Sort of a Socratic dialogue between Cleon and Burk about vomit and genius and the implications of the governance of consciousness by reason and emotion.
Burk sitting in a booth with tattered and split vinyl benches, sipping on a 24 ounce watermelon Four Loko while scrawling on a folded, yellow notepad sheet. Cleon slides into the booth with his Remmy Martin 1738, neat in a traditional snifter.
Cleon: Why the fuck you doing this?
Burk: I don’t know. It’s, like, compulsive.
C: So you really think you got something to say? That you’re so goddamned profound? You support the Bengals for Christsake.
B: I know but I listen to shit and read shit….the “intellectuals”…..debating this and that. Then I ruminate on it….trying to formulate it all into something coherent. And I don’t know why, it’s an idiotic drive I can’t get around. Trying to understand why we’re so fucked up. Why I’M so fucked up. And it’s like an intoxicant, like bourbon or vodka or this Four Loko and I’m a fucking alcoholic. I can’t say no. And I down all that philosophic and theoretical bullshit in shots and it consumes my consciousness just like liquor. And the nightly drunkenness leads to the inevitable hangover, puking and all. But it ain’t the booze and popcorn or Doritos that get regurgitated, it’s all those thoughts and ideas that peculated all day, coming out in these stupid words like the grossly mixed, chunky and sour, hangover puke. Ideas regurgitated and longing for some sorta connection to another one, like two lonely lovers searching for their soulmates.
C: You’re one sick motherfucker.
B: I think so. But how else you ever gonna make sense of it? You gotta get that shit out like expelling that boozy toxin – getting it on a page, rather than letting it all roll around the cranium like the numbered balls in a bingo wheel, which don’t get you nowhere. At least if you pull the numbers out, you might start to see some patterns. You might start to put together how many balls are in the cage. And what’s the highest number. And if odds and evens are equally represented. You just don’t know till ya start pulling them out and trying to make sense of it.
C: So paying attention to all these “intellectuals” and their ideas like bingo balls…you think that somehow makes you one of them? That’s why you’re doing this?
B: Hell, nah. There was this writer, Carson McCullers…and I ain’t putting myself in her category, I’m just sayin’……she had a doctor that said her writing wasn’t therapy at all. It was doing her more harm than good. That it compelled her to create chaos…attempted suicide, alcoholism…..so she’d always have something to write about. Something like that, anyway.
C: So you saying you’re some kind of tormented genius or not?
B: I’m saying no cause I got this idea, see. An idea that, in a way, proves no based on my definition of genius. Of course, defining genius is a tricky thing. That might take a genius. Fuck.
C: Humor me. I got nothing better going on til Roschell gets her.
B: You ever seen the distribution of intelligence on a graph? It’s a bell curve.
Burke draws the curve on the back of his notes. He draws the curve along with the lines representing distributions.
C: Dude. You bout to lay some dat Charles Murray bullshit on me?
B: Nah. It’s got nothing to do with race. Just populations in general.
B: So let’s say the geniuses occupy the extreme end of the intelligence distribution. For sake of argument, Plato and Aristotle in their days. They’re the 1% out on the far end.
B: Kinda the middle or “average” intelligence, they’re divided evenly straight down the middle of the distribution, making up roughly 70% of the population – 35% on each side of the median. Then there’s the 14%’s between the average, the 14% between average and genius and the 14% between average and imbecile.
C: So where’s that put you?
B: I don’t know but I got this feeling that it takes some intelligence and maybe even humility to at least understand you’re not in the genius category, right? Then that begs the question of whether humility’s tied to intelligence.
C: Well, I don’t know about that. I fancy myself pretty smart. After all, if you’re calling Plato and Aristotle geniuses, they differed in thought right?
B: Well, yeah.
C: Then one of ’em was wrong about some things, right?
B: So are you arguing for consideration of your genius by virtue of their imperfect thought? What’s ever been perfect, bro?
C: Well, who’s to say? Maybe a guy like me’s more like them than you give me credit for.
B: How bout this idea that to be on the right side of the median on the intelligence curve, you gotta be smart enough to understand what you aren’t? Like not being a genius. Like not being anywhere fucking close to being a genius.
C: No reason to be insulting. And you’re starting to lose me, Mr. Genius. So you’re saying that a smart person has enough self-awareness to know how unintelligent he really is?
B: Yeah. It’s not a new concept. And I guess the same would apply to being fucked up. The idiot never realizes that he’s fucked up or why’s he’s fucked up. That’s why he never examines it.
C: Yeah, but a guy who’s smart enough to know he’s fucked up, he ain’t that smart if he’s still fucked up, right?
B: I suppose that’s right, so long as he stays fucked up.
Both Cleon and Burke pause to take drinks.
B: But I got this other idea. What if those guys way out on the end, the genius end, are out there cause they’re so rational. So tied to reason. So overwhelming governed by rationale, you know.
C: Yeah. Probably.
B: But the rest of us, we aren’t governed solely by reason. So think about this…how much of that bell curve, not only showing a measure of intelligence, also gives us a distribution of how much of our consciousness is governed by emotion.
C: So the imbeciles on the other tip are driven by pure emotion and the rest of us are a mix?
B: Yeah. And you got all these intellectuals saying that things oughta be this way and that way based on their logic. That if we conformed society and ourselves their formula, things would be less fucked up.
B: But most of us aren’t on their level of reason. So a formula that might work for them might not work for the other 99%. I mean, when you wanna fuck, you wanna fuck, right? And not everybody can reason their way out of that, especially when the opportunity presents itself, even in far less than ideal circumstances.
C: I know that.
B: You see, reason, for most, don’t work against that drive. And maybe what draws the majority away from a life founded on discipline and reason…that drives us toward guidance primarily by emotion, is another hard one to get around like saying no when that quim’s right in your face. Sex. Booze. Gambling. Laziness. You name it. All these vices that reason might hope to expel, but they been around forever, dude. And ain’t no philosophical system of reason or discipline gonna get rid of ’em.
C: Sure enough. I like all that stuff, especially the nasty with some Four Loko.
B: We need solutions to being the idiots that we are that are based on a mix of reason and appeal to emotion. But I don’t see how that’s gonna work. Cause the emotions are so easily manipulated by anybody a little smarter than yourself. That’s the rub. Like the 14% between normal and genius, they’re the ones manipulating everybody’s emotion for their own gain. That’s how they use their extra brains. Most, at least.
The front door opens. Roschelle walks in. Cleon nods in acknowledgement.
C: I think you oughta get laid and maybe find yourself another football team, dude. Let this kinda shit go.
B: Yeah. You’re probably right. They got any Blue Mofo left?
C: Nah but they got grape in the camo can.
B: Works for me.