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 Xartis Psyxis - "The Last Confession" (contd)

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nordmann
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20120619
PostXartis Psyxis - "The Last Confession" (contd)

The old man and I enjoyed many a discourse. Or should I say perhaps with more exactitude, that I enjoyed them, my fellow interlocutor may not have shared the sentiment. Often as we spoke I was reminded of a rather dreary play that I attended once at Drury Lane, set in the style of a Sophoclean debate between two players who pretended the roles of a learned mentor and his rather awestruck acolyte. Perhaps therefore the same medium will serve as a vehicle to best represent my memory of these conversations, though I hope with more wit than in Drury Lane. Allow me the indulgence of setting a stage, upon which sit both aforesaid characters, though with their original identities usurped by my own mentor and I, and with an audience of none – save for your belated presence darling daughter. At the time of course we played to an empty house.

Him: Tell me, how knoweth you a friend?
Me: One of the same mind, common purpose, and a willingness to bear sacrifice on behalf of another.
Him: Well said, sir. Now pray tell. How knoweth you an ally?
Me: The same I should say.
Him: Then you are dependable neither as one nor the other. And I will wager you find also that you depend on neither also?
Me: This is the truth. I have found wisest counsel from within always. I have never found myself beholden to friend or ally, for advice or for anything else.
Him: It surprises me not, as you fail to distinguish them one from the other, and therefore cannot place true value on either. But now tell me, how distinguishes you ‘twixt enemy and opponent?
Me: My opponent takes exception to my policies. My enemy takes exception to my being.
Him: A wise and correct answer. However it is one that reveals you therefore to be a fool.
Me: Wise and foolish in the same breath? How so together?
Him: In the matter of enmity you can appreciate an important distinction but yet are blind to the logic of its inverse.
Me: A subtle and trivial point of character surely if one still follows one’s own counsel?
Him: Never trivial if one allows one’s own counsel to be shaped through the influence of one’s enemies, as one can understand them, but not through that of one’s friends, who one cannot.
Me: But is there not an essential difference of necessity? It is wise to understand one’s enemies. This is a prerequisite of survival. To have friends that one can understand is merely a pleasurable bonus that life may or may not afford one? It plays no function in life’s progress except to sweeten it.
Him: You undervalue pleasure then. But more importantly you undervalue survival. If, having survived, one finds one’s life replete with enemies all of whom are understood, but not a single friend whether understood or not, then what was the point in surviving?
Me: Survival is not a choice. However it is achieved, it is in our nature to strive for it.
Him: A wise and incorrect answer that reveals you to be a dangerous fool.
Me: Wise and incorrect in the same breath again? How so these together?
Him: You have assessed the character of life’s struggle, but failed to see its purpose. This is a dangerous philosophy, as it leaves you blind.
Me: I see enough.
Him: Yet you fail to see your friends, you fail to see your allies, and you see yourself only as you have been defined against your enemies. This may be a perception, but it excludes so much that it can never be described as sight.
Me: I cannot fail to see friends or allies whom I do not have. I see their absence. That is sight.
Him: Then you are blind to the fact that you are blind.

There was another occasion, or indeed it may have been the same conversation, when the issue of friendship was again addressed.

Him: Do you see me as thy friend or thy enemy?
Me: Neither. At most we are companions only in that we share the same predicament, or possibly rivals should a chance to escape our predicament mean that only one of us could avail of it.
Him: Yet if we were to each describe this predicament we would arrive in most probability at very different assessments of it, as we are in truth different people and therefore it affects us differently also. Does that enhance then our companionship? Or does it reinforce perhaps our rivalry?
Me: In the sense that you have placed in it both suppositions could equally be true.
Him: And if I were to state now that I regard you as my friend all the more because of this predicament? What say you to that?
Me: That you are allowing sentiment to cloud your judgement.
Him: But if I were to state that I believe this to be true even as I consider you my enemy, or at least potential rivals by your own logic. What say you to that?
Me: That would be sheer folly as our predicament does not give rise to such an extreme and unproductive rationale. There is as yet no need for rivalry so there is even less requirement to be enemies.
Him: I would be over reacting then? It would be more logical to extend the hand of friendship.
Me: Very much so.
Him: Then you, sir, are under reacting surely, in failing to do so.
Me: My reaction is based on the logic of our predicament as it stands.
Him: But it cannot be, as you have missed a goodly portion of the predicament you are in. Again you have assessed only the character of the thing and not its purpose.
Me: The purpose of our predicament is not to test our friendship or enmity.
Him: Why say you that? Surely that is a purpose of all predicaments?
Me: But I have never met you prior to sharing it and our deliverance from it will equally allow us independent lives as it might allow us be friends on its basis. There is nothing to test.
Him: Or you have failed in the test already. If we were to attempt to resolve this predicament together does that not imply friendship?
Me: No, it implies only that we have found common cause and acted as allies.
Him: But we have already ascertained that this is also your description of a friend. Surely we are quibbling not about the correctness of my hypothesis, merely the degree to which it applies?
Me: I would agree, except we have no way to measure the degree so it is in essence a pointless discussion.
Him: Oh, but I have a way, and it is not pointless. When I hypothesised our friendship as fact I did so knowing something about you which is also fact, and by which both of us can measure the degree to which my offer of friendship transcends our predicament.
Me: And what fact is that?
Him: I know that you came here to kill me.

And one last vignette from the same repertoire Abby.

Him: How much is a man a product of his experience, and how much of a man’s experience is a product of the man?
Me: Both are true. A man shapes and is shaped by the life he leads.
Him: So where is the control then? Once the wheel is set in motion, how can a man affect its progress?
Me: He has some control over its direction, but the essence of the man is more or less a constant.
Him: Then you are a believer in fate?
Me: To a point.
Him: What if I were to tell you then how fate itself can be manipulated?
Me: Surely that is the prerogative only of God.
Him: No, it is the essential prerogative of man. Though it is true that few act upon it.
Me: Few know it can be done obviously. What is the trick?
Him: To do nothing.
Me: But then one is surely at the mercy of fate?
Him: No. If by doing something one fulfils a destiny ordained, then by doing nothing can destiny be cheated.
Me: How can one do nothing?
Him: It is difficult I admit, especially when circumstances would suggest action is required. Take our predicament. Have you a plan through which we can effect our escape from it?
Me: I have been working on it.
Him: Then at least one of us shall escape it.
Me: You are certain?
Him: Of course, as I shall do nothing.

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