Tuesday, March 08, 2016

To A Class Room Metaphysician

I have the following poem in some friend's handwriting. I recall that he wrote it out for me, but I don't remember now who that was. It was long ago. I can't find the poem on the net, so I've typed it here, because I think it's hilarious, at least if you've spent any time reading philosophy books. It does include, I think, a couple of obscene puns, but if you don't get them, the poem still works. Henry Morton Robinson, to whom it's attributed, is the name of a prof who taught at Columbia University, who died in 1961. I was there in the early 1970's, so I suspect it was some friend at Columbia who passed it on to me. By the way, "to pull a phiz" means "to make a face".

To A Class Room Metaphysician
by Henry Morton Robinson

In the realm of metaphysics I enjoy a daily stroll
Around the rim of Socrates' dominion,
Where philosophers, indulging in catharsis of the soul,
Distinguish cosmic truth from mere opinion.
On the Nature of Reality these gentlemen are hot,
Each local Plato pulls a solemn phiz
While discussing in his lectures the Nothingness of Nothingness
And the fundamental Isness of the Is.

Oh, the Ain'tness of the Wasn't,
And the Isness of the Ain't,
And the Don'tness of the Doesn't
Make your inner spirit faint,
While hyour tongue gets thickly coated
With a philosophic fuzz
Gained by chewing on the problem
Of the Dizziness of Does.

“Appearances are Many, but Reality is One”
Is the essence of a hundred thousand pages;
When you learn this little formula you think your task is done,
But you get a rude upheaval from the sages,
Who feel duty-bound to ask you in the mid-semester quiz,
(Without apparent vestige of a cause),
“What is the true conception of the Eleatic Is
In relation to their doctrine of the Was?”

Oh, the A-ness of the B
And the P-ness of the Q
Open dialectic vistas
That your eyes cannot see through,
From whence loose metaphysics
And Syllogisms roll,
Deducing from the A-ness
The nature of the Whole.

Let me recommend philosophy to those who rather doubt
The appearances of Seeming and of Being;
If you really would decipher wotinell it's all about
And appreciate the TRUTH of what you're seeing,
You should decorate your discourse with a dualistic fringe,
Ambiguous and equivocal, and pause
To affirm in every sentence that Reality must hinge
On this esoteric business
Of the Isness
Of the Was,
On the sempiternal Isness of the Was.

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