Risto Juola
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Maudlin Irresponsibility: A Conversation With the Raven of Doubt

Or: The Categories, They Harden


Dec 09, 2010


"On this marble table, according to established usage, the mystery was to be performed. Arrangements for this purpose had been made early in the morning. The rich marble floor, scratched all over by the heels of the clerks of the Bazoche, supported a cage of woodwork of considerable height, the upper floor of which, exposed to view from every part of the hall, was to serve for the stage, while the lower, masked by hangings of tapestry, formed a sort of dressing-room for the actors. A ladder, undisguisedly placed outside, was to be the channel of communication between the two, and its rude steps were to furnish the only medium as well for entrances as for exits. There was no movement, however abrupt and unexpected, no piece of stage-effect so sudden, but had to be executed by the intervention of this ladder."

-- Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame


[Enter Tamerlane's Princess, in appearance not unlike Venus, and her hopeful partner in conversation, The Blue Raven, bearing little or no postmodern social aspect]

Tamerlane's Princess:
"It was for them to speak. Unto me. Myself? As ever, I abide by the tapestries of romance, and need inquire no further."

The Blue Raven:
"Bazoche, dear princess. And of ownership?"

Tamerlane's Princess:
"Observe the wisdom of my pedigree. I know, and decry. It is for others to meet my unmade requirements, or to fall trying."

The Blue Raven:
"Perhaps: modesty and personal responsibility?"

Tamerlane's Princess:
"I say: observe the depth of my brevity, and the length to which my surface extends."

The Blue Raven:
"My Timur, my ghazi, you who prevail by a kind of rapture and a forgetfulness of every thing, surely you perceive beyond your own effects, and accept that a continuum eclipses an infinity?"

Tamerlane's Princess:
"I am not the heiress of bloody transformations; and, Galen as my witness that in all my deeds I have never been the aggressor, and that my enemies have always been the authors of their own calamity."

The Blue Raven:
"Substratum of the arts. Destroyer of dissent. Everything is paradoxical, more or less."

Tamerlane's Princess:
"Munh. While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping ..."

The Blue Raven:
"Know thou the secret of a spirit, Bowed from its wild pride into shame ..."

Tamerlane's Princess:
" 'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, 'tapping at my chamber door -- Only this, and nothing more.'  Raven, why challenge my iron? Why question my hermetics, that sophia of all sophias? Why care?"

The Blue Raven:
"May I suggest respite from ill communication, by the intervention of the ladder, placed undisguisedly outside your woodwork?"

Tamerlane's Princess:
"Curse thy screeching, thy bird of foul omen! I'll not foul myself by taking such rude steps!"

The Blue Raven:
"Princess, swan, my invisible trouble-feast, why do you undertake the subjugation of Khorezm? A snare in every human path? But do you accept the ontological reality of a human path in every snare?"

Tamerlane's Princess:
"Cease thy chirping, cricket of hell!"

The Blue Raven:
"Innocent and venerable mystery of the art of awareness; How was it that Ambition crept. I understand, and shall take my leave."

How extraordinary, thought Tamerlane's Princess, heedless to the considerable height of her woodwork, and the fantastic instability of her card-house of hypotheses. There was no longer any movement executed by the intervention of the ladder, however abrupt and unexpected, whether entrance or exit.

Then, suddenly, discovering her iron gate unexpectedly ajar, "Egad!" cried she, "I am freezing!"

It was too late however, for having found no communication, but only foul discharge and the exchange of impleasantries, The Blue Raven, never flitting, had laughed and leapt back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore.

Quoth the raven, "Nevermore."


Part of the series: Servetus