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What If…. You Partied with these Five Famous Philosophers?

May 30 2012 at 5:40 pm by

Getting a drink on with Nietzsche never sounded like so much fun. And maybe it isn’t..

One of the coolest things ever to come out of Stan Lee’s imagination (or those of his Marvel minions on payroll) was the idea of “What If…?” crossovers such as “What If… Wolverine Won Second Prize at the Minnesota Meat Loaf Convention?” and “What If… Captain America Really, Really, Really Died (We Promise This Time – He Slips in the Tub on Page Two!)?”. While such imaginative embarkments stirred the imagination as well as the sales sheets, it’s a wonder that academic circles never thought to consider the cool factor of what might happen if you partied with some of the philosophical bad-boys.

Well, wonder no longer. Five shadowy figures stand ready, drinks and smokes in hand, for light socializing and heavy “philosophizing”. Who’s first? Why of course…

Friedrich Nietzsche and a Wannabe Ubermensch (That’s You!) sharing a beverage at The Killing Floor Dark Trance and Juice Bar

Frederick Neitzche+Dark Bar Scene

The first thing you think to yourself after seeing the deepest scowl at the world turn its gaze upon you from the corner table in a dark industrial goth bar is: “The original Ron Swanson!?”

“No. Though I have watched your… Parks and Rec. It is quite funny. You should consider the addition of a mad prophet other than Tom. May I suggest my own Zarathustra?”

He raises a glass to his bristling lips as a new song begins, thumping a driving dark metal beat into the club. Should you tell him that the show is not really that cerebral?

“No, I can see the displeasure written all over your soft and effeminate face. It will not work.”

Drinking with Nietzsche, it turns out, is a wild ride. In between glowers and effusive bursts of energy, madcap rants against filthy moralists and proselytizing Christians (something you can definitely get behind, after all, you’re drinking with an insane German – though technically a Prussian – in a death techno club. The church boosters don’t have any chocolate chip cookies for sale here.

As he downs more and more of the burning good stuff, his eyes and hair become even wilder and more disheveled until, without having spoken more than a few sentences yourself all night, you are finally left in silence as he does nothing but stare off into some far off, unseen abyss – or maybe he’s just captivated by the long legs and tight black fishnets strutting her stuff on the edge of the nearby dance-floor, bathed in undulating neon. Hard to tell with this little rascal.

After twenty minutes of the same silent pose, however, you start to feel a little uncomfortable. Snippets of truth and madness from your conversation cling to your mind like barbs as you escape the smoke-filled basement of the club and out into the fresh air.

Did you just abandon the man to a dark fate, staring into the nothingness that is the future?

No, you’re just being a good wingman and letting your homeboy have his pick of the pale litter. That’s being a real philo-bro!

Socrates – The Man Otherwise Known by Keanu Reeves (and that other guy) as So-crates! You see him at a frat house Toga Party!

Socrates+Toga Party

More than just a toga wearing hippie, Socrates is considered by many to be the father of formal philosophy. The fly in the ointment, the bothersome gnat, the man who would rather die by drinking poison than escape as a broken symbol of a figure – you know this is a drinking contest, right?

Socrates would be the coolest guy at the frat house toga party – sorta like Blue from Old School. You know, that movie where Will Ferrell runs naked down the street screaming. Yes, there was only one of those – the other one you might be thinking of (though he was wearing a rather dapper suit while jog-ing down the street) was his good film, Anchorman. Anyway, Socrates is like Blue in that they’re both cool old guys who are first and foremost concerned with the gathering of knowledge. True story.

Other than the obvious fringe benefit of being able to seduce nearly any college aged party attendee by the two-pronged method of looking like an influential yet hard-partying professor while simultaneously holding an exotic and eloquent Greek charm and gravitas making Socrates the absolutely perfect wingman while on a gentleman’s quest, he would also make for a great dialogue partner. You could ask him repetitive, obvious questions while he blustered towards a seemingly inevitable, obvious solution.

Drown the whole thing in wine and call it a legendary, feel-good show for the ages.

John Stuart Mill and Yourself (accompanied by your respective Liberties) at East or West Side Mario’s – a sober and gratifying man date.

John Stuart Mill+Dinner

Blending the perfect amount of American independence with a good old fashioned British beer and comfort food palette, Mill’s utilitarian / libertarian approach to political philosophy might extend to a lager and lasagna with friends at the local pasta joint. While it’s quite well known that Mill preferred high art and higher pleasures than a cheap Guinness and a plate of penne for 9.99 on Thursday’s, a lesser known fact is that the man simply loves Italian food.

Forget about the calories (the pound of cheese per plate can’t be helping), the fats, the sodium, and all of those other things we only recently discovered thanks to the twin wonders of things we call computers and science, and other science-y things. As long as JSM’s hard-partying at the pizza and pesto pasta place only affects his arteries and nobody elses, everything will be cool. Ditch the “harm principle” of On Liberty and try out the “parm principle” in chicken and beef flavors.

After one night of casual-fine dining with a man once known as the Feminine Philosopher you’ll know that the nickname couldn’t be more appropriate. After the second stout and spaghettini combo the British thinking positive pulsates with energy as he recites, for the fourth time, the conditions of freedom. If only you had the freedom to get out of your chair to make a break for it!

Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud, and Yourself at the Local Chok’lit Shoppe and Greasy Spoon Diner (Yes, they still exist in non-ironic fashion in places with dial-up internet)

Sigmund Freud - Carl Jung+Girl with Ice Cream

Yea yea, most people call them psychologists or psychoanalysts, but both are also philosophers, particularly Jung. Let’s not split hairs. Both of these bad boys of brain studies and brain related fields of study have an ice cream sandwich (with sprinkles!) they’d like to share with you at their summer patio party! The aperitifs are free, and not watered down (something about the European flair for drink and merriment rather than American puritanism forcing vulgar displays of drunkenness, no matter how fun and epic).

We all know that old Sigmund would obviously read way too much into the banana split, so instead we suggest sharing a sundae with him (just watch the ashes from his pipe; Neapolitan may be a blend of flavors but tobacco ash is not a suitable addition). After he takes the time to scrutinize you, you’ll be eligible for a free half-hour session of psychotherapy. Hey, it’s cheaper and more accurate than the Scientologists just down the street on the corner office.

Jung on the other hand hangs back at the periphery, hugging the diner wall like some sort of Kafka-esque spider-man (to distinguish, Peter Parker’s Spider-Man bears no relation, even though Kafka’s Gregor is also an iconic figure in literature the resemblance ends there. Gregor doesn’t get a cool suit or even the love of his family). He’s taking notes on you, you see, and he’s dreaming of symbols that may best suit you. No, he’s not a dime-store astrologist – nor is he the past-regressed life of a drug-addled Miss Cleo’s hotline associate – he’s one of history’s most eminent cartographers of the mind and if he wants to cling to the wall of the local diner like an insane person, that’s entirely his business!

Now, back to the business at hand.

Both men would, in the end, argue not only about the mental conditions you inevitably and invariable suffer from (a laundry list running from perennial brain stink to perceived silliness at rude times syndrome) but they also can’t agree on the ice cream bill. You offer that they might consider going dutch like any couple would, but Freud points out that you and Jung shared the banana from the banana split and so therefor you are clearly a closeted case – failing to realize that he had digressed so far from the original point that the bill had already been paid by Jung, swiping his mentor’s credit card (how did Freud end up with one of those, anyways? Silly stories.) and palming it to the waitress who’s been taking this whole show in, tableside, for the past fifteen minutes with a glassy-eyes stare.

Jung 2, You 1, Freud zero. Fair game.

Whew! Still alive? Still interested? No? … Sorry. You made it, though!

Whether you didn’t find the above all that funny or you are still daydreaming about the mere possibility of having ice cream and hard liquor with the biggest brains on earth, the adventure sure can be tiring. After all of that mental exercise it might just be time to kick back and enjoy a few of life’s best offerings, with a few good books in tow.

…and for those of you who made it all the way through here’s a little partying philosophers bonus for you.

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