Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

Socrates over for Supper

Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

Socrates over for Supper

Article excerpt

My beautiful young wife and I invited

Socrates for supper because we figured

he wouldn't try to fondle her

as did that old lech Aristotle

but also because I wanted to get something

off my chest that had been

giving me heartburn.

He arrived in his usual diaper, a most

unattractive site, with a bottle of ouzo.

My wife was busy preparing a great

Southern meal-grits, grillades,

fried catfish, shrimp remoulade...

The old man mumbled that he hated

everything except chicken

and I asked if he ever repaid that cock

to Asclepius.

He shook his head sadly. "It flew

the coop," he said and then I drank

the hemlock.

I do admire those who die for principle

but I wanted to know what he thought

about Nietzsche's idea that he had destroyed

the Western mind with that "know thyself"

business. I was surprised when he agreed.

"It was a mistake. Most of us should never

attempt to know ourselves. What we learn

may devastate our lives. Better to remain

animals."

But it's too late, I reminded him,

you changed the course and now

we have optimization of self, Dr. Phil,

Adler, Jung, Maslow, you know,

an entire industry that probes

the self, actualizes it, refines it,

corrects it, upgrades it-the self

has become something it's not.

Socrates swallowed a bite of the grits

and belched-"Hog food. …

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