Brother Roland’s Silver Realm

Another in my series of Master and Apprentice conversations.  Enjoy!

Master how do you do it?

Do what?

Not get angry…. not speak up…not tell people it was your idea! It makes me so mad to hear other people repeat something almost verbatim that you said a week, a month, even a year before…how do you stand it? I mean didn’t Brother Yuri get a standing ovation tonight saying exactly what you said six months ago at harvest…

We don’t own the ideas in our heads even if they sometimes own us. Did I ever tell you about my master?

No, you don’t speak of him much.

Well he and I didn’t exactly get along, it was a strained relationship by the end. But he did endeavor to initiate me into… well we’ll call it higher levels of diagnostic computational rationalization.

What’s that?

Manure straight from Taurus himself I’d wager, but he meant well…anyway the one thing he said that has stuck with me all these years– even more than the punishments, reprisals, and rejections– is a story.

A story?

Yes. Once upon a time when I was a wee lad leaping about in anger in a manner very similar to what you are doing now, my master tried to settle me down with a story about a vessel.

Like a ship?

No, more like a silver water pitcher and basin. But in this vessel, ideas were stored, not water. All the ideas in the world stored in a silver pitcher stuck out in space in some eternal ether that somehow or other connected to the minds of men while they slept.

Like Plato’s Golden Realm?

Yes, but this is Brother Roland’s Silver Realm with celestial water pitcher. A distinction without difference I grant you on the surface, but don’t dismiss it outright.

Anyway, the point of the story was that the ideas exist apart from our minds or perhaps more aptly, exist only in conjunction with all minds.

No one owns the idea that leaps into his head. Even if it took years and mountains of effort to tease out the details… the inspiration came from beyond the self.

Now think of your mind as a smaller pitcher. When it overfills, it spills out onto a shared basin, and then mixes and mingles with all the other overflows…

I don’t understand.

I’m not sure I ever really did either, but the point is when what you call my ideas are uttered by other pitchers…it’s just communal water splashing around.

What! I thought you said we weren’t talking about water.

If we can ever get the Roman baths working again I plan on testing a hypothesis regarding hot water as an agent of instantaneous transmission of ideas.  Probably take weeks or months to properly test. Ah, the sacrifices we make for science!

So you aren’t even a little angry about Brother Yuri?

Ideas are like seeds. Someone must plant them before they become trees.

Silver basins, hot water, and trees…this is the worst riddle ever.

Yes, well why don’t you grab that pair of socks over there by the fire. I think I’m ready to retire for the evening.

Aren’t those Brother Yuri’s?

Socks like ideas, if freshly laundered and warm are communal in nature, least I like to think so.

Now hurry my feet are cold.

Yes master.


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