At first, they were nothing. It was only later that they became something. In fact, they were created by the seemingly random movements of one tall Frenchman. He was producing these movements to the sound of American music that was so popular in Paris at that time.
Maurice Merleau-Ponty was dancing in the middle of the room. It was not the dance of his life - more of a dance, really, one of many. Maurice Merleau-Ponty was dancing between two groups of people - on the left, there were people who knew something. On the right, there were ignorant people. Those who knew nothing (there are always those who know nothing, God bless them).
The man was French. He was dressed French, too, wearing the sort of white suit you associate with tasteless people or those who know everything about taste. It did not take long to realise that Maurice Merleau-Ponty was a man of style. He wore that white suit like he meant it.
As for the other people in that room, they looked random. Those who knew something were sitting at the tables staring into their cups and talking (to each other? to themselves? to God?) in quiet, semi-whispering voices. Those who knew very little (nothing, if we are being entirely honest) were busy drinking from half-empty glasses some kind of liquid that had neither taste nor smell.
Initially, nobody seemed to notice Maurice Merleau-Ponty. The way he danced across the room as if trying to recreate some sort of quiet jazzy tune. As of now, the tune was inaudible and the audience was not engaged. In fact, the whole situation had been looking hopeless right until the sound of saxophone was first heard inside the room and something changed. Two groups of people on opposite sides of the room started to dance two different and entirely pointless dances.
But the change was irrelevant. Clearly this was not what Maurice Merleau-Ponty wanted. Which was why the French philosopher did his great trick. He stopped altogether. The flame died, and two dozen heads looked towards the center of the room trying to figure out what had gone wrong. They did not even realise what drove them, those two groups of restless people recently conceived, as they ran towards each other in the hope of falling into someone else's outstretched arms.
In the hope of dancing, much to the happiness and discomfort of the Frenchman lying dead in the middle of the room.