Illustration by Francisco Baudizzone

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[Originally published September 2, 2015.]

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TAYLOR SWIFT: Tell me, Socrates, must the player always play, play, play?

SOCRATES: Well, that depends on what it is to be a player and what it means to play. Could you be more specific?

SWIFT: I’m thinking of the dirty, dirty cheats of the world. Those about whom so many get down and out while they could be getting down to sick beats. Alcibiades, for example, abandoned Athens and sought refuge in Sparta, then left Sparta for Persia before finally returning to Athens, leaving an inter-imperial trail of broken hearts.

SOCRATES: Yes, I see. Alcibiades is, in fact, a player who will play, play, play.

SWIFT: Yes, very much so.

SOCRATES: But must he? That is the question at hand.

SWIFT: I believe he must for, consider that the hater must hate, hate, hate, and the faker must fake, fake, fake. Why should the player be different?

SOCRATES: But might people change? Couldn’t something convince the player to stay, stay, stay rather than play, play, play?

SWIFT: Ah, but you see Socrates, it is not the player that decides to stay, stay, stay. Rather, the player becomes a stayer when he ceases to play, play, play.

SOCRATES: So then one must eliminate the other. A player can never stay, stay, stay because, according to you, he would then be a stayer and not a player.

SWIFT: That is correct.

SOCRATES: Could a stayer, having previously been one to go on too many dates, fall into old habits?

SWIFT: Perhaps I’ve got nothing in my brain, at least that’s what people say, but I’m afraid I don’t follow.

SOCRATES: Pay no attention to what people say. The depth of this issue you bring up shows the substantial content of your brain. But, let me make myself clear. Might it be a matter of degree? Could a stayer who was previously a player, still have an urge to play, play, play but resist temptation and stay, stay, stay?

SWIFT: No, a player that appears to stay, stay, stay is nothing more than a faker. And as I said before, fakers gonna fake, fake, fake.

SOCRATES: Well then let’s consider the avowed stayer. Having been one to always stay, stay, stay, perhaps he stays out too late, and giving in to temptation he’s gonna play, play, play. What say you?

SWIFT: The case you describe, the stayer that’s gonna play, play, play, is that of the heartbreaker. Not unlike the faker, the heartbreaker is gonna break, break, break.

SOCRATES: Let me see if I follow. The player that’s gonna stay, stay, stay is a faker. And fakers gonna fake, fake, fake. Correct?

SWIFT: Yes.

SOCRATES: And is it the case that the stayer that will play, play, play is a heartbreaker who will break, break, break.

SWIFT: That’s my position.

SOCRATES: It sounds like you speak from experience.

SWIFT: In some sense. But these experiences, if not completely universal, are at least easily relatable.

SOCRATES: Like a popular song that can’t stop, or won’t stop groovin’.

SWIFT: That’s just the type of music that gets in your mind.

SOCRATES: Saying it’s gonna be alright.

SWIFT: Indeed.

SOCRATES: Let us return to the beginning. Your hypothesis is that players gonna play, play, play. Is that right?

SWIFT: That is right.

SOCRATES: And so they cannot stay, stay, stay.

SWIFT: You’re right again.

SOCRATES: But didn’t you say also that the player that appears to stay, stay, stay, is really a faker. And as a faker, therefore, is gonna fake, fake, fake.

SWIFT: Yes, I did say as much.

SOCRATES: It seems we’ve reached an impasse — you say players will always play, play, play, but its possible for them to appear to stay, stay, stay and yet this makes them a faker who will fake, fake, fake. But if they fake, fake, fake then they do not always play, play, play for there must be at least some stay, stay, stay for otherwise, they only play, play, play and hence, are a player and not a faker.

SWIFT: The human creature is a ponderous thing, full of complexities and contradictions. But what can one do? If only there was some sort of movement that would throw off the psychic troubles that follow from simply being.

SOCRATES: Maybe like a dog that has gone for a swim, you can shake, shake, shake.

SWIFT: Shake it off?

SOCRATES: Shake it off.