Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Descartes In Love

This was an idea some of us in St. Catherine's had one night as we celebrated Mardi Gras. We were taking Modern Philosophy with Mr. Brown at the time, and we thought Descartes would have been much happier if he just got a life. We always meant to write a skit about it, but between theses, boyfriends, homework, and dancing it never happened. This is my attempt.

DESCARTES IN LOVE

Descartes is sitting at a desk, writing*

Descartes: *reading as he scribbles* Several years have now passed since I first realized how numerous were the false opinions that in my youth I had taken to be true, and thus how doubtful were all those that I had subsequently built upon them. And thus I realized that once in my life I had to raze everything to the ground, if I wanted to establish anything firm and lasting in the sciences. But the task seemed enormous, and I was waiting until I reached a point in my life that was so timely that no more suitable time for undertaking these plans of action would come to pass. For this reason I procrastinated for so long that I would henceforth be at fault, were I to waste the time that remains for carrying out the project by brooding over it. Accordingly, I have today suitably freed my mind of all cares, secured for myself a period of leisurely tranquility, and am withdrawing into solitude. At last I will apply myself earnestly and unreservedly to this general demolition of all of my opinions. Sighs with satisfaction* Well, that is a good start.

(There is a knock at the door. Hobbes enters)

Hobbes: Hey Rene, what’s up? *sits down* Am I interrupting anything?

Descartes: *very annoyed* Just philosophical history.

Hobbes: Haha. I wish! Rene, it is time you and I had a talk. For the past few months all you have been doing is sitting by the fire, in your bathrobe, staring into space, or brooding at little blobs of melted wax. You need a girl.

Descartes: A girl? Right now I’m not even sure if you or I exist, and you want to make my life even more complicated? Nothing makes men (if they exist) lose their rationality more quickly than exposure to women (if they exist). I think therefore I am—if I stop thinking, I’m toast! *Descartes is hyperventilating at this point*

Hobbes: *unimpressed* Right. This is exactly what I’m talking about. Forget about girls for the moment, this is more urgent—what you need right now is a drink or two…or five.

Descartes: A drink? A drink? Can a mind drink? Why do I feel thirst? Is it evidence of a commingling of body and mind? *keeps dithering as Hobbes leads him out*

Scene 2: A bar

(Enter Des. And Hobbes. Des. Is still dithering.)

Des:…These sensations seem to precede an act of the will.. A man suffering from dropsy (if it exists) experiences a dryness of throat, but though his body tells him to drink, this will just make it worse. And what does this tell me about God…?

(A girl wanders by, and drops a hankie by Descarte’s foot. Descartes, still talking, abstractly picks it up, and hands it to her, and looks at her. Both stare like deer before a semi. She giggles. Silence. She walks away. Descartes doesn’t say anything.)

*The Descartes x-ray cam*--
Descartes’ Animal spirits: EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!! (They spontaneously start to tango. The pineal gland gyrates wildly.)

Hobbes: Renee…Renee. (He waves a hand in front of Descartes’ unblinking gaze. He goes to the bar, where the bartender is talking to a girl, nursing some pink chick drink.)

Meanwhile:

Descartes’ Meditation 1: Descartes soliliquizes: Did I dream her? I taste the sweetness of honey, I smell the fragrance of flowers, I saw her beautiful white skin and chestnut hair. My heart has melted like wax. I feel the same, but I don’t feel like myself anymore. I might be dreaming, but I like this dream! Who cares if I’m awake or not! I feel like a new man. I actually want to stop talking and do something! (End of Meditation 1)

Meanwhile…

Nietzsche, who is tending bar: …and so Zarathustra comes down from the mountain and says, “God is dead!”

Hobbes: A double whiskey, please. Nietzsche: And you sir, are you a camel, laden with the knowledge of right and wrong, or are you a lion, or a child?

Hobbes: Is this some weird way of asking for my I.D.?

Nietzsche: (looks at him like he’s a specimen, and says icily) This is the religion of the future. Zarathustra has spoken, and God is dead.

Hobbes: Now how could he possibly know that? Did he come into a little money from being in God’s will? Or did God simply tell him so Himself, from beyond the grave? Or did He have His lawyers notify him?

Nietzsche: (aside) Definitely a camel. (To Hobbes) Nevertheless, I must introduce you to Zarathustra. Perhaps he can awaken some embers of life in you. (walks away)

Hobbes: (to the woman at the bar) Have we met? (smiles winningly) My name is Hobbes.

Woman: Look buster, I don’t know who you are, but I’ve had it up to here with your kind. I know men, and I don’t want to have anything to do with you. I’m a liberated woman, and am not going to be your newest accessory. Do you know what you are?…You’re nasty! And brutish! And…and, short!

Hobbes: (is visibly crushed) You really think I’m short? (attempts to stand up straighter)

Woman: Agggh! (She storms away)

Hobbes: Nasty, brutish, and short? Renee might be right about women. But you know what? that’s kind of a catchy phrase…Nasty, brutish, and short… I’ll have to remember it.

Nietzsche: (He comes back in, talking and leading someone who is not there, and then speaks to the air beside him) Zarathustra, speak to this man! Enlighten his ignorance. (He acts as if listening to something interesting)

Hobbes: You know, I hate to break up this mutual enlightenment thing, but my friend over there has had a shock and he really needs his whiskey.

Nietzsche: Zarathustra, could you pour this dimwit a whiskey while I go speak those customers over there? (walks away)

Hobbes is left by himself. He looks left and right surruptitiously, and grabs a bottle of whiskey. Takes a shot, then another.) Thank you, Zarathustra--(elaborate bow, and then returns to Descartes.)

Hobbes: Rene, forget what I said about getting a girl. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. Rene, am I really…short?

Descartes: Did I dream her, or is she real?

Hobbes: (sarcastically) Just walk away, Renee!

Descartes: (To the space the girl formerly occupied) But I can’t live live with or without you!

Hobbes: ( In a last ditch effort) Return to me!

Descartes: Oh, but when love comes first, heaven is a place on earth!

Hobbes: Mamma mia…here we go again.

Scene 3--Still in a bar--

Descartes approaches the girl—

Descartes: Hello, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Rene Descartes, and I’m a philosopher.

Girl: *giggles* Pleased to meet you. My name is Fizzie, and I’m single.

Descartes: So am I….Fizzie, I’m tired of sitting by the fire alone. Will you marry me?

Fizzie:*squeals* Yes! But wait, how will you support our family? You are a philosopher.

Descartes: Well actually, I’ve decided to leave that all behind and write philosophical romance novels.

Fizzie: Oh! Then, yes!

Scene 4:

*Hobbes is at the bar, scribbling away* Hah! I wonder if anyone will ever believe this stuff.

*Inside the Descartes home, the scene resembles Sunday Mass at St. John’s. Children run hither and thither, while Descartes sits at his typewriter trying to finish his novel*

Descartes: And then Xanthippe responded, Socrates, you know that I love you passionately, but I don’t know if I can marry you, for I have seen a dark future before you in the entrails of this beast. You cannot escape treachery and poison. But noble Socrates replied, I must show the world the way out of the cave, even if it costs me my life and free meals in the town square…--Kids, keep it down, please!

Fizzie: Ren darling, your dinner is getting cold!

Descartes: *sighs to himself* How could I have ever doubted? It’s all too real!

Finis

2 comments:

yankee angel said...

Thanks, Emily, for this lighter note. ;) I love the play! Maybe you'll have to be like Mike Powell, and get current students to perform it!

lizzie said...

Emily Griswold! Where did you get the "heroine's" name? It sounds suspiciously familiar.

All in all, though, I liked it! Especially Hobbes being nasty brutish and short.