The following is something that I wrote as an assignment for Development Communication class yesterday. The assignment was to write about any - ANY - topic in a dialectic fashion. I lay in my bed at around 3 in the morning, having not written anything. Then I remembered joking with my classmates that the easiest way to explain dialectics was sex. So at around 6 am, after zazen, I sat down in front of the laptop and wrote this.
Sex, Beer and Dialectics
1st round: Thesis
Let’s pretend that you and I are talking while drinking beer in a bar, and that our topic is dialectics and how to explain it using a simple model. “Here’s an idea,” I say as I finish the first bottle. “We can use sex. There’s the man who we’ll call the thesis, and he gets together with the woman – the antithesis – and together they produce a synthesis: a baby. Pretty neat, right?”
And of course, because we’re in a bar and drinking together, we both laugh at the idea. But at the same time we both agree that it does make the matter simple and easy to understand. We signal the bartender for another two beers.
2nd round: Antithesis
“But wait,” you say, sipping your second bottle. “People don’t have children after every time they have sex. In fact, producing a ‘synthesis’ isn’t always our goal when we unite with our ‘antithesis’ – a drunken one-night stand, for example. Plus what about gay or lesbian sex? Neither of those will produce a ‘synthesis.’ And don’t get me started on group sex!”
To which I reply, “yeah that’s a good point” and we both chuckle at the mock seriousness of our discussion. We both finish our beers pondering the matter, and I signal to the bartender for another round.
3rd round: Synthesis
“Actually,” I say after gulping down half of my beer. “The synthesis doesn’t have to be a child. The point is that when thesis and antithesis meet, there is always a resulting synthesis – what that is will depend on the context. In the case of your drunken one-night stand, the synthesis might be you waking up in the morning and realizing that your ‘antithesis’ looked much better the night before when you were drunk.”
“That’s right!” you agree. “And in the case of gay sex, no two partners will be alike even if they are of the same sex so the roles of thesis and antithesis will still apply. And again the resulting synthesis will vary according to the context – in this case, we can say it’s increased affection and bonding.”
“Can we therefore conclude that sex is an effective model for explaining dialectics,” I ask, “and, furthermore, that we have improved on my earlier thesis by taking into consideration your antithesis, therefore arriving at a synthesis?”
You nod in agreement. We both finish our beers.
“Wait,” you say. “What about group sex?” And so our synthesis has become the new thesis.