Short Dramas and Plays
THE MADNESS OF PHINEAS GALEN (Act II Scene 1b)
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THE MADNESS OF PHINEAS GALEN (Act II Scene 1b)
(Setting: Chambers for Deliberation of the Academia. Bookshelves lined with books, a heavy central table with eight chairs around it. ACADEMIA OF JUSTICE is seated alone)
Can we put Infinity on trial?
Can we subpoena Eternity and call it forward, and ask it to give an accounting of itself?
What arrogance is Man that we would construct a box with hoops leading to it and command that which is Without End to hop through our courses and lay still within the confines of our constructed walls of convention.
What ignorance that we would within our limited intelligence call upon a boundless knowledge and demand that it show itself to our satisfaction before we would consider its existence much less superiority.
Foolish, foolish Man.
We trade that which is True but uncomfortable to us for that which is deceptive but easy and harmless.
Our testing is by our eye, ear, nose, taste, touch, but that which has none of these we distain for its elusiveness and inconvenience.
That a whole new world appears before my eyes previously hidden cuts to the quick my heart, my hand a-quiverÖ.
(Knock at the door)
Justice: Come in!
(Enter HEAD ACADEMIA OF THEOLOGY CARLISLE NEVILLE)
Neville: Hello, Kate.
Justice: Academia Neville.
Neville: Please, Kate, call me Carlisle. By all means, sit, sit. Youíve had quite the ordeal I understand.
Justice: To put it mildly. Are we still under scrutiny?
Neville: Iíve made arrangements. You can speak freely here. When we leave this room, neither of us will have officially said anything to each other.
Justice: Thatís a relief. You got here quickly.
Neville: Iíve been following these proceedings very closely of late. I was quite nearby and available when I got the call from Carson, the Theology Academia presiding.
Justice: He mustíve called before I asked him to.
Neville: Carson reports to me. He keeps me informed as much as protocol allows.
Justice: If I wouldíve known he was divulging Court Inquiries before a conclusion had been reached, I wouldíve had him detained and replaced.
Neville: You have my word no impropriety has occurred in our communications. Letís just say I have a deep understanding of his elusive general vagaries.
Justice: Itís been nerve wracking these weeks. Every decision, every ruling, every admonishment, I feel like Iím under a microscope with someone taking notes on everything I do.
Neville: Probably not too far from the truth, actually. I can understand your stress.
Justice: Theyíre going to send a psych to me, arenít they?
Neville: Iíll be frank with you, Kate. It will go very rough for you. I hope itís worth it.
Justice: This whole thing hasnít been worth it. I think I was maneuvered into presiding over this inquiry just so the whole thing could blow up in my face. I know the Triumvirate of Justice is not favored with me.
Neville: Politics aside, are you sorry now that you took this Inquiry.
Justice: No, not now.
Neville: Something made it worth it? Kate?
Justice: Carlisle, you know that old saw about the Mountain of Truth, and science claws ever so slowly, inch by inch, micron by micron in its vigilant search for ultimate truth?
Neville: And when science finally gets to the topó
Justice: It finds Religion has been sitting up there the whole time, waiting.
Neville: Yes, Iím familiar with it. Itís a popular analogy we use in beginning Theology instruction. Usually we poke a needle at the Philosophy discipline and portray Philosophy as clawing its way up the top to find Theology already there. Of course they turn it around so weíre clawing to the top and Philosophy is waiting there. Itís a friendly little rivalry we have. What about it?
Justice: I feel like Iíve just been catapulted to the top, Carlisle. Now everything seems so clear, thereís no need to grasp and crawl and slide back down, Iím on the top, Carlisle I can see everything from here.
Neville: You are sounding eerily like someone Iíve recently talked to who is on trial for the very same kind of utterance.
Justice: I understand what Phineas is going through, now. I understand why. I, I understand, Carlisle. Weíre both looking down from the same mountaintop, and the view is, is breathtaking.
Neville: Just what did Phineas tell you, Kate?
Justice: And drag you down, too? Iím not even sure your influence could exempt you.
Neville: You can give me an elusive, general vague idea. Iím pretty good at reading into these things, donít you know.
Justice: Are you sure youíre not the psych theyíre sending to me?
Neville: When a Philosophy and a Theology get together, they tell the same joke about the mountain, but the punch line is that both the Philosopher and the Theologian are looking down at the base of the Mountain of Truth, where the Psychologist is asking the mountain about its childhood and how it feels about its mother.
Justice: Fair enough.
Neville: So, Kate. What did Phineas tell you to set you off so?
Justice: Iím embarrassed to sayó
Neville: --You donít feel self-conscious. Weíre all friends here.
Justice: I know that, Carlisle. Well, first of all, when he spoke to me, it didnít sound like Phineas.
Neville: There was a different voice?
Justice: No, no. It was his voice all right, that is for certain.
Neville: Then what?
Justice: Understand, I have gone through this whole Inquiry listening to the Subject, I mean Phineas, speak. Iíve heard him agitated, argumentative, aggressive, compliant, complacent, defensive, apathetic, excited, sentimental, all sorts of emotional being and states of mind.
Neville: You read people very well, Iíve noticed.
Justice: But when he spoke to me, it was unexpected. Not his delivery not his expression.
Neville: Was he quoting something, and so it had a different candence?
Justice. No. Nothing like that. I was expecting some kind of statement or fact or piece of data he was going to impart upon me.
Neville: But instead? Kate?
Justice: He spoke directly to me. I donít mean in delivery or familiarity. No, strike that, it was familiar. Too familiar to come from him.
Neville: Kate? What exactly did he say?
Justice: Honestly, I donít remember what it was that he said.
Justice: I donít remember the words he said, any of them.
Neville: You donít remember at all?
Justice: The words werenít important. What he actually said was of secondary importance.
Neville: Then, Kate, what was of primary importance?
Justice: It was my response. I was startled at it. It took me unawares.
Neville: What do you mean.
Justice: This is why I introduced this whole conversation with the Mountain story. It was like I was carried to the top of a mountain, where I could look around at everything, unhindered. From looking at the side of the mountain, to suddenly a view as far as the eye could see. It was like, likeó
Neville: Scales dropping from your eyes.
Justice: Yes! Exactly! Not so much that I was carried to a better view, but suddenly everything that hindered my vision was cleared awayó
Neville: Like a curtain being torn back, or a light introduced into a pitch-black room.
Justice: Carlisle? Is this something youíve experience yourself?
Neville: Letís just say that the analogies you find so apt are quite familiar references to me. And this experience that you had seemed important enough to you that you are willing to abandon your reputation and career?
Justice: I never said that.
Neville: You didnít need to. Phineas gave you the choice of entering what into evidence or to rule it out as inconsequential data. You knew you couldnít do either, but no one would ask any questions if you merely dismissed what he said and continued on with the Inquiry. You withdrew because you knew you had experienced something palpable, yet not quantifiable. And it meant enough to you that you couldnít in the face of that experience, dismiss it in a Court of Truth.
Justice: What do I do, Carlisle?
Neville: I think youíre doing just fine. Youíve made choices, hard choices. Now comes the doubt and youíre second-guessing yourself. Stick to your instincts. Remember your conviction in the moment that compelled you to act, to withdraw from a proceeding from which you no longer wanted a part.
Justice: Instincts arenít scientific, Carlisle. I canít live the rest of my life on instincts and intuition.
Carlisle: No, you canít. What you need is a firm foundation, a structure. Some way to organize your new perspective.
Justice: I canít just change my life because of a momentary flash of something I canít even begin to grasp.
Carlisle: No? How hypocritical is that? Science does this all the time. New information is received because we have new technology to collect new data, and suddenly we have to change our models whole scale because there is a monkey wrench thrown into the accepted models and now it doesnít fit in light of new information. Then we all regroup together, develop a new model, out with the old, and everybody tow the line and rearrange your outlook. And we pride ourselves on having progressive flexible minds for it.
Justice: What do you expect of me?
Neville: Pursue it! Youíve been given some insight all of us are blind to Ė youíre on top of the Mountain of Truth and you want to slink back down because you prefer to crawl and claw your way along in life. Youíve been given a gift, Kate, or consider it a flash of inspiration into a new way of pursuing the Inquiry of Life if it makes you feel more comfortable. But something happened to you that deep inside you canít ignore, but your mind is telling you that since it doesnít fall within your own world view to reject it.
Justice: You call it a gift, I call it a curse. Look where itís gotten me so far and it is not even a day old. Phineas is doubly cursed -- who knows whatís going to happen to Phineas, and my fate lies right down his path.
Carlisle: Follow your conscience, Kate. Thatís the best I can give you. If youíd like, I can send a Philosophy to you if you want to discuss the difference between thoughts from your conscience, and conscious thoughts.
Justice: Iím Ė sorry if I got emotional Carlisle.
Carlisle: Itís an emotional time for you. Youíre allowed to display some. Besides, when I leave here, this conversation never happened. Remember?
Justice: Right. You had better go. It is on record that you are here with me, and probably the length of time, too.
Carlisle: And here you are worried about my reputation when yours is about to be shredded. Iíll ask again, Kate. Is it worth it?
Justice: I have to sort a lot of things out, itís like Iíve been given a huge compressed computer file and Iím still letting it expand in my brain. I think so. Time will tell, but I think so.
Carlisle: Good luck, Kate.
Justice: Thanks again, Carlisle.
[END ACT II SCENE 1]
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