Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Lost works

The tiger in the labyrinth

The bridge that leads over the chasm was completed, but it is too short. Many blame the architect, but we know that he had been an honourable man. Some say they can jump across the last stretch, others say the gap is too far a jump. What we do know is that some who jump land safely on the other side and it seems that the whole enterprise of the leap was as safe to them as skipping stones or jumping about puddles of water after one of the great rains that falls every so often. Others fall. The chasm takes them and the echo of their fearful cries is heard for some time.
How it can be that some skip across effortlessly and others fall has led to much debate among the folk. But nobody can ask those who went across, for they never return and we, on this side, dare not follow them. The scholars in any case are divided in their opinions. Some say that those who leap across are in fact the cursed ones, devils, and that we should be glad to be rid of them, for their powers might have poisoned us. The same scholars also say that the fallen ones were chosen to fall. That the chasm envelops them tenderly, that it bestowed upon them an honour, that to fall is to join the true other side that only a brave man, only a brave woman, only a brave child would dare seek. And it is true that animals rarely ever fail to make the leap, since they know neither courage nor fear. Other scholars contend that leaping across is like child’s play and that those who’ve forgotten cannot succeed. That weightlessness lies truly within. That it is not a matter of belief, but of forgetting, at the moment of the leap, the ways of our folk, and to remember what went before. That those who fall are dragged down by their own doing, because they did not know who they had been before. Yet other scholars claim that to jump is to resist and to fall is to forgive, but these are in the minority and, although prominent, do not seem to attract many followers.

The bridge is no longer in much use. It does exist still and you may walk out on it and feel the winds of the chasm on your face. But hardly anybody ventures out onto it any longer. And yet the bridge survives, for we speak of it to our children; indeed, one of the first things they learn of is the bridge. We tell them all that we know of the bridge. How it was built. How it was designed to lead across the chasm. How the architect, an honourable man, drew plans that left the bridge too short. How, as if through a miracle – here the scholars also are greatly divided in their arguments – how the bridge, supported only from one end, continues to hang above the chasm. How nobody can attest the safety of the crossing. How those who leapt have become legends in our memory. Many of our children become absorbed in the legends and will tell them to one another, the older to the younger, in many colourful variations. Eventually they grow up and become like us. But some children, it seems to us, do not believe the legends. They become discontent, curious, restless, inquisitive; they mourn from an early age and we know of no ways to ease their grief. And so it is that mostly children, errant ones some scholars say, decisive ones, other scholars rebut, go to see the chasm. None ever return. And thus we say to our children that to go see the chasm is to be safe like the tiger in the labyrinth.


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