Fantasia for Two Voices

Andy: *puts down coffee* You support X? Really? I never thought that about you. Why, oh God why?

Bella: *stares* Eh, because of Y? The right to Y, remember? I take it very seriously, and X is yet another instance where it’s threatened and nobody seems to care.

Andy: You’ve got to be kidding me. You too? Some people are freaking obsessed with Y, and, honestly, in my experience, everyone who won’t shut up about it also support Z.

Bella: Well, I kind of understand that. What’s so terribly wrong with Z? I mean I don’t necessarily support it, I see the problems but I get it. It’s a lot better than U and V, that’s for sure, and they always get a pass.

Andy: U and V are essential! You have to see that, right? How would you even get W without them?

Bella: You don’t really have W, it’s a myth. People just believe in it (or pretend to believe in it, heh) because they don’t want to accept P.

Andy: P? P? You’ve gone full crackpot now.

Bella: Hardly. P is way less crackpottish than you think. You know Q and R have studied it extensively? I’ve read several of their books. Some fascinating stuff there. It’s just amazing that nobody seems to know or care. Or, I shouldn’t say “amazing”, because it makes sense, with W and all.

Andy: Q? You can’t trust Q. Everybody knows that. I read he supports Z. And R works in S, which is total nonsense all the way through. Is this really the best you can do?

Bella: Q was taken out of context on Z. That happens all the time, which is why you and everybody else, it seems, misunderstand Z so much. I doubt you’ve ever heard about it from a non-idiot, whether supporter or detractor. And the whole of S is nonsense now? Who told you that? Let me guess: your T teacher?

Andy: As a matter of fact, yes. So? Are yo going to tell me all of T is nonsense?

Bella: Maybe. Let me guess: this person also tried to tell you that A and B are completely valid methods, and C is worthless theorizing?

Andy: She taughts us about B, yeah. I don’t know about A, but I do know that C rests on wrongly assuming D and just never questioning it.

Bella: *points to Andy’s face* Not wrongly! You gotta have the D! It’s the only way to keep things sane! Sure, it’s not perfect, but you have to have it in there somewhere or you’re off to cuckoo-land. A, on the other hand — which B completely relies on by the way but I’m not surprised your teacher glossed over that because it’s a big weak spot — is maybe true in a few isolated cases but so far from a general, reliable truth that everything that takes it for granted becomes a joke. Accepting it can be a fun exercise, no argument there, but it has nothing to do with reality.

Andy: That’s exactly what I would say about D. Why is it right about A? I hear a lot fluster from you but no argument.

Bella: Well, for one, if true it would imply N.

Andy: Yeah, for sure. It does.

Bella: *holds cup in front of mouth* You believe in N?

Andy: Not necessarily. Not in every case, but I can see the point. D is just so much worse though, with G and all.

Bella: G? How on Earth do you get there?

Andy: Well D leads to C right? Which is pretty much guaranteed to mean G.

Bella: No it doesn’t. It doesn’t mean G at all, what are you talking about?

Andy: In my experience if somebody supports C, they really mean G.

Bella: Do people say that or do you just assume it?

Andy: Most don’t say it out loud, but I can read between the lines. I’ve been right so many times before.

Bella: And every time you do read between the lines you assume you’re correct, I’m sure, so you feel more and more confident, based on your own circular positive feedback. Well here’s some contrary evidence for you: I accept C and I don’t support G at all.

Andy: *shrugs* I guess you’re an exception. But most aren’t like you.

Bella: To me anyone who links C with G is an exception. I’ve literally never seen it.

Andy: Depends on what you mean I guess, people usually say M rather than G, but everyone knows that’s code.

Bella: No, “everyone” doesn’t. Except your friends the N-supporters, I guess. Is that where you got that idea?

Andy: They’re not my friends! I haven’t even met any of them, we only hang out online. And I don’t listen to them because of N, I just like their views on O.

Bella: Oh O… Ok. Look, there’s some value to O, no doubt, fine, yeah, sure, I wouldn’t just dismiss it. But that’s only if you understand it together with E first, and most who are all into O that I’ve met have no clue. Otherwise they’d realize something like I is a much better interpretation.

Andy: *chuckles* They really hate I, it’s all a bunch of sellouts who’ve accepted the gutting and neutering of a truly transformative, revolutionary idea by compromising it with E.

Bella: *empties cup* And you agree?

Andy: I don’t know. I’ve been taught E all my life but it certainly seems like bullshit when you learn to see through it.

Bella: That doesn’t justify O, not by a long shot. I ‘m card-carrying supporter of I, which is *repeatedly taps palm* what you get when you understand the problems with E but also that you can’t go all the way to crazy O without losing sight of K.

Andy: *rolls eyes* Stop fetishizing K, that’s another really unattractive thing those who harp on about C do all the time too, and I’m sick of it. They should learn to F.

Bella: I don’t give a shit if it’s “annoying” and “unattractive”. They’re right. People are far too trigger happy in telling others to F. Most of the time — like, 95% of the time — it’s just an excuse to shut down H, supposedly to “protect V”.

Andy: Well… if H is threatening to V maybe it isn’t such a good idea. Have you even thought about that?

Bella: I have, and H is absolutely essential. I’m not going back on that.

Andy: Not at the cost of V! Not categorically! Not to me, anyway. And I care, unlike you who don’t really need V. I get why you don’t give a shit. V means W, and that means J. I’m not losing J to because a bunch of H-fundamentalists won’t give in, and if you weren’t so self-absorbed you’d acknowledge that.

Bella: I already told you W is a myth. Things will clear up a lot for you if you just dissolve that particular concept and let the rest of your brain rewire itself. I agree that J is paramount though!

Andy: *shakes head* You do?

Bella: Yes! But it happens because of L, not because of W.

Andy: L? Lol. I’ve never heard of L. Is that even a thing?

Bella: Sure it’s a thing. But I’m not surprised you haven’t heard of it, it’s counterintuitive and just a little bit too difficult to get treatment in school as it is. So people don’t know it. And, yeah, without it P certainly seems even more counterintuitive.

Andy: Again with the P-ism!

Bella: It’s not an ism! It’s a natural, inexorable consequence of D, C and I put together, but yeah, you need to understand L to see that. And P, together with H — that you also don’t seem to get so no wonder you’re so confused — is required to achieve M.

Andy: That’s-

Bella: And no I don’t mean M as code!

Andy: Of course you do! Everybody does! It’s literally impossible! No one believes in M! Nobody really believes it can be done!

Bella: I assure you they do. We do. And yes, that’s why we take Y very seriously. Not just when it helps us, but always.

Andy: *sighs* So, in conclusion, I guess: you support X?

Bella: Yeah.

Andy: Well, I suppose I understand why now. You’re not just wrong about X, you’re wrong about everything.

Bella: No you’re wrong about every-

Andy: Save it. I get that it all makes sense to you. I even see how it makes sense. It’s like looking in a funhouse mirror: everything’s wrong, but wrong in a predictable and systematic way that you can understand if you really try, with superhuman fucking patience, and manange to avoid vomiting in the process.

Bella: Right, except that it’s you who are wrong about everything, and I’m the one struggling to keep my muffin down. *smiles and plays with crumbles*

Andy: *shakes head* You know, I’m glad we had this conversation. Hell, I’m glad it was even possible — we might disagree about everything but at least we have a shared understanding of what the letters refer to, and the also shared meta-knowledge about having that shared conceptual alphabet. It’d be a complete nightmare to talk if we couldn’t rely on that.

Bella: Oof yeah, can you imagine?

• • •


No notes this time. I used up this year’s whole budget on Notes on Notes.

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12 thoughts on “Fantasia for Two Voices

  1. I was wondering if you’d get through this using every letter of the alphabet except “L”, and then it would be a secret Christmas message (“No L” = “Noel”); Martin Gardner did that with a geometrical diagram in one of his Mathematical Games columns way back when he did them from the 1950s through 1970s. But you ended up using L too.


  2. Ugh, I support Y and oppose X and Z, and I’ve been brought up to see Y as essential for opposing X and Z, and I hate Xists and Zists even more for giving Y a bad name, and it’s annoying that everyone on both sides now associates Y with people like Bella because I agree with Andy that she’s wrong about everything (she’s not even right about Y, even though she claims to support it). And it’s frustrating actually being in favor of M because most Mists really are using it as code for G, which I absolutely oppose. And B totally doesn’t need A, it’s just that the most common argument depends on it and most people aren’t aware of the better arguments that assume the opposite of A instead.


  3. The whole thing reads a lot like a conversation that I dread having at some point and which my mind is bothering me with simulations of every time I run into whose beliefs seems to have taken a different turn than mine.

    But then the twist just makes it worse. I fear the nightmare is real….


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