Intro: This is a really long skit… something like I’ve never written (nor read) before… but I’ve quite enjoyed doing. It has taken me many days to write… over period of months actually… and I know it’s still not finished. It’s put here now as a draft. This is a skit that mirrors Waiting for Godot, in that it has two characters (of course Waiting for Godot has more… so this too may have more). This ‘skit’ is about reality and the lack of it… and in effect, the (impossibility) of answering that question from two different contexts. Of course… this too is not to be taken too seriously. Since there are only two characters (so far) I’ve just used alternative paragraphs as the way of identifying the next speaker. Hopefully, the characters will be plain enough. Updated on 7 December, 2006.
Begun on 10-09-2004.
POSTMODERNLY WAITING FOR GODOT
Setting: Two characters are already onstage having a discussion.
I’m in the real world.
No you’re not, you’re in a skit.
Are you in a skit too?
So how can you say you’re in a skit when you yourself are in a skit?
The author told me so.
Did the author really tell you, or are you just reading/speaking from a script?
Well I am speaking from a script, but I also know the author and he communicated to me that we are in a skit.
But because what you are saying is in the script, so I could ask what makes you think that your “lines” are correct. The script might have said that we’re in an ocean and you would have to act as if you were. In effect I don’t need to believe you.
I see the structure of the skit. I see actors, I see lines in front of me, I see the audience. You’re in a skit, and so am I.
OK, for arguments sake let’s grant that we’re in a skit. But I am questioning you telling me so. Because if we’re in a skit, then there’s nothing that requires me to believe in what you’re saying. I return to my prior point. If you said we were in the ocean, then the audience, functioning within the skit rules, would have to accept that we were (for the duration of the illusion) in the ocean. So how can illusion claim it is truly illusion, unless its own claim is an illusion.
Admittedly you have a point, because I am reading a script.
So am I.
I can say I am conditioned/compelled to believe that I am in a skit…
As I can believe that I am in the real world, for the same reasons.
But I think there is a way to find out who is right. Eschatologically.
Meaning, if by the end of say five/ten minutes if (and when) what we are doing ends, then I would be right in saying that we were in a skit and you would be wrong in saying that you were in the real world.
You have a point there. I can’t possibly conceive of talking like this with you forever. Yet the uncertainty of eschatology persists, and smacks of fideism. To say, “if it can’t be proved, but one day it will be,” cannot be used as a basis for understanding reality because we would remain “actors” all our lives, unable to escape the fantasies we exist in. In essence we would simply exist in our own worlds (created externally or internally) without the really-real, if it exists, having any bearing on our constructed realities.
Ah, that’s a good point. And I say that the really-real has its bearing on our reality. And we can know it. For instance, as I mentioned earlier, there is an audience watching us. And since we can agree that an audience is not bound to the parameters of the skit, we can see how the audience responds to us.
I think it is simplistic because you think we have a common understanding of what a skit is. I may perhaps NOT share your view of skit, especially if your understanding of ‘skit’ is limited. For instance, what if the ‘audience’ as you call them were part of the skit too? They could have been manipulated in such a way that they too would be part of the ‘skit’. And thus, they too are not reliable as markers of the really-real. Our understanding of skit must allow for such possibilities. There is no way for you to determine if this is also a skit or somehow outside the skit and into the real. Also, since your understanding of the “real” in this case your “audience” is shaped by your own script, how can you say that your understand of the “real” is real? To explain further, if your script said that you were a deaf and blind paralytic then you would not even be able to see or hear or feel the audience. Your lack of senses would not mean the audience was not there. I say again therefore that you are in no way an authority to tell me whether I am in reality or whether I am in a skit.
I see the problem, I have no outside referent to say that this is a skit.
Yes! You got it!
Yet, one thing I do have is… if I go away from the script…
See that itself is an illusion. For instance, your going away from the script can be planning by the script. Your improvisation would mean therefore that you are within the constructs of the script.
Ok, ok. I think I have this all wrong. Rather than me saying you are in a script. I must let the author tell you that you are in a skit.
Meaning, if we are in a skit, there is an author. And while I do not have the outside reference to tell you that this is a skit, even if I am using the author’s words, still in theory, the author can tell you that this is a skit.
If there is an author, yes he or she can communicate that to me. But I don’t believe it.
See belief doesn’t matter if a author genuinely exists. If an author exists he could …
He or she could…
Right, he or she could communicate to you that you were in a skit.
Yet but my contact with the author would have to be scripted, and in that sense it would be determined by the script, and even my reactions would be scripted…
Yes and no. You are right in saying that the encounter must be within the script. But you can’t say that it would not be an encounter with the author. Right?
So, if the author did make an appearance, even if it was scripted, because we understand only the language of the script, the author would have only the script to help us understand that this is a skit.
So do you believe theoretically this encounter can happen in the here and now.
Yes it can happen, though it’s improbable. But that doesn’t answer the determinism. For instance, if I do not accept that it is a script and still believe that we are in a real world after this “encounter”, then my reactions were conditioned by script, it was scripted, my unbelief was part of script, even predetermined.
Yes, and that would prove that you were in a script.
But it would also prove that I had no will to accept any genuine encounter, and it would also not solve the problems because I would continue to believe I was in the real and you would keep harping on me being in a skit. There would be no genuine engagement between us because we would be determined to hold these views in the first place. I could simply settle into my belief that this is real without even seeking an alternative understanding because I would have no need to hope for an understanding of the real.
I see you are silent.
Yes, I’m thinking.
While you’re thinking, I have another question. When you said that we could figure out ‘truth’ in the end, I think I can challenge that. For one, what happens to me when, if this is a skit, the skit ends.
Then you go back to your seat.
Well which seat?
That seat of course. Or any seat that you’re allowed to sit on.
Firstly, your conception of seat comes from within the skit. So your character’s definition of seat is what I am to correspond to. According to your scripted character, your conception of seat could be very different from me. In effect, when this “skit” ends, then your conception of seat could possibly not even exist.
OK, I need to still think about that… you seemed to suggest you had a secondly.
Yes, secondly, who will sit?
You of course.
Me? Or my character?
Well you, the real you, the one who is playing the part.
OK, so if the real me is playing a part, then if I am playing my part correctly, I would have taken on another part. In effect you would be addressing two parts of me, one the real and another the imaginary… is that right?
Well I’d rather listen to the whole argument before I comment.
Fair enough. So if you… and that bifurcation would affect you too, because your ‘real’ persona would be speaking through the ‘scripted’ character… addressing a bifurcated me, then it is not really me at this moment that would sit on the seat, but a part of me. Where would my other part sit?
What other part?
The scripted part. What would happen to the scripted part in eschatological terms?
Nothing, it would simply vanish.
No. It would exist in script, or memory, or even collective performance memory.
Ok, I concede, the character would not simply vanish. But it’s idealistic matter would remain within idealism and would not need a material seat to sit on.
Ok, so it would be impossible for my “idealistic” character to really know that it is not a real object, but a figment of imagination… (waiting for a response and then continuing)… and so there would also be no real communication of the truth in eschatology. We… my bifurcated self… would not know the truth in the end… because when we do, I would not be in character.
Yes that’s true, but because the idealistic character is an idea, it would not matter. Questions of real and reality do not apply to ideas in the same sense as physical material objects that we essentially are.
Hmm, essentialism… I could say something about that.
But I think we’re going off track. I have another point of view. The author wrote the script.
What are you trying to say?
I’m saying, that whether we accept it or not, the author wrote the script.
But you’re just making me repeat what I’ve been saying all along, that what you’re saying, according to you, is scripted, and hence you might as well have said you are a speaking inside a whale.
I think it’s more fundamental than that. What I’m trying to say is that to say the author wrote the script is something that predates yours or my existence as a character. In that we would be performing because the author conceived us and got the director to make us perform. Even though our characters may or may not recognise that we are within a construct, the fact is that we would be unable to understand that significant truth, within character, except if the author were to invade our space and make himself known. It would be impossible for us, the characters, to figure out the extra textual truth by ourselves.
Fine, but again aren’t you repeating yourself? Even my encounter with the author, even if it occurred, would be scripted.
That’s not the point, the point is that without the author’s own intervention, there would be no way for you to know that you, as your character, were in a script.
It would be impossible for you too.
Right, except that I’m claiming that the author told me so.
The scripted word author told the scripted you.
Well, if you put it that way, yes. But I’m claiming that I am representing the author in a small way trying to communicate to you that you are in a script.
Why did the author contact you and not me?
(sighs) The eternal question about election. I don’t know. But that doesn’t change the fact that he did.
Well, then let me give the eternal answer. That’s determinism. No matter what you say, if you expect me to believe that I’m in a script, and then somehow believe that you have special access to the author which I don’t… I simply cannot believe that I am in a skit.
Because this whole conversation would be scripted and my scripted character is simply destined to not believe in the fact that I can change my beliefs.
Ah, but you see that’s where you are wrong. If I am correct, my reality presupposes your ability to go beyond the script and choose to believe that you are in a script and opt for a ‘real’ world.
But I am in the real world.
No, you are in the real world according to the script. But I think you can impose your fundamental humanity to override the script, revolt against it, and show that you are truly a human being outside the control of the script.
Why would I want to do that?
Because… because that is the real world?
But then I would be listening to your scripted character telling me what to do, and my response would then correspond with the scripted choices available as a consequence. I would still be controlled by the script.
Yes and no. Yes you would be working within the confines of the script; but also you would be surpassing it. While the script can predict that you can surpass it… the script cannot predict in what manner the real human saying the dialogues will revolt against the script.
What guarantee do I have that the assertion of my humanity would not be scripted.
None, sadly. Perhaps I think you will feel free; but I can see that you may argue that it too is an illusion.
Exactly. Every revolt, could be a scripted revolt. But in effect I would be under the control of the script.
This sounds uncannily like Matrix theology.
(laughs) Perhaps you’re right. And the interesting thing is that the movie remains the movie, the characters live as characters, even though they fight for freedom, they remain confined to a mythic world. They have to believe that they exist in a free world; their characters would cease to be authentic if they believed they were in a movie; but the fact remains that the movie is the ultimate control. There is no escape from the ‘cosmic drama’.
I think there is; if we think of the actors participating with the author in some way, to remind themselves of the reality; and participate in constructing the story. A genuine encounter with the author; in the case of Matrix with the Wachowski brothers; would then give the ‘real’ actors the understanding that they fundamentally are participating in the story telling and in that sense free. They would participate as ‘actors’ in the movie, always knowing that they were free… and perhaps it was only the audience that believed the illusion.
You are therefore dichotomizing me and saying that I exist as actor and the role I am playing.
Exactly… and I appeal to the actor to act intentionally. Being aware of the role.
OK, fair enough. But by being aware of my role, in a script, will deconstruct the script… the audience would realise that they are not seeing a skit, but a reality show, which incidently is also scripted… and that would work against the purposes of the skit and even the author.
You’re right. I didn’t think of that. The author has a purpose to fulfil in this skit. And by forcing you to exert your authority over the skit/script, you could theoretically go against the very process intended through the skit/author.
Yes, for instance, if this was a skit and I exerted my reality right at the beginning, then there would be no skit in the first place, and no dialogue, and no point of us talking.
Yes, that’s true.
So Judas Iscariot had to betray Jesus!
What? What are you talking about?
I’m saying that if this kind of determinism is needed to keep the purposes of the author alive; then my refusal to believe that this is a script, even if you’re telling the truth and I’m speaking falsehood; it still makes me consistent to the roles I should play and thus, like I have to oppose you and continue to beleive that this is the real world, Judas has to betraysJesus, because he has to help Jesus fulfil his mission.
Interesting. But one small hitch. We are assuming we know the mind of the author. More correctly, we are supposing that the author wants this skit to continue with you believing that this is a skit.
Exactly, because without my participation, this skit would deconstruct.
Yes, but what if the author wants you to break out of the skit. What if the author wants you to exert your reality and be free and in that action, the skit is fulfilled.
Interesting theory, but how would we know that was the authors intention.
Let’s say, I’m telling you the authors intention.
Which brings us back to…
I know, I know… ‘why did he tell you and not me’. I don’t have an answer to that question. But I want to tell you that the author’s intention is for you to believe that this is not a script. But he cannot script it; he wants you to break out of character; break out of your constructed reality and believe that this is script.
Look, we’re going around in circles. What guarantee do I have that my breaking out is not scripted. It could be part of the control that the script has in the first place. I am much happier saying my ‘lines’ as you call them, saying that I am free, which in effect is what I genuinely feel and believe. There’s no need for me to break out of my reality and assert another truth claim.
And if the author shows up and tells you that this is fictional; and he wants you to believe this is fiction.
Then, we’ll see. As you know I would question…
I know, I know… whether that person was the author in the first place, or another actor playing his part…
(End of part I)