In Search of the Good Life: Chapter 2, Part 2

By: Patrick


So anarchism was the theme for today’s meeting. Leading proceedings was Pietro DeMarco, a bearded bankrupt with badly bloated bowels. Perhaps my alliterative goals have done something of an injustice to Pietro, so I should probably try and rectify that before proceeding. Pietro is indeed a bankrupt and he does indeed have a beard. He also has irritable bowel syndrome and various other grim psycho-somatic ailments to which he seems to shamelessly refer in a manner that makes me somewhat uncomfortable. He is a delightfully contradictory character, veering between the boorish bluster and aggressive assertiveness of his working class Cockney upbringing (please note that I accept there are exceptions to this rule), and an acute sensitivity and proneness to depression (and subsequent bowel-related ailments). Or maybe this is not contradictory at all; maybe one presupposes the other. I often worry that I am a bit literal on such matters, and that any notion of contradiction in the human personality is simply a bourgeois conspiracy, aided in no small part by psychology and other enforcers of a rather dull status quo. In fact, at the risk of sounding contradictory, the truly contradictory person would surely be the person who lacked any contradictions. Perhaps this is what Chesterton was getting at when he wrote that ‘the madman is not the man who has lost his reason. He is the man who has lost everything except his reason’.

Pietro was in fact anything but dull, aside from when he was being a bit long-winded. He seems to spend much of his time making demands of the society that we almost always fail to meet (for example that we should set up a Facebook page to attract new members or that members should contribute more to the online blog or that members should read more philosophy before attending groups, and so on) before quitting acrimoniously and then returning again shortly afterwards. The chorus of Katy Perry’s Hot n Cold could have been written for Pietro, as I mentioned to him once, much to his non-amusement.

So anyway, he was leading the group. There were about half a dozen of us, including a woman, Paola Greco. It is worth mentioning at this point that women do attend the society, as they have been notable by their absence from this narrative thus far. More often than not of course they get scared off by the amorous/lecherous advances of Dario, the belligerence of Pietro, or any number of other limiting factors that seem to render the society primarily masculine. This is a problem to which we will doubtless return in due course. We discussed anarchism a bit – how certain animals seem to be more cooperative than competitive, a few theories of human nature, certain apparent flaws in the whole anarchist position, and so on. Unlike Joey’s groups, this was very much philosophy as polite debate over cups of tea. I decided to steer it into potentially more controversial territory by questioning the relevance of the whole anarchy project to our philosophy society itself. After all, I suggested, with our chairman, secretary, treasurer, and an additional swollen board full of lazy philosophical equivalents of fat cats, were we not in fact reproducing the worst tendencies of the capitalist society we were spending our time critiquing?

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