Noam Chomsky and Slavoj Žižek are married and sitting in an iHop on a Sunday morning. Neither wants to speak to the other and go to great lengths to avoid eye contact because the past six months have been trying times for the lovers. Chomsky takes a moment to examine the room and looks two booths over to his right to see a man reading a New York Times article about hipsters. Chomsky sighs and looks down to his crossed hands whose thumbs are battling each other to no avail. Zizek looks ahead and momentarily attempts to engage with Chomsky, but manages to steer his gaze about 15 degrees west of the tiny philosopher’s head. Before long the silence is too much to bear and Chomsky says, “Look. It’s not that I think you are stupid… It’s just that I think what you talk about is wrong and does not pertain to anything that is based in fact. Your love affair with abstractionism has clouded your ability to fully analyze situations. I am sorry, baby, but I just can’t let that slide.” Chomsky then takes a sip of his coffee, black, but with raw sugar, and glances back over at the man with the New York Times and shakes his head.

“Really, you want to do this here?” Zizek shifts his gaze 15 degrees east so that he is now directly facing his counterpart. The Korean manager looks over to the lovers’ table, bracing himself for conflict. “You really want to? Okay. Fine. You tell me that I am wrong and that by my focusing on ideology does not tackle the problem, right? Well, I have two words for you, dear,” says Zizek while spitting profusely all over the table. Zizek had been taking English lessons from Noam and made much progress since they started seeing each other.

“Khmer Rouge,” Zizek utters through a teeth-bearing grin. “How good of a service did your facts do you when that happened, huh? I seem to remember you claiming that it was not nearly as bad as the American media said it was and you were WRONG!” Zizek stands halfway up in his booth and sticks his finger in Chomsky’s face. A family of five to the left looks at the two men with wide eyes and dropped mouths. “And this is my point, Noam. Ideology succeeds where empirical analysis fails. If you had focused on the ideologies rather than the facts you would not have made this embarrassing assessment.” Zizek reclines back into his seat and offers the staring family a wave.

“Oh, come on Slavoj” Chomsky says with two to three head-bobs. “You know why that happened. The facts at the time led me to believe that Khmer Rouge was not as bad as they actually were. How was I supposed to know? The US government had fabricated plenty of stories throughout Vietnam.” Chomsky reaches behind the division of his booth to another table and grabs the ketchup in preparation for the Colorado omelet that was about to be he ordered what seemed like, to him, a century ago. His hands touch the ketchup bottle and he internally analyzes the origins of the word ‘ketchup’ to its Indonesian-Malay roots and quickly shifts thought to the British imperialism that altered how the word is pronounced. “At some point you have to understand that what you are thinking and publishing is too abstract and makes you come off as a real charlatan. It’s not entirely your fault. I mean look at what Paris has brought us. Lacan… Foucault… Derrida. Oh jeez, Derrida. Do not even get me started on him. You continental European philosophers spend too much time sticking your head in space, sorry, the ‘real’ and not enough time examining the way things are here on planet Earth.”

Zizek, now livid, takes his right hand and wipes his mouth of the foam that he has collected on his upper lip and in other sections of his beard. “OK, Noam, how can you say ideology and theory has nothing to do with it when you yourself make all kinds of assumptions based on what you believe to be this ‘human nature,’” asks Zizek with a newfound calmness in his voice. “You Westerners with your empirical analysis. It sells you short, really. Some things can best be explained through theory. For instance, take my theory on consumer conscience. I am able to understand the hypocrisy that these consumers endure everyday when they attempt to make material, redemptive choices with their shopping. I do this by examining the abstract; not by looking at death tolls of a factory or slave labor numbers.” Chomsky continues to bob his head in ostensible agreement, but Zizek knows better than to make this assumption.

The waiter, a tall, skinny, Political Science student who spent the previous summer, while inescapably unemployed due to his brilliant ability to provide excuses for himself, researching Chomsky and Zizek to great lengths arrives at the table with the lovers’ food. Chomsky looks up at the waiter and surrenders a soft grin. Zizek grabs his stack of blueberry pancakes and side of hashbrowns while giving the waiter a nod of gratitude for delivering the food. The couple unravels their silverware from the thin paper garment that protects it and both place the napkins in their lap. The waiter, still standing and staring at the couple, asks if “there was anything else he could get them” and, although neither Chomsky nor Zizek had tried their meals, asked “if everything was alright.”

Chomsky looked up at the waiter and says that he is “fine” and “thank you.” After a moment of searching for warm, old-fashioned syrup, Zizek looks up at the waiter and asks, “Could you please bring some warm syrup? Thank you.” The waiter nods in understanding and vows to return with the syrup.

Zizek and Chomsky begin to carve apart their respective dishes and the waiter returns. Out of nowhere Zizek turns to the waiter and grabs his arm, gently, hinting that he needs one other thing from the waiter before the waiter leaves the table. “Zane, is that your name?” inquires Zizek.

“Yes,” says Zane with a shaky voice and a half-smile.

“Ah, Scandinavian roots, by chance?”

“Yes, actually. How did you know?”

“I’m Noam Chomsky. Of course I know.”

“Noam, enough. OK… Zane. I would like to see your opinion on a little tiff that Noam and I are having,” explains Zizek as he shifts his gaze from Zane to Noam. Zizek then raises both of his eyebrows at Chomsky and then returns his focus to Zane. “Recently, Noam publicly criticized myself and other philosophers, whose opinions I value, as being too abstract and charlatans of the field. He claims that our proclivity towards theory and abstractionism is posturing and bogs down the matters at hand in the real world. Now, obviously I disagree with this statement because I am the one being attacked. Noam, however much I may love him, has a tendency to be overly dependent on facts and does not value theory as much as he should. In fact, even though I love him, I have never met anyone that was so empirically wrong! This has been a hard point for our relationship and has put quite a strain on it lately. What do you think? Am I right or is Noam right?” Zizek smiles up at Zane and makes a motion with his hands that symbolizes ‘come on, let’s hear it.’ Chomsky, calm as ever, slowly rotates his head east and looks at Zane with inquisitive eyes.

Zane begins to open his mouth, but Chomsky intervenes and says, “It is important to recognize that Zizek and co. are pretending to have theories. What they are doing is philosophizing in an ethereal space that does not have much to do with the here and now.” Zane nods his head and thinks ‘what a lame last minute jab.’

After a few moments Zane summons the courage to present his thoughts to these academic powerhouses of philosophy. Zane takes a deep breath and says, “Two men sit in a cave near the end of the Ice Age. Both men understand that the ice age is about to end, but their rations are low. One man has enough water to survive the rest of the ice age while the other has enough food. Both claim that what they have is more valuable than the other and refuse to share. The two men take their rations and use them respectively, one water and one food, and after a day they start to get irritable. The one with water is frustrated because his stomach is so empty and aches so much, while the one with food is so thirsty that his tongue feels like the leaf he uses to wipe his bottom. The two, both irritable, stare at each other and disgust. Two weeks later a lion walks into the cave and sees them. The one with the water is lying dead, curled up in a ball and cuddling a jug of water. The other is found laying back to the sky and head on the ground with his tongue sticking out from the side of his mouth while holding… holding… a cornucopia of foods. The lion assesses the situation and slurps up some water and ingests some of the food. After the lion has used up all of the resources in the cave, she goes on her way and back into the wild of everyday life. The two men remain in the cave with their original rations.”

“The water is more valuable. One can survive without food sometimes seven times as long as the person without the water. Now, my question is, why didn’t the man with the water just take the food from the man with the food?” asks Noam Chomsky.

“Uh…Uh… out of principal. The man with the water truly believed that he did not need to use the resources of the man with the food and he died because of… well… his arrogance,” said Zane. Zizek and Chomsky look at each other. After a moment Zizek shakes his head and says “thank you” to Zane, the waiter. Zane gives them a half smile and departs from the table.

With their meals three-quarters eaten, Zizek and Chomsky begin to wipe their mouths of the left over food that remains on their faces. Chomsky looks into Zizek and says, “Look, I do not think that I am wrong on this circumstance, but let’s just put this dispute aside and talk about something we have in common, OK, sweety?” Zizek reluctantly nods his head a few times and mutters the word “OK.”

“Now, that Sam Harris guy. What a quack!” The table erupts in laughter.