Camps of Camps and Angles
The characters of this story are used fictitiously. The author wrote it in the morning of January 20th, 2013. Any similarities to actual events before, during, or after January 2013 are what they are.
"Camps of Camps and Angles"
by M.J. Blair
At a February camp, a college sophomore and a college freshman spoke about feeling mystified by recent comments from a village elder.
The freshman said, "What am I to make of all this? After listening to that, I feel like I'm just some silly dust floating along, hardly knowing anything about anything. How do you feel about it?"
The sophomore said, "Really? All that philosophy may not make perfect sense to me, but it kind of makes sense. Still, the elder's speech had to have been mysterious to most of us. Maybe all of us."
The first-year student followed up with by taking things further. "I'm a human being. You're a human being. The village elder's a human being. Yet, I think back and I'm not entirely sure anymore. I guess that up through high school I just didn't find out much about this metaphysics debate stuff. This kind of idealism, that kind of idealism, this kind of materialism, that kind of materialism, this dualism, that dualism, this nondualism, that nondualism, here a realism, there a realism, here a theory, there a theory, everywhere lots of theories. I don't know how practical it all might ever amount to being for anyone."
The second-year student smiled, "Sometimes a little ambiguity and mystery in things like this could be very practical. For example, think about if some writer out there wrote a story in which he or she makes no reference to whether any of the characters are children, women, men, robots, aliens, etcetera. Then people just took the story and debated whether this character or that character is a man, woman, child, alien, robot, or whatever. This could still be a good mind exercise for them to sharpen their survival skills."
This drew a smirk from the freshman, who said, "Come on. I think you're stretching to find something practical. I mean some of those theories seem to be telling me the idea that people lack minds or that people lack bodies or both. Get real. I have a mind. You have a mind. I have a body. You have a body."
The sophomore's face suddenly adjusted into having a rather calm and neutral expression to it, and from that student's being came a series of age-old questions: "What makes someone a human being? Are all of us just automatically human as our birthright, or can we gain, lose, and regain our humanity? What is a mind? Does it have a location, or some mixture of multiple locations, or something else? How do minds relate to bodies? Does a mind possess a body, or a body possess a mind, or both? Or is it sometimes one way and sometimes another way? I think you have to admit these are interesting questions."
The freshman looked annoyed and argued back, "Interesting only if we let them be interesting to us. But if you let just anything seem interesting at any time, that could take away from being practical. Also, if you let things be interesting to you too easily, someone can come along and more easily finagle you. Less practical. Goodness! Did I just say that? It sounds like I got possessed by some 1950s documentary dude or something!"
The sophomore said, "No, it just sounds to me like you're growing. Yes, you have a point or two. But I still believe this esoteric stuff is practical for many folks if they don't overuse it or underuse it."
A high school junior approached them and looked and listened. The college freshman stared off into space for a few moments, considering many perspectives and angles, plus the curves of many mountain roads. The college sophomore glanced at the other two and glanced back toward the main campground.
The freshman then whispered, "Yes, I believe all of us people here at the camp are human beings. But now I'm wondering if some of those metaphysical theories were around before there were any people, animals, plants, or planets."