Friday, 3 March 2017

Bad Parable

We sent a second search party after we'd lost contact with the first. When that too disappeared, we sent a third, but only to look for evidence of the second. A fourth was later sent to find the lost third. We sent many search parties, each instructed to look only for news of the one preceding it. We desired to meticulously reconstruct in our understanding the calamity that was befalling our community. Just as the entire body of an object has to pass through a point for it to have truly left that point behind, so we desired that the entire story of our endeavour should return to us, in the order it set out. Didn't the tail that was Telemachus continue the search for the head that was Odysseus even after he had returned home? Doesn't the ouroboros have to swallow all of its body before it may return again from its own maw? But as time passed, we began to consider whether the searchers' failure may not have been located in the first part of their task. Perhaps some, or indeed all, had made contact with their predecessors and only subsequent to this encounter did they somehow become lost to us. Then we were anxious before a different question: what if the problem was not so much that they did not find but that they had found and then did not report? Even as the numbers of our community dwindled, we resolved to follow after every successive broken link as if it were the first. And by this method, we sought to know everything about ourselves, from the nearest edge to the now distant centre.