Kalinga Magazine
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Kalinga Magazine

Five Philosopher Panel Discussions (GONE WRONG) (GONE WILD)

Bhankara: Welcome, ladies and gentleman! I’m Bhankara and I do not care about the expression of your gender identities. Now that I’ve alienated most of my audience, may I please introduce you all to some miserable brats who will further my excellent work:

On the left, we have the father of Western philosophy, a man of true nobility: SOCRATES! Some of you might be wondering, “Wait, where?”. The more enlightened, however, will recognise his famous ‘pupil’ (Greek for pet), Plato! To be clear, Socrates was meant to speak at this panel discussion via Skype but we don’t have much connectivity out here. Nonetheless, we were lucky to find dear Plato hanging out at the MPH, throwing rocks at our young slam poets ‘polluting’ the stage. They were all but sad to have him sent over to our panel here.

Many of you, through the pursuit of your great academic work, know Plato as “The Father of Footnotes”. Others might be more familiar with his title, “The Prince of Privilege”. All in all, it warms our hearts to be assured that he’ll fit right in at Ashoka University.

Next to Plato, we have his wonderful, wagging, swaggering arch nemesis, DIOGENES! We would like to thank both philosophers for being decent enough to accommodate each other. We would also like to ask Diogenes to put down his chicken.

Diogenes spits in Bhankara’s face.

Bhankara: Haha! It’s quite, alright. We’re friends. I know all these cool, important people. That’s why I’m also cool.

Diogenes spits in Bhankara’s face again.

Bhankara: Anyway, moving on. Next to the two Greeks, smack dab in the centre, is the “Frenchie of Free Speech”: VOLTAIRE! Although the organisers of this convention thought John Stuart Mill to be a more suitable candidate, they were quick to discover that his ‘liberty’ excluded those peoples he considered barbarous, and promptly cancelled his appearance. They did not want to risk him witnessing a Thursday night in Sonepat and having his biases confirmed. As for Voltaire, what more can we say? Whatever it is, he’ll defend to death our right to say it.

Audience Member 1: “He didn’t actually say that, you know! That quote is originally from-

Both Diogenes and Bhankara spit on this person.

Bhankara: Next up, is the tanned man with a plan. He’s not just a philosopher. He’s a rockstar with a religious fan following. Not many people know this but he actually used to play bass for Nirvana. His friends call him ‘OG’ because he’s the Only G who counts (and we agree). Everyone give it up for THE BUDDHA! As you can see, our show-stopper has already got to work. We request the audience to maintain decorum as the master proceeds to Slowly Leave Earthly Entities Piously.

Audience Member 2: “Hey! Why aren’t there any female philosophers?”

Bhankara: Oh, did I not mention this in my introduction? Not only do I not care about the expression of your complex gender identities but I also hate women. Much like a lot of these good folk up here.

This disruption briefly wakes up the Buddha, but after a few good grunts he goes back to sleep.

Bhankara: Getting back to the topic at hand, we present to you our final participant, seated on the far-right (completely unrelated): ‘ALBERT CAMUS’! The ‘tormenter of lungs’ is famously known for being five degrees cooler than everyone. Camus is also known as one of the world’s earliest suicide helplines, saving countless people with his ideas about embracing Absurdity.

There is quiet murmuring in the crowd. Bhankara, worried, ruffles through his notes.

Bhankara: Just to clarify, ‘Absurdity’ is NOT the name of one of his mistresses. Now, shush it! The topic for today’s discussion is, ‘How should one organise a convention of philosophers?’ Begin!

There is a brief moment of silence. Camus lights a cigarette.

Plato: Well, it is natural to assume that if there must be a convention of these so-called “philosophers”, then there must be one who moderates and presides over this convention. Since such a convention would be host to many candidates suitable for the crown of the philosopher-king, one must search for the king philosopher-king.

Diogenes (spitting): BLEH! A convention may only be held in an institution; a product of the unruly mess of an inevitably regressive civilisation. Look around you! There can be no wisdom and happiness in such a place.

Plato (irritated): As always, you have found a way to debase rational talk with your hobo-ness. Tell me Diogenes, does your spit ever dry?

Diogenes (using his chicken as a mic):

No, my spit never dries

My dry wit is ever-wise

If Plato were clever

He would mimic a cynic

I might be mad, dawg

But you need the clinic!

Plato: Fucking poets.

Voltaire: Gentlemen, if I might-

Voltaire is interrupted by Diogenes, who climbs on top of the panelists’ table and begins to take off his pants.

Voltaire (still trying to contribute to the discussion): I must object to your characterisation of poets, Plato. Being one myself, I often find that-

Diogenes: Is this what you want?! A circle-jerk of jerks talking in circles?

Diogenes raises his chicken towards the crowd.

Chicken/Diogenes: CLUCK. CLUCK. CLUCK.

Plato (getting fed up): “It’s funny you should mention jerking because at this point you’re just a sad Louie CK parody. You may be shitting on us now, but do you have anything to say for your vile acts?”

It takes the audience a moment to realise that Plato meant “shitting on us” literally.

Diogenes (turning around to face the philosophers): “If only it were as easy to banish hunger by shitting on your stages”

Voltaire (complaining): That’s not even funny! You can’t call yourself the witty one when-

Diogenes jumps off the table on to all fours and speeds away. Sometimes, it do be like that.

Camus, who has been quietly scribbling away, decides to speak up.

Camus (putting out his eighth cigarette): Okay, so listen up. I have a parable which can explain the nature of all of these dilemmas.

Everyone groans.

Camus (lighting his tenth cigarette): Fine then. Thought I’d try.

Voltaire: No, you must speak! That fool Diogenes is no longer with us. Let nobody ever stop you from-

Camus (bursting into speech): What must we do to organise a convention? This is the fundamental problem of this convention’s existence. We cannot give our hypothetical convention any meaning, for it does not exist. That is to say, meaning does not exist. The hypothetical convention might. Maybe this convention is the convention we must find a way to organise. Maybe it was yesterday’s convention; I do not know. But if, like our friend Diogenes, we drop out of the convention then that is nothing more than philosophical suicide. The fundamental problem of the convention still remains. I say, embrace the convention!

Voltaire: Whilst I do wish to respect your solution, it seems to me that- (interrupted)

Plato (sarcastically): One must imagine Camus happy with all the bullshit he spouts! What solution is that? Do you write poetry too?

Voltaire: Once again, Plato, I must- (interrupted)

Camus: I don’t know. What I do know is that I’m all out of cigarettes. See you folks soon!

Camus gets up, does a twirl and moonwalks off stage.

Voltaire: Good Sir, that contradicts- (interrupted)

Plato: As I was saying, there’s only one way to organise a convention.

Voltaire (losing it completely): WHY DOES NO ONE FUCKING LET ME FUCKING SPEAK! Plato, I warn you, now is not the time for making new enemies! YOU WILL REGRET YOUR INTERR- (interrupted)

Bhankara: I’m sorry, I’ve just received word from the university that we can’t tolerate such obscene language. It’s not done. Voltaire, I must ask you to leave the panel. Either that, or be publicly shamed.

Voltaire, steam pouring out of his ears, opens his mouth to then shut it right back up. He storms off stage.

Plato: Well then. I guess I’m the only one left. This must mean I truly AM your king philosopher-king.

Plato checks his watch.

Plato: Alas! I must leave as there is no one left for me to engage in a dialectic with. Also, the slam poetry session ends soon and I’m hoping to convince Diogenes to take a shit there too. Byeeeee.

Everyone has left. The audience is bewildered and breathless. The faint sound of snoring can be heard. Someone points to a figure, slumped cosily into one of the panelist’s chairs. It’s the OG! It’s the Buddha! His eyelids lift gently. He smiles at the young audience.

The Buddha: “And that, my children, is how one achieves peace and salvation”

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Kalinga is the battlefield where Ashoka was humbled. In these pages, history repeats itself.

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Kalinga Staff

Kalinga Staff

Kalinga is the battlefield where Ashoka was humbled. In these pages, history repeats itself.

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