Friday, November 9, 2012

The Conquest of Ignorance (A Parable)

The majestic ship, Understanding, left the port of Then. Her flags flew high and bright, snapping crisp, aloft. Her prow pointed true and straight and the Infinite Captains steered her in whatever directions they fancied, on a quest for facts and knowledge.

Understanding trekked the dark sea, foam exploding, impossibly white in the sun, around her great, timber breast; sails full-bellied but always hungry for more speed and for greater distance, driving onward, arrow-focused on her destination. 

After much time had passed, she reached the shore of Now. A captain stood up and proudly announced to all who could hear: We have arrived!

There were cheers everywhere. There was pride as thick as peanut butter gooping up in the throats of everyone alive. 

Understanding was quickly tied to the dock and made into a museum, with a restaurant and a gift shop and restrooms with baby-changing stations.

Back out on the sea, Understanding's forgotten wake slowly spread itself into an ever-widening V, still roaming outward for leagues and leagues, even after it had become invisible.

Below and between the lines of her wake, unseen creatures played with and murdered one another; great shadowed beasts with florescent skins and wobbling appendages lurked  in the obsidian darkness, seeking a meal. Undiscovered monsters of great size tenderly nursed their babies and sifted nutrients out of the currents.

Eventually the ocean through which Understanding had cut such an angry wake healed itself into a grey, undulating blanket from horizon to horizon. (Oceanic horizons: proof that there are straight lines in Nature.)

A century later, a tiny wave lapped at the toes of an ignorant child gathering shells in a cove: a tiny wave that had begun at the prow of a mighty ship of exploration. The child did not know this, of course -- he couldn't even read. And the beasts below the mighty ship's path had never noticed Understanding's passing, for a ship between sun and the abyss cannot throw a shadow so deep and so dark as to contrast the ebony depths.

On the shore of Now, descendants of the Infinite Captains slapped each other hard on the back, celebrating their conquest of ignorance and the distant toes of the distant child were lapped again, for all it was worth.

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