Ideas – O F Cieri

The edge of reason is a slope. People rolling down it think they’re on the high ground.


There was a Philosopher King over the Boar’s Head plant who read all the literature worth reading before he was thirty. 

The King’s cell was unfurnished, except with books. He used them as tables and chairs and avoided the world whenever possible. The world was the greatest source of impurity in the known universe, although there may be something even more foul and prone to sickness lurking deep in the Unknown. The world is a bubbling cauldron so full of people that the constant push and pull threatens to tear it apart. The world has more ideas than bacteria, and no one’s inventing sanitizers to clean them. The healthiest regime for both body and mind is to block out the noise and look within. Self reflection is the only path to finding the inarguable kernel of truth underneath the lies and imperfections that accrue over time. 

The King is never truly alone. His cell is full of the greatest minds of all time. Thinkers who defined their age, men and women who spoke Truth to Power. There has always been a unification of Power, although it was more coincidence then conspiracy. Kings exchanging notes on how best to suppress their fiefdoms during calm moments at the war table. Mayors wrote to their Governor for more funding for public programming. And as Plato predicted, throughout human history were minds strong enough to turn away from the puppet show. 

True human beings. Creatures who forced themselves upright through sheer will. Genius so independent, for generations no paradigm existed to frame them. It was only through the combined effort of scholars— lesser genius— that true genius could be bridled and tamed, years after the thinker’s death. As the idea staled and expired, it was displayed as a curiosity. One of a kind. True iconoclasm.

Dead ideas were recycled so frequently that their words were woven into the fabric of our society. The word ‘society’ is on loan from the French, who inherited it from Latin, but a native speaker of Latin couldn’t understand the combination of organizations that makes up society today. The words of yesterday, left in daylight past their years, have accrued a thick film of imperfection. Stale ideas sit in piles of our collective wealth, gathering dust.

The Philosopher King has thought all the great thoughts under the tutelage of giants; Nietzsche, Gertrude Stein, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones. He spent his time gathering clues for a prophecy to lead him to the next great thinker. His books draw a line through history, from the Pharaohs of Egypt to J. D. Salinger, but there the line is broken, for Thomas Pynchon stole the crown. The fool. The absolute imbecile. The wretch. We love him for proving worthy of the responsibility, but he snapped the line of kings over his knee and scattered their lineage to the winds. The King’s readings sent him in circles, which grow tighter until he comes to a stop. He has brought the Kings together in his cell, gathered like leaves in a drain. Pynchon’s Folly reversed. Amongst the monoliths of his library, he finds a mirror. Suddenly he understands. The work he undertook was not meant for ordinary men. The path he walked was not for pilgrims. By identifying there was a problem, he solved it. He is the Beatles. 

He would rise to join the giants that cradled the light of humanity from the endless void that threatens to snuff it out. He will be kindling for the flame. He will be the candle in the window at night.

He will become an idea.

The King stares ever deeper into the perfect, meditative swirl of his own stomach, into the small intestine, where beer and cheese churn like a riptide. The seas of digestion batter against him, rocking against the walls of his upper digestive tract. Acid sears the flesh, cheese fills the gap like a bandage. He bobs along, struggling to keep his head above the surface, his mouth filling with bile with every gasp. The tide whips him back and forth, then down. Feelers in the large intestine stroke him to see if there’s any nutritional value left in his boney arms. Whatever exists on the surface of his skin is sponged away while he struggles to keep afloat, slapping his palms against the water, desperately seeking leverage. It’s like Hell’s only water park. He flies out and slaps belly-first into the accumulated sewage filtered from his own intestines. Soft plant fibers, unraveled into silt, bubble with potent yeast bacteria around his outstretched arms. Digested cheese and beans fills his open mouth as he tries to scream. He scoops handfuls over his shoulders, trying to swim but just digging in deeper. 

His hand pops free. He feels cold air rushing through his fingers. Floundering, he grabs the rim, pushes through the sphincter, and turns himself inside out. He reveals raw, exposed nerves, extending like branches from the wet red core. His eyes see nothing but the darkness inside his skin, but with the floor coated in tendrils of firing neurons he is more aware then ever. Reborn to be more than a man.