Five Ages of Man
with due apologies to Socrates and Plato

The scene opens with Thuddipius (the clueless) meeting Eristotle (the Chaosopher) at his favorite hot dog cart, attempting to pay homage to the Goddess.
      THUDDIPIUS: Is it not impious to eat hot dog buns, Eristotle?
      ERISTOTLE: Do not believe everything you read, Thuddipius. I suspect you wish more of me than my view on the merits of Kosher dogs, my crafty friend.
      T: Indeed you are right, Eristotle. You always do seem to sniff out my true intentions.
      E: It is your cologne, actually.
      T: What?
      E: Nothing; just trying to make all this read better.
      T: [Shaking his head] I have come to ask if you truly put forth a theory of Five Ages of Man, and if so, what it is, and what it means. No man has yet been able to explain it to my satisfaction, but the market is abuzz with news of it nevertheless.
      E: It must be better than the usual buzzing of flies, Thuddipius.
      T: I beg your ...
      E: Nothing, nothing. You wish to know of my theory, then?
      T: Yes, very much.
      E: Let us begin, as the bard said, at the beginning. It is a very fine place to start, is it not, Thuddipius?
      T: I ... er ... suppose so, Eristotle.
      E: You can drop the constant references to my name, Thuddipius. Even the excessively slow of wit can follow the E:'s and T:'s.
      T: What ``E's'' and ``T's,'' and how do you make your voice so wide and dark ...
      E: Never mind. In any event, do we agree that all things are directly or indirectly appropriate to 5, as the Goddess teaches? Or must we give proofs of this?
      T: We say that which the Goddess teaches, by Zeus.
      E: Good. That will save us a couple of screens.
      T: [Looks perplexed, then wisely says...] ...
      E: When a soul comes to be, it comes from we know not where and for no purpose of Reason or Order? We have discussed this before, have we not?
      T: I do not recall it immediately, but I get the odd feeling that I could find it easily.
      E: You need only follow the links in your mind to find it, I am sure. Anyway, this creation which is no kin of Reason and Order must, perforce, be an act of Primal Chaos, must it not?
      T: Yes, but there is that wideness of voice again ...
      E: It is so that, when you depart, you can easily scan your mind for it. To continue, though, this movement from limitless not-being to limited being will cause deep Confusion, will it not?
      T: [Gets that perplexed look again, and again chooses wisely] I am not sure what you mean.
      E: Imagine that you have spent your entire existence running and capering in the bright, sunlit world, surrounded by colors and sounds and sensations, and were then suddenly knocked upon the noggin and chained to the ground in a cave, where you could understand and participate in the world by way of shadows. Would this change not greatly confuse you?
      T: I get the feeling I've heard something like this before ... but yes, I would surely be sorely confused. Also, I should think that it would cause great Discord and will to rebel against ... the ... incarceration.
      [Thuddipius looks even more perplexed than earlier, but chooses silence as the better part of ignorance]
      E: Truly and well spoken, good sir. The first age, that of Confusion, immediately follows upon being born. The second, which you so aptly named Discord, follows upon Confusion during the very early years of life.
      T: I see this to be so.
      E: And how does life follow from this? Do we not become resigned to the laws and seek our place in society, be it low or high?
      T: Yes, this is so.
      E: And do we not choose our beliefs and hold to them fixedly, so that no man may shake us free?
      T: Most do, Eristotle.
      E: This is during early childhood, when we are taught to respect the authorities. The name of this age is Bureaucracy, and for most men it lasts until the moment of death.
      T: I must disagree with my earlier statement, I fear. It seems to me that many men change their opinions during their lives.
      E: This is so, but do many men change how they think, or attempt to think without using Reason?
      T: This seems as nonsense, Eristotle.
      E: It most surely is. Reason is what limits the unlimited and what bars it from the primal Chaos from which we came. Reason is what chains us to the cave, Thuddipius. The chain of Bureaucracy is heavy, but a few manage to crane their necks around to try to see the light from outside the cave. These few reach the edges of Reason and sight a new landscape. As Reason becomes inadequate and Bureaucracy crumbles, they enter the Age of the Aftermath, which leads them back to the primal Chaos. For most men, though, the Aftermath only occurs at death, when the body crumbles and the soul is freed from Reality and once again joins with Chaos.
      T: You are a loon, Eristotle. I don't know why I ask you anything.
      E: I am a loon, Thuddipius, and you ask me things because, deep down inside, you are, too. On the outside, though, you're the pain in the ass that kept me babbling while my hot dog got cold. Why don't you toddle along before I decide to beat you to death with a soggy hot dog bun?
Some of you may have noticed that Eristotle's ordering of the Seasons (Chaos, Confusion, Discord, Bureaucracy, Aftermath) differs ever so slightly from the Principia's ordering (Chaos, Discord, Confusion, Bureaucracy, Aftermath). You may pat yourselves on the back. Give me any flack, though, and I've got a soggy hot dog bun with your name on it.