Thursday, March 01, 2007

Philosophical Experiment for the Deranged: Probably the First of Many

Disclaimer: For years I thought it was cable and the internet that distracted me from writing, but in the absence of those it has become clear to me that in desperation I will turn to anything that seems like it might be easier than sustaining a narrative, and when I say "anything", I mean I really have absolutely no standards.

Over the lifetime of this blog, we have learned a great deal about differences.

We first had occasion to learn the difference between camels and llamas, which is that according to accepted methods of scientific classification, some of them are called camels and some of them are called llamas. As to which is which, you can just flip a coin.

There was then some confusion over Vikings and pirates. To review: neither of them ever wore horned helmets, and in both cases “the” was a popular middle name. You can flip a coin on this one, too, but make sure you keep an eye on it.

Even now, the difference (or lack thereof) between my dog and a Shetland pony remains in dispute, though I have pointed out a number of distinctions could be made. For example, while it is common knowledge that you can ride a Shetland pony, if you try to sit on my dog, she’ll sit down, too, and when you’ve fallen on the ground, she’ll get up, turn around, and sit on you. Nobody has ever heard of a Shetland pony doing that. No coin-flipping. My dog is not a Shetland pony.

Today, we are going to learn the difference between the examples above and the one I am about to mention, and the difference is that there is some basis for confusing llamas and camels and Vikings and pirates. And I SUPPOSE I can see how a parallel, THOUGH CLEARLY FACTUALLY INCORRECT, might be drawn between a golden retriever and a horse ONLY for purposes to do with EFFECTIVE RHETORIC as well as the VEXING of FRIENDS, which is an equally noble cause.


Crickets and yams? What does Ivan mean to imply when she suggests that I am confusing yams with crickets?

Crickets are shiny; yams are dull. Crickets are loud; yams are quiet and unobtrusive. Crickets are annoying when they get in the house; if having yams in the house annoys you, that would appear to be a separate issue, don’t you think? Crickets are crunchy although you should never try to verify this; if your yam is crunchy, you cooked it wrong. Crickets are easily startled; yams are stoic. Crickets wear top hats and have been to Times Square; yams are down-to-earth. Crickets have brains; yams are, erm, vegetables.

A cricket could never be mistaken for a yam.


I once read an article in Philosophy Now (this will eventually turn out to be pertinent) in which a philosopher proved that werewolves could exist by making a list of extenuating circumstances that, if they all occurred at once, against all odds, would make it possible to make a logical argument that a very particular sort of human (who has suffered much more than his or her fair share of personal misfortune) is in fact a werewolf.

I’m sorry to say the article struck me as a rawther deplorable misuse of the laws of logic, not to mention time and effort. And quite aside from it being a silly undertaking, where’s the challenge? You find a very hairy man suffering from various combinations of mental illnesses and suddenly BAM! he’s a proven werewolf. We probably share three quarters of our DNA with turnips; of course it isn’t hard to make the short jump from man to man-wolf. If you’re going to engage in this ridiculous brand of alchemy, why not give it a more difficult test? Why not try it out on the really tough questions? Why not ask yourself: can you prove a cricket is a yam?

Of course you can! And, for your convenience, I have already worked it all out in three easy steps. (Please stop here and re-read disclaimer.)

According to the standards established by our friend the (surely unemployed) philosopher, if Item A looks, acts, and thinks as Item B, then Item A is Item B. So all we must do is fulfill these requirements.

Step One: How to Dress a Yam

One’s first consideration when turning a cricket into a yam must be appearances. Richard Taylor could do it better, but you will greatly improve your chances of creating a convincing yam if you start with a rotund cricket. If you can possibly find one who is also sensitive and suggestible, those qualities will come in handy later.

Once you have chosen your cricket, apologize to him and tell him how the werewolf had it worse. Then dunk him in water and roll him in dirt and grit. This will create a yam-like flavor. I mean texture. Don’t worry about the legs; you can pass them off as sprouts. As a final touch, place the fat, dusty cricket on top of a bowl of actual yams, creating a sort of yam tableau. This will put viewers in a yam frame of mind, making them far less likely to suspect that one of the yams is a cricket. If for some reason the cricket doesn’t blend in, roll him in dirt again. Do not under any circumstances allow anyone to scrub him.

Step Two: Playing the Yam

Unfortunately, as the old saying goes, having hypertrichosis does not mean you’re a werewolf and a cricket dressed up as a yam does not a true yam make. As previously shown by our philosopher, in order to be a werewolf, one must not only look like a werewolf, but one must also behave as a werewolf. One can only assume the same goes for yams.

If this sounds intimidating, take a moment ask yourself: what do yams really do? That’s right. Nothing! Therefore it will not be difficult for the cricket to conduct himself as a yam. Simply tell him to sit and stay. If you have chosen a properly rotund cricket, he will be way ahead of you here. If you have chosen an emotionally receptive cricket, he will be better prepared to give a subtle and moving performance, but frankly, it will be hard to tell the difference.

Step Three: Inside the Mind of a Yam, Such As It Is

Again, step back and contemplate the yam in relation to the rest of the dynamic cosmos: it has got to be one of the most inert masses in the universe. Yams don’t even know they’re yams. And on account of them being not even stupid, this step is even easier than the last one. Rather than going through all the ridiculous effort of raising the cricket as a yam from birth, or hypnotizing it so that it thinks it’s a yam even though it does not understand what it truly means to be a yam and says irritatingly unyamlike things such as, “Hello, I am a yam,” you must merely sing the cricket a nice lullaby and put it to sleep.

Et voilĂ : you have a corpulent, dirty, immobile, catatonic cricket which you might be able to fool a couple of philosophers into thinking is a yam. In retrospect, it would have been more lucrative to prove that the cricket is gold so that you could sell it to the philosophers and use the money to pay for an internet connection so that you don’t have to perform strange experiments on innocent insects in order to procrastinate and can just check your e-mail like everyone else, but I suppose we all have a different idea of fun.


Christi said...

I'm so glad you can ammuse yourself so readily. It unfortunately creates a hilarious side track for the readers (or co-philosophers) as well.

and where would one locate an especially rotund cricket? That's what I'd like to know.

Simon said...

Dude. I turned a cricket into a yam for you. Finding a cricket of the correct body type is your problem.

However, I am delighted to see that you are no longer torturing me by posting anonymously! Or was that not you? That's the thing about withholding your identity. It confuses people!

Matthew said...

Truthfully, what I noticed first of all is that by the nature of SAT-like association, if Man is to Werewolf like Cricket is to Yam, than that means you're accusing Yams of being BEASTS and possibly hairy murderers who feast on human flesh.

Seriously, one of us has got a thing for dangerous inanimate objects and possibly should have it checked out.

Christi said...

... excuse me.. "one of us"?????

Hi! Kettle? you're BLACK.

and i finally figured out what that whole "google account name" thing meant. it took me about two years. ::shrug::

Ivan said...

I merely meant I wouldn't want to eat a cricket or a yam. I clearly remember cricket consumption in things fall apart... or maybe it was locusts... can those be turned into a yam as well?

Katie P. said...

Ivan is alive!

Simon said...

Yeah, I would say SEVERAL of us have a thing about dangerous inanimate objects, although I'd like to point out that YOU'RE the one who turned this into an analogy question and came to the conclusion that yams are malicious and deadly...

And PS to Ivan: Yes, I took your comment wildly out of proportion, and yes, I'm pretty sure now that anything could be turned into a yam. Tomatoes, for example, on account of having higher intellectual function, would be difficult, but yams are noooo problem.

Matthew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matthew said...

All I'm saying is don't trust the yam in your kitchen until you know where it's been or whether or not it's a cricket.

All I remember of things fall apart is that the color was boxes of red and a golden-yellow-orange, and the author's name was so much fun to say: Chin-WAH a-CHAY-BAY

Adam said...

And yet again I am left to ponder the eternal question of how on Earth I ever fell in with this crowd of raving lunatics...

...who I love dearly. Ahem.

Simon said...

First of all, you'd be lonely without us. Secondly, I should think you would use caution as YOU are a prime target for being turned into a yam yourself!

Anonymous said...

"if your yam is crunchy, you cooked it wrong."
Au contraire!
It could mean you did not cook it all. If you did not cook it, and it is not crunchy, then, you have successfully turned it into compost.
Now, how do you turn compost into a cricket?
Pardon the interruption.