Dragged Along the Hallway

Cliff Williams
Department of Philosophy
Trinity College
Deerfield, Illinois 60015

It was the second Tuesday in December, 2003. The class was Philosophy 350 Kierkegaard and Nietzsche and the classroom was McLennan 211. I had brought a tangled clothesline to class so that the students in the class could have a tug-of-war. This was to illustrate the internal tug-of-war that takes place between our attraction to the good and our resistance to it, an idea that is prominent in Kierkegaard’s Purity of Heart Is To Will One Thing.

I sat in front of the class on a wood stool, which I had placed only two feet from the desk in which Mike Nowak was sitting. I took the tangled heap from my left shoulder, where I had placed it when I left my office, and dropped it onto Mike’s desk. He promptly started trying to unravel it. I tried to keep it tangled. He noticed that after some seconds and remarked on it. Someone asked why I had brought the rope. I said that we were going to have a tug-of-war. Someone said that we should have a camera present. I said I would go back to my office and get mine, which I happened to have brought with me to school that day.

The class consisted of two females and six males. The two females and five of the males were present on this day. When I got back to the classroom with my camera, the two females were in the process of tying up four of the males in front of the classroom. The fifth male was sitting on the heat register in the back of the room watching the proceedings. The two females wrapped the group of males twice around and tied the rope. They declared that they wanted to drag the group down the hallway. I said, “Okay, but don’t make too much noise.” So they dragged the group of males into the hallway.

The four males staggered along the hallway. The untied male egged them on. I watched. When the group got to the end of the hallway, the females dragged them back the other way until they got them back into the classroom. We proceeded with the class session, but we without the tug-of-war.