Monday, February 7, 2011

An Allegory


At some point in the continuum of time in a land far far away (as all social allegories must start) there is a rather disk shaped plain. It is not so different from the geographical world the Ancient Greeks envisioned. Now, in the middle of this plane is a circular field of grain. But it is not just any kind of grain – yes, it provides nourishment, but not particularly of the body. The heads nod slowly in the alien breeze; it is quite a sight to see: perhaps, the most amazing thing is their splendid coloring. It is not quite an alternating image of rainbows, but if you’ve ever seen a bubble of soap: (like the ones children blow in the happy parks of our own dear world) that is what it most closely resembles.

Surrounding this epicenter of grain are villages. Small and quaint – by human standards it would be aptly described as simple. The inhabitants of this village are humanoid, but with one exception. They have small heads and instead have extremely large hands. I am also under the impression that they have nerves that we do not have in their hands. Each village member dwells on a plot of land and on this land they plant flowers and vegetables of every kind. These plants all die within a few days; they are either harvested or traded within the village for other flowers or vegetables. And each village member, each third day takes a delicate harvesting device and heads to the center of the plain. Once at the field they carefully collect the heads of grain and carry their loads back, planting them in their plots of land. It should be mentioned at this point that these grains never yield the same crop. It is as though there is a sack of seeds with only one type each of seed. So trade between village members is always quite active.

There are quite a few villages around the field, but they do not know about each other. One member of a village, we shall call him Presston decides one day that he would like to know what is on the other side of the field. He makes preparations and sets off, after a week and a half (these creatures do not have as much need for food as we) he parts the grains of the last metre and comes out into the plain again. Following a path he comes to a village not unlike his but oh! the plants in this village. They were so exotic: shapes sizes and colors that Presston had never seen before. Presston, being what we would call a natural businessman, decides that the people back in his village must experience these vegetables and flowers. Journeying back, he begins to pull out - from the roots - the stalks of grain, ultimately clearing a direct path from village to village.

This opens up a frenzy of trade. The villagers from the other side had also never seen the likes of the plants of Presston’s village. The villagers collectively come up with a system of exchange involving tokens; many generations pass. For no known reason, nobody has opened up another path, like Presston had done. Until Trenneti. Trenneti has an even more ambitious idea; she takes a blade and begins to clear many paths going to 8 points of the compass originating from the center of the center. She discovers 8 different villages. She finds that these villages also possess plants that have never been seen before. Trade reaches a new frenzy.

(Readers should also take note that the grains from the stalks on either side of the paths cleared also yielded plants never seen before.)

Trenneti, also being, what we would call, a natural businesswoman, discovers that if she keeps track of who is selling what plants at which location she is able to trade what her fellow villagers have produced. The villagers of Trenneti’s village trade in a clockwork pattern, visitng village by village. Trenneti simply keeps one mark ahead of her village.

The villagers, for obvious reasons, become angry but they cannot seem to identify and therefore catch Trenneti.

Thus the now connected community of the plain trade and farm and attempt to trade and farm first, their flowers and vegetables, counting their marks always.

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