Dark night, no moon. Very, very late. A bit of rain is falling, not enough to qet you wet, but you wouldn’t want to be out there. As a matter of fact, most sensible people were sound asleep.
A knock on the door. At first scared, then worried: anything worth waking me up this late should be very bad or very urgent. Looks through the magic eye, then opens the door.
“Imre!? Gosh, come in. What are you doing here anyway?”
Inside. Paul is trying to start the fire. Imre is getting rid of his soaked clothes.
“Well, i read your manuscript. You got me pegged.”
“It’s good, eh? I’ve had a lot of fun writing it. Oh, there were some passages I just couldn’t help but imagine your face when you read them!… But, wait, you didn’t answer my question, what are you doing here? Something bad happened?”
“Actually, I did answer indeed. I read your manuscript. And you got me pegged. Even more than you suspect. And this is the problem, and I am guessing it is a big one.”
“Geez, you’re making me nervous. Explain yourself in clear terms, man!”
“Well, your said it yourself: my programmes stuff is deeply flawed, but your anarchism is bound to lock the minds of most thinking people — and let’s not even talk about the mindless zombies that walk our campi…”
“Um, so you’ll use this tactic. Stratagem 33. Claim practical impossibility. It’s a surprise, actually. I never thought you would be comfortable with that. But in this case I actually think it holds much more water than usual. I even confessed so in the text! So, hit me.”
“Come on, Paul, give me some credit! You don’t think I would be so naive as to use an weapon the opponent himself suggested? Not at all. I would prefer to hit lower: shake your assumptions a bit, or even try to force the discussion down to the externality of the world. But, in the end, there will be no argument.”
“What? You’ll pull the plug on the project? Don’t do it, man. Please. It is a lot of fun, for starters, and I really guess we are going somewhere.”
“You are getting somewhere, I am just slowing you down. If my answer would come after your text, anyone with a brain would see how my words are devoid of purpose, and conversely the raving mindless would use it to justify the worst kind of prejudice.”
“So, how do we stand?”
“You’ll have to publish as part of an unfinished project. Use the note you wrote in the manuscript as a dedication. Repeat that rubbish about you believing my arguments were going to crumble yours to dust. This way, your proposition is a proposition, it is part of a larger scheme, and it is even a bit too arcane — enough to appease those who couldn’t bear to think freely in your anarchistic way.”
“Rubbish. It will be like you had run away from the argument. Like you were pretending to not have time to acknowledge my efforts — which everyone knows is the last resort of the losing side.”
“Yes, obviously. It will have to look like an accident.”
Paul laughs, but His friend doesn’t. Imre’s face is very, very serious.
“You gotta promise me you’ll publish.”
“Imre, wait, there are other options, I’ll, say, I’ll publish it without mention of your name.”
“I thought about it. But does not work. First it loses much of the power of your argument. Besides, what drives most of the other side — my side, as it where — is fears and excuses. But even excuses get better with time. If you pretend to not address the excuses of our times, you basically throw away most of what you wrote. No, man, does not work. Your anarchism is needed. It is sorely needed, and I mean now. As soon as possible. Even published now it will take decades to be really understood and absorbed. It’s got to be this way.”
“So let’s invert the thing, you begin and I retort.”
“Again it is like throwing away most of your work, and, besides, what could I write? A preface to you? Or do I pretend to not see where your criticism sticks? It will either sound as a confirmation or as beating a dead dog, none of which solve our problem. And besides, you can bet there will be some stupid editor that will have the brilliant idea of publishing my previous writing together with your text. This works, this is where you reply to my ideas, but I have to not be around.”
“Look, maybe you’re right, I admit I think you are, even if this is the least humble statement I ever uttered in my life, but please, Imre, stop with this joke. This is not something you can joke about. And I do not believe you.”
“I don’t expect you to believe me, at least not truly. But you’ll hear the news when it is done. And now I need to go. We obviously never had this conversation. But I will consider this like a promise.”
And, as he is dressing up again and helping himself to the door, a last remark: “Ah, and your title is terrible. The right one is AGAINST METHOD.”