He walks passed each of our desks, handing us two pieces of paper stapled so nicely together. There's only nine questions, and I think for a moment, Oh, that's it? And I realize, Oh god, that means each one will count even more.

"Don't panic," I kept telling everyone. "It's only a midterm." So calm. So confident. So self assured.

I'm panicking and I don't know what this means. Ontology? I knew I should have written that on my hand. I knew I couldn't find something to associate it with, and now my mind is blank. Did Plato say that or Descartes? The names all blur together, mingling with my own philosophy with that of others. The Forms is all that comes to mind. The shadows in the cave, the shadows on the walls. Are we free or determined? What is really real? And I can't help but contemplate. It all blurs together. One big glob of thought sitting on my desk making faces at me.

Logical fallacies. Appeal to pity. Appeal to ignorance. Red herring, Slippery slope. False cause. Appeal to unauthorized authority. Missing the point. Begging the question. Straw man. Appeal to force. Appeal to the gods above who laugh hysterically at making us cram for these damn tests and then suddenly forget it all as we sit there.

Monkeys come to mind. Lemurs and tarsiers and mandrills and New World monkeys and Old World monkeys and apes and gorillas and humans and I just don't know! This isn't even the right class. Bipedalism and quadrupedalism and genetics and a diagram of the DNA molecule and Allen's Rule and mutations and migration and Eskimos and sperm and Hardy-Weinberg and secular trends and creationism vs. evolution and big Bergman and alleles and anagenesis and suture and Mitochondrial Eve and those poor chimpanzees getting polio and it all comes crashing down on my mind until I slam my head a little too hard against my desk.

Don't panic. Existence precedes essence. We are condemned to be free. Good God! I don't know why I sin. Tao invariably takes no action, and yet there is nothing left undone. The transformation is roughly like this. Validation? I don't know. Focus. Cosmetics aesthetics. I'm holding a pistol to your head, tell me the truth epistemology. Physical phenotype. Yes, yes. It's coming together now. Ren and Stimpy are happy happy humanity. Play-doh is stuck to the walls of the cave. Ontology... ontology? Rationalism, idealism, materialism, dualism, empiricism, realism, direct realism, representational realism, indirect realism, evidentialism, pragmatism, plurallism, monism, damn-this-ism!

Oh, the woes of midterm madness.

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