[A television is on broadcasting the six o’clock news. LUCE watches avidly, making notes. EMILY is reading the play ‘Much Ado About Nothing’.]
LUCE: God, I can’t believe this…
EMILY: The world’s a messed up place.
LUCE: You’ve got that right… an Australian teen joining ISIS. Where are his parents?
[Enter SASHA. She sits next to EMILY on the couch.]
SASHA: Dude. Dude! EMILY: What? I’m reading. SASHA: What colour is this dress?
[Shows iPhone screen.]
SASHA: The dress.
EMILY: Is this a trick question?
SASHA: Dude. Just tell me.
EMILY: Blue and black.
LUCE: Shut up, Sash. I’m trying to listen.
SASHA: You shut up. [To Emily] It’s white and gold.
EMILY: Why does this even matter?
SASHA: It’s all over the Internet. Everyone is going nuts fighting over what colour it is… …and I have money on it. Here, look again.
EMILY: You have money on it?
LUCE: Of course you do. How much is it this time? I won’t be covering your rent again, Sash.
SASHA: Dudes, it’s only ten dollars. Maybe if you look at it from this angle…
SASHA: This is ridic’. It’s white and gold.
EMILY: Yeah, and the sky is red.
SASHA: Hilarious. Oi, Luce. What?
LUCE: Blue and black.
SASHA: You didn’t even look!
LUCE: I don’t need to look. The stupid thing was on the news. It’s blue and black.
SASHA: The news. [Scoffs] It’s freaking white and gold!
LUCE: Look. I don’t care, okay? I need you to be quiet so I can watch this. I have an essay due on Monday.
SASHA: Oh? What for? How To Exploit And Manipulate The Public Through Journalism 101? Or, How To Have No Morals and Misrepresent Everything For My Own Personal Gain 302?
EMILY: Oh, great. Just give it up, Sasha. SASHA: Give up what? My morals? (I think Luce has done enough of that for the rest of us) or the fact that you’re both colour blind?
EMILY: Sasha, do you really want to do this again?
LUCE: God, what’s wrong with you? Just shut your mouth and go back to pondering the meaning of the universe so I can get this done.
SASHA: What’s wrong with me? At least I have an ethical code. And it’s white and gold.
LUCE: Don’t care.
EMILY: Jesus, you two bicker like a god damn married couple. I should start calling you Beatrice and Benedick.
SASHA: Cute, Em. But how can we be seeing completely opposite colours from the same picture? Are you just saying blue and black to get me all worked up?
LUCE: Definitely. It’s not like I have anything else I need to do?
EMILY: Look, see my shirt? This is white. That is blue.
SASHA: No it’s not!
[EMILY and LUCE exchange a half amused, half exasperated look.]
EMILY: Okay, Sasha. Whatever you reckon.
SASHA: This sofa is black.
LUCE: Yes. Yes it is. Well done.
SASHA: Screw you, Luce.
LUCE: No, I’m right, thanks.
SASHA: Ugh. Whatever. So, okay the sofa is black. And this necklace, this is gold, right?
LUCE: I wouldn’t call that cheap piece of crap gold.
EMILY: Yeah. SASHA: And they look nothing alike right?
EMILY: Yeah, I guess.
SASHA: SO HOW ANYONE SAY THE DRESS IS BLACK?
LUCE: Oh my god. Sash, the dress is blue and black. Get over it. There are wars in Syria right now and you’re freaking out over a meme. Go clean the bathroom, or ‘catch some waves’, or something.
SASHA: Okay, okay. I can kind of see a blue tinge, but that’s just the lighting in the picture!
EMILY: Okay, sweetie.
LUCE: Whatever helps you sleep at night.
SASHA: I think I’m having a melt down.
LUCE: Yeah, I feel that.
EMILY: Luce! Sasha, just calm down. It’s only a picture.
SASHA: But if we don’t even see one picture the same, how do we know we see anything the same? How do we know?
LUCE: You’re so gullible, Sash.
EMILY: It’s probably just an optical illusion, some kind of joke. I mean you did see it on the Internet.
SASHA: [Staring off into the distance.] Do I even exist?
LUCE: ‘Is this real life? [Snickers]
SASHA: Guys this isn’t a joke!
LUCE: You know what isn’t a joke? A seventeen-year-old suicide bomber.
EMILY: It’s just a picture.
SASHA: No it’s not just a picture. It’s a sign.
LUCE: Right. Are you on something?
SASHA: No, no, listen. I’m having an epiphany.
LUCE: You’re having a trip… or an aneurism.
SASHA: Shut up, you cynic! I’m having an existential crisis here. Show a little compassion.
EMILY: Yes, you exist.
SASHA: But what if I don’t?
EMILY: You do.
LUCE: No you don’t.
LUCE: You don’t exist.
SASHA: But I must exist!
EMILY: Oh my god.
LUCE: Nope, you don’t exist. Everything is an illusion.
EMILY: Jesus, Luce. Don’t bloody encourage her. Of course you exist, Sasha, God.
SASHA: Of course, you would say that if you were a figment of my imagination.
EMILY: A figment of your imagination?
EMILY: And how do you figure that?
SASHA: Luce said that I don’t exist!
EMILY: She was joking!
SASHA: No, no. Hang on, right. Luce said I don’t exist; she is encouraging me to believe that I don’t exist.
SASHA: Dude let me finish! She’s trying to convince me I don’t exist, right?
LUCE: You don’t.
[EMILY elbows LUCE]
SASHA: BUT if I believe her, if I believe that I don’t exist, then I must exist.
LUCE: Damn it. What did they say? For god sakes be quiet!
SASHA: Yes! I must exist. Because I can think! The fact that I can think and believe means I must exist, because I can think and believe.
EMILY: Okay, great you exist.
SASHA: Yeah, I’m not so sure about you though.
SASHA: Well, I know I exist, because I can think. I have a mind.
SASHA: But I have no way of knowing whether you do.
EMILY: Okay, this is just ridiculous, of course I exist, you’re talking to me.
LUCE: [To herself] You’re both ridiculous. SASHA: But, you could be a figment of my imagination.
EMILY: But you can see me, touch me, hear me.
SASHA: I can also see the image of this dress, but you’re telling me that I’m not really seeing it, because you say the dress it’s representing is black and blue, not white and gold.
SASHA: So if my eyes have failed me in seeing that correctly, how do I know if I’m seeing anything correctly, or if I’m seeing anything at all? My senses have failed me once, who says they won’t fail me again? Thus everything could be an illusion, therefore, you, Luce, everything may not exist. The only thing that I know exists is me.
EMILY: But if you can’t trust your senses, then you may not exist either, because you can’t trust the sensations and experiences of your own body.
LUCE: Who cares?
SASHA: But just because my body doesn’t exist, doesn’t mean my mind doesn’t. I know my mind exists, because I can think. Maybe the body and the mind are different things.
LUCE: Why don’t you have a crisis over something that actually matters? [Points at television where the news is still playing.] Focus on reality, instead of getting lost in your imagination.
SASHA: And what makes you think that is reality?
LUCE: This is telling us about what is going on in the world, the injustice and the crime, the politics. The things that matter. The things that actually impact our lives. It’s a perfect representation of what’s actually wrong in the world.
SASHA: Key word being representation. What’s to say that anything the media tells us is reality? The media tells us what they want us to know and they change the details to suit their agenda. It’s propaganda.
LUCE: Now who’s being cynical?
SASHA: Now who’s being gullible? What really matters is the nature of humanity! Maybe if we could truly understand it, we would be able to predict and prevent these disasters.
LUCE: You sound just like a philosophy major.
SASHA: And you sound just like a journalism and media and communications major. Learn to see more than the facts you exploit, Luce.
LUCE: Oh, but according to you none of this is real anyway. Your only reality is what’s inside your head! EMILY: Guys, maybe you should—
SASHA: There are multiple realities, Luce. Layers upon layers of contradiction and manipulation and truths and falsities all woven together in the tapestry of history. The aim is to unravel it. Get to the core of humanity, which is what really matters. All that other stuff, the conflict and the war and the politics may not even be real.
EMILY: Like in 1984?
SASHA: Exactly! The Ministry of Truth is constantly ‘revising history’. Just like Stalin in Russia. The media has a history of… creative license.
EMILY: So… nothing is real?
SASHA: Everything and nothing. Except me, of course.
LUCE: Damn, this shit just got too deep for me. I need a drink.
EMILY: Okay, okay. How about this. You know you exist. That’s comforting right?
SASHA: Kind of. Not really.
EMILY: Look. You exist. And even if the rest of us don’t, there’s nothing you can do about it. So, why don’t you just enjoy the hallucination while it lasts?
SASHA: Humph. EMILY: God. Talk about much ado about nothing.
SASHA: [Laughs] And everything.
LUCE: Here, have a drink, Descartes.
SASHA: Oh, funny.
LUCE: Always… Oh great. I missed the end of the news. You better not have used up all the data with your stupid crap, Sash, because now I have to go online to finish my notes.
SASHA: Love ya, LuLu.
LUCE: Yeah, yeah. You good for nothing existentialist. SASHA: Actually an existentialist is—
EMILY: Ooh, The Bachelor is on.
LUCE: Perfect. No one on that show has two brain cells to rub together.
JAMES: [To Luce] Hey, Babe, did you hear about that Australian kid defecting to Iraq?
LUCE: Not as much as I would have liked.
SASHA: Bro! What colour is this dress?
EMILY: Oh my god, no. Not again. [To James] Don’t answer!
SASHA: Fine… James, I’m gonna need ten dollars.
Samantha Mansell is a creative writing major who is currently mastering in publishing and editing at Unimelb. Passionate about intersectional feminism and gender politics Samantha loves to challenge the traditional ideas of the binary of gender and gender roles. She spends most of her free time procrastinating writing by watching trashy shows on Netflix.