purpose I had was to ride into town like some idiotic knight on a tin pony, saving damsels whether they wanted to be saved or not, railing against the mythological bad guys. I've been an idiot.

Neachy: Memory says, "I did that." Pride replies, "I could not have done that." Eventually, memory yields.

Pietzsche: Now, see, that one I like. Most of us probably live out our lives under the happy delusion that we're basically good people. In other words, that we've replicated in our own behavior the type of world we would personally crave.

Neachy: Genghis Khan wanted a world in which he was the cruel slave-master. To make your argument, to achieve that goal, he would have had to become exactly what he became. It's tautological. You're an idiot. Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies.

Pietzsche: Fine. Have it your way. I'm still going to be a nicer and more forgiving kind of person. Not because I expect God to look favorably upon my actions--which would be kind of cheating, I think--but rather because it's the right way to be.

Neachy: Please, not that Kantian categorical imperative nonsense again. "If everyone behaved as I behave, would the result be good or bad?" Sissified sophomore! If everyone behaved as I behave, I'd be a happy delinquent. One is best punished for one's virtues.

Pietzsche: Sure, sure. You know, I'm getting the sense that there's a trick to all your clever aphorisms. And make no mistake, Neachy, some of them are very bright. But there's a trick and I think I know it.

Neachy: You don't even know your name.

Pietzsche: Pretty sure I do. I may be spelling it wrong. Anyway, correct me if I'm in error, but the trick is to take some universal subject, such as guilt, let's say, and just spin some tinsel around it. So, for instance. . . Guilt: that infernal pleasure that permits us to persecute with impunity. That could be you, Neachy. And I just made it up! 

Neachy: I believe I have decided to bitch slap you, Pietzsche. And hard. Reminds me of that great Bill Hicks joke, where he says he's coming out of a club after his performance and some redneck crackers call out after him. "Hey, Hicks! We're Christians and we don't like what you said in there!" And Hicks says, "Forgive me?"

Pietzsche: Anger: that real emotion that disembowels the artifice of love--yet gives it value. Whoo hoo! I'm getting this shit down!

Neachy: In individuals, insanity is rare. You, however, are quickly becoming an exception.

Pietzsche: Okay, okay. I'm not looking for a fight. That would be against my new way.

Neachy: Talking much about oneself can also be a means to conceal oneself.

Pietzsche: Darrr! You've found me out.

Neachy: When you look long into an abyss, the abyss looks into you. So keep your eyes to yourself, pilgrim. That which does not kill you makes you stronger. Therefore, you must die.

Pietzsche: Ciao!

Neachy: Au revoir, you pretentious bastard.

Invisible bullets fly. No one gets hurt. Both men shudder and exit to different wings of the nonexistent stage.

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