I considered leaving this rubric blank because I am already telling volumes about myself by creating and writing this blog. Also, maybe the blank box would make it appear that I am subtly nihilistic or admitting that indeed I do not know myself. One thing about myself that came to mind with that last sentence is that I find philosophy funny at times. Hence, as my self-introduction/resume, I have pasted below a short piece of mild satire that I wrote.
The Philosophers’ Soccer Match
The coach looked over the motley assortment of players on the existentialist soccer team and wondered how he would build a cohesive strategy with members of such diverging ideas and backgrounds. There were Pascal and Kierkegaard. They were sound players on the team, but, really, their belief in God did put them at odds with the team captain, Sartre, and his cohorts Heidegger and Camus. On the bench, playing second string, were two humanists, who had tried out, and were close to fitting in with the team.
“Listen up men. We have our first game in a few minutes, and it will be a challenge. We’re playing one of those tryout teams that cherry picks the best: they have stoics, determinists, utilitarians, and, our special challenge, the metaphysicians and ontologists who will throw at us the provable existence of God and a strong defensive line.”
The coach had his team members gathered around him in a semi-circle on the ground in their team jerseys. The jersey had each member’s name on the back because each of them was very proud of his own identity; but, beyond that, they were not uniform in color or style, since each member felt it was his duty to make his own decision about his jersey; only then would he be sure of his own existence. Each, therefore, made the decision as to color and style. It was an exercise of his free will to have a color or to have black or white, to have red socks or white. It would have been tantamount to joining the herd, losing oneself in society to wear a conforming jersey, and that would be an inauthentic experience.
“Now when you’re out there with the ball, I want you to talk to each other. You have to pass and you need to hear where team mates are. The best pass might be behind you. And remember to pass. Although it might feel that you are alone and solitary in your daily lives, out here on the field, you are not alone.” The coach quickly raised his hand to silence any objections, which he rightly knew were about to be launched. “It is your decision, whether or not to pass,” the coach conceded. “We had that argument last season, and I understand that no one determines when it’s time to pass but yourselves, as authentic beings, but believe me, in this game it is the right decision.”
“Must we talk in French?” Heidegger asked.
“We did decide that would be the team language,” the coach replied, who was an Englishman and no great fan of French. But last year when he proposed his native tongue, being the international language, he was shot down by the team, all of whom agreed that the language of Bacon and Hume would hardly suit a team of existentialists.
“Of course we must speak French!” Sartre exclaimed. “It is the language of existentialism. Without French how can we indulge in those useful aphorisms that carry so much weight and importance in their every syllable? There is no substitute for ‘de trop’ or ‘l’existence avant l’essence.’ ”
“Oui, c’est vrais,” Camus muttered, than added: “Not that I really care. It is of no importance.”
Pascal, came out of his deep thoughts long enough to concur on the choice of language: “Monsieur Sartre certainly has a point there. And, even if I can’t be certain he is right, I’ll wager that he is, just to be on the safe side.”
Camus put out his cigarette raised his dark, heavy lidded eyes and added with a jaded tone: “One imperialist language is as good as the next. In the end it hardly matters.”
“Now, let’s go over our positions.” The coach pulled out a clipboard and was on the verge of making his assignments, when Pascal raised his voice: “Coach, I have been thinking …” the Coach cut him off. “I know Pascal, you are always thinking. Let me get on with this, the game is minutes away.”
“Oh very well,” Pascal replied, downcast, and took a pad, plume and ink well out of his jersey to jot down his pensees before he forgot them.
“Sartre, are you up for center-mid? We need our strongest player there.”
“Of course. I am the most solid member of this team; in fact, it would be fair to say that this team would not exist without me.” He cast his eyes over his team members and muttered: “In fact, I am surprised that you let some of these guys on the team.”
Kierkegaard looked indignant and said under his breath to the others: “We’re as much about free will as he is. I am strongly of the opinion that we humans are solitary and self-defining. It irks me to be in this group, where, like all public assemblies, one must fall to the lowest common denominator.”
“Now, now,” Heidegger interrupted. “No need to cast aspersions at us. We shall in fact all prove ourselves by being in this group. Being authentic doesn’t mean escaping from society or this team, but in interpreting ourselves in the context.”
“Ok, fine.” The coach jumped in. “Speaking of ‘interpreting yourselves, may I suggest that you, Heidegger, and, Pascal, interpret yourselves as defenders, at least for the first half.” The coach was rather put out with the lot of them, but knew if he were to voice his disgust, the team members would just acknowledge the benefit of that feeling as a self-authenticating sensation and not take it as a criticism of themselves. He considered that he would be willing to excuse their behavior as a product of their environment, but since he had heard so often that no such forces exist and that we define ourselves through our choices, he was almost starting to believe it.
“Please you guys—stop the chit chat back there and listen. Camus you’re in the goal.”
“Fine, but don’t get upset if I decide not to stop the ball. I might just not see any point in it,” Camus stated laconically.
A horn sounded alerting the teams that the start was five minutes away and they could take the field to warm up. As the other team jogged onto the field there was a collective gasp from the existentialist team as they saw Simone de Beauvoir trot out on the opposing team. Sartre was enraged. “What a traitor! Of course she would do this. I suppose she believes all that stuff about societal influences truncating the free will of oppressed minorities and women.” He stopped and glowered at her. When she saw his reproachful stare she stopped her warm up ball juggling and shrugged as she yelled across the field at him: “Don’t worry, I still believe that we can arise above our situations and become creators, but we do not all start out on the same playing field—no pun intended, cheri! Maybe you should have a little talk with your team mate Heidegger about situational freedom.” Sartre lit a cigarette and let the smoke obscure his head, while De Beauvoir jogged over to an unlikely and strange looking person, whom Sartre thought one could scarcely call a philosopher, or even a writer, like Camus. What can it be–one of those fellows they call a psychologist? Is this even legal? Anxiety overcame him, and he knew that that was good, but nonetheless continued smoking to calm his nerves. On the field with her was her odd assortment of teammates: a stoic, two utilitarians, the modern-looking psychologist, a priest, and a Kant look alike. On the bench were a sociologist and an anthropologist as backups for the psychologist.
The whistle blew and the game began. Sartre started in the middle of the field with the kick off, facing the stoic. It was easy to steal the ball away. The white drapery of the Greek hindered his movement and when he ran to attempt to regain the ball he tripped and fell flat on his face. He rose without so much as a stifled curse, and with an expressionless face carried on as if nothing had happened. Suddenly the two utilitarians took the ref aside and spoke to him plainly of the simple reality that there were more members on their team and, from a cursory survey of the paltry number of overall spectators, more individuals who favored their team. Therefore, it would serve the greater good to make calls that favored their winning. More people would be made happy by that result. After all it was democratic and sensible. The ref blew his whistle and threatened to have them expelled for unsportsmanlike conduct.
During that interlude, the priest led a prayer that God would help them prevail over the godless existentialists. Pascal and Kierkegaard shouted that they were not godless, but they would be damned if he thought there was any proving God’s existence—a leap of faith was the best one could do! The priest said he had ontological proof and would be happy to enlighten them at half time. Sartre interrupted and accused the priest of escapism through religion and a refusal to accept the reality of life.
Although there was little ball movement, amidst the bickering, the opposing team did get a good shot on goal. Camus felt he was in an absurd situation. He had no affinity for soccer and thought about his next meal. There was no true, absolute or even very compelling reason to exert himself in the direction of the ball, so he let it go and studied the effect on the others, like an outsider watching a movie.
Sartre made the decision, in his own free will, to try to score, and easily maneuvered past the Kant look-alike, who hardly moved, so caught up in pondering in order to be sure of his own existence, and Sartre thought what a fool the fellow was not to realize that we are defined by actions, not our thoughts. “Existence before essence,” he shouted like a battle cry as he made contact with the ball and scored a goal, tying the game. To break the tie, the coaches suggested flipping a coin.
“Good God!” the existentialists cried out; “The result would be left to chance!”
Camus said: “Who cares, anyway?”