Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Of all the famous men who ever lived, the one I would most like to have met was Socrates. Not just because he was a great thinker, because I have been known to have some reasonably profound insights myself, although mine invariably revolve around a bunch of hot model chic, some handcuffs and a bin bag of cocaine. No, the great appeal for me of this wisest of all the Greeks was his courage in the face of death. His decision was not to abandon his principles, but rather to give his life to prove a point. I personally am not quite so fearless about dying and will, after any untoward noise like a car backfiring, lea, leap directly into the arms of the person I am conversing with. In the end, Socrates' brave death gave his life authentic meaning. Something my existence lacks totally, although it does possess a minimal relevance to Northumbria Police and the Inland Revenue. I must confess I have tried putting myself in this great philosopher's sandals many times and no matter how often I do, I immediately wind up dozing off and having the following dream.
(The scene is my/Socrates' prison cell. I am usually sitting alone, working out some deep problem of rational thought like: Can an object be called a work of art if it can also be used to clean the cooker? Presently I am visited by Agathon and Simmias.)
Agathon: Ah, my good friend and wise old sage. How go your days of confinement?
Me: What can one say of confinement, Agathon? Only the blood may be prisoned. My mind roams freely, unfettered by the four walls and therefore the truth I ask, does confinement exist?
Agathon: Well, what if you want to go for a walk?
Me: Good question. I can't.
(The three of us then sit in classical poses, not unlike a frieze. Then Agathon speaks again.)
Agathon: I'm afraid the word is bad. You have been condemned to death.
Me: Ah, it saddens me that I should cause debate in the senate.
Agathon: No debate. The decision was unanimous.
Agathon: First ballot.
Me: Hmmmm. I had counted on a little more support.
Simmaias: The senate is raging over your ideas for a Utopian state.
Me: I suppose I should never have suggested having a philosopher-king.
Simmias: Especially when you kept pointing to yourself and clearing your throat.
Me: And yet I do not regard my executioners as evil.
Agathon: Nor do I.
Me: What specifically did they say they had in mind for me?
Me: (Puzzeled) Hemlock?
Agathon: You remember that black stuff that ate through my marble table?
Agathon: Just one cupful. Though they do have a back up chalice should you spill anything.
Me: I wonder if it's painful?
Agathon: They asked if you would try not to make a scene. It disturbs the other prisoners.
Agathon: I told everyone you would die bravely rather than renounce your principles.
Me: Right, right,,,, er, did the concept of 'exile' ever come up?
Agathon: They stopped exiling last year. Too much red tape. Oh, I ran into Isosceles earlier. He has a great idea for a new triangle.
Me: Right, right,,,, (suddenly dropping all pretense of courage) Look, I'm going to level with you - I don't want to die! I'm too young!
Agathon: But this is your chance to die for truth!
Me: Don't get me wrong. I'm all for truth. On the other hand I've got a second date with a super hot chic in Sparta next week and word is she's proper up for it! Plus it's my turn to buy. You know those Spartans, they kick off over anything.
Simmias: Is our wisest philosopher a coward?
Me: I'm not a coward, and I'm not a hero. I'm somewhere in the middle.
Simmias: A cringing vermin.
Me: That's approximately the spot.
Agathon: But it was you that proved that death does not exist! What was all the talk about death being the same as sleep?
Me: Yes, but the difference is that when you're dead and somebody shouts, "Rise and shine, it's morning," it's very hard to find your slippers.
(The executioner arrives with a cup of hemlock. He bears a close facial resemblance to Spike Milligan)
Executioner: Ah - here we go. Who gets the poison?
Agathon: (Pointing to me) He does.
Me: Wow, that's a big cup. Should it be smoking like that?
Executioner: Yes. And drink it all because sometimes the poison is at the bottom.
(Usually here my behaviour is totally different from Socrates' and I am told I scream in my sleep.)
Me: No - I won't! I don't want to die! Help! No! Please!
(He hands me the brew and all seems lost. Then because of some innate survival instinct the dream always takes an upturn and a messenger arrives)
Messenger: Hold everything! The senate has re-voted! the charges have been dropped, your value has been re-assessed and it is decided you should be honoured instead.
Me: At last! At last! They came to their senses! I'm a free man! Free! And to be honoured! Quick, grab my bags. I have to be going. Praxiteles will want to get an early start on my bust. But before I leave, I give a little parable.
A group of men live in a dark cave. They are unaware that outside the sun shines. The only light they know is the flickering flame of a few small candles which they use to move around.
Agathon: Where'd they get the candles?
Me: Well, lets just say they have them.
Agathon: They live in a cave and have candles? It doesn't ring true.
Me: Can you just go with it for now?
Agathon: OK, OK, but get to the point.
Me: And then one day, one of the cave dwellers walks out of the cave and see's the outside world.
Simmias: In all it's clarity.
Me: Precisely. In all it's clarity.
Agathon: When he tries to tell the others they don't believe him. Is that it?
Me: Well, no. He doesn't tell the others.
Agathon: He doesn't?
Me: No, he opens a butchers, he marries a dancer and dies of a cerebral hemorrhage at forty two.
(They grab me and force the hemlock down. Here I usually wake up in a sweat and only some eggs and bacon can calm me down again.)
Right then! Music time and it's another mix from me (but don't let that put you off!)
1. Pink Skull * Bee Nose (Brassica Remix)
2. Space System * Master Of The Sky
3. Meanderthals * Andromeda (Prelude To The Future)
4. Free School * Ranting And Raving (Time And Space Machine Remix)
5. Mano Le Tough * Halve A Sun
6. 40 Thieves * Live IS Something Special (Yo Spaceship! Megamix)
7. Suzanne Kraft * Morning Come
8. Missing Lynx * Gotta Minute
9. Cos/Mes * Like A Virgin Point
10. Pional * In Another Room
11. Channel 7 * Aufgang (John Talabot's You And Me Remix)
12. O Children * Heels (Mugwump Remix)
13. Pastique De Reve * Lost In The City
14. Diegors * El Underworld
15. Bozwell * In My Cocoon
16. Kim Ann Foxman * Creature
17. KiNK & Neville Watson * Inside Out
18. Discreet Unit * Shake Your Body Down
19. Ferdi Blankena * Mothers Son
20. Adam Port * Stalker
Mix for the 'For Disco Play Only' podcast series. by Tourist Blog
Till next time.
Big love. Tourist. X