P_I: In the event that there are among us present those who have not yet had the honour of being treated to the unique baffling and contrived conversational stylings of the great philosopher Socrates, I would like to bring him out to engage in a brief dialogue with me for your education and edification. Socrates, are you prepared to join me in dialectic discourse?

Socrates: You would have me leave you talking to yourself before an audience? There is not enough of the dog in you to make such a performance worthwhile, and then surely the crowd would blame my showmanship!

P_I: Undoubtedly you have been carried away by a quite unusual flow of eloquence, Socrates.*

Socrates: Indeed, it is not by any coincidence that my interjections and tangents always leave me appearing, to the casual reader, on top of any matter of debate I might have been claimed (by the ghost-writing hack, my student Plato) to engage in.

P_I: Perfectly true.*

Socrates: Perhaps upon a closer reading my allegories might seem unnecessarily wandering and occasionally contradictory, but is it not true that in the company of an oddly word-shy companion, even my most seemingly non-sequitur asides ring with the harmonies of a concealed higher meaning?

P_I: Very true.*

Socrates: Verily I have left you dumbstruck, for once! Can those terse fingers really be the same that typed out the clumsy and loquacious introductory paragraph?

P_I: They are indeed.*

Socrates: Well, it's nice to see you deviate from one of my suggestions once in a while. In the accounts of my dialogues, generally that only occurs when someone presents a straw man for me to knock down - which I do with great gusto and aplomb, providing I do eventually get around to it.

P_I: Yes, that is how it happens.*

Socrates: And yet even if you put up a feeble argument against me only 5% of the time, you still shed the appearances of a straightforward yes-man toadie - to the uncritical reader, it might well appear as though I had genuinely turned an ideological opponent to my undeniably truthful perspective rather than having arranged for a sycophant to provide me with an opportunity for wholesale grandstanding. After all - if the rational and respected Pseudo_Intellectual has been following my argument and agrees with me, why wouldn't you? Has he gotten something out of this interaction that the reader hasn't? Better side with his accordance or risk looking stupid.

P_I: Quite so.*

Socrates: What's more is that by getting you to agree with me regularly and frequently, your minimal contributions to these so-called "dialogues" produce the illusion that every step of my argument was solid and agreed-upon. By getting you to express accordance with every wigged-out point I drop or apocryphal myth I invoke, the studious reader is presented with the challenge of not merely determining whether my conclusions are bunk, but if there is in fact anything in my speeches that is not mere artifice - that nasty rhetoric stuff I'm on the record as having such a distaste for.

P_I: Perhaps you are right, Socrates.*

Socrates: Of course I'm right! Do you think my followers would have gone to the trouble of writing these down if I'd been soundly and decisively denounced once and for all as a mere sophist? Wait, don't answer that - it's one of those nasty rhetorical questions.

P_I: Speak on then.*

Socrates: Well, since I've still got the mic... I'd just like to clear a few things up. My conversations weren't all really this one-sided. For whatever reason, Plato chose to represent me as a solitary articulate man among masses of semi-literate, barely-conscious debaters. It'll be a cold day in Hades before you see me responding "Certainly, P_I" or "That is without a doubt, P_I, but why don't you let me suck your dick a little longer while you wax on about your fascinating and wholly convincing theories of how the nature of the soul is like a rotten eggplant?" Actually, that's the most persuasive hypothesis yet as to why my conversation partners weren't constantly interrupting me while I nattered on and on, their sweet mouths otherwise occupied.

P_I: Agreed.*

Socrates: Aw, you're just saying that 'cause you love it when I talk dirty.

P_I: That is obvious.*

Socrates: It certainly is. Look, uh, try to contain your enthusiasm while I finish off this dialogue - that toga isn't hiding much. Maybe later on we can get down to the unspeakable vice of the Greeks - but for now don't you think it's for the best I deal with my infuriating role as the sole inquirer into a world of 20 questions?

P_I: Unquestionably.*

Socrates: Ah, it's so easy to steer these supple boys. Which reminds me, I was talking about Plato... ah yes! It makes you wonder why he cast me as the voice of reason in his varied multitude of writings. Was it mere modesty which didn't have him casting himself as mouthpiece of his views? I think when you get right down to it he just threw me in as a sort of sideways appeal to authority - akin to a sort of "these aren't just my personal views - this text indicates that they were also shared NOT ONLY by Socrates, the man so wise Athens voted to execute him for the public good, but ALSO by P_I, the feeblest debater this side of Syracuse!"

P_I: Obviously.*

Socrates: Well, I mean you haven't done much to dispel that image over the course of this little chat - but wait, don't tell me: you're just arguing beneath your ability in an attempt to make me look good.

P_I: Of course.*

Socrates: You really needn't have, you know. Though you'd never know from the writings, I was apparently also quite adept at arguing with people who weren't half-asleep.

P_I: Undoubtedly.*

Socrates: Please, don't patronize me. Now, in a stylistically uncharacteristic move, I'll do a brief recap. Do you think that's a good idea?

P_I: That is essential.*

Socrates: In short, you need to know that my dialogues are generally about as genuinely two-sided as an address to a Furby.

P_I: True.*

Socrates: What's more, you must understand that I wasn't really overwhelming my co-conversors into speechlessness - their affirmations and agreements were more a sort of literary device applied in order to make Plato's positions expressed through me appear unassailable. Yow. Is that really all I've said over the long and winding course of this rich and fulfilling dialogue?

P_I: Yes.*

Socrates: Oh, don't wear yourself out. I suppose this is the end, then?

P_I: It looks like it.*

* Asterixes denote actual common contributions to so-called "dialogue"s in (admittedly context-free) quotation.

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