Dark side of the sun: What’s that spell? Photosynthesis! Yay! Go green!

Mike Corrigan

Mike Corrigan

By Mike Corrigan

BN Columnist

In ancient times, philosophy was respected as one of the natural sciences — as opposed to today, when none of the sciences, naturally, are respected at all. In ancient Athens, philosophers gathered to discuss the eternal questions, such as Can Beauty Be Self-Taught?; Is the Truth Marketable?; and, of course, How Many Pins Can Be Stuck Into an Angel?

The Socratic Method, a debate tool invented (by a Greek named Methodostenes of Jeopardy), irritated the baklava out of any debate opponent, with every counterargument phrased in the form of a question.

Esophagus: …and that is why the Universal Good may be said to be blah blah blah and so on and so forth.

Methodostenes: But is blah necessary? Is good verb or noun? Is the Universe a demonstrable fact at all? If so ons, can so also forth? Why are you waving a sword at me?

The animosity spilled over to the actual debates, so arguing became something of a spectator sport. To further spice up the debate tournaments, the ancient Greeks invented cheerleading.

Give me a Theta!… Give me an Epsilon!...

The yell leaders worked hard to keep the audiences involved, because after the first hundred years, only rarely did something truly compelling happen, like the time in 347 B.C. when Hepatitis, one of the debaters, gave his opponent a wedgie. Eventually, specific calls-and-responses were developed for the different schools of philosophy, such as the USC Pragmatists (Whatever!), or the Notre Dame Fighting Sophists (But we aren't fighting, honest!)

Here’s what a Stoics' rally sounded like:

— What do we WANT?


— I said, WHAT DO WE WANT?


— Hello?

Now, the Platonists’ Cheer:

Hug ’em, mug ’em/Kiss ’em on the knee/Show ’em you love ’em/Pla-ton-ic-ly!

There were cheering squads at the first Olympics. (Go, Samothrace! Beat their brains out, Sparta!) The Trojan War couldn’t have been fought without cheerleaders, and so Homer drafted them into literature as the famous Greek Chorus:

Hector: And the dogs shall sup on your intestines, Emphysema!

Greek Chorus: Our team can dish it out! Our team can dish it out! Can your team take it? Can your team take it?

Inspired by the ancient Greeks, modern Nihilist cheerleaders tried unsuccessfully to whip up passions at giant European rallies of the 1930s, where everyone was required to wear black berets and smoke until they developed lung cancer. The Nihilists’ call-and-response ritual sounded a lot like a session of the current U.S. House of Representatives.

— What do we WANT?


— When do we WANT it?


— What do we — ah, to (bleep) with you (bleeps)!


Mike Corrigan remains cheerful. We suspect it’s the psychotropic drugs.

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