Dialogismus (di-a-lo-giz’-mus): Speaking as someone else, either to bring in others’ points of view into one’s own speech, or to conduct a pseudo-dialog through taking up an opposing position with oneself.

Me1: Me me me. Ha ha! How do I address you, Me? I’ll just give you a number—you can be Me2, I will be Me1. We better not do this out loud. It could appear like a symptom of something. We are clearly divided into 1 and 2, but I don’t think that’s a problem. The basic idea is for you, aka Me2, to disagree with me, Me1.

Me 2: Why do I have to disagree with you?

M1: Because your disagreement tests what I think, forcing me to find good reasons to back up what I think. There may be something hidden that Me1 can’t see, but Me2 can see. This isn’t a simple literary device as dialogue was for Plato, where his Me2 is set up as an idiot to further his purposes. Look at Polus in Gorgias! Total idiot who Plato authored to strengthen his own case. Yet, for a time these dialogues passed for transcriptions of actual conversations! In some circles they still do. Most people who believe that rhetoric is “mere” and plays on the emotions, is some kind of linguistic seduction that “sweetens” speech’ so the sweetness is gobbled up—so the speech is swallowed with no regard for its truthfulness, affect the concept of rhetoric Plato presents in the Gorgias. This idea has been operative in Western thought since it first became Western. But, no matter the outcome, under a more expansive idea of rhetoric, all of Plato’s dialogues are rhetorical—they want to persuade you. What do you think M2?

M2: Bullshit. Plato is pursuing truth using dialectical hair-splitting to knock his opponents down and make them look like fools. It does not matter that the “characters” he presents are his own creations. They are representative of “types” we are all too familiar with—especially, the wannabe tyrants haunting contemporary politics.

And, you know—I’m getting bored with this asinine dialogue thing, and especially being designated as Me2–like Me Too, and as the Grateful Dead sang, “set up like a bowling pin.” I mean, this is all taking place in a single head. At best, it’s wondering, at worst it’s you making a learned display of yourself, but solely in your own head. There’s at least another 50 Me’s you could conjure to play this dumb-ass game. When you’ve satisfied your hope and Me1 is through, having arrived at insights worthy of a philosopher, what are you going to do with them? How will you wind them around your soul and ensure your actions accord with truth, justice and all the rest? Is it knowledge that will make you straight? Or, is it belief? You may know something is wrong, yet you’ll do it. On the other hand, belief mobilizes caritas—affections: hope, fear and a pointed sense of the future and it’s contingency. It may invite decisions drawn around consequences that are uncertain, unlike knowledge that stops at certainty, bereft of consequences, vested in being right as a substitute for being good.

Me1: Your wig has flipped Me2. It is time to shut this auto-conversation down. it frightens me that there is such incoherent drivel resident in my head. In fact, you frighten me, especially if you aspire to trade places with me!

Me2: Maybe I should. Here we are working at the “Golden Bubbles” car wash in Reno, Nevada. Remember, you were dismissed from the University of Maine for padding your travel expenses and selling counterfeit parking permits to undergraduate students. We have been hitch-hiking ever since. All this academic navel gazing is going to get us nowhere.

Me1: Maybe we could become a pimp! Prostitution is legal here and I think we could make a good living.

Me2: You are hopeless. Whatever it is, I’ll ride it out with you, but I’m done conversing. Don’t talk to me. I won’t answer. Why don’t you find an actual human being to talk to, or check into the Washoe County Mental Health Treatment Center, or both?

Me1 (yelling out loud): Traitor! Sophist trickster! What will mother say? Where the hell are you? Those parking permits were planted in my briefcase! Damn you Me2!

Postscript: Former Professor Wilde was led away from the car wash in handcuffs, yelling at an imaginary person. He was admitted to the Washoe County Mental Health Treatment Center.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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