A Shoikinistic Discordian Parable
By = Pope Fayanora Ahnabahn Tahlahmorgk
On the distant world of Traipah, there was a seeker named Fii'Kiin'Ai. This seeker was obsessed with finding the Absolute Truth. Zie1 traveled the whole world over seeking the Absolute Truth, never finding it.
One day, Fii'Kiin'Ai found an Avatar of Shao'Kehn, Goddess of Chaos, Evolution, Change, and Confusion. Since zie had tried everyone else, it seemed only right Fii'Kiin'Ai should try the Avatar of Shao'Kehn.
Fii'Kiin'Ai climbed many steps to reach the dais upon which the Avatar of Shao'Kehn sat. Zir first surprise was that the avatar was not an Ah'Koi Bahnis.2 Zir second surprise was that it was not one of the four-legged, predatory Duenicallo. It was one of the warm-blooded, bipedal reptilians known as Shaokennah (no relation to Shao'Kehn). The third surprise was that the Avatar was asleep. Not meditating, as one might expect of a Great Teacher, but sprawled over the seat with lolling tongue, like Zie had passed out after an all night marathon of caffeine ingestion.3
And so it was that Fii'Kiin'Ai poked The Avatar with a stick to wake Zir up. And lo, the Avatar awoke. But had not been drinking caffeine, and so did not have a hangover (or else poor Fii'Kiin'Ai would have become a bloody heap at the bottom of the stairs).
The Avatar spoke. "Yes, My dear? What do you want?"
"I wish to know the Absolute Truth."
The Avatar sat there and thought. A minute became five, and five became ten. Because Fii'Kiin'Ai was patient and could see the Avatar was thinking, zie waited. Ten minutes became twenty, and then thirty, before the Avatar spoke again.
"To find your answer, you must first go to the city of Grah'Bah'Nah'Scia, and find there the local Unity Order's Tertiary Education School. Apply for a degree in physics. Take first Newtonian physics4, then quantum physics. Become an expert in the field. If you have not found the Absolute Truth by the time you graduate with a doctorate in quantum physics, then return here for further guidance."
Perplexed but determined, Fii'Kiin'Ai bowed and left. Zie did as zie was told, going to Grah'Bah'Nah'Scia and entering the Unity Order's physics program. It took Fii'Kiin'Ai almost ten gruelling years, with many difficult forms of math to learn and master, and many difficult concepts to grasp. Zie often despaired of ever completing the program, even with the help of many tutors. But at long last, Fii'Kiin'Ai graduated with a doctorate in quantum and theoretical physics.
However, by the time this happened, Fii'Kiin'Ai began to despair for other reasons. For along with the maths and scientific methods, zie was taught philosophies that parallelled the science of the day: Operationalism, Existentialism, and other such esoterica. What was more, the scientists of zir world had to learn an entirely new and constructed language with which to discuss certain things, for the common tongue was filled with all sorts of nonsense that worked well enough for common folk, but made describing actual events in spacetime very difficult. And so they had made a new language, and taught it to all aspiring scientists.
But by far the biggest reason Fii'Kiin'Ai despaired was because the more zie learned about the universe, the more zie came to realize how little was truly known. Even worse, what little people thought they *could* know was not even real, it seemed. From seeking Absolute Certainty, Fii'Kiin'Ai fell into Absolute Uncertainty, even solipsism.
Thinking this to have been the lesson of The Avatar, Fii'Kiin'Ai angrily sought out The Avatar once more. Again, zie climbed up the steps. This time, The Avatar was waiting, awake and alert.
Fii'Kiin'Ai began to say, "You may not remember me-"
"Oh, I remember all My children," said Shao'Kehn through the voice of The Avatar. "I remember you were seeking Absolute Truth. How'd that go for you?"
Fii'Kiin'Ai fumed. "How did it go? HOW DID IT GO? I spent twenty years of my life seeking Absolute Truth before meeting you. Then, at your word, I spent almost ten more years of my life getting a doctorate in quantum and theoretical physics. And now I have gone from being absolutely certain that there is an Absolute Truth, to be absolutely uncertain about anything! How do I know I'm real, and not just some figure in a book or parable? How do I know any of this is real? It seems to me that nothing is real!"
The Avatar of Shao'Kehn did not respond. Not in words, not in sighs, not even in glances. Zie gave no indication at all that Zie had heard Fii'Kiin'Ai.
"I asked you a question! Why don't you answer?"
There was still no sign that The Avatar had even heard. The Avatar even yawned and scratched an itch in an uncouth place.
Angered, Fii'Kiin'Ai picked up a small stone and hit The Avatar on the head with it.
"Ouch! That hurt!"
Fii'Kiin'Ai glared. "So what about my questions?"
The Avatar picked up a stick and whacked Fii'Kiin'Ai on the head with it.
"OW! What'd you do that for?"
"If you are not real, the pain is not real. Why should I care about the imaginary pain of an imaginary person?"
Fii'Kiin'Ai blinked again. "I... well, then maybe *I'm* real, and nothing else is?"
"If you are the only real person in the world," the Avatar said, whacking Fii'Kiin'Ai on the head with the stick again; Fii'Kiin'Ai shouted in pain, and rubbed zir head, and The Avatar asked, "then why did you just hit yourself on the head with a stick? Twice? Isn't pain and suffering rather silly, when you do it to yourself?"
"YOU hit me on the head with that stick, not me!"
"Oh really? So I'm real, too?"
Fii'Kiin'Ai looked confused. "But... but... but everything I learned says we can't be absolutely certain of anything! It's all models in our heads! Our brain lies to us about everything! None of it is real!"
The Avatar got out a coin. "On one side of this coin is a triangle. On the other side is a circle. Pick one, and I'll flip the coin."
"Um... okay. Uh... triangle."
The Avatar flipped the coin. It came up Circle.
"Shall we try again?" The Avatar asked.
Reluctantly, Fii'Kiin'Ai agreed, picking Circle this time. It came up Triangle. They tried it again several times. Sometimes Fii'Kiin'Ai won, other times zie lost.
Finally, Fii'Kiin'Ai began to get impatient, and shouted, "What's the point of this exercise?"
The Avatar of Shao'Kehn asked, "What are the odds of getting either Triangle or Circle?"
"They are 50/50."
"Will it ever be 100%, one way or another?"
"This doesn't bother you?" The Avatar asked.
"Why should it?"
The Avatar said, "The odds that all the air will rush out of a room while you're in it are very remote, but still it is not 100% certain that it won't happen. Do you worry that such will happen?"
"No, of course not."
"Now tell me... if you met a blind person on your way somewhere, and that blind person was walking toward a deep chasm that they would not be able to know was there until they were falling down it, would you let them walk into the chasm or warn them off?"
"What kind of a-- of course I'd warn them off!"
"Why, though? If their model of the universe doesn't include the hole, since they can't see it, wouldn't they just continue over it like it wasn't there?"
"Of course not! They'd fall down and die!"
"How do you know this?"
"Because I've seen it happen. And because of gravity, and the frailty of our forms."
"But if the world is just imaginary, surely they will come to no harm."
Fii'Kiin'Ai said nothing to this.
"Now for the ultimate question: you asked 'what if nothing is real?' So I ask, 'What *if* nothing is real?' What does it matter?" The Avatar picked up Zir stick and whacked Fii'Kiin'Ai on the head again.
"Ouch! What'd you hit me for this time?"
"Would the certainty you seek help you avoid being hit on the head by my stick? If a person can see to avoid a chasm, but then falls into a sinkhole zie could not have known was there, what then? Life is full of uncertainty. This is a good thing. Certainty is a dangerous road; it breeds zealots and fools. The only certainty in life is uncertainty. This will never change, and even if it were to change, it is not likely to change in your lifespan." The Avatar swung the stick again, once more hitting Fii'Kiin'Ai on the head.
"And in the end, there is only one thing that you need to know about absolute certainty," The Avatar said, swinging the stick again, coming once more from the right of Fii'Kiin'Ai. This time, Fii'Kiin'Ai would have caught it, if The Avatar had not stopped short. Fii'Kiin'Ai grinned. Then the Avatar of Shao'Kehn, in one fluid movement, stood up and spun around, the stick coming from the left of Fii'Kiin'Ai, knocking the seeker on zir behind. Finally, the Avatar grinned, for Fii'Kiin'Ai had become enlightened.5
1 = As the people of Traipah have only one sex, and their own pronouns are hard to pronounce, I here use "zie" (s/he) and "zir" (his/hers/him/her).
2 = Humans are Ah'Koi Bahnis shaped.
3 = Coca-Cola would be like beer to them. Jolt Cola would be like vodka. And No-Doz will fuck you up reeeel bad, man! Can you imagine a world where Coca-Cola is an illegal drug? (Well I suppose the Mormons can, but nobody asked them.) Not to say that caffeine IS an illegal drug there, because it's not. But it once was.
4 = Since Newton was a human, and has never been to Traipah, and since Traipahni society discovered Newtonian physics before humans had even invented writing, the use of the phrase "Newtonian physics" is merely for the benefit of human readers.
5 = "Fii'Kiin'Ai" means "idiot." For we are all - seekers and teachers alike - idiots. As it should be. Amen.
Hope you enjoyed it!
This was cross-posted from http://fayanora.dreamwidth.org/1107029.html
You can comment either here or there.