The professor stood before the class and said, “Last night I dreamed that I was a raging lion roaming about on the African plain. All there was in the world was my self and my prey. I hunted by night and I killed by night and I knew only happiness until I awoke.I awoke to find that I was still me, the man you see before you, yet now I do not know whether I was the man dreaming of the lion or if I am now the lion dreaming of the man.”
The class sat in silence not knowing how to respond. The professor let the silence hang there for a few moments longer before proceeding to give his lecture. “Who among you can prove that I exist?”, he asked with an arrogant lift to his chin. He looked over the room without looking at anyone’s face. His confidence was deflated a bit when a student in the backed called out, “Whom shall I say is asking?” Chuckles erupted here and there but mostly the students where waiting, holding there breath a little, to see what would happen next. “You got me there”, the professor countered, “but who among you can prove you exist?” Where the first question was asked in an amused and arrogant tone, there was now a challenge in this question. the game was afoot and this academic would not be bested so easily again. All signs of laughter and heckling ceased and one student timidly raised her hand.
“Yes?”, responded the professor looking sternly at the offending student.
“Don’t you know we exist because you can see us right in front of you?”
This set the professor right off, “Haven’t you ever seen anything that wasn’t real? A Mirage? Drug induced hallucination? Dream? Didn’t I start by saying I’d had a troubling dream? Come on people! You can do better than that! I’m looking for some real insight here.”
Another student spoke up with out being called on, “Is this not the Intro. to Creative Writing class? My schedule said it was in this room and this is not on the syllabus.” He said it in that challenging yet wilting way that only an entitled college student can.
“GET OUT!”, the professor shouted red faced and pointing toward the door. Before he could again protest the professor looked him up and down and said disgustedly, “I’m trying to show you all something profound. I’m trying to reveal to you all the deepest secrets of the universe and you want to talk about some syllabus I wrote two years ago and never looked at since!? Just go! And anyone else who feels similarly to this sniveling know-nothing please feel free to go with.” No one moved a muscle, even the offending student stood rooted to the carpet for a couple of beats before hurriedly grabbing his things and exiting the room. One student would later report having heard him mumble something under his breath about it being the professor’s last day teaching on his way out.
The angry outburst must have burned a lot of the professors fuel for the discussion at hand because he spent most of the rest of the hour pacing back and forth in front of the white board in front of the room and talking to himself under his breath. No one took their eyes off of him. Finally as it was almost time for the class period to end he halted his pacing, looked each student in the eye in turn, and the wrote five words on the board HOW DO YOU KNOW ANYTHING? “This will be the topic of next weeks discussion for anyone with the guts to return!”, were his final words before storming out of the classroom, down the hall, and out into the parking lot.
To be continued….