From

You Know My Names, Look Up the Num Nums

Chapter 11 of I WANNA BE EVIL

***

DAY: July 29, 2000: EXTERIOR: 

A Toyota is driving north through woods on a New Hampshire country road. 

INSIDE we see GG (who just turned 18 today) in the passenger seat. The hair on her shaved head is starting to grow out and cannot conceal the exterior workings of her cochlear implant. A young man, SBO (20) is driving with all the blond and blue eyed assurance of lots of money.
 

GG

Go ahead. Go head. Now, ask me about “mind.”

 

SBO

Fine, G. Ok, what’s “mind”?

 

GG

No Matter.

(Horshack laugh)

SBO

That would be almost funny even if I hadn’t heard it before, but I wanna know what YOU think. Really.

 

GG

Oh, now, now, noun. Let’s not get into “really” unless it’s the subjective or objective case that's bedeviling you.

SBO

C’mon! You know what I mean. …Can you say it? You can even give me the long version. I won’t rush you.

 

GG

I’m working on the shot shot shotish version possible, but it has to be a dialog,… except not too Platonic although that’s all YOU are getting from me from right now to eternity and back again.

SBO

That’s ok, Gred.  If you want me to drive, I’ll drive. And you can be the captain and navigator until at least little Dion is born into the world.

 

GG

It might not be Dion, ya know. It might be JayCee. Like I said, It all-

SBO

All depends on the paternity. I get it G. I get it. 

GG

Do you really?

SBO

Anyway, what’s your take on mind matters?

GG

It’s not my take, it’s really Nim Chimpsky’s.

SBO

Yeah, Yeah, Garden Gnome Chomsky. Thanks for that. I’m putting him in my parent’s backyard as recompense for their being Republican. And I wouldn’t give them even fertilizer except that they're the Never trimp variety. 

GG

OK, and when you get a place of your own, I’ll buy one for you there too. We can paint it together, maybe. 

SBO

Whatever!  Anyway… Mind? … Matter? 

GG

(sighs)

Alright. So first, there’s this traditional argument. Let’s say you have TweedleDum–

SBO

That’s me!

GG

Wait, you don’t know which one you are yet. Listen!

SBO

Oops. Go head. Go head!

GG

So TweedleDum says there’s gotta be more than atoms and the void. So that means there’s gotta be spirit-

SBO

Ok, I was right. I can be Tweedle Dum!

GG

Schmuck!  I wasn’t finished!

SBO

Geez. Sorry! Keep going. Don’t let me stop ya.

GG

Just remember what Paul said, don’t ya?

SBO

What’s that, John Girl?

GG

I don’t remember, but it went something like, “Don’t comment, Fuckface!”

SBO

Ok. You’re the superstar. So Tweedle Dumb says there’s gotta be spirit.

GG

Right. But then that egghead splits up into two yolks. One is all about Yahweh and Baby Jesus and Theism and Charlton Heston splitting the Red Sea with his bullrush on Sunday. 

SBO

Ok,  Ok. And the other?

GG

Ssshhh! The other is about Hegel.

SBO

Weltschmerz!

GG

Or Amor Mundi if you're Hannah getting your Arendt out from under Heidegger's–

SBO

The world would seem brighter and more lovable once you kicked that Nazi bastard out of bed.

GG

He’s not the only one like that.

SBO

So the other dumbbell is all about Hegel.

GG

No! It could be like Spinoza, the Blessed One or-

SBO

Or any non-theistic concepts like your Creation which creates Creation and freakin Turtles all the way up, out, and away!

GG

You’d make a good meat puppet. Wouldn’t you?

SBO

We could play that someday–if you’re game.

GG

We could also play “Get out of the car!” while I drive on, and you walk back to Keene and catch a bus to Elvisville. 

SBO

Ok. Ok. So that’s TweedleDum. That’s me. And then there’s TweedleDummer?

GG

Have I told this before?

SBO

No, but I think I saw this on a South Park rerun.  So TweedleDummer is that everything is just matter. Right? Am I right, Gred? Am I? Huh? Huh? Huh?

GG

The worse thing about you driving is that I can’t just kick you outta of the car without even slowing down. 

SBO

Ya know, I think you’re right about you and Rex Harrison.

GG

No. The point is why can’t a boy be more like a yam, which means shut the fuck up, I’m talking here. 

SBO

I like it. I like it, G! Talk about Hot as Sun Glasses in the last days of July. You’re making my breath ragged, babe. 

GG

Disgusting. Just disgusting.

SBO

Well, you’re the one who always talks about the Scorpion and the Frog… But you could be both if you want, and just sting yourself.

 

GG

Don’t think I don’t know how either, dude. A woman needs a man…

SBO

Like a bicycle seat needs a mermaid with a starfish on her head that can type!

GG

Ya know what? That’s almost good. I think I might just let you keep driving my car for a while. 

SBO

Well, that’s a start.

GG

Anyway, where wuzz I?

SBO

I think you used up Tweedledee and Tweedle Dumfuck.

GG

Oh. Right. Anyway, that’s only one dialog except that each of those dead end arguments can keep splitting off into a multiple exponential peregrinations of inane idiotic controversies based on whether there’s only matter–or if mind is something separate whether or not it has a different source...

SBO

Gigi, can you say that again, only slower? I think you lost me somewhere after “anyway!”

GG

You think I could say that again? I’m not even too sure what I just said the first time!

SBO

Ok. Mind versus matter, except are they separate or together? Or something. 

GG

Right. Well, to somebody that believes in a theistic god of Avram… did you know my fat dad was named Avram, but he usually went by Abe?

SBO

And everyone knew him as Chancy. 

GG

And pretty soon the whole world's gonna know you as Sploogy B. Octopus.

SBO

(Sighs)

Ok, Gred. Back to mind versus matter.

GG

Fine. Bible thumpers and high sublime mystics alike can say that even if mind and matter are separate things, they have the same creator and they are part of the same malign Maryanne–

SBO

Yeah, but Mary Jane…

GG

Had a pain at the party. Wait! Listen to this song!

(She turns up the radio for Mickey and Sylvia: Love is Strange

Then she turns it all the way up so that SBO has to surrender to the vibe and keep his mouth shut) 

Now, where were we?

(as she turns down the volume)

SBO

Divine plan.

GG

What? …Oh. Wait!

(She turns up the volume again for Nancy Wilson and (You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am)

(When it’s finished the DJ pipes up”

You know… Everybody keeps saying… Not a tile above us to keep the rain out.  And… Not a solid piece of ground to stand on  BUT…You know …THIS is where we always were…”

Greddy snaps off the radio)

…Ok. Now, this is the part I have trouble with…

SBO

Not a leg to stand on?

GG

Sshh. No, I wanna think there’s a different argument. Except maybe it’s just another permutation of Cartesian dichotomous thinking.

SBO

Didn’t he have a duel with someone and shot himself in the soul?

GG

No, it was sabers with Fermat who skewered poor Rene like a shish kebab before he could walk away and say he splooged his theorem. 

SBO

Ouch. Ya know you’re so beautiful when you’re mean and grinchy like this. Sexy, too.

(Gredd is silent for a long time until...)

SBO

...So something about Cartesian dualism.

GG

Right… This other argument tries to leave any God out of it, but not in a definitive way.

SBO

Indefinite atheism? Is that agnosticism? 

GG

NO! I don’t think so, anyway. It’s just saying that deities and whatever their nature is or isn’t–is a separate discussion.  …A separate discussion for people who wanna have it. This discussion, the one I wanna keep to for right now, is just about mind and matter, never mind the matter of whether there’s a creator of one, or the other, or both. 

SBO

Ok. So you wanna bracket out God for a bit. But most people won’t let you do that.

GG

Who’s most people?

SBO

Not you. That’s for sure, Ingredible. Anyway…

GG

Anyway, in this one, Simplicio says that mind is just an emanation of matter. It’s just a natural emergence from a complex system like a nervous system, a brain, a universe, or a computer game. 

SBO

Speaking of emergencies, I need to pull over and run into the woods. Can I trust the keys with you?

GG

Actually I gotta pee too, and it's ladies first. Then I’ll be your look out. …Not like there’s anything much to see where you’re concerned. 

SBO

Nice. Real nice! Real nice, Gred. Keep building up my buttercup like that and see what happens.

GG

Oh, don’t take it so personally. I didn’t mean to cast aspersions on anything you gots–or notz. I was just referring to the exigencies emerging out of the variance in the natural born designs of our respective plumbing systems.

SBO

Why do I not feel any better?

GG

Listen, if I get poison ivy from peeing in the woods, I’m gonna take it personally and I’ll probably blame it all on whoever was driving my car. My fat dad had a lot of Sicilian friends and so did my Mudder’s father, if you get my vendetta. So, straighten up and fly right. 

SBO

OK. Hurry. I won’t let anybody follow you.

CUT

(As they scramble back into the car, we see G's belly and its baby bump. SBO fires up the ignition and gets them back on the road)

SBO

So, emergencies and complex systems, or something like that?

GG

Right. That’s Simplicio. But then Sagredo gets into Galileo, Newton, Einstein and quantum theory–

SBO

What? Huh. Well, I think I have to stick with Simple Simon here. At least for now… Well, go on! Go on! This is interesting. Really! I can't wait to see how this story ends well.

GG

Then why, Dunce Cap, do you keep interrupting?

SBO

I’m participating! Enthusiastically! I’m a rabid audience… Alright, what does Sad Freddo say about those scientists? 

GG

Well, basically Galileo died, never being able to fulfill his project which was to explain anything in an intelligible way… And, you know what that meant for Galileo?

SBO

I don’t know, Gredd. Did Italians have tomato sauce then?  …I got nothing. What did it mean? 

GG

Well, his project which became the whole goal of modern science was to explain nature without recourse to the supernatural or occult forces and stuff. 

SBO

Oh. I knew that!

GG

Yeah?

SBO

Yeah. Yeah Yeah. Yeah. Without occult forces. Without spooky action at a distance. So creation had to be like a machine even if the watchmaker was taking a coffee break for a few thousand millennia. 

GG

Wow. You just might end up with a diploma after all. Very good! How many credit hours do you still need?

SBO

I’ll be a senior next year, babe. And then, if I don’t die of COVID, you can always renounce your trust funds and let me support you in a way that will keep you forever disappointed. 

Gredd is silent. 

SBO

Gredd! So Sad Greg says something about the watchwork universe.

GG

Sagredo says that not only did Galileo fail his own project, but that Newton proved the project was impossible from the get.

SBO

The machine wouldn’t work?

GG

Newton proved there was no machine in the first place. Only ghost! Only spooky action at a distance. He did insist that light was composed of particles, but for a long time afterward, scientists only saw it as waves.

SBO

This is very interesting, but… I. ...Don’t. Understand. Ok?

GG

Ok. Forget about particles and waves. Newton’s experiments with light showed him that whatever light was, it did not behave in any mechanistic or even explicable way. Light does not follow any understandable pattern of cause and effect.  And the solar system was not a machine. Because what’s gravity, except spooky action at a distance?

SBO

Well, Einstein solved that little problem. Didn't he?

GG

No! He didn’t. You think curved spacetime really does away with spooky action at a distance? It might not be an epicycle, but at least you can model that with an astrolabe.

SBO

G, I’d like that. Everybody needs a little piece of as–

GG

Going for the cheap ones. Always for the cheap ones.

SBO

What did that scorpion say again?

GG

Just forget it.

SBO

Aww. Come on! Sand Greb says no machine. I get it. I get it. …Sort of.

GG

That’s it! That’s Sagredo’s whole argument. No machine: no matter. Only mind. Right? That’s where Descartes got going in the first place. 

SBO

I drink therefore I am.

GG

Listen, Monty. That python is going to be a very lonely little vermaccio if your corny keeps burying your clever up to its ears in lame cliches.

SBO

Sorry, I must be hungry. Don’t people ever eat in this godforsaken state? Or do I have to stop the car and set a deer trap, or club a moose for his meat,  or something?

GG

We’ll roll into West Beirut Lithuania pretty soon, and I’ll buy you a steak so I can watch you eat it for being such a good ducking driver.

SBO

You’re so good to me, Gigi. So… So… Everything is mind? No matter? It doesn’t really make sense. 

 

GG

Right. That’s what Simplicio says and Sagredo is not too happy either. And Galileo was sad. Newton was exorcised. And Einstein was befuddled. Nobody likes it.

SBO

Yeah, this story kind of sucks, Gredd. You shoulda kept it to your... self.

GG

Right. But then there’s Salviati.

SBO

Well, thank Great God for good old Sal Viatti!

GG

We’re keeping God out of it for now! Remember, schmuck?

SBO

Oh, right. I forgot. Just how far away are we from steak did you say we were again? 

(Another silence)

SBO

Ok. So, what does Salvy say?

GG

I don’t know. He says something like you can’t be reductive. It’s impossible to reduce mind to matter which is good in a way-

SBO

Especially if you wanna make room for He Who Must Not Be Named.

 

GG

Right, Daddy. Don’t mention it. 

SBO

So you can’t be reductive… So…?

GG

Well, that’s it. You gotta be careful about saying one thing is more real than another. There are all these levels, channels, and modes of reality…

SBO

Ahh.  Those are your turtles… I almost get it. Turtles all the way out. Turtles all the way in. All turtles in every other turtle.

GG

Right.

SBO

Interesting. Interesting. But... not exactly a story with a happy ending, G. I like my reality objective. Can you help me with that?

GG

Actually, yes. 

SBO

Yeah?

GG

Yeah. Look! Pretty soon there’s gonna be a Steakhouse on your left and if you’re racist against the Japanese people, there’s an Applebees just past that.

 

SBO

A charming yarn, G. A charming, charming, charming yarn! 

THE END

Credits roll…

as we hear 

(the cheesiest possible version of)

The Turtles 

 

and 

 

“You Showed Me”

Back to Mindlessness