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A Dialogue
 
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A Dialogue:
Uncertainty


Larry: “Why didn’t they tell us?”

Bob: “Because they themselves didn’t know. They knew even less than we knew, if you can imagine such a thing. They really believed there was god, motherhood, the flag and apple pie.”

Larry: “You mean, you knew all along? I didn’t! I feel like a jerk at fifty-one, but I was fixed on those lies just like everyone else. I didn’t want to know anything about the truth. More accurately, I
didn’t want to know that there wasn’t any truth. It would have been too scary to have nothing to believe in. I guess I wanted security over reality. I
think I still do but somehow those truths have become so eroded that I can’t fake a belief in them no matter how hard I try.”

Bob: “I know just what you are talking about. The only thing is that now we have nothing left to replace the old lies. You know - the ones that our parents and their parents passed down to us. We had nothing to do with their creation and content. They were blatant constructs of a contrived reality that we didn’t construct. They seemed to be an absolutely accurate presentation of our reality. So we believed them. It was easier that way.”

Larry: “But why did we believe in them so easily?"

Bob: “They were very seductive, who wouldn’t want to believe them? You start out with this character called Mommy. She is perfect and loving and unconditionally accepting of everything we do."

Larry: "Wow! You're right."

Bob: "Then we begin to believe in Santa Claus who is totally generous and loving. Notice a theme?”

Larry: “Yes, it's all about being loved and accepted and not having to meet any one's expectations. It's all about remaining in the childhood state forever. It has nothing to do with growing up and living in reality. It has to do with being in a total state of childish dependency. It means never having to relinquish the warm cozy world of childhood for the harsh world of reality.”

Bob: “Exactly! Who would want to get even a glimpse of reality? It’s too unpleasant. Santa and Mommy were a pretty dynamic duo, even better than Batman and Robin. So here you are now suggesting that this was all a crock, which it was. And then you further suggest that you and I have to find the reality to replace that old one which was constructed for us. Is that what you are asking?”

Larry: “Yes it is.”

Bob: “Well, all you have to do is construct a new reality of your own. But, there is one problem... you will consciously be aware that it is your construction and thus you will know from the outset that it is concocted by you and therefore isn’t real. You’ll never be able to believe it since you made it up...all by yourself.”

Larry: “Jesus Christ! We are screwed. We are trapped right in the middle of reality. Oh God, this sucks!” (Writhing on the floor.)

Bob: “Yet isn’t that where you always thought you wanted to be...right in the middle of the truth?”

Larry: “Yes, or so I thought. But screw that. Jesus Christ, it’s being stuck in the middle of nothing. There’s nothing here. No mental games to play. No 'Great Books' that contain the wisdom of the ages."

Larry: “I always thought it was all a crock. Aristotle totally contradicted the writings of his mentor, Plato. And Aquinas contradicted Augustine, and Marx contradicted Hegel, and on and on and on.”

Bob: “Then why didn’t you stop believing?”

Larry: “Because it was too scary to stop believing. But you, Bob, you bastard, you sound as though you knew all about this reality stuff for a very long time. We are best friends. Why didn’t you let me in on it?”

Bob: “Simply because I didn’t want to let myself in on it either. I guess deep down inside I always knew that it would be impossible to live in such a place of knowing.”

Larry; “So we are really screwed. What the hell are we supposed to do now?”

Bob: “About what?”

Larry: “About living the rest of out lives.”

Bob: “What can we do? We have to just go on living and filling in the spaces.”

Larry: “What do we fill the spaces with?”

Bob: “With whatever comes along at the moment…just as we did before. The difference is, now we will be aware that anything we use to fill in the spaces will be a fabrication, never to be taken seriously. There will be times when we will want to take things seriously and start believing again! Even though we know that we made all the stuff up just a minute before. It will be tempting as hell but we can’t deceive ourselves any longer.”

Larry: “Why can’t we start believing again?”

Bob: “It might feel good to believe again but it will merely become the new truth to doubt and question. Then we can just start playing our circular game of questioning...never getting an answer right up until the time we die. Is that what you want?”

Larry: “No. God, is this a weird place to be. Never again questioning anything. Knowing it is all a crock. And, I always thought it would be so freeing.”

Bob: “It’s not?”

Larry: “No, and you know it’s not.”

Bob: “A little bit of sugar makes the medicine go down…”

Larry: “How true that is. I never realized it before. And I have always especially loved sugar. Wonder if that means anything? Do you think it means anything?”

Bob: “Yes, it means that you saw “Mary Poppins. Did you like it?”

Larry: “No, I didn’t enjoy it. I hate make-believe bull shit.”

Bob: “See. Ever since I’ve known you, you never really allowed yourself to enjoy anything. Something eventually and rather quickly let’s you down. It’s more like a plunge...crash. You become enthused about something
and you're very hopeful. And just as you are about to get comfortable you crash into conflict. (Long pause) Actually, you should be the one person I know who ought to be comfortable in a world of total uncertainty. (Another
long pause)...but you are not.”

Larry: “That’s because I want certainty more than anyone I know. (Long pause) I think it has to do with my father dying when I was five."

James A. Gibson © 2004 all rights reserved