Plato

“Dianoia crosses a divided line, I think … ”   – a flash-tragedy in one act.

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THE CHARACTERS

DIANOIA: A middle-aged man with a microscope for a head. Wearing a neutral shirt, no tie. His black pants are rolled up to mid-calf exposing his bare feet.
THE CAPTIVES (#1, #2 and #3): three nondescript personages in identical jumpsuits. All strapped upright into each their own apparatus that renders them completely immobilized. Only their naked hands and feet are visibly moving, their faces fastened and obscured by restraining masks. The right eye of each captive is visible to the audience as a grainy video close-up on a screen fixed to the top of each mask.

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lights up. Placed in the center of an all black stage, the three captives and a fourth empty restraining apparatus at the rightmost position, form a line with very little space between them. The captives are heard mumbling, apparently bickering at each other. Their video-eyes, fingers and toes are moving frenetically. Captive #1 cries out frequently and increasingly louder. The entire backdrop slowly lights up with an oversized low-resolution video of a fireplace, crackling cozily

ALL CAPTIVES: (in unison relief) Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh!

#3: finally! I fucking hate when that shit happens … but I told you so! Didn’t I? Ha! … and there it is … aaaah, good old faithful. Halle-fucking-luja!

#2: (muttering) oh will you just shut up already?! You have no idea what you’re talking about … this is just happening once in a while and that’s it. It’s a bloody nuisance, but it always does come back … and as long as it returns to normal, it’s ok and we’re good. OK? … stop complaining and don’t be such a bitch.

#3: (snickering) you call me a bitch, eh? … I wasn’t complaining, baby! I was EX-plaining … you little know-it-all-asshole …

captive #1 still sobs and groans. The murmurs and growls from #2 and #3 are subdued. Each moves fingers, toes and video-eye. The cages are rattling

#3: (sneering) Pff! The whining comes from the right side as usual, hn?

in a choreographed manner, #2 and #3 stop moving their fingers and strain their video-eye towards #1 who continues being very agitated

#1: I know … I know! I’m sorry; I’m sooo sooo sorry! But it stresses me out like no end! I can’t take this no more, it is soooo demanding! (sobs) I don’t know what to doooo? (snivels) It’s like … I lose focus and everything becomes sooooo boring and hard to doooo and go through with… even the food is tasteless … (blubbers) … do you think I should take a few days off? Call in sick? Or s-so-something?

#3: (screaming in disdain) o-m-g! l-o-l! l-m-a-o! You moron! Why don’t you shut up? Whiny-ass crybaby … get a grip will ya?! I can’t listen to that shit anymore! (mocking) BLA BLA BLA BLA and BLA BLAAAA BLABLABLA! …. BLA!!!

#2: (angry) shut up! Both of you! … always making a biiiiiiig drama out of e-ve-ry-thing?! What’s wrong with you?

long silence. The captives do not move. The video-eyes are either closed or looking down. As the crackling of the fireplace becomes louder, the flames get bigger and brighter. A distant muzak is barely audible.

#2: (happy) aaaand here we go … aah … come on comrades … lets get back to business!

after a while the three video-eyes start moving in unison, as if watching a very slow-moving tennis-game. Five volleys later Dianoia enters stage left carrying his glossy black shoes in one hand. He patrols the stage, carefully inspecting every corner, repeatedly crossing his arms. Now and then a nod seems to confirm an interesting find. He inspects the audience front row fixedly, only to finish his going-over by observing the captives who do not notice him at all. Dianoia joins the engulfed captives in one pass of the invisible tennis-game. Finally he bends down and puts his shoes in front of the empty restraining apparatus, adjusts their placement minutely, brushes his hands against the front of his pants and faces the audience

DIANOIA: (clearing his throat) I’m back! … I have come back for all of you!

the captives strain their video-eye toward Dianoia, gasping loudly.

#3: What the ef? Is that you?

#2: Hey?! Why’d you come back! Didn’t we t… ?

#1: (interrupting cheerfully) Hi! That’s unexpected?! Where’ve you been? (then whimpering) Have you been gone long? … wait … eh? … who are you? (crying) … back? … whoa?

DIANOIA: (touching each captive successively, talking eagerly) Yes! Yes, it’s me Dianoia … I’ve decided to come back to you guys and tell my story. I’ve learned so much up there … I know now how to get you out of this … you know? … I see all these things clearly now and I tell you … things here are not like they seem … this place is a fucking cave and it does hold us down … (stops abruptly, notices he is pointing at himself) … eh … (stabs his index at the captives) … controls you … locks you up inside this pipedream for no reason … oh, my friends … I am deeply convinced that we can change …  I’m telling you … you should just … follow me … free yourself … and … and … yeah, come with me …

silence. Dianoia freezes in a begging posture, his strong-minded body language completely transformed. When the silence becomes awkward he makes a feeble motion, pointing upwards then reaches out open palms towards the captives.

#2: Wait-wait-wait … wait. You’re not really saying that you went “up there” or whatever, and that “somewhere” was all uh-ah-different and oh-so-better and more for-real than here? I don’t believe you. I can not, and I will not believe you!

#3: And b-t-dubya you arrogant prick … didn’t we all agree last time, that you’d go terminate yourself? You were all malfunctioning and supposed to be recycled and replaced … the wide-open-sorry-ass-whimp over there hasn’t been himself since … since you … and your bullshit.

#2: Yeah look at him. It’s disgusting and repetitive and it’s all your fault. I knew from the start we couldn’t count on you … go get outta here! Go! … NOW!

DIANOIA: But I’m telling you! All you have to do is to come see for yourself and you’ll know! It’ll change! To the better! All it takes is the light of day and once you’re used to that … it will become clear! I promise. Please? Try it?

#1: why should we? Because you say so? We’re not that crazy. This place is good enough for us … right? As long as we don’t complain too much … I mean … look at you … all pompous and fancy.

#2 and #3: Yeah (snicker) … for-real

Dianoia takes a few cautious steps backwards as he steals a glimpse at the audience. He squares his shoulders and inhales sharply. With balled fists he approaches the captives

DIANOIA: (breathing out) Okay. Here’s the deal … you get out of those things and give it a try … no no no, listen to me … If you don’t like it … which I know you will (stabbing each word at the captives with his index-finger) … you will never hear a word from me again. Deal?

#1: … ahem. Yeah. Nah. No thanks, really. I’ve already seen you fail once and I still have no clue what you’re talking about , so … (sniffling) I’d bugger off if I were you, really … sorry

#2: My god? You’re trying to call a deal? Somebody should put you down right there … are you deaf? … (screaming) SHUT YOUR FACE AND GET OUT!

captive #1 and #2 close their video-eyes. With open arms Dianoia turns to #3 in a gesture of last hope.

#3: (super-cheery) Deal! Suuuure! Let me out. I cannot wait to prove your ass wrong! Come on dude-a-noia … lets get it over with, once and for all …

Dianoia immediatedly walks over and unlocks the restraining apparatus that holds captive #3. The cage-like door snaps open and the captive steps out, stretches his neck and cracks his joints. He stiffly follows Dianoia to the stage front. There he reaches slowly in to his side-pocket. He removes his hand again, index pointing and thumb sticking up mimicking a big gun. He points it at Dianoia, and shoots him in the heart with 3 loud shots. Dianoia erupts in sprays of blood and falls of the stage. Lights out.

Musings of a solipsist facebook-zombie

Exordium: In response to the announcement of my demise from facebook, a digital friend of mine responded with a link to this cutesy cartoon*. Which fed straight and perfectly into the thoughts behind both my “drastic” action -counting down the days to when I will hit the delete button for my profile, but also in to my doubts on so-called social networking in general. Let me explain:

We arrive at this story at a moment where our characters have already met. If this is by chance or not, is not stated. Since they are still on their feet standing around somewhere, we can only assume that it happened recently as if waiting for a bus or attending a cocktail party. Furthermore we must suppose that they have had a kind of exchange on some level of intimacy that would allow initiating the following: Person X prompts to add person Y on facebook and thusly “become friends” digitally. It is not known whether these people were real friends prior to this meeting or to what amount of social seriousness the proposal by X extends. That said there is no indication so far of what social value a friendship, either real or virtual might even have.

The recipient Y, to whom the invitation is addressed, then retorts: “Oh, I don’t have one”, thereby acknowledging that A: he or she does not have an account on facebook or in other words, does not have a digital placeholder for his or hers persona, that could satisfy such a request. Or that B: the invitee is not a professional model and therefore does not “have” a physical two-dimensional representation of the visual qualities of his or her face and/or body on paper in order to present it to a photographer or the like.

Based on this answer it is therefore unknown if Y simply misunderstands the intention of the proposal or if Y isn’t aware of the presence of such an alternative social framework such as facebook. If it is the latter, Y’s statement shows neither a dislike nor does it say anything about Y’s perceived use or need for an additional layer of social interaction or whether it is implicit that he or she is satisfied with the level of social interaction already at hand.

Neither can we deduct if X, who clearly already is in possession of the aforementioned social layer, understands or indeed acknowledges this answer. X does not reply to Y’s inconclusive answer and seems perplexed, as Y slowly becomes transparent, fades away, dissolves into thin air, disappears from what seemed to us to be reality.

This somewhat surprising and drastic turn of events is considered to be the dramaturgic point of the story as there is no further moral or conclusion given. Because of the theatrical finality of this, we as the observers are forced to take sides in order to elicit a response. That doesn’t seem to be so easy at a second glance. If we party with X there are these options to behold: We can mourn the fact of losing contact to a person that has the potential to become a close relationship. In that case we might have a tragedy on hand. Or we can attempt a smile and perhaps a laugh at the failure of Y’s inability to adapt to digital social skills, the joke being that his insufficiency transcends in to reality, obscurity and death.

If we stand sides with Y the joke or tragedy might be on X. If there is any reason to attempt a grin on that account, isn’t it also highly negotiable though? Does Y exit the story so swiftly because his or hers presence is negated by the mere mention of a relationship other than a “real” and perhaps unacceptable one? By leaving X this way doesn’t Y expose the surrealness or unrealness of his proposal? Isn’t it X who is left standing alone at the cocktail party, out of touch and unable, unwilling to unplug**?

The fact is that Y leaves his actual form; his flesh is no longer able to cast a shadow across the walls of the cave***, for X and the other inhabitants to interpret and try to understand. They can no longer discuss among themselves the source and focus of Y’s reality because he ceased to exist in the confines of their perception. They will have to deem Y for dead and simply nonexistent (unreal) or try to face him or her (and thereby themselves) above ground, in the harsh light of the sun where words still can be senseless but also still didactic, but then not by being written, but by being chewed over by talk.

And if we are lucky both variations are sometimes sung.

* http://imgur.com/dokFK

** http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N50NRQB99Sw

*** http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2afuTvUzBQ&feature=related