Unattainable Wisdom

Jamie Rhys Anderson embarks on a journey of philosophical thought to work out how mankind can reach its full potential.


(LIVING ROOM. The place is neither cluttered nor sparse. JAMIE sits on the edge of a sofa with a cup of tea, whilst his GRAN reclines in an armchair opposite. The chair has been turned to face the sofa and blocks a small television. The bookshelf on one wall is full of heavy psychology tomes and paperbacks. There are pictures on the wall of the Anderson family, and one of a blonde woman, JAMIE’S mother, with her degree. A clock is ticking, giving the room a distinctly slow ambience.)

(JAMIE is a tallish boy wearing black and with a constantly pensive expression. His GRAN is in a lavender cardigan and matching slippers. She wears glasses and is tired-looking.)

JAMIE – Gran?

GRAN – Yes?

JAMIE – Do you ever think about the future?    

GRAN – Er... you mean your future as a student, that kind of thing?

JAMIE – No, I mean the future in general. Like, what’s going to happen to us next, what will we accomplish in the future?

GRAN – Well, since you ask, I don’t believe the future is going to be all hover boards and lap-pods.

JAMIE – i-Pods.

GRAN – Yes, whatever they are. I’ve seen a lot of TV shows with robots running around killing people... and I think, no. That’s not really going to pass.

JAMIE – So what will we do next in terms of technological advancement?

GRAN – Jamie, why are you asking this? Is this something you’re doing for school?

JAMIE – No. I’ve just been thinking, that’s all.

GRAN – You’ve never asked a question like this before.

JAMIE – Yes Gran, but what do you think will happen to us next?

GRAN – Well...  I don’t really know. To be honest, I don’t think what’s in store for us is anything like as grand as they make out on television, in these documentaries. I mean, robots, hover cars, office buildings that go up and up forever... and all the while this polluting fog swirls around people’s feet. But it won’t be like that.

JAMIE – Go on.

GRAN – The world isn’t going to change very much, that’s all. It’s been a good 2,000 years; we’ve had two world wars – three if you count that one we’re involved in now – so what more can we possibly do?            

JAMIE – You don’t think we’ll have thought of anything else then?

GRAN – Not really. I’d have thought we’d have thought of everything by now.

JAMIE – So you believe every idea’s already been had?

GRAN – I didn’t say that, did I? I’m just... I suppose, yes, we’ll still come up with a few new ways of powering our houses maybe, or churning out that disgusting energy drink that your generation insists on guzzling, but-

JAMIE – So we’ve changed as lot already! You never had energy drink or i-Pods.

GRAN – We wouldn’t have known what to do with them.

JAMIE – What I’m saying is, we advancing, in a way. But I’m... interested... in what we’re going to do in the future. I worry that all our inventiveness is going to fizzle out, and we’ll all become stupid and watch telly all the time.

GRAN – I see.

JAMIE – So what I want to know is how much more can the human race possibly progress?

GRAN – Right. So that’s your big question, is it?

JAMIE – Yes.

GRAN – I, er, don’t know what to tell you, Jamie. I can only offer opinion, to tell you the truth.

JAMIE – Opinion’s good – to a certain extent. The trouble is, I    really want to know, so I need to think about this more. I mean, if we do all fizzle out and become stupid we’ll never know what our potential as humans is – we’re running out of time already-

GRAN – Jamie, stop, you’re making my head hurt.

JAMIE – I’ll ask Dad when he gets in.

GRAN – That should be soon, he said he was finishing around four. I have to say, you’ve talked a lot for someone who’s only just come back from school. You know what your dad’s like when he gets in.

JAMIE – Yes, I know. I’ve just been thinking a lot lately.

GRAN – What lessons do you have on Fridays again?

 JAMIE – We had R.E. last thing.

GRAN – Oh yes. What are you doing at the minute?

JAMIE – Genesis vs. Big Bang Theory.

GRAN – Oh right. (laughs) Which side are you rooting for?

JAMIE – It’s difficult, because neither can be conclusively proved or disproved.

GRAN – Yes. Right.

(Door in hallway opens and shuts, and JAMIE’S DAD walks into the living room. He is a teacher and wears a shirt and tie under his coat. He also wears glasses. JAMIE rushes to meet him.)

JAMIE – Hi Dad, can I talk to you?

DAD – Gordon Bennett, son, let me get through the door.

JAMIE – Right, sorry. (pause) How was, er, work?

DAD – Much the same, thanks. I did the favelas in Rio de Janiero with the year eights in the morning, and then     this afternoon I had year eleven again, then a bit of marking, and now I’m here. How was school?

JAMIE – It was OK.

DAD – That’s great. That’s really great.

JAMIE – What do you think the future will be like, Dad?

DAD – (frowning) Hmmm.  Odd thing to say.

JAMIE – It’s just been worrying me a bit. I’ve been wondering   whether the human race is using its full potential, in pursuit of technological advancement, or personal advancement, or anything else. Or, you know, maybe we’ll just end up dead in a few years. We could have destroyed ourselves by then, instead of making ourselves better. And – and then, we’ll never know. You know?

DAD – Oh, Jesus Christ.

JAMIE – Well? What do you think’s going to happen?

DAD – I don’t know, I don’t know any of that stuff.

JAMIE – You’ve watched the news, haven’t you? There are whole countries being blown up, global warming... and I’m wondering how far we could progress. And how fast. And whether we’d progress faster without all these distractions like the world ending, and what we could do if we put our minds to it-

DAD – Alright, time out! Can’t this wait until I’m not so tired? I’ve just got through the door...

JAMIE – Sorry.

DAD – All I want to do is to come in and not have to think for an evening.

JAMIE – Well... I suppose it’s not urgent.

DAD – Why don’t you bother your mum with this?

JAMIE – Can’t. It’s the middle of the night where she is.

DAD – Well, what about-

JAMIE – What does that even mean, middle of the night? How do we even know what the beginning of the night is, or the end?

DAD – For the last time, Jamie, I don’t know. (pause) Oh, for God’s sake, cheer up. It’s the weekend! (pause) I’m going to get changed.

JAMIE – Yeah, fine.

The End

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