Short Dramas and Plays
THE MADNESS OF PHINEAS GALEN (ACT I Scene 3a)
THE MADNESS OF PHINEAS GALEN (ACT I Scene 3a)
(Setting: Conference room with table and some chairs. Enter PHINEAS and ADVOCATE)
Phineas: So what’s this all about, Advocate?
Advocate: I’ve had a look at the Inquirer’s docket for the day. In short, today is the day they draw the net around you, and they’ve got you good, Phineas.
Phineas: How can you say that “they’ve got me”? Isn’t this supposed to be an inquiry into truth, and they want to reach an arguable conclusion based on current models and the best evidence available?
Advocate: Let’s not be naïve, here, Phineas, we both know you are in a no-win situation, not everything is as they appear, and I’m trying to give you a way out.
Phineas: I’m skeptical, but I’m listening.
Advocate: I appreciate that you don’t want to deny whatever, epiphany you had, you want to keep your Cadre status, enlighten your students and contribute to the Knowledge Collective. You can do all of that, not get burned at the stake, and keep your integrity. And I can help you do that.
Phineas: Interesting choice of words: burned at the stake. Usually that was reserved for witches and heretics. Which am I, then?
Officer: Four minutes, Advocate.
Advocate: It doesn’t matter, Phineas. Look, I made a draft for you in preparing for your advocacy last night. It still keeps the basic precepts of what you describe, it even keeps your outburst to your students in an acceptable context, and it even tantalizes the forward thinkers that you have had something for which there is scant verifiable data in a field not fully explored.
Phineas: “I, The Subject, after careful deliberation…past events…with a clearer perspective of accepted models…hereby revise my previous declarations….to the following tenants….within accepted models….unfortunate classroom outburst…..”
In essence, it says I had a momentary bout of insanity following an unprecedented experience for which now I am taking a more detached point of view.
Advocate: It should duck the large body of charges that you face and avoid most of the fallout from these proceedings.
Phineas: It’s damage control.
Advocate: It’s survival.
Phineas: You don’t understand. This is nothing that I can just impassively detach myself from. That’s part of the whole point of my experience. It was captivating, engaging, personal on an order that I’d never experienced before. It commanded my attention, couldn’t be ignored. I just can’t say after the fact that “I am now taking a more detached point of view.”
Advocate: It’s just political wording, to get you through this trial. Believe what you want, but for this inquiry, say what you must to get through it.
Officer: Three minutes, Advocate.
Phineas: It’s also not true.
Advocate: Truth is relative, especially when it comes to its consequences.
Phineas: The consequences that follows truth are what makes it worth its pursuit. It’s when we change the truth to fit our comfort that the real crime happens.
Advocate: You are not in a position to lecture about “real crime”. These charges against you are real and serious, and you will either be hanged out to dry or put away, make no doubt about that, Subject.
Phineas: And so you come with an olive branch to me with a watered down recantation that dilutes the truth but makes it all the more palatable for everyone to swallow. And here you come to me as if it is my best interest. There’s a reason why in the Court of Trials Subjects call you the “Devil’s Advocate”. You may stand opposite the Inquirer, but you’re still part of the Inquiry -- you argue the Subject’s side not because you believe in it, but as an exercise to shore up the arguments of the Inquirer to insure that the Arguable Conclusion can’t be revoked upon appeal. You’re the nail in the coffin, the stamp of approval of the Inquirer when you rest your arguments, or this instance, you are the weasel who is attempting diffuse a case that has gotten too political or unsavory for the public like some trained ferret lackey. Do me a favor and don’t watch my back for me, I do better when I’m against the wall and facing all my enemies.
Officer: Two minutes, Advocate
Advocate: You think this is all about you and your little episode, you are mistaken badly, Galen. There are machinations and positioning far beyond your imaginings, wheels within wheels grinding and meshing together, and if you think you are big enough to cause any kind of disruption when they come rolling over you, think again.
They are going burn you, Subject. When they are through with you, “Phineas Galen” will be a name that will be synonymous with stark raving madness, with having left the path of reason and gone down the laughable road of whimsy and fancy, with having abandoned all that is sensible for the seduction of insanity.
And whatever you thought was real that you had in your epiphany of hysteria, you will only serve to discredit it and show the world that scientific thought and reason is the cornerstone for all areas of society. You will be the antithesis of the Scientocracy, Phineas Galen, and will serve as a warning to everyone, that beyond the confines of the scientific method lies utter madness.
Officer: One minute, advocate
Advocate: I leave you to your fate. You’re only savior is that document. The choice is yours. Think hard, Subject.
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