Barack, Aristotle, Plato & Me (Pt.3)

After struggling with his faith in rhetoric in two blog posts, Jeff calls for Aristotle to provide sweet reconciliation. Just then, Aristotle descends from the heavenly firmament—not too fast, not too slowly, but at just the right speed. Aristotle: Jeff, you called for me? Jeff: Why yes, Aristotle, I did. Aristotle: What for, my son? Jeff: I was having trouble coming up with a suitable conclusion to my thoughts and decided to utilize the deus ex machina. Aristotle: You’ve never read my Poetics, have you? Jeff: That and I’ve always been partial to dialogues—wait, what? Aristotle: Never mind. Jeff: Anyway, now that you’re here, I need sweet reconciliation. Aristotle: Concerning what? Jeff: Your ideas on rhetoric. Aristotle: Aha! Yes, do continue. Jeff: My problem is that politicians seem to use rhetoric to lead people away from truth. Aristotle: Not possible. Jeff: Why? Aristotle: Didn’t you read Rhetoric? Jeff: Yes… Aristotle: Jeeeeeff? Jeff: Ok, I skimmed a little. I only read enough to make me sound smart at cocktail parties. Aristotle: You talk about rhetoric at cocktail parties? What a ball of fun you must be. Jeff: Go choke on some hemlock! Aristotle: That was Socrates. Jeff: Yeah, well it’s all Greek to me. Aristotle: Touché. Jeff: Just answer the question, please! Aristotle: The simple answer is that politicians aren’t rhetoricians. Jeff: How so? Aristotle: Well, if I may quote my own work: “the term 'rhetorician' may describe either the speaker's knowledge of the art, or his moral purpose.” Politicians may have knowledge of the art, but we can’t use the term 'rhetorician' to describe their moral purpose. Jeff: So what do we call them? Aristotle: Sophists. And what makes a man a 'sophist' is not his faculty, but his moral purpose--he is not concerned with truth and justice, but instead seeks power. Jeff: In other words, a politician! Aristotle: Exactly. Jeff: Oh, wow--my faith in rhetoric remains! You’re good! Aristotle: I know. Jeff: A shame that most of your work is lost to history. Aristotle: WHAT! Jeff: Yeah, gone. Aristotle: Did my cookbook survive? Jeff: I don’t think so. Aristotle: Oh, that raises my ire. Jeff: Hey Aristotle, is it true you were a racist? Aristotle: I don’t know, what’s a racist? Jeff: Someone who thinks one race of people is inherently superior to another, basically. Aristotle: Oh, well yes, then. Of course. Jeff: And men are inherently better than women? Aristotle: Does a Spartan train naked? Come man, what’s the point? Jeff: Wouldn’t you think that might encourage somewhat imperialistic tendencies? Aristotle: Ok, wait a minute--I see where you’re going with this, and it needs to stop. Jeff: He conquered virtually the entire known world, Aristotle. Aristotle: Listen, Alexander was always a little impetuous, but I do not appreciate the insinuation that I was somehow responsible for his conquests. Jeff: His formative years were under your tutelage. He kept a copy of The Illiad you gave him under his pillow. Don’t you think hearing about the wrath of Achilles roused him up a bit? Aristotle: Oh for the love of Zeus! Alexander had daddy issues, not teacher issues. Go summon Philip II if you really want to know what was going on with Alexander. Jeff: Oh all right. Besides, I suppose if we’re going to start blaming philosophers for atrocities committed with the seeming endorsement of their teachings, we’d probably start with Nietzsche anyway. Aristotle: Ooo--what happened there? Jeff: Well let’s just say someone with a will to power took Nietzsche’s idea of a master race just a wee bit too far. Aristotle: I totally fail to see how that the idea of a master race could be misapplied. Jeff: I know you do--listen, I appreciate all your help with rhetoric and everything, but do you think we can call it a day? (Deep, gravely voice in the distance): Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Aristotle: What is that aggravatingly affected sound! Jeff: Oh crap, it’s Barack Obama—and he’s coming this way! Listen, I don’t suppose you have any drachmas on you, do you? Aristotle: No—why? Jeff: Well, he’s always calling for change, so I figured giving him some might be a good way to get him to shut up. Aristotle: I think you’d best run. Jeff: Would that I could, Aristotle, but he’s half Kenyan and running marathons is that country’s national pastime. Any other suggestions? Aristotle: I suggest you forget what I said about the aesthetic undesirability of the deus ex machina and conjure up one to get you out of here. Anyway, I’ve got an appointment to get my beard trimmed. Later! (Vanishes) Jeff: But you were my deus ex machina! He’s almost here! Oh the humanity!

(Just then, Jeff sits up in his bed in a cold sweat. He realizes it has all been just a dream.)

Jeff: Oh, well that tied everything up nicely, and I didn’t even have to think of a new deus ex mach—oh, right.

--The End--