Neal Mason: Sonia’s Philosophical Positions

female philosopher



Attracted to a particular type – somehow familiar,
yet strangely dissimilar – I seek
a certain satisfaction one-night-standers
tend to dislike, not only oral, anal or vaginal,
but also intellectual, anything less not priapic
but droopy, my needs insatiable, for I’m
the philosophers’ passionate groupie.

Democritus made me laugh. Atomic theory?
At that, I nearly split
my sides, but then he explained the stars.
In no way daft, he shone, sublime. He studied biology,
including mine, and maths, and I was his disciple in our private
college, even to wanting his child,
whether bastard or legitimate knowledge.

I readily agreed to a threesome, only surprised
by those it comprised: Plato
and Socrates stimulate – or should I ignore
a sense-object’s frisson? Reality’s eternal, not change-led,
hopping, as I do, from bed to bed, carnal knowledge
just porn. But Platonic love left an empty
orifice, an unfulfilled form.

Aristotle’s line was seductive, yet rational too,
a lover who, with syllogisms
and propositions, proved I must sleep with him,
his reasoning deductive, but we had no dialogue and nothing mystical,
despite his energy and versatility. Still his prowess
awes. For his teleological benefit,
I was simply the efficient cause.

Diogenes the Cynic – ‘the Dog’ – unacquainted with baths
and no barrel of laughs, despite
his home, attracted my interest until,
Athens agog, he masturbated in public, also crapped
at a play. For me, his regression and love of poverty was somewhat
rich – a tad dogmatic, you could say.
Life would have been a bitch.

Epicurus is always right; to question this
is to be dismissed. We dined on bread and water, hedonistic excess
by a candle’s light, the pleasures of the stomach his main delight,
allegedly. He advocated the avoidance of pain and dynamic pleasures
that vex. A static pleasure, no doubt,
was his firm disapproval of sex.

Am I unattractive? Indifference, said Zeno
of Citium, we know is virtuous,
a matter of will, though all is cyclic
and interactive. Solicited by paradox, at first I was passive,
then perplexed, then annoyed, but finally resigned
about it; stoicism was offering a choice,
so I decided to do without it.

For Boethius, I was consolation, a prison caller,
a secret enthraller whose spirit
was classical knowledge, a brake on the Wheel
of Fortune’s rotation, which slowed briefly but couldn’t stop
as it threatened to crush him. He required calming, not excitation
or stress, his simple need acceptance
and compassion’s attentive caress.

Reasoning a posteriori, with the senses from effect
to cause, I detected – how
could I miss it? – Aquinas’s huge belly.
It did little for me. But his Five Ways stimulated more
than the ‘Kama Sutra’. O.K., sexless, he preferred bangers
and mash, I believe, anachronistically –
but faith and logic can’t clash.

A day in the stove with me, his body had taught
Descartes that thought can be less
urgent than senses; instinct’s a ponce,
donc je suis. Unable to think of God from experience
(I left for the tavern) God was the idea’s source, so must
exist. If I never go for a drink,
I can’t imagine I’m pissed?

The past and the future immutable, I had to select
Spinoza, except that he,
like his God, wouldn’t love back.
Passion’s refutable, knowledge ruling love, and God
and nature are awaiting Wordsworth, for this is the way the world
has to be. Even I can imagine better.
Sorry, not QED.

From Commonwealth to Restoration, unnatural war
and natural law, the Plague,
Fire and Glorious Revolution, Locke
retrieved the nation. He promoted the liberal state, but though
a bachelor, didn’t make free with me; he’d little need
of contact, the nearest we came to intimacy
the fiction of a social contract.

Hume wasn’t himself. ‘Hello dear,’
he said, ‘I’m here,’ but clearly
wasn’t convinced. ‘I’ve an idea,’ I said
considering his health and bed. ‘I know; that’s all we are.’
‘Come and feel these,’ I suggested with a smile not intended
as cynical, and the more and harder he felt,
the more he grew empirical.

Apart from telling fibs, his vanity and flashing
and enjoying a thrashing, his conviction
society’s artificial – which was certainly true
for his dumped kids – Rousseau moralised on education
and the state of the nation, assuring me we weren’t engaged in original
sin, for humans are naturally good.
Excuse me while I sing a hymn.

Punctual as usual, Kant, who was more noumenal
than phenomenal, explained
in his pants, existence can’t be a predicate
but a substantive (though hardly substantial) and there must be freedom
or there can’t be virtue. Hours later, like most philosophical
fumblers, I found I’d succumbed to, not
dogmatic, but actual slumbers.

If I’d gone steady with Hegel, I could have done worse.
He wasn’t perverse, though difficult,
but I couldn’t disagree if I couldn’t understand,
so we’d have been stable. That’s my thesis. The antithesis is marriage.
Short of a nunnery, no synthesis. Progression appeals,
though I fear, like absolute anything, absolute
knowledge whispered in my ear.

With Schopenhauer, a sublime night. A pessimist, yet fun,
by no means glum, a compassionate
contradiction whose determined/aimless striving
produced delight. He came with a will, the unconscious force
denying us nothing, ambiguous, nor always having it all
its own way. We were satisfied often enough
to do it again next day.

Superman was a wild lover, full of shocks
and had the pox, our singular
coupling a desire to overpower
one another. Freedom from convention exciting, it aroused
fears of a Godless future, and he also believed in cyclic,
recurrent stuff. But once, and one
of him, was more than enough.

‘The logical atoms of our meeting,’ Wittgenstein said
avoiding the bed, ‘depend
on no other facts, further analysis
self-defeating – unless, on second thoughts, we play games
with language, agreed meaning expressing more than our grammar
can. So I’d better state this plainly:
I’m rather in love with a man.’

To Sartre, I was a contingent being, the applicable word
clearly ‘absurd’. Our morals,
he thought, can’t be abstract but physical,
though actions aren’t freeing; they make others objects. Sod it, I said,
make me an object; metaphysicians don’t do it nearly
so well. Let’s return to heaven;
it’s talking about it that’s hell.

If humour’s what philosophy forgot, and happily charms
while logic alarms, thinkers
must die screaming – but to give up puzzling,
a priori or not, leaves only dreaming. And most philosophers
weren’t great lovers – you go to a cobbler for a cot? – but seemed
appealing. I’m screwed, forever on my back
waving my legs at the ceiling.

Neal Mason has had collections of poetry published by Peterloo Poets, the University of Salzburg Press and Holland Park Press. He was Writer in Residence for six months in a Welsh valley, selected for a Hay-on-Wye mastercalass and advised the Arts Council’s Grant to Publishers Panel.

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