The Three Monks 

There is an old proverb that says three monks cannot haul water to provide for themselves. There happened to be three real monks discussing this actual story from every angle at their small, new monastery on the cliff. One, who happened to know a bit of math and logic, which is poetry after all, suggested that they remain as three monks but pretend to be alone when it came to chores. The other two readily agreed and the rest of the day was spent in hauling water, each one carrying his own bucket. By nightfall, they had stored the equivalent of a reservoir and decided to celebrate with some tea. Apparently, we have no firewood for boiling tea and making dinner, said the first monk, a little disappointed. To hell with proverbs! said the third monk. Tonight we will fast, said the second monk, and tomorrow we can talk about economics, which I happen to know something about. Perhaps some division of labour might be necessary. The other monks agreed, for economics is also poetry, and there is nothing more beautiful than a life of contemplation and poetics in the wilderness of mountains and waters. 

The Mound

The mound of sand rose pale and smoky in the blue night of great stars as a light breeze constantly added and subtracted grains of sand to and from its mass. The lost assassin thus perceived the merciless impossibility of death, the momentous eternity, the shattering and reassembling of numbers and words, and the distance of distance.

The Logician

A logician spent years testing word problems, striving with paradoxes and studying all the arcana of mathematics, physics, and philosophy. Through various tests and formulas, he came to the conclusion that there were many logics—some which worked together well, some which contradicted others, and even some which contradicted themselves while remaining valid. There seemed to be no way to unify and map all the logics into one great logic.There were days when logic seemed to darken his mind like the desert sun; there were nights when logic lifted him on the wings of white birds to sail off to the stars. The poor man grew tired and ill. At last, he traveled one day and one night over the desert to an old weathered church, and confessed to his priest: I believe in the faith, I do not believe in logic, but I do not believe in an illogical faith. Worried for his health, the priest blessed him and sent him on a pilgrimage, giving him a map of the exact route to take. On the first segment of the journey, he encounteed the smallest oasis he had ever seen. On the second segment of the journey, he passed through the mountains and watched racing clouds and falling rain. On the third segment of the journey, he arrived at the shore and beheld the sand dunes and the immeasurable sea beyond. As an apostle once said, perhaps mystically or symbolically, everything was made of water and by water. There on the beautiful shore the logician wept, for a saint who weeps is analogous to a saint who walks on water.

[credit to Simone Weil for the last analogy]

The Light Bulbs

One scientist ran into another. The first one said, I have worked tirelessly and have found 10,000 different light bulbs that do not work. Not to worry, said the other scientist; you have actually found 10,000 parallel universes where they do work, and they are shining their bright lights right now. Who will handle my patents in those other universes? the first scientist joked. Who said you were the inventor in those 10,000 other universes? the other replied.

The Magellan

One of the last paraloi, a magellan, cruised through the remnant of galaxies at the very edge. The magellan inspected her instruments, gazed through the chronoscopes and chorascopes and made calculations with the logic boxes implanted in her abdomen and skull. Omens seemed to swirl about in the melancholy of the stars she observed and the data she analyzed. The blood orange galaxy atomized in her very face, and it was a miracle that her paralus survived. In another galaxy, a ring of pale blue exoplanets began to smoke and blur and then froze, half-smoking, half-distended, half-iced and still crisply round, but at a dead stop in their orbits, their sun seemingly frozen in amber radiation. She drove hard into the next galaxy to see mauve gas clouds experience a rainstorm of silver phaethons and other particles. Something tempted her to return the way she came. The rainstorm of phaethons went into reverse motion and disappeared. She encountered the blood orange galaxy again, alive and well, where it was not supposed to be in space or time. Lastly, she encountered the pale blue exoplanets, intact, rotating and revolving correctly. Driving on, she saw the blood orange galaxy yet again, once more in tact and in its proper place. The cranioscope registered no imbalances or damage to her neurology or psychology. The chronoscope and chorascope revealed nothing anomalous in time or space. Once again, the blood orange galaxy suddenly burst into flames and vanished. The magellan doubted her own health and the integrity of her machinery. Inside her vessel, she watched television from antiquity. One channel was broadcasting a rerun of a classic film, in which a man tampers with a gaslight to trick his wife into believing she is insane so that he can cover up his crimes. The magellan began to realize what was happening in the universe. She fell asleep and dreamed that she was a tree full of white wolves.

The Phantom Doctor

In the days of the great plague, there was a woman who was stricken and who would most likely die in a fortnight or two. Some friends came to her and whispered of a phantom doctor, who would come and heal her if she secretly summoned him. First of all, the woman wanted to know why he was a phantom. Secondly, she doubted that this doctor even existed. The friends gave her testimony of their own cures. They showed her letters and prescriptions the doctor had given; they could even perform some of the minor surgeries and treatments to keep her alive until he appeared. They had other scraps of evidence, but the woman was an expert logician, and destroyed all of their bits of evidence with clear, cold, cutting and seemingly irrefutable arguments. It seemed insane that a doctor would only come if summoned. Why all of these intrigues and phantasms? It was simple, her friends explained. The doctor had been banished for treason by the princes, scholars, bishops and magistrates. They blamed him for the plague, and feared his visitation would make the realm sink deeper into the ravages of contagion. I would rather see a witch doctor, the woman said. At least I can find some entertainment in his traditions and culture. As for this phantom doctor, keep him far away from me, and do not lay your hands on me with any intention of mimicking his treatments. Some of her friends praised her for her bravery and honesty in clinging to her principles and respecting the laws of the realm. Most of her friends mourned her senseless death, but had to flee the realm to live elsewhere, for the laws of the land were ensuring the swift and violent extinction of all life.