Gertrude had spent her adulthood thinking. Since early teens she had been interested in philosophy, and several doctorates later she found a job teaching at a university. She worked her way up the ladder and it didn’t take long before she was queen of the roost.
But did she rule with an iron fist! Many thoughts and philosophical insights were banned from her department. Some things are plain wrong, she said, and will not be tolerated. Socrates to start with; his name is not to be mentioned. And indeed such sinful thoughts were not tolerated. Several lecturers lost their jobs. A number of bright students failed. We’re not here to mollycoddle notions of wrongness, she said. Those who don’t agree cannot be defined as philosophers. Philosophy exists to move the world forward in a very specific way.
The university, at her behest, banned Romeo and Juliet for sexism, Othello and The Merchant of Venice for racism, all opera sung by systemically racist Whites – except of course for Verdi’s Otello and Puccini’s Madame Butterfly if the lead parts were sung by Blacks and Asians. The university’s History Department made an attempt to win her favour. Would she lecture in History? She knew how to create facts more amenable to contemporary thought. Likewise, the School of Medicine wanted her to devise a curriculum that stuck to a Science that advanced social justice.
Anyway, one day, while walking from the staff cafeteria to the staff recreation room, she dropped dead. As Mrs. Smith of 24 Shirley Crescent in the suburbs observed: Is there a God or is there a God?
(Thanks to Nitin for providing the opening to the story).
All poor Kierkegaard talked about was despair inherent in men because of sin. It’s the bloody nihilists who deconstructed him, out of their need to be free of God and moral restraints, never realising that man is not free. I said, man is not free! Not free! Damn it! screamed the disgraced professor now working in a circus. What a change from being the Professor of Philosophy at Harvard to becoming Bozo the Clown.
Believe me, continued Bozo standing on his head, I didn’t get this job simply because I have Native American blood. Is it not better to light a candle than to curse the darkness and view the world through tinted glasses? There is light at the end of every tunnel and every cloud has a silver lining. Time may silver your golden hair but people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. After all, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, and one leg over the fence is better than a poke in the eye. Surely it’s better to shake a leg than to see a man about a dog. I promise you that this little pig went to market and this little pig stayed home, and the little pig that went to market is now a fat cow and the pig that stayed at home is a couch potato. Beware! Beware of sharks feathering their own nests like wolves in sheep’s clothing shedding crocodile tears.
Bozo began to juggle with a bunch of bananas. I smell a rat when people open a can of worms and say they’re living hand to mouth like a dog’s breakfast. Never, I say! Never on a Sunday! That’s right! That’s right – be a pack of sheep flogging a dead horse.
By now, Bozo was squirting everyone with water through a plastic flower on his lapel. Why not offer an olive branch to the starving millions instead of pussy-footing around like a cat on hot bricks? There’s something fishy about a chicken without a head.
We are not free! Not free! screamed the disgraced professor. Not free from Neitzche’s Nihilism and Derrida and the Deconstructionists.
It wasn’t long before Bozo lost his circus job as well.