A Flockbinker, a Unicorn, the Buddha, Three Scotsmen, and Owen Wilson Go Into a Bar.
by David Kennedy Bird
So, okay, so there’s a party of seven that goes into a bar. Right? There’s a flockbinker, and a unicorn, and the Buddha, and three Scotsmen, and Owen Wilson. Yeah.
It’s been a little while, hasn’t it, since we featured a philosophy joke about some combination of people going into a bar. (Interestingly, these have tended to be among our most popular posts.) And, if memory serves, we’ve never posted a joke that had the Buddha, a unicorn, and Owen Wilson in it. Look, if you never experiment, you never find out what works and what doesn’t.
But: Let’s get back to the joke. Our protagonists have just entered the bar.
Barkeeper: Say, whadda we got here? I ain’t seen you people around this neighborhood.
Buddha: Time and place become as water to the man who has transcended the veil of illusion.
Owen Wilson: What my super-spiritual friend is trying to say, is that we’re not from around here, but we thought we’d stop in to wet our whistles.
Barkeeper: So what’s with you people? Surely it ain’t Hallowe’en and i missed it, huh? Heh heh.
Unicorn: If it’s not Hallowe’en, then why are you dressed like a mollusk?
Barkeeper: A what?
Unicorn: A mollusk. You know, a squid, a slug, a clam.
Barkeeper: So wait, which of those am i dressed up like?
Unicorn: ALL of them.
Barkeeper: [suddenly notices who he’s talking to] A talking horse? [calls out to some of his regulars] Hey, fellas! I got Mister Ed over here! Heh heh heh. Mister Ed the talking horse!
Unicorn: I’m not a ‘talking horse,’ you intestinal hernia with a hack job of a haircut. I’m a unicorn. See the horn? [He points it menacingly at the barkeeper]
Barkeeper: Whoah, easy. You don’t look like no unicorn i ever seen. Ain’t you supposed to be all cuddly and colorful?
Unicorn: Please tell me that you’re not mistaking me for one of those cutesy animated pastel rainbow monstrosities covered with glitter. That’s not a unicorn. That’s what the inside of a seven-year-old girl’s brain looks like.
Owen Wilson: That is so totally unfair. I cannot believe you are even saying that.
Scotsman #1: Then again, it could be argued that, since a unicorn is a mythical beast, it hardly matters how ye represent one. “Ye,” in the present instance, might be construed to indicate the author of this blog.
Scotsman #2: I mean to say, if something doesn’t exist, there canna be a right or wrong way of representing it visually. It’d be like saying one drawing of Elizabeth Bennet could be more accurate than another.
Scotsman #3: …sittin’ on a fence.
Unicorn: However, since i quite clearly do exist, your argument falls to pieces. Here i am, standing before you, and i’m just as obviously not a pastel puffball with rainbows emerging from my hindquarters.
Owen Wilson: Woww.
Scotsman #1: It might be reasonably urged that, since we are all the denizens of a blog post created by a distressingly whimsical philosopher, the idea that any of us ‘exists’ in any ontologically satisfying sense is a fairly empty proposition.
Scotsman #2: However, since there are accepted traditions for the visual depiction of Scotsmen (a category that does, in fact, exist in the real world) and unicorns (a category that does not in fact exist, but which has nevertheless a kind of secondary reality due to the influence of literature and art), then the unicorn here can make the case that there are more or less accurate ways to represent such a creature.
Scotsman #3: …sittin’ on a fence.
Barkeeper: [somewhat dazed] Maybe… maybe none of you exist! Maybe you’re all just a figment of my imagination. Yeah. Maybe you’re all just a nightmare.
Random Patron of the Bar: Geez, Fred, they look real enough to me.
Unicorn: So are we just going to stand around arguing ontological categories, or are we going to get some liquor into these thirsty Scotsmen?
Buddha: To have one’s eyes opened, one must be willing to let go of temporal things.
Owen Wilson: Hey, Buddha, man, we’re really digging all the philosophical input, but you might want to table that stuff until after we’ve been served.
Scotsman #1: I’ll have a Scotch, neat.
Owen Wilson: Neat. I like that.
Scotsman #2: No water, no soda, no ice. Just Scotch, the way the Almighty intended.
Buddha: To peel away all that is inessential: this is what it means to find the true Path.
Owen Wilson: Dude, seriously.
Scotsman #3: Sittin’ on a fence.
Barkeeper: On a fence? You want i should serve you your whiskey on a fence?
Unicorn: That’s his line. His signature line. “Sitting on a fence.” As nearly as i’ve been able to determine, it’s the only thing he ever says. You’ll get used to it. He’ll take his Scotch neat like the other two.
Barkeeper: Gotcha. Whew! You people are not my normal sorta customers. I still think maybe you don’t exist. [He begins pouring Scotch.]
Owen Wilson: And when you’ve got a spare minute, my man, you can dish me up a sparkling mineral water.
Barkeeper: Sure, fella. I guess i’ve got a sparkling mineral water back here somewheres. For just in case the Brownie Scouts ever drop by. Heh heh.
Owen Wilson: Woww.
Owen Wilson: You said it, buddy.
Unicorn: And if you’ve got a water bucket or a trough out back, i’ll content myself with that.
Barkeeper: Um, we got a toilet. That close enough? You can drink outta the toilet in the men’s room. We ain’t got a talking horses’ room, heh heh.
[The unicorn whinnies and waves his horn menacingly at the barkeeper, then decides that arrest on a charge of aggravated assault just isn’t worth it.]
Buddha: Thirst is a form of craving. It is better to cultivate Emptiness.
Barkeeper: Riiiiiight. Got it. One glass of emptiness for the Dalai Lama over here. And does that thing [here he indicates the flockbinker] want anything to drink? Maybe a strawberry soda? I keep one of them strawberry sodas around, for in case the Brownie Scouts ever show up.
Owen Wilson: Woww.
Scotsman #3: On a fence.
The Good Reader, as is often the case, finds herself fairly steamed about this entry to the All Flockbinkers blog, and is quick to make her opinion known.
The Good Reader: How was that EVEN a philosophy joke? It was just a random incident involving seven people, or creatures, or whatever, most of them not philosophers, having a random conversation in a bar.
Elvis Wu, the Last Philosophy Major: On the contrary, i could make a strong case that at least five out of the seven characters are philosophers… and the other two might be as well.
The Good Reader: Okay, fine. But how was it a joke? It was just a bizarre conversation.
Elvis Wu, the Last Philosophy Major: The Blogger likes to play fast and loose with the word “joke.” But then again, coming up with a satisfying definition for the word “joke” is perhaps more difficult than you or most people might think.
The Good Reader: I think the Blogger’s blog is a joke. How’s that?
Elvis Wu, the Last Philosophy Major: [smiling] Easy, now. Claws back in.
Addendum to the Epilogue:
Each of the characters featured in this joke (including the two commentators who show up at the very end) has appeared in earlier posts to this blog. If you’d like to familiarize yourself further with any of them, here are some links to older posts in which the various characters may be found.
The Flockbinker: The whole dang blog is about flockbinkers, so it’s kind of hard to select just one post to send you to. Eenie, meenie, minie, moe… how about THIS ONE.
The Unicorn: Here’s a post from a while back that includes a trenchant and incisive discussion of unicorns.
The Buddha: Buddha and Confucius went to Chili’s for dinner. Confucius couldn’t get the Buddha to stay on task, look over the menu and order something. He kept wanting to say illuminating things to their server, Martin. Now this you’ve gotta see.
The Three Scotsmen: Here’s the post in which that classic joke…you know, the one about the Three Scotsmen sitting on a fence… was first introduced. And here’s a more recent post in which the Three Scotsmen are presented as actual characters for the first time.
Owen Wilson: Okay, i lied. This was the first time Owen Wilson’s ever been featured on the blog… but perhaps it won’t be the last!
The Good Reader: She’s the personification of this blog’s readership, but also an individual gal in her own right. Here’s an older dialogue between her and The Blogger in which she’s in rare form and firing on all cylinders.
Elvis Wu: He really is The Last Philosophy Major. Here’s a mossy old post in which Elvis relates a humorous story about Bodhifarma, one of the Patriarchs of Zen Buddhism.