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How the people came to stop thinking

In the dawn time the first tribe wandered all over the wide lands, seeing all the magical things there were in those days. They saw the mountain that smokes, the land that walks and the grass that grows on the sea. When they had finished walking all over the wide lands they stopped to talk about all they had seen.

As the old woman who remembers talked they recalled all they had seen. They laughed and cried and sat in silence as they thought about the magical things. The lame man who made things built pictures in the flames and the pretty girl who danced followed the beat with her body, recreating their whole journey.

Then the little boy who asks questions said 'Why does the smoking mountain smoke? Why does the land walk? And how does the grass grow on the sea?' All of the first tribe listened to him, but nobody could answer his questions.

The next morning the first tribe went to the path and asked it, 'O path, that travels up and down the land, who are the wisest of animals? Who can tell us why the smoking mountain smokes, why the land walks and how the grass grows on the sea?'

And the path replied, 'Follow me to the north, to the hills where the fire blossom grows. There you will find Brother Hare and Grandfather Tortoise. They are the wisest of animals.'

So the first tribe travelled north and came to the hills where the fire blossom grows. There they found Brother Hare and Grandfather Tortoise, and they asked them, 'O Brother Hare, O Grandfather Tortoise, why does the smoking mountain smoke?'

Before Grandfather Tortoise could speak Brother Hare answered, 'It smokes because the mountain spirit is angry. He is in love with the sky spirits but even from the top of the mountain he cannot reach them. So he burns with anger and smoke pours from the top of his head. And that is why the smoking mountain smokes.'

Then Grandfather Tortoise said, 'I have visited the smoking mountain and I believe it smokes because the rocks in the under lands are on fire. They seethe and boil like the seas and come rushing up the inside of the mountain, and the smoke comes out of the mountainís top. And that is why the smoking mountain smokes.'

Then the first tribe asked, 'O Brother Hare, O Grandfather Tortoise, why does the land walk?'

Before Grandfather Tortoise could speak Brother Hare answered, 'It walks because the sea spirits are pushing it. They are jealous of the land and push it around whenever they can, to show that they are stronger. And that is why the land walks.'

Then Grandfather Tortoise said, 'I have visited the walking lands and I believe that the land and the sea floor are one, and they sail over the watery rocks of the under lands together, but we see only the land walking. And that is why the land walks.'

Then the first tribe asked, 'O Brother Hare, O Grandfather Tortoise, how does the grass grow on the sea?'

Before Grandfather Tortoise could speak Brother Hare answered, 'It grows because the jealous sea spirits stole some grass and used their magic to make the grass strange, so it can live without the land. And that is how the grass grows on the sea.'

Then Grandfather Tortoise said, 'I have not visited the grass that grows upon the sea, and without visiting the sea where the grass grows I cannot tell you how it grows. I will have to think about it before I answer.'

Then the first tribe said, 'O Brother Hare, you have told us how the grass grows on the sea when Grandfather Tortoise could not. You truly are the wisest of animals.' And the old woman who remembers said, 'I shall listen to all you say and remember it and so shall all my children and grandchildren, o wisest of animals.' And the first tribe carried Bother Hare off with them to listen to what he had to say.

Only the little boy who asks questions stayed with Grandfather Tortoise. And Grandfather Tortoise asked, 'O little boy who asks questions, why have you stayed with me?'

And the little boy who asks questions said, 'O Grandfather Tortoise, has Brother Hare ever visited the mountain that smokes, the land that walks or the grass that grows on the sea?' And Grandfather Tortoise shook his head and said 'No.'

'Then how can he give answers, that make no sense, if he does not know the truth?' said the little boy who asks questions. And Grandfather Tortoise shook his head and said, 'It is all too easy to make an answer that makes no sense, rather than look for one that does.'

'Then,' said the little boy who asks questions, 'why do people listen to him if his answers make no sense?'

'Because,' said Grandfather Tortoise, 'people prefer an answer they can understand, even if it makes no sense, to one they cannot understand but which is the truth.'

The little boy who asks questions was quiet and said nothing for many hours. Then he said to Grandfather Tortoise, 'O Grandfather Tortoise, how can I learn to think like you?'

And Grandfather Tortoise smiled and said, 'O little boy, you ask questions. That is the best way to start.'

 
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Archive

Clare Maguire > 6dec2002 > The Face of The Future
Simon Batistoni > 15nov2002 > Ghost
Kelly Bean > 8nov2002 > The Program
Anonymous > 1nov2002 > Winning the Lottery
Ned > 25oct2002 > Calibre
Tom Massey > 4oct2002 > Roses
Simon Batistoni > 27sep2002 > Message Centre
Riana > 20sep2002 > Value Added
Giles Turnbull > 13sep2002 > A lab technician's lot
Kevan Davis > 6sep2002 > The Campaign for Real Advertising
Giles Turnbull > 30aug2002 > The old lady and the whelk
KTL > 23aug2002 > Feet
Sandy Tulloch > 16aug2002 > How the people came to stop thinking
RavenBlack > 9aug2002 > An Arm And A Leg
Nicholas Wilshere > 19jul2002 > Two full-page ads
Dustin Ruby > 12jul2002 > Family Life
Matt Jones > 14jun2002 > The end of history
Cathrine > 7jun2002 > The Eye of the Beholder
Nick > 31may2002 > I wanna shake your hand
RavenBlack > 24may2002 > Precognito Ergo Sum
Ned > 10may2002 > Spambot
Tyrethali > 26apr2002 > The Contest
Holly Gramazio > 19apr2002 > A Tale of No Watermelons
Brooke Magnanti > 12apr2002 > What The Dead Remember
Tyrethali > 5apr2002 > Superego
RavenBlack > 29mar2002 > Black Rain
james > 22mar2002 > The Atom Thief
RavenBlack > 15mar2002 > Soul Trap
matzu > 8mar2002 > Angry Elton
RavenBlack > 1mar2002 > Hell Is Other People
JT Bruce > 22feb2002 > Door Ajar
matzu > 15feb2002 > Send in the clones
Kevan Davis > 8feb2002 > Litter
RavenBlack > 1feb2002 > The Perfect Job
Tyrethali > 25jan2002 > Mystery
Giles Turnbull > 11jan2002 > The Twisted World of Advertising
Tom Armitage > 21dec2001 > Numbers
Sandy Tulloch > 14dec2001 > Killing Cats
Brooke Magnanti > 7dec2001 > The Jet Set
Giles Turnbull > 30nov2001 > Driftwood
james > 23nov2001 > with you in mind
RavenBlack > 16nov2001 > UpsideClones
Kevan Davis > 9nov2001 > Do Not Stand Forward Of This Notice
Giles Turnbull > 2nov2001 > Group Effort
Kevan Davis > 26oct2001 > Ask The Audience
RavenBlack > 19oct2001 > Don't You Just Hate Stupid People
Martin Griffiths > 12oct2001 > Your Nearest McDonalds...
RavenBlack > 5oct2001 > Life's a bureaucracy, and then you die
Kevan Davis > 28sep2001 > Work To Win
Tom Armitage > 21sep2001 > Don't Book it - Thomas Cook it.
Giles Turnbull > 14sep2001 > What happened to George
RavenBlack > 7sep2001 > Mental States
Kevan Davis > 31aug2001 > Walking Distance
Stuart and Jack > 24aug2001 > dialogue
Kevan Davis > 17aug2001 > Collector's Item

 
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