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A Parable. December 11, 2008

Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society.
Tags: , ,

It’s magnificent!

As you round the curve of the Earth, it comes into view, gleaming, awesome, impossibly huge.  Spires of stainless steel and low emissivity glass pierce the cobalt blue sky, spreading out wide, wider, impossibly wide as you close the distance, eager to toss a line to the smiling natives, waiting for you, ready to welcome you with open arms:

“Come hither!  Send us your poor, your tired, your huddled masses yearning for The Good Life!”

Eager for your Piece of Heaven, you jam the throttle forward.  Yes, You’re Coming, and All This Will Be Yours!

As the distance between you narrows, The Colossus rises to dizzying heights, expands to a width which challenges then defeats your peripheral vision, sprouts unimaginable details,  sprawling mansions with manicured gardens, runways of gold receiving and disgorging private jets, shiny, happy people sipping mojitos on their sky-high verandas.

The horizon flattens.  The Colossus grows until your neck can’t take the strain of looking up, and your gaze travels downward, and you’re surprised to see that The Shining City is but the crowning jewel atop an incomprehensibly large pedestal swarming with workers, each intent on performing their own duties, the ones at the top immaculate and silent, tending the Gardens and refilling the glasses of the American Idle, those lower down increasingly disheveled and gaunt, working on the pedestal rising amidst the soot-darkened factories on the Plains of Mediocrity, passing up offerings of steel and silver for the important work being done above, the construction of another penthouse, another Monument to Our Superiority, another repository for the seemingly endless supply of wealth.

You try not to notice how the pedestal narrows inexorably toward its base, and how the number of thronging workers increases as the surface of their Destiny diminishes.

Gliding up to a dock, you toss your line to a waiting native who smiles vacantly and helps you ashore with a calloused hand.

“Can you tell me,” you inquire, wiping the grit from your hand, “how to get Up There?  I have a reservation!”

An old man nearby snorts a sort-of laugh, and you turn to study his ruddy, deeply lined face, his braided black hair, the barely flickering light of defiance in his eyes.  He stands slowly from his work with mortar bucket and trowel, straightening his back with a grimace, and gestures toward a fetid, crumbling stone stairway.

“You might try The Escher Stairs,” he says, his rheumy voice thick with irony.

You thank him and turn to go, but he stops you with a strong, gentle hand on your shoulder.

“Take this.  You’re going to need it.”  He hands you his mortar and trowel.

You thank him again and all but sprint to The Stairs, where you join throngs of New Arrivals jostling for position in line, some with trowels, some with guns.    You struggle upward, enduring the stench and the filth, imagining your Place at The Top.

The climb seems interminable.  All around you, discouraged people are turning back, the incautious lose their balance and pitch, howling, into the void.  Stairs crack, separate and collapse, sending more back to the grisly bottom.  You team up with other Trowel People to cob together bridges, dodging bullets as the Gun People push past, kicking your rough work down behind them.

And just when you think you can’t climb any more, there it is – a door at the end of the stairs!  You surge forward amidst the thinned ranks of Aspirants, and with their help, you shoulder open the heavy door.

A blast of hot, acrid air engulfs you as you stare out onto the Plains of Mediocrity, and a strangled cry of despair rises in your throat.

A gentle hand rests on your shoulder, and you turn to stare into the tearing eyes of the Old Man with the Lined Face.

“You wouldn’t have believed me,” he says softly, anticipating your unspoken question.

Then, without looking away from your incredulous eyes, he nods toward the ancient, crumbling Colossus rising beside you.

“We better get busy,” he wheezes, “or this is gonna come down on us.”

You turn, stunned, toward the wall.  A rat backs into a crevice, hissing.  All around you, vacant eyes watch bloody hands trowel grout into ever widening cracks.

A rumbling tremor startles you as a new crack appears at your feet, and as a chill of realization washes over you, you drop to your knees along side the Old Man and set to work, patching the shifting dry-stone foundation of The Shining City on the Hill.


1. Bobbie - December 11, 2008

That is quite a parable, CR. I don’t think I’m quite ready to accept its end as inevitable. Not quite. But it wouldn’t take a whole lot to push me to it.

2. Sylvia Kirkwood - December 11, 2008

You do have a black vision — I wish I had an argument for a brighter one, but I don’t and as much as I hate to admit it, CR, you’re closer to being right about it than I am.

3. Bob - December 11, 2008


You write good, Cuz.

4. littlebangtheory - December 11, 2008


These Nice Ladies haven’t been around here long enough to remember Hector! 😉

Meaning Yeah, I can conjure Teh Black Mood! 😆

But Ladies, it isn’t as much a prediction of the inevitable as a cautionary vision, as Ebenezer encountered one Christmas Eve. It evolved from my totally inadequate efforts to write about The Myth of Capitalism.

I’ll keep trying, although I can’t promise that a sober-eyed assessment of that system will be much more off a knee-slapper! 😆

5. Sylvia Kirkwood - December 11, 2008

Ah, I recognized the Black Mood! Been there, done that too many times. However, your writing could never be called inadequate. Besides, I’m not sure any of us are ready for the sober-eyed assessment of that system. But what the hell, it’s what we’ve got!

6. littlebangtheory - December 11, 2008

Sylvia, it’s what’s got us.

But unsettled times are opportunities for change, and if we don’t start advocating for it, it will never come.

Just sayin’.

7. Happy Birthday To Me! « Little Bang Theory - April 28, 2009

[…] I first started blogging, I had a lot to say.  Most of it was  psychotic ravings of a socio-political nature.  Some of it was tongue-in-cheek humor.  Sometimes I made feeble […]

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