Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Dream Girl




- To you everything I do is wrong. Tell me what I should do.
- Make money.
- I used to make money. 
- You don't now.
- I'd be like all the other money-makers, only poorer. You wouldn't want me. This way I'm unique.
- A unique disaster. I don't know what I'm doing with you. I can have any man I want. Who are you? Who are your friends?
- You're my friend.
- I don't want to be.
- You are anyway. 
- Tell me what you wrote today. And come to bed.
- I thought I wasn't your friend.
- Up here you don't have to be. Hurry up. Take off your shoes. I don't want your dirt on the steps. 
- Casanova wrote that the most romantic moments in a man's life were climbing the stairs to his lover's bed. 
- Watch out! 
- The wood is slippery.
- You think you're romantic? You're afraid of everything. You're afraid of me.
- True. But shouldn't I be? 
- Why bother? You're here anyway. Or do you want to leave?
- I'm staying. I wrote about Plato's "Republic".
- Get under the covers. Tell me.
- I think I did something really good. I deserve you.
- What did I do to deserve you? 
I set out to prove* Plato didn't think a utopian society could be good.
- Utopia means good place. Why couldn't it be good?
- Making a good place by recipe is not good.
- Why not?
- It has to do with human nature. 
- Human nature is not good.
- Good society is supposed to discourage bad in human nature, encourage the good.
- How?
- Education. By teaching good habits.
- What is a good habit?
- What makes us ready to love beautiful things.
- Ok. That's beautiful.
- Yes. The problem with recipes for utopia is that people will be willing to do bad things in the name of the good thing. 
- Willing to cook with bad ingredients? Won't they taste the difference?
- Did I ever tell you you were brilliant?
- No. But everyone else has. 
- Utopias are created by holding to the recipe. Holding to the recipe people lose their taste.
- Why?
- Because what was once ugly becomes useful. What was unthinkably intellectually and emotionally, murder for example, is seen as necessary to efficiency in the practice of one's limited money making character. 
- Even if I'm not intellectual I can appreciate being intellectual.
- You couldn't if you were a participant in a society that educated you to being satisfied only with your limited character.
- Plato's Republic did that?
- Yes. For the sake of stability.
- Why did they think it was best to be specialized in the first place?
- Because following a recipe promised stability. They didn't look ahead, see that becoming specialized in their work meant developing only one aspect of character at the expense of others. In "The Republic" the specialized characters are the intellectual, the passionate, the producing.
- Too simple.
- But you yourself just told me to make money, meaning distort my character into the money making mold.
- I didn't say distort your character. I said be a respectable human being.
- To make money. I'd have to compromise my character, sell myself, temporarily stop thinking what is best, most courageous, and do only what is necessary to get money. When everyone has to go against character the society they make up is ugly. Everyone is dissatisfied, unfulfilled, even unfulfilled in their own exaggerated specialty. That is how Plato's Republic ends up.
- Then what good is the utopia?
- The society itself is stable and might really last. It can last because people who are divided within themselves are the people most likely to sacrifice means to ends, to be willing to do anything to keep up whatever arrangements they are committed to keeping up. They are even willing to sacrifice the repressed parts of themselves to the parts they are allowed to express in their social role.
- So Plato wanted to show unhappy people in an unhappy place being willing to do anything to stay unhappy by defending the unhappy place?
- Yes. 
- Do we have a happy or unhappy society?
- Hungary?
- No. You and me.
- We have no society. You'll be tired of me in a few minutes, or if not, by tomorrow morning.
- But you and me, we are completely ourselves. Right?
- Yes. 
- We don't sacrifice ourselves to ourselves, or each other. That's good. Maybe we are the real utopia.
- It's a good place, up here on the loft. 
- We can be together like this, after all the bad things we say to each other. I can't understand it. I should hate you.
- Why? What did I do to you?
- You are taking away my youth. Wasting my time.
- You are paying now for having dreams when you were younger. Beautiful dreams, not dreams of having money.
- You think you are my dream man?
- Sure I do.
- You can go now.
- You're my dream girl.
- You can stay.

How To Read Plato's Republic