In the Ninth Week of the Leacock Anniversaries in 2019, on Monday, May 20th, I continue the Saga of the Dark Tower.
You should now be aware, unless you are encountering this blog for the first time, that Olde Stephen, who is Stephen Leacock’s ghost, and I, having both assumed the aspect of star-nosed moles, are burrowing our way through the Charged Global-Perceptual Membrane-Medium-MemBrain towards the Dark Tower, whatever it may turn out to be. As we burrow we play regularly upon the Slug-Horn, in order to keep it from becoming plugged.
I cannot go on calling our environment the Charged Global-Perceptual Membrane-Medium-MemBrain, although that is the best description I have been able to find so far. I could call it the Charged Ooze, because that is what it was like, but I would like to find something punchier than that. From now on I am going to call it the Chooze. I will recharge your mem-brain from time to time with a reminder of its long name, each component of which captures an important property as we try to understand what it is and its effect upon us.
Since I believe it is important for you to understand just how Olde Stephen and I are finding our way through this substance, I offer the following quote from the Wikipedia article on Star-Nosed Moles:
The star nose is a highly specialized sensory-motor organ shaped by 22 fleshy finger-like appendages, or tendrils, that ring their nostrils and are in constant motion as the mole explores its environment. The star itself is a centimeter across and thus has a diameter slightly smaller than a typical human fingertip. Nevertheless, it is much larger than the nose of other mole species, covering 0.92 cm2 (0.14 in2) per touch compared to 0.11 cm2 (0.02 in2) covered by the noses of other mole species. This structure is divided into a high resolution central fovea region (the central 11th pair of rays) and less sensitive peripheral areas. In this way the star works as a “tactile eye” where the peripheral rays (1–10 on each side) study the surroundings with erratic saccade-like movements and direct the 11th ray to objects of interest, just like the primate’s foveating eye. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star-nosed_mole]
As we learned to use the wonderful sensory organ that came with our assumed aspect, directing our eleventh rays to objects of interest with gradually increasing acuity, we became aware that we had plenty of company. All around us myriad creatures were burrowing or groping their way through the Chooze towards their myriad destinations, including some who wanted to find the Dark Tower of the Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice just as we did. We felt instinctively drawn to them, largely indifferent to the destinations of many, repelled by those of a few. It was difficult to pay attention to them all, such was their number and diversity.
We soon became aware of some, however, whose methods of chooze-navigation were aggressive, erratic, even hysterical. They would race towards any glimmer that looked like an opening, dash into it at high speed, and race towards the next one. Or, they would clutch blobs and fling them around in a frantic effort to clear their way. It was impossible not to notice them. They made themselves conspicuous by their rush and anxiety. Only by sensing carefully with our foveated tendrils could we detect the Great Preponderance of our fellow choozers who simply made their way as best they could through the stuff as it presented itself to them, sanely, sensibly, to all appearances content to take it as it came.
The most hysterical of all were those who had taken upon themselves the task of interpreting the chooze to the rest of us. Olde Stephen and I, also charged to interpret, played upon the Slug-Horn as we burrowed. Under its vibrations the chooze thinned about us, enabling us to sense more clearly and move about more easily. These other poor souls, however, in their hysterical grasping at particular blobs that caught their immediate attention, only thickened the chooze around them, clogging their sensory organs and making their way more difficult. The worst were getting nowhere at all, but simply oscillated in their own little pool of congealment, oblivious to their predicament.
In the physical world there is a thing called Brownian Motion. As a method of forward progress it is not recommended. Olde Stephen and I had committed ourselves to Browningian Motion, a literary, poetical, artistic alternative, not intrinsically more difficult, but requiring a different kind of resolution. Would it take us to the Dark Tower of the Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice? We thought it might. We believed we would soon find out.