Where there is more than enough of everything (episode two)
All is not lost, but very nearlyAn occurrence of seemingly minor importance
Things are lost in the turning of the days, forgotten by those who once held them. Our memory becomes confused and everything appears as something other than it truly was
No thought that ever occurs to the President and Founder, no matter how ridiculous or questionable in its significance, shall be written out in any form until first it is entered, using a Ticonderoga HB #2 (the world’s best pencil), into an official Institute Composition Book.
-The equivocal principles governing conduct within
The Institute for the Study of Slightly Varying Circumstances
The hapless happenstanceThe event that caused something to happen
Near the end of the year Two thousand and twelve on holiday along the western coast of what is commonly called the United States1 the Founder and President of the Institute for the Study of Slightly Varying Circumstances, in a fit of absent mindedness2, did write something on a notepad which he then, most egregiously3, left behind upon his departure from the place of his temporary accommodation.
The disposition of things following one after anotherSeeing the error of his ways
After his return to the bosom of his beloved Institute, the President and Founder did, after starting a fire, for due to his private residence being old and not at all well insulated the temperature therein was a chilly 43 degrees Fahrenheit, take his rightful place upon the purple couch4 for a period of well deserved contemplation. It was then, while dozing off, that he recalled5 his having written upon the notepad as well as his subsequent abandoning of it to an unknown fate6. Realizing this extreme, almost unforgivable error, the President and Founder immediately began to implement the protocols7 governing such a situation by first issuing himself an official Postcard of Admonition8, followed by the making of an announcement to himself declaring the necessity of his being subjected to a series of horrific trials known as, ‘The Circumstance Shakedown’9.
In a certain place during a particular interval of timeSetting right an undesirable situation
The Circumstance Shakedown while widely feared has been little used in the history of the Institute. Not since shortly after the skirmishes between the forces of good and evil within the nearby orchard has there been any call for its use, and as attitudes have changed since those dark days, most now believing it a barbaric practice, there was little reason to think that anyone would ever again be submitted to its tortures. That is, until now. When news of the President and Founder’s foolishness reached the people’s ears, mostly through the disparaging whispers of the Institute’s enemies (of which there are many I assure you), those who listened, having had only nominal interest in the goings-on within the Institute before this event soon became outraged; many taking to the streets calling for something to be done10, and others, less social with their anger, allowing themselves only to ravenously devour each and every juicy tidbit (and believe me when I say, there were many) released by the local media outlets, and then, full with information, went about the rest of their day contentedly stewing over the impertinence of the President and Founder, whom most now referred to as “That damn President and Founder”!. None of this was lost on the President and Founder who, though he never consulted the masses, or considered their feelings, or thought they had the slightest idea of what they were talking about, so agreed with their disgust at his abhorrent actions that he himself took to those same streets carrying a banner he spent much time and effort in making, and which was complimented on by many in attendance, that read, “SHAKE HIM DOWN!”11. So much so did these three words encapsulate the people’s feelings that the very next day folks of all ages could be found wearing shirts emblazoned with this slogan; so many, in fact, that one of the local Big Box stores sold out of every one they had in stock resulting in more than a few fist fights between shoppers and at least three hospitalizations, one being of a man at the store who, only there to buy an extra large box of peanuts, was completely unaware of the reason for, what the papers quoted him as calling, “all the hullabaloo”. For weeks this went on, with much property damage12, and finally a declaration of martial law by the mayor who, in desperation, begged the President and Founder to subject himself to The Circumstance Shakedown for the sake of peace not knowing that he had already done so some days before, but did not think it important to mention this fact to anyone.
What is the meaning of this?Reading between the lines of The Three Directives with the aim of getting to the bottom of it
The findings of The Circumstance Shakedown, while indeterminate as a whole and false in particulars, were, before being of any use, in need of being gone over scrupulously until anything with even the slightest unsightly stain of the fantastic about it, or which reeked with the sulfuric stench of prevarication was thrown out and spoken ill of with much head shaking, and whatever was left that shined with unearthly luster, and smelled of the sweetest perfume was gathered together to be modeled like unto clay into a replica of the lost document, now called ‘The Three Directives’13.
As amazing as the replica of The Three Directives is the intention of the words remained elusive being that the President and Founder was unable to recall14 any meaning whatsoever, and so, wanting always to understand, he set himself upon the purple couch where, through the practice of The Contemplative Process™, a search for answers was undertaken. What follows are the result of that enterprise.
The meaning of ‘The Three Directives’ when each direction is examined separately could all be, depending on the circumstances, considered as just good advice15. For example: The first, ‘walk quietly’, would be an excellent reminder to those living in a multistory apartment complex or for a person attempting to sneak either away or upon someone. ‘Examine the contents’, which is the second directive, is also sound advice especially if one has just received a package containing a variety of parts needed to be assembled or were perhaps themselves a suspicious wife going through the pockets of her husband’s coat looking for evidence of tomfoolery. Finally, the third, ‘stack them neatly’, could be rightly said by a responsible parent to a small child putting away his or her blocks, or whispered in an angry tone by a bitter underpaid librarian to an untrained volunteer working at the local library as they re shelf returned books. The true mystery of the three directives is in their relation to one another. Are these directives to be taken like a map?16 First, walk quietly, then examine the contents, and afterward stack them neatly? But, walk quietly where? And, the contents of what? Something that can be stacked? “There is” I am afraid, as is said whenever a mystery is examined at the Institute, “no telling”17. Yet, if we are to pursue, as the Institute require us to, each and every line of inquiry, and if we are to believe, as the President and Founder has claimed, that the numbers appearing on the note were there written by someone other than himself, and that his “jotting down”18, as he calls it, of The Three Directives was only as a result of his wishing to fill in the blanks then this would seem to indicate that there was never any meaning intended. Though, as the President and Founder has proposed, the appearance on the surface of absence of meaning can be directly related to his state of absent-mindedness when first he wrote the words. By which is meant the significance of his absent-mindedness is in its complete necessity in the creation of The Three Directives if they are, in at least their outward aspect, to be of no consequence. However, as the President and Founder has pointed out, that whether or not ‘The Three Directives’ have meaning, and regardless of the importance of the meaning if it does have one, or its assumed unimportance if it does not, the writing down of ‘The Three Directives’ upon a notepad, in direct violation of one of the equivocal principals governing conduct within the Institute, has had the direct result of leading us to this very point.
Notes1. You are probably all familiar with the United States, but did you know it is also called, the U.S., the U.S.A., and America, as well being referred to by a few as “the States”? According to ‘Your friends’ at Wikipedia “At 3.79 million square miles (9.83 million km2) and with over 315 million people, the United States is the third- or fourth-largest country by total area, and the third-largest by both land area and population.” That’s right, the third or fourth largest by total area, it is really too close to call at this time. What can be said for certain is that it is a mostly lawless land full of dangerous roving bands of camouflage wearing maniacs determined to destroy civilization as we know it, and that there is a lot of pretty country. 2. According to Wikipedia: “Absent-mindedness is where a person shows inattentive or forgetful behaviour. It can have three different causes: A. a low level of attention (“blanking” or “zoning out”) B. intense attention to a single object of focus (hyperfocus) that makes a person oblivious to events around him or her; or C. unwarranted distraction of attention from the object of focus by irrelevant thoughts or environmental events” However, Wikipedia goes on to reassure us that “Absent-mindedness is not a diagnosed condition but rather a symptom of boredom and sleepiness which people experience in their daily lives” In the case of the President and Founder and ‘The Three Directives’ mystery the first two causes can be ruled out and only the distraction by “irrelevant thoughts” be considered in the third 3. Egregiously is a derivative of Egregious which everyone knows means ‘outstandingly bad’. The archaic meaning of egregious, however, is ‘remarkably good’. 4. The purple couch is famous for being “the seat” of The Contemplative Process™, and you can learn more about it in: ‘To change somewhat the form or qualities’ which can be found on this very website. Fun fact: I am sitting upon the purple couch as I type this! 5. Unlike the former President of the United States (see footnote1.) Ronald Reagan who said “I don`t recall“ or “I can`t remember“ 88 times in his eight hours of testimony during the Iran-Contra hearings, the President and Founder of The Institute for the Study of Slightly Varying Circumstances was able to recall embarrassing and illegal actions he took part in, though later in his attempt to find any meaning in’ The Three Directives’ he doesn’t fare as well. 6. I mention fate in episode one of this series which makes me wonder if it’s not a developing theme with me, and is the reason I make a note of it here. 7.That they are here called “protocols” I believe is somewhat misleading as they have never been written down or agreed upon and like most everything else exist solely in the mind of the President and Founder, but it does sound cool. There are some, among the sandwich eaters, however, who believe that the denial of the protocols existence is only a deception made to hide its true nature, which according to them is a plan for world domination, to which the President and Founder has responded with “If I wanted to I’d have already”. 8. A Postcard of Admonition used to inform someone of their name being entered into the Composition Book of Undesirables, has, until this time, never been sent to anyone, although there are many names listed as being undesirable they were not thought enough of to be told. 9. The Circumstance Shakedown was, it is said, first learned of from Matthäus Böhm, the original caretaker of the nearby orchard, who, having been mortally wounded in the skirmish between the forces of good and evil, wished to pass his knowledge of it on to someone, and as he had no sons of his own, chose to tell the President and Founder. In the aftermath of the skirmish, with his Magical Mountain Cave destroyed and the land of the unfriendly forever adrift in the illimitable ocean of inexplicability, the President and Founder implemented the use of The Circumstance Shakedown for the establishment of order by the creation of tales that would provide an explanation of the events and in turn some comfort for those who needed such. 10. The people’s desire for ‘something to be done’ was unmatched by their ability to come up with exactly what that would be, and furthermore, most of them were unhappy with what (without consulting them) was done as it did not involve a hanging or any really entertaining form of public humiliation. 11. The “SHAKE HIM DOWN!” sign, now on display in The Institute for the Study of Slightly Varying Circumstances Museum of Culture and History, was actually very well done, almost professionally so, which has led many to believe that The President and Founder may have had help from outside sources, which only bolsters another of their beliefs, as is stated in much of their literature, primarily handed out on street corners, but also available on line, that, “He” (the President and Founder) “was up to something from the start.” 12. All of the property damage occurred within the town itself with most being centered on places of business (primarily stores selling electronics) which were vandalized after all the stock was removed by looters. There were one or two cases of hooligans approaching the Institute, but they were turned back by the enormous amount of withering B.B. gun fire they encountered. 13. To this day, though a very handsome reward has been offered for its return, ‘The Three Directives’ original document is still missing. 14. This is the attempt mentioned in footnote 5, and while the President and Founder is embarrassed at his failure to recall he does point out that his average is better than that of the former President, which in his mind shows that he is vastly more qualified than him to hold any position of power. 15. Interestingly the President and Founder for a brief time once offered advice through a daily horoscope which, according to many who read it religiously, was dead on every time. 16. The idea that ‘The Three Directives’ could possibly be a map was taken very seriously by the President and Founder who spent a good deal of time contemplating the possibilities as well as constructing a number of scale models, and consulting various alchemical works such as the one pictured below in which can be seen a clear demarcation of ‘the above’ and ‘the below’ by ‘the between’. 17.The phrase “There’s no telling” meaning ‘it’s impossible to determine’ is a favorite around the Institute and is often used inappropriately by the President and Founder as he is fond of saying it because of his belief that it is capable of “creating transformation” being that it is what he calls “a representation of the divine”. 18. Though he did use the verb,”jotting down”, to describe his writing of ‘The Three Directives’ upon a notepad, the President and Founder has on many occasions publicly expressed his distaste for jotting in general as well as stating that if he was to jot it would be purely accidental, making us wonder why, in the case of ‘The Three Directives’, if he is not lying about his jotting habits, he did so. Investigations, while as yet having turned nothing up, are still ongoing.