Written by Bastian Debont
Graphic by Paris Robson and Alisha Nagle
This piece was originally published in ‘Memento Mori’, Bossy’s 2021 print edition.
Alright, alright! Fine! I will answer your inane questions so long as you stop dropping stone tablets on my head! Do you people think I chose to keep living in a barrel because I like being bothered? Honestly, to think a shade cannot find a moment’s peace even in the afterlife. The irony of the dog being dogged is not lost on me.
Diogenes, oh wisest of philosophers, I write to you with woes in my love life. My lover left me for my best friend, and my heart is broken. How can I possibly learn to love and trust another again?
– Sincerely, Crushed in the Classics Department
Bite him. Find your lover and bite him. Next.
Dear Diogenes, I’m a big fan of your work (especially your sabotage of that dimwit Plato). What’s the best way to humiliate my mortal enemy in all things to the point of their surrender in our rivalry, and prove my superiority once and for all?
– Embattled for the Baldessin Building
The first step in humiliating your mortal enemy is to transcend beyond humiliation yourself, as I once did, becoming immune to anything that would shame you. You must find comfort in going to extreme lengths; lengths that would induce lesser men to cower in submission.
Next, you must learn to understand your opponent’s point of view in intimate detail. Study it as if you were studying the works of Socrates himself, leave no detail unscrutinised. Then, when you know your opponent’s views as deeply as your own, dismantle them. Tear them apart as a wild dog tears meat into pieces, do it publicly, with wit and humour. Use props if you must, be as loud as physically possible, let no man walk by you without ensuring he knows exactly why your opponent’s views are awful.
Failing that, shadow your foe and repeat everything they say in a mocking, annoying voice. That one always works.
Why do I keep falling in love with straight, white, cis men?
To answer your question as a straight white cis man, with no other information, I must put forth two hypotheses.
The first is that, unless the people in the land of the living got any wiser and nobler in the eons since my death, your society is primarily run by men like me, who cast themselves as the heroes in every story. Everywhere you look to see a lover, there stares back the pasty face of a straight white cis man, until – much like a drooling dog – you come to associate those faces with the ideal faces of lovers, salivating at the sight of them. Any other kind of person simply isn’t an option, because you haven’t seen them presented as an option before. I would prescribe, in that case, to actively seek out examples of lovers that don’t look like me. Read some books, perhaps, or watch those tiny theatre boxes people won’t shut up about missing down here.
Alternatively, it could simply be that your circle of friends and thereby dating pool consists solely of people that look like me. In which case, you ought to shine the lantern on your own face a while, and ask why that is.
Diogenes, how do I get over my crush on you?
– Love, garlicbreadluvr
When I still walked amongst the living, most of these ill-directed ‘crushes’ seemed to evaporate after the interested party spent a mere shift of the sundial in my presence. However, seeing as there is no sun in Hades and I would prefer to be left alone, I’ll offer this instead.
Worship the ground I walked upon, read my texts, and take to shining a lantern in the dull-eyed, slack-mouthed face of your society. It’ll never be reciprocated, but anything to wake the populace out of their dazed stupor…
Dear Diogenes, I am afraid that I have committed a social faux pas. I was at the pub the other day, enjoying some after-class beers with some friends when one of them made a comment about my black Kathmandu puffer jacket. When I looked around at my peers, I noticed that they were all sporting beige, green, and even red puffer jackets! I’m afraid that I have fallen behind and become ‘last season’. Should I buy a new jacket? Maybe a pink one?
– Puff Puff Passé
Puff, this is a difficult and multilayered question, so I will attempt to approach it with the utmost sincerity and gravity.
If the source of your strife is the colour of your puffer jacket, and it is causing you ostracization, then the only effective course of action to take is to remove it entirely. Let them try and mock you if you’re not wearing one! Of course, then the object of your friends’ ire might turn to the rest of your clothes, at which point the only recourse will be to remove them as well. While you’re at it, save yourself from mockery by casting off all those signs of your interests that might be lying about your home.
In fact, can you risk having a home under such scrutiny? Pre-empt them once again, remove yourself from your home, and go about with whatever objects you have left in a sack of some kind. Once all that is done, the only way to ensure no further mockery will be delivered onto your person is to ditch your friends.
Congratulations, Puff, you’re now a philosopher. Welcome to the happiest years of your life.
Or, if you don’t want to discard all your material possessions, you could always consider that judgement on the basis of your clothing is the realm of fools, and skip directly to finding new friends. Fashion is a fickle thing, after all; one ought to put more stock in reliable, trustworthy people, who wouldn’t so much as sneeze if you showed up to after-class beers dressed as Heracles himself.
I personally don’t know why the toga ever went out of fashion. It had such a lovely cross-breeze on hot summer days. Perhaps it’ll come back into style one day.
Well, I’ve had quite enough of this nonsense for now. For the sake of the Gods, next time you want some advice, ask some other philosopher. Just not Plato. Or Aristotle. Or Cicero. Or Heraclitus.
You know what? I might be the only one down here who can give sensible advice. Write in again if you must.