The Yottapede: Ultimate Unsolved Riddle

In the Fifteenth Week of the Leacock Anniversaries in 2019, on Monday, July 1st, Canada Day, in collaboration with our scouts Astranasus the star-nosed mole and Mnemochirianne the centaur (see previous posts), I persist in the effort to corral, tame, and put to work the wild Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice.

Before I do that, however, I am going to write into the record the text of the e-mail I sent to the Leacock Anniversaries list last Friday, under the title “A Canada Day Weekend Wish from Stephen Leacock”:

Stephen Leacock opens the original The Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice with the words, “These are troubled times.” That, at least, has not changed, although I suppose we might ask whether the times are troubled, or we are. Perhaps both. Of course, if we ourselves are the ones troubling the times, then perhaps we might well prescribe a little more activism and a little less fatalism.

Stephen Leacock proposed a Canadian political economy pursuing National Development and Social Justice through a liberal, creative, enterprising economy and society, regulated in the public interest by democratic politics and institutions to smooth out its excesses, fill any gaps it might leave, deal with its externalities, and provide for its future. He imagined a contented, creative, fulfilled population, meeting their own needs, caring for each other, enjoying life, and expanding its possibilities. Prosperity, in other words, in the fullest sense.

He thought we might achieve this by cultivating a cast of mind blending Knowledge, Imagination, Compassion, and Humour, using Education as the primary tool. These are more complicated times. I am proposing the addition of “Creative Doublethink” to the blend, “Both-And Accommodation” to the tools. All these terms and the arts of their cultivation need to be carefully worked out, of course.

My wish for Canada this weekend and beyond is that we may join in the work according to Stephen Leacock’s wish, as people “of good will whose hearts are in the cause.”

I wish you a splendid celebrating and forward-looking weekend,

This can serve, at least for the time being, as a reasonable summary of where this whole project may be going. It’s all about cast of mind. If we as a society find our policies and practices to be flawed, which we do, because they are, and if we encounter impediments to change, which we do, then we need to locate their source. We often hear suggestions that some come from the self-interest of powerful agents in society, and to some extent they probably do. They may also come from our own cast of mind, perhaps based on our own self-interest, perhaps merely based on force of habit and an inability to  imagine something else.

The CBC, as part of its contribution to Canada Day, published analysis of a recent poll under the headline: “Conflicted and worried: CBC News poll takes snapshot of Canadians ahead of fall election”. On Wednesday I will pick that story apart in some detail; suffice for today to say that this story represents the impedimental cast of mind at work in blatant fashion. This is the “the sky is falling” cast of mind. I suggest it might well also be a grotesquely inaccurate statement of the general outlook, although it might reflect a accurately the answer to the questions, depending on the nature of the sample and how the questions were asked. But that’s all for Wednesday.

I was hoping that today our two scouts would report something about the relationship between the Yottapede and the Charged Ooze through which it moves. Fish, and other aquatic creatures move through the water and may be said to exist, move, in a double medium formed by water and the force of gravity kept in balance physiologically in all three relevant dimensions: up, down, and sideways. We, and other land creatures, exist, move, in air held down by the force of gravity, up by the land, and sideways by our own structure and musculature. We are therefore multi-media creatures, pluralistic by the very nature of our physical being. But what of the Yottapede?

To cut a long story short, and at considerable risk of over-simplification, the Yottapede is both “aquatic” and terrestrial. It occupies land and breathes air as we do, under the same combination of forces and capacities. It “swims” in the Charged Ooze and respires from it, as fish do, and with the same system of balancing. The unique thing about it, however, is that the Charged Ooze itself, in both substance and charge, is extruded by the Yottapede! It continuously creates for itself the environment that sustains it!

What an amazing creature: both parasite and host to creatures who are both parasites and hosts to it in a self-sustaining symbiosis! This is so surprising and wonderful that I have sent Astranasus and Mnemochirianne back to the field for another week to find out more. When we understand how it works, then we may understand  how to re-direct it towards Social Justice. What a reward that would be!

Posted by Paul Conway, Hunt Secretary.

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