The Napkins Philosophy - On how to be respected by society, illustrated in a dining table.


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True & Honest Fan
Suppose that you were sitting down at this table. The napkins are in front of you, which napkin would you take? The one on your ‘left’? Or the one on your ‘right’? The one on your left side? Or the one on your right side? Usually you would take the one on your left side. That is ‘correct’ too. But in a larger sense on society, that is wrong. Perhaps I could even substitute ‘society’ with the ‘Universe’. The correct answer is that ‘It is determined by the one who takes his or her own napkin first.’ …Yes? If the first one takes the napkin to their right, then there’s no choice but for others to also take the ‘right’ napkin. The same goes for the left. Everyone else will take the napkin to their left, because they have no other option. This is ‘society’… Who are the ones that determine the price of land first? There must have been someone who determined the value of money, first. The size of the rails on a train track? The magnitude of electricity? Laws and Regulations? Who was the first to determine these things? Did we all do it, because this is a Republic? Or was it Arbitrary? NO! The one who took the napkin first determined all of these things! The rules of this world are determined by that same principle of ‘right or left?’! In a Society like this table, a state of equilibrium, once one makes the first move, everyone must follow! In every era, this World has been operating by this napkin principle. And the one who ‘takes the napkin first’ must be someone who is respected by all. It’s not that anyone can fulfill this role… Those that are despotic or unworthy will be scorned. And those are the ‘losers’. In the case of this table, the ‘eldest’ or the ‘Master of the party’ will take the napkin first… Because everyone ‘respects’ those individuals.”


"Good morning motherfuckers!" - Kiryuu Coco
Local Moderator
True & Honest Fan
I'll take the napkin on the right since I am naturally right handed (along with the fact that I am used to having the napkin on the right), but it depends on where my arm is. If there's any inherent meaning behind this, I'll be glad to know about it.
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Granny sees what you post online.
True & Honest Fan
All of this has happened before and all of this will happen again.

This evening I was pleased to be invited to a parent's friend's house for a lovely dinner. When it was time to eat, we all took our seats around the table. I was delighted to notice to my left and to my right a folded paper napkin, and while no one else at the table was aware of the significance of the action I brazenly took the napkin to my right.

The result of my taking the first napkin was underwhelming. Across the table, a grandma who had not noticed my action took the napkin to her left. A few seats to my left was a place at the table that was set but had no one sitting at it. And a few seats to my right was a guy who ended up not picking up a napkin at all. Thus, as my twisting the arm of fate propagated like falling dominoes to my right, when it reached the point where the guy should have picked up his right napkin and did not the impetus of the action ceased. To the grandma's right, two people took their left napkins but then it got to the empty place, which was skipped, and at least one person to my left now had free will to choose whichever napkin they pleased. Because of the guy who didn't take a napkin, there was no clash where the left-takers of the grandma's side and the right-takers of my side met like the waters of two seas colliding, which should have resulted in one person not getting a napkin and having to take it from the empty place.

In short, I took the first napkin, and anarchy ensued as people completely disregarded the firm law that had been implicitly established.

My question is then, what would OP make of this napkin conundrum? In his extended metaphor in which the taking of the napkin correlates to the establishment of societal norms and social contracts, how can one account for the random variables of the ignorant, apathetic, or absent? For people like the grandma who do not realize the structure of society around them and act on their own against the flow of reason, for people like the guy who consider themselves sufficient without the aid of society and who will turn aside the pressure of conformity, or for people like the absentee who remove themselves from the situation in which social norms dictate proper behavior? How would OP reconcile with these mavericks?
You scream at whoever set the fucking table that they put the fucking napkins in the wrong place, and if it's not obvious which napkin goes with which place setting you flip the fucking table over and tell them to do it again, and right this time.

My in laws never made that mistake a second time. At least, I don't think so, they don't invite me over so much anymore.

MAPK phosphatase

Cell Death Regulator
Take all the napkins then hand them out to everyone one by one, keeping some extra's for yourself and your friends, of course. If some people complain because they don't have a napkin you can point and say "They have a dirty face and a dirty sleeve, what do they know about something that keeps a person clean if they can't keep themselves clean?" and then you alienate them from the table "for their own good" and because "they are a threat to the cleanliness of the table".

The Final Troondown

Paint Me Like One Of Your French Snakes
Avoid the issue by wiping your mouth on the tablecloth, or if there isn't one, the sleeve of the person sitting to the right of you (the person to the left of you may use your sleeve)
The really ascended way is to dab your fingers in the melted candle wax, which instantly dries over the mess leaving you with a nice stain resistant coating, repeat after each course and you can later remove the stains layer by layer by picking off the wax when you get home

That way you can tip your servers less since they won't have to replace your napkin


"Evil is Evil. Lesser, greater, middling… Makes no difference. The degree is arbitrary. The definition’s blurred. If I’m to choose between one evil and another… I’d rather not choose at all."