Phaedrus and the Priests of Fluid Ontology
The following lines are an accurate re-telling of a dream I had in January 2021. Nothing’s made up or embellished, all except for the character names which I have replaced with more evocative ones.
SCENE 1 – HYDE PARK
Dr. Phaedrus was all over Youtube. His lectures on his peculiar Neo-Platonic thought were spreading exponentially, and still he had the common sense to promote real life meetings over impersonal online interactions. Large crowds were gathering in Hyde Park to listen to his free talks on various issues, and I was always there to hear him speak. I was generally favourable towards his ideas, although still not an adept. Certain aspects of his philosophy were over the top; he and his wife had 13 or 14 children of various ages and some of his actions were too eccentric for my tastes.
There were also those who attended the meetings because they hated his guts and wanted him silenced by all means necessary. One of those was Cynthia, whom I had known personally. This dude (yes, he was a dude, and a straight one at that), after having listened through many of Phaedrus’s online lectures, was convinced that the philosopher was a transphobic ‘essentialist’ and that he represented a mortal danger for society. As soon as he mustered the courage to act on his notions, Cynthia and his wife showed up at one of Phaedrus’s Hyde Park lectures. They made way to the podium and, unnoticed in the large crowd, managed to easily kidnap two of Phaedrus’s little sons. They took them to their SUV in the parking lot, put some white sheets over their bodies and started shouting at the top of their lungs: ‘let this act of civil disobedience be a lesson for all of you bigoted essentialists’ and continued to ramble for a few more minutes, then, in spite of Phaedrus desperate pleads, proceeded to setting the sheets on fire, then drove the SUV out of the park at full speed.
Although Phaedrus and his wife were heartbroken after the incident, they realised that a retributive ‘eye for an eye’ approach would only lead to an endless spiral of violence. On the other hand, they wanted to open a way of communication with the revolutionary couple, and they thought the best way of doing that was by making Cynthia and his wife feel what they had gone through and force them to re-evaluate their ways. Phaedrus thus kidnapped their child, but was careful to inform them that no harm will be done to him, and all he wanted was a private meeting with the radical couple. Cynthia and his wife did agree to the proposition, however when they later met in Hyde Park, they seemed completely possessed by anger and refused to listen to anything Phaedrus had to say. They had completely forgotten their own terrible past deed, and were fixated on the unfairness of their son’s kidnapping. ‘Look’, Phaedrus pleaded; ‘he is unharmed; have him back but please, consider the outcome of your actions!’ Not listening to a single word he was saying, they went back into their SUV, slammed the car doors, put it in reverse and accelerated. I was standing next to Phaedrus, when we both noticed the car had a deflated tyre. ‘Wait’, Phaedrus shouted. ‘Check your tyre before you leave!’ Still, they would not even hear him out on this one and left at full speed. ‘I still have Cynthia’s phone number’, I heard myself mumbling to Phaedrus. ‘Maybe if I give him a call, he will listen.’
SCENE 2 – CHURCH GATHERING
A few weeks had gone by. The Protestant community Cynthia and I had been a part of was fully divided on the controversial teachings of Phaedrus. They had also realised that the philosopher’s opponents were pushing their very own radical philosophy of ‘fluid ontology’, which some thought led to sexualising children, confusing their minds and all sorts of decadent practices. The church was split between two factions – the followers of Phaedrus and the priests of ‘fluid ontology’, though the great majority of its laymen were somewhat neutral, caught between the two warring factions. In order to reach an agreement, they decided to host a debate between the opposite sides.
On the day of the debate, the church was packed. The opening statement belonged to Cynthia, who started his speech in the most predictable manner:
CYNTHIA: There are weak individuals among us, and we must protect them. As a loving, caring community, we must make sure they receive the rights and liberties they deserve as human beings. We need to make sure we don’t discriminate and impose our Patriarchal notions of gender binary on them, and allow them the necessary, vital space to navigate their own identities and lived experience’.
He continued with this jargon for a few more minutes, then stepped down, satisfied with his performance.
The next speaker was a lady doctor and a relatively devout member of the congregation. I always knew her as one of the ‘neutrals’, completely uninterested in the culture wars, which is why her speech took me by surprise. As a General Practitioner, she had plenty of anecdotes about children being subjected to trans notions, with very unfortunate consequences – medical complications, unexpected illnesses, regret later in life and so on. Her speech came across as too reactionary even for my taste; partly because I could see she was fresh into the controversy, speaking with the conviction and cluelesness of a new convert, but partly because I could fully predict what the countering arguments coming from the priests of ‘fluid ontology’ would sound like. Before the doctor finished her speech, I was distracted by Cynthia and his wife angrily storming out, kicking and slamming the doors in an attempt to signal they were deeply offended.
The doctor was followed by a speaker of the opposing camp – Nabigail Thorn-Wynn; another straight dude who was Cynthia’s good friend and part of the same activist group. Nabigail, considered one of the more capable intellectuals in the radical movement, channeled all his rhetorical tricks and notions of homiletics into convincing the crowd of the righteousness of his cause. He culminated with a heartwarming anecdote:
NABIGAIL: In my youth I knew this child, born and raised in a good Protestant family. When he reached 13, he started acting strangely; nothing seemed to cure his crisis; he stopped seeing other kids, lost weight, spent most of his time in voluntary seclusion in his home. During that time, I prided myself on being a steadfast Christian and a discerner of good and evil; yet instead of having the humility to notice the REAL psychological and societal causes of the kid’s alienation, I smugly concluded that the cause of his grief was his sinful self-abuse, leading to the obstruction of divine currents in his brain. Did I mention I also used to believe that water fluoridation diminished the purity of his pineal gland? And that millenia of sinful practices, excessive release of vital force and ungodly miscegenation, all practiced by the kid’s ancestors, led to his heart becoming petrified, Satan gaining a foothold into the sanctuary of his soul, and God punishing the sins of his parents’ parents, up until the 4th generation? [He made a pause for effect]. All these absurd notions had blinded me to the TRUE cause of the child’s misfortune!’
The subtle point being that the audience should not be prejudiced against people they knew nothing about, and should stop listening to intolerant fanatics like Phaedrus or the lady doctor. He went off the stage, fully satisfied with himself.
I thought the meeting would end then, when to my surprise, I noticed my good friend Stef taking the floor for the closing speech.
STEAFAN: My friends, I am sorry to disappoint you all, but the real tyranny you need to resist is not essentialism or ‘the gender binary’ or this or that philosophy, but the tyranny of your own thoughts. That chattering part of your brain, the logician who justifies your every action, who asks you to adhere to this or that cause, to attack this or that person, to be an activist. to re-model your entire life based on a theoretical structure, giving you the illusion that all your actions must be programmed top-down, like you’re some sort of computer brain. No, my friends. You are NOT computer brains. Not all your actions, inner thoughts and bodily activities are deliberate, consensual, based on fairness and social justice. They are unconscious. Trodden paths of your biological self; cultural paths that bond you to your fellow men.
How about instead of your utopian striving to destroy all these aspects of your humanity and replace them with some semblance of a computer algorithm – you would accept them for what they are? Or dare I say CELEBRATE them? Be GRATEFUL for them for a change?! Celebrate your culture rather than attempting to destroy it or even worse, to replace it with some vague ‘lived experience’ – nothing but the deified left brain chattering voice, low time preference, self-indulgence; not even consistent from one moment to another?! Our society has forgotten the meaning of gratefulness. We are in this titanic quest of eviscerating our cultures in order to replace them with prescriptions and ideologies; a flight too close to the Sun, like Icarus’, leading to a tyranny far worse than that which it tries to remove. Society of equality, where the limitations of biology are finally overcome and death is conqeured by transhumanism. Through tech you think you can become whatever your ego decides, then share this energy comfrotably in a social space that has firmly eradicated all judgement. My friends, these are literally the left brain’s characteristics abstracted into a world vision. This is also why these activists right here have so much animus, dopamine and agression. My friends, as Christians, dare I ask you to map Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ to their radical idea, that is – Lucifer as the “progressive will to a utopia” that actually ends up being “pandemonium” and you will have fuel for your ‘Great Controversy’ for the next 50 years.
At this point I fully woke up. I wish I had seen the reactions of the public; I had no idea whether they were going to cheer Stef for his Dionisyan moment, or boo him off the stage in unison.