Five Ages of Man
with due apologies to Socrates and Plato
The scene opens with Thuddipius (the clueless) meeting Eristotle (the
Chaosopher) at his favorite hot dog cart, attempting to pay homage to the
THUDDIPIUS: Is it not
impious to eat hot dog buns,
ERISTOTLE: Do not believe everything you read, Thuddipius. I suspect you
wish more of me than my view on the merits of Kosher dogs, my crafty friend.
T: Indeed you are right, Eristotle. You always do seem to sniff out my
E: It is your cologne, actually.
E: Nothing; just trying to make all this read better.
T: [Shaking his head] I have come to ask if you truly put forth a
theory of Five Ages of Man, and if so, what it is, and what it means. No man
has yet been able to explain it to my satisfaction, but the market is abuzz
with news of it nevertheless.
E: It must be better than the usual buzzing of flies, Thuddipius.
T: I beg your ...
E: Nothing, nothing. You wish to know of my theory, then?
T: Yes, very much.
E: Let us begin, as the bard said, at the beginning. It is a very fine
place to start, is it not, Thuddipius?
T: I ... er ... suppose so, Eristotle.
E: You can drop the constant references to my name, Thuddipius. Even the
excessively slow of wit can follow the E:'s and T:'s.
T: What ``E's'' and ``T's,'' and how do you make your voice so
wide and dark ...
E: Never mind. In any event, do we agree that all things are directly
or indirectly appropriate to
as the Goddess teaches? Or must we give proofs of this?
T: We say that which the Goddess teaches, by Zeus.
E: Good. That will save us a couple of screens.
T: [Looks perplexed, then wisely says...] ...
E: When a soul comes to be, it comes from we know not where and for no
purpose of Reason or Order? We have discussed this
have we not?
T: I do not recall it immediately, but I get the odd feeling that I
could find it easily.
E: You need only follow the links in your mind to find it, I am sure.
Anyway, this creation which is no kin of Reason and Order must, perforce, be an
act of Primal Chaos, must it not?
T: Yes, but there is that wideness of voice again ...
E: It is so that, when you depart, you can easily scan your mind for it.
To continue, though, this movement from limitless not-being to limited being
will cause deep Confusion, will it not?
T: [Gets that perplexed look again, and again chooses wisely] I
am not sure what you mean.
E: Imagine that you have spent your entire existence running and
capering in the bright, sunlit world, surrounded by colors and sounds and
sensations, and were then suddenly knocked upon the noggin and chained to the
ground in a cave, where you could understand and participate in the world by
way of shadows. Would this change not greatly confuse you?
T: I get the feeling I've heard something like this before ... but yes,
I would surely be sorely confused. Also, I should think that it would cause
great Discord and will to rebel against ... the ... incarceration.
[Thuddipius looks even more perplexed than earlier, but chooses silence as
the better part of ignorance]
E: Truly and well spoken, good sir. The first age, that of Confusion,
immediately follows upon being born. The second, which you so aptly named
Discord, follows upon Confusion during the very early years of life.
T: I see this to be so.
E: And how does life follow from this? Do we not become resigned to the
laws and seek our place in society, be it low or high?
T: Yes, this is so.
E: And do we not choose our beliefs and hold to them fixedly, so that no
man may shake us free?
T: Most do, Eristotle.
E: This is during early childhood, when we are taught to respect the
authorities. The name of this age is Bureaucracy, and for most men
it lasts until the moment of death.
T: I must disagree with my earlier statement, I fear. It seems to me
that many men change their opinions during their lives.
E: This is so, but do many men change how they think, or attempt
to think without using Reason?
T: This seems as nonsense, Eristotle.
E: It most surely is. Reason is what limits the unlimited and what bars
it from the primal Chaos from which we came. Reason is what chains us to the
cave, Thuddipius. The chain of Bureaucracy is heavy, but a few manage to crane
their necks around to try to see the light from outside the cave. These few
reach the edges of Reason and sight a new landscape. As Reason becomes
inadequate and Bureaucracy crumbles, they enter the Age of the
Aftermath, which leads them back to the primal Chaos. For most men,
though, the Aftermath only occurs at death, when the body crumbles and the soul
is freed from
and once again joins with Chaos.
T: You are a loon, Eristotle. I don't know why I ask you anything.
E: I am a loon, Thuddipius, and you ask me things because, deep
down inside, you are, too. On the outside, though, you're the pain in the ass
that kept me babbling while my hot dog got cold. Why don't you toddle along
before I decide to beat you to death with a soggy hot dog bun?
Some of you may have noticed that Eristotle's ordering of the
(Chaos, Confusion, Discord, Bureaucracy, Aftermath) differs ever so
slightly from the
ordering (Chaos, Discord, Confusion, Bureaucracy,
Aftermath). You may pat yourselves on the back. Give me any flack, though,
and I've got a soggy hot dog bun with your name on it.