As the proud owner of 20 college credit hours in philosophy, I can tell you with confidence that the entire history of philosophical discourse is little more than an endless series of killer one-liners. To quote a few:
- “An unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates
- “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.” – Epicurus
- “I think therefore I am.” – Rene Descartes
- “De ting er at finde en sandhed, som er rigtigt for mig, at finde den idé, som jeg kan leve og dø.” – Søren Kierkegaard
Those of you capable of recognizing patterns have probably noticed that this list is lacking in both living persons and non-Europeans. The reason for this is that most Americans born in the last 75 years are barely able to read. Thus, higher-level abstract thought is out of the question. That, however, is all about to change. Behold, disheartened Yankees! Our redemption draws nigh! Into the foyer of the philosophic frat house bursts Brandon Flowers with a one-liner of his own to cogito the crap out of everyone’s ergo sum!
Most of you know Mr. Flowers as the frontman for the popular American rock-and-roll group “The Killers”, but academics the world over now know him as the originator of the greatest American contribution to the philosophic community in six centuries. To what does he owe this renown? To a simple question.
“Are we human or are we dancer?”
With these seven simple words arranged in interrogative sequence, Mr. Flowers has reopened a debate which has consumed and confounded oracles and DJs since earliest antiquity. Most in the philosophic community considered the issue settled after David Hume’s seminal 1753 treatise “On Rhythmic Movement and the Ontological Categorization of Mankind,” but Mr. Flowers has demonstrated that there is much still to be resolved. Namely, is a person wearing four glow stick necklaces and dancing to Depache Mode really a person?
Uncritical reactions to Mr. Flower’s query include accusations of false dichotomizing, and question begging, but these are simply outgrowths of the aggressive anti-intellectualism present in America’s burgeoning class of independently wealthy teenagers and former “Rock of Love” contestants.
Ask anyone who has ever read Thus Spake Zarathustra and they will tell you the intellectual possibilities of this single question are staggering.
- -Is it a primary – and therefore necessary – quality of human existence to abstain from dancing?
- -Can we say that one engaged in dancing possesses trans-human or sub-human qualities?
- -Is it possible to regain one’s humanity after dancing has ceased?
- -In what form does “dancer” exist when not actualized by a spacio-temporal body?
- -And, most significantly, in a metaphysical sense, what does it mean to be pure “dancer” in both physical and spiritual essence?
Anyone who doubts the validity of these inquiries has clearly never witnessed the bacchanalian scene at an American nightclub or public school prom. The inebriates populating those dance floors can be called people only under the most liberal definition of the word. Indeed, they are barely identifiable as hominids as most are unable to communicate with spoken language, use crude tools, or walk upright.
Brandon Flowers is a man who understands the deep significance hidden in these secular temples of movement and music. As I do not know him personally, I cannot speak to whether or not he has ever shed his human form and allowed himself to be carried away on the mystical wings of a song, but I’m confident he knows people who have. Raised in the neon shadow of the Vegas strip, he probably encounters more quasi-human dance creatures and Cirque de Soleil performers on an average Wednesday than most of us will meet in a lifetime. How can these flailing, ethereal visages of skin and sequins not lead him to ponder the true nature of humanity?
Mr. Flowers has given us a gift. While most modern day minstrels are content to fill their lives with the fleeting pleasures of this world, this man has chosen to lend his considerable musical talents to increasing our understanding of phenomenology, evolutionary anthropology, Wittgensteinian ontology, and a host of other fields too complex to pronounce. We owe him at least a debt of gratitude and at most an endowed chair in Oxford University’s philosophy department.
Is he one of the warrior-poets mentioned in the closing scene of Braveheart? I don’t know. Is he the long-awaited philosopher-king foretold in Plato’s Republic? Probably.
Is he human or is he dancer? He is both, and we are rightly terrified in his presence.
For those of you living in an Amish cloister or polygamist compound for the past nine months, you can listen to Mr. Flower’s Opus HERE.