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The Infallible Argument

Brandi Korte130513-salt_shaker

“Just you and me now kid,” he grumbled as the door slammed shut.

“I can hardly see how you can possibly claim that there is any distinction between the ‘you’ and the me’.”

He knew where this was going, but still: “What do you mean by that?” Incredulous now, easily agitated after all, but subdued enough to ask.

“I mean; there is no legitimate framework of knowledge that would provide for any idea of separate consciousness, let alone identity, and making a statement like that is redundant.”

“Oh, don’t be ridiculous!” woops. No, keeping it cool except “regardless of the simple physical fact that we both occupy a unique position in space-time that no other particle could occupy at this exact moment…”

“There you go again. Simply because our atoms form an aggregate in a certain space does not give you the liberty of designating each of them as we, or even making any sort of distinction…”

“Regardless! of that, WE” emphasis not his own, only because he has damn near lost control now, “are firmly established as separate, individually functioning identities by this conversation we are now having. Our antagonistic modes of being CLEARLY demonstrate that YOU and I! stand opposed, and by that positioning alone it is obvious that we cannot…not… be distinguished.”

With that he got up from the couch, threw himself more like it, and stumbled across room with no clear intention. The lights were dimmed from months of dust accumulation, forgivable because it was not a product of neglect but of mere lack of observation, but it did make it difficult to see what he was doing. After a few minutes of contemplative pacing, enough to amass a good amount of static electricity, he noticed his cigarettes laying beside a salt shaker he didn’t remember having before but now stirred specific emotions; regret, lust, guilt, suspicion.

Suddenly he snapped: “If you are going to deny inarguably objective, SELF-evident evidence, then what is the point?”

He turned away, back to the salt shaker and picked it up. Looking at it now, he did seem to recognize it; not because of any of its physical properties but because of a vague memory, half repressed yet not from his childhood, haunting his dreams and the tip of his tongue in many cafe-window dialectics, not so much the shaker itself but the hand that was holding it…still though it seems so foreign to him, to the point that if he asked it how it came to be here it would not only answer in a tongue not his own, but would also be rather rude about it…

“You couldn’t have claimed that salt shaker as your own anyway,” she said as she hopped from the rug onto the couch, “anymore than you could claim myself as your own. What makes it yours anymore than the Taiwanese worker who produced it?”

He was snapped from his trance by this and threw it down angrily.

“Don’t change the subject!” he yelled as he sat down on the couch next to her, but refusing to look at her, instead staring at the spot she had just left. It was as if she knew all his triggers and could play them masterfully. Perhaps she had been flipping through his journal again, which he had caught her doing on multiple occasions and upon discovery only scampered to the top of the refrigerator, and so knew his arguments before he even said them…but he remembered the cigarette in his mouth and, frustrated now, looked about frantically for the matches he could never find.

“The matches are in the other room on the dresser…”

“I know where they are!” Careful buddy, don’t want to fall for that trap again; of course they were right where she said they would be. It took two attempts for his shaking hands to light the cigarette.

“Now go on.”

“Don’t be angry at me just because…”

“go ON!”

“Fine, what I meant, and what you obviously misunderstood…”

“Obviously,” he scoffed.

Shooting him a glare, “…is that since there is no way to validate whether or not our consciousness are separate, or even established, and a conversation between the principle subjects cannot be considered evidence, than any attempt to form any idea or either your, or my, being, so to speak…”

“Oh not this metaphysical solipsism bullshit again. The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence.” muttering under his breath about Lacanian partial representation and not-quite-intentional misrepresentation.

“You got that from a Boondocks episode, you ignorant fuck!” whoops, rubbing her eyes now, ” I mean,” forcefully, regaining her composure, each word emphasized, “I meant, that you are immediately alienated from your being, or subjective self, if you’d like…”

“I would.” YEAH, that’ll show her.

“…the moment you declare your own being. It loses any claim to subjectivity. It becomes inert, and so you remove your own being by declaring it. And since there is no way for me to know whether or not you are truly autonomous, if anyone can be called that, then solipsism is just as legitimate here as any angst filled desire you may have to prove me wrong. You might as well be a figment of my imagination.”
With that she jumped back off the couch and walked into the kitchen in a huff.

“Wait,” he called, jumping up after her, angry still, but with a smile.

“Wait,” smiling now; caught up behind her nilihst’s saunter, convinced he had the upper hand, the winning laceration in her logic.

“Wait. If that is so, assuming it is in any way a legitimate rationale, which it isn’t, but if that is so, then it’s just as well that YOU could be my imagination projected as a separate entity. Then you would have no consciousness. And since I am certain in my being, and you are not, then it follows that I am the ultimate consciousness. That means that you have no autonomous rationality, therefore no argument, and are also a figment of MY imagination!” he declared triumphantly, flailing his arms wildly as he spoke.

“But I am a cat.”

“Aha, but as soon as you make a declaration such as ‘I am’-”

130513-catYana Kotina

“meow.”

He sank back down onto the couch and watched her lick herself, then stare at him blankly.

“Dammit,” he sighed dejectedly, “she always wins.”

Categories: 2013 Winter Writing Contest, Fiction, Philosophy.

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