Through the Looking Glass or It’s a Mad World
It happened again. “It” being the proverbial trip that Alice and Ozzie (that’s me) take through the looking glass where everything is “bassackwards”.
It has happened before. From time to time, everything I say and do is turned upside down. Somehow what I say is misinterpreted into meaningless gobbledygook. Words understandable only in a foreign language that I am not privy to.
If you have ever read H. G. Wells’ short story, The Country of the Blind, then maybe you will know what I am talking about. Haven’t read it? Well, here is a quick summary – Nunez, a mountaineer, while attempting to summit the unconquered crest of Parascotopetl, a fictitious mountain in Central America, slips and falls down the far side of the mountain. There he finds an isolated community perfect in every way except that all the villagers are blind. Nunez expects to bring light into their world, but is quickly disillusioned by a community that knows nothing other than darkness. The villagers decide to remove Nunez’s eyes on account of his obsession with “sight”, a.k.a. the “truth”.
Wells’ story is, of course, a spin on the older proverb, “In the Valley of the Blind, the one-eyed man is King” by Erasmus. Erasmus was my favorite 15th century philosopher, a classical scholar who wrote in Latin and tried to walk the tightrope between the Dark Ages and the Enlightenment. Of course, he failed. Erasmus straddled the 15th and 16th Centuries and with reason and erudition tried to bring order to the Reformation. He failed, but then few understood Latin.
He was followed by Galileo, who approached things from a more orderly and scientific point of view. Galileo had the effrontery to propose that the earth moved around the sun, and not vice versa as the Holy Catholic Church staunchly maintained. Others before Galileo had been burned at the stake for such false and heretical statements. And when push came to shove and Galileo was brought before the holy council, like Nunez was brought before the villagers, he recanted to save himself from becoming a “shish kebab”. Still, as Galileo recanted, he muttered under his breath that the “sun still stood still”.
I find it kind of funny, I find it kind of sad. What is now considered “cruel and unusual” punishment was formerly routine and matter of fact. But I digress, or do I? And, for that matter, in Nunez’s case or anyone’s, wouldn’t it be better to remove the tongue than his eyes? For having once seen the truth, we can not stray or deviate from the truth.
My crimes against truth seem trivial when compared to Galileo’s. I won’t even recount them, for in recounting them, I, like Nunez and Galileo offend convention. The truth never matters, only what we choose to believe.
And as for Alice, I wonder what she would have made of all of this. Maybe it would be as simple as this, ” If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary-wise; what it is it wouldn’t be, and what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see? ”
You see, don’t you? It is a Mad World.