Monday, April 28, 2014
The Good Student
Wild ideas had been on the decline for a long time.
Once abundant, only a few remained in idea preserves and insurgent tangles where the outcasts hunkered down in cardboard boxes. Forgotten books, ideas in them all but extinct, dried out in sheds and basements.
Endangered ideas still roamed the streets at night in hushed conversations, outside the exposing flood of titillating LED crawlers.
In a secret chamber, behind the wall of her closet, the good student still cared for the last of their kind. She kept them in the corners of her mind where no one could see them. Her favorite, self-reflection, and another related to social conscience, gave her the thrill of a dangerous secret.
She found them in a tattered book in the back of the hologram immersion theater where she worked. Some of the others wanted to throw the book away, or burn it. She said she would take care of it for them, and, being the supervisor, had the authority to convince them.
It took work and time to puzzle out the strange ways of seeing that the words engendered.
They took root and she had no one to talk to about them. She spent more time alone with words than on her cyber tether.
Some of her friends wondered why she stopped joining them at the entertainment modules. "How will you live without fun?" they chided.
She smiled and implied that she had a new e-boy and that he kept her stimulated.
After a while the friends moved on and gave her peace and space that she used to cultivate the ideas.
They were strange and dark and disturbing. She did not understand why she so sought them out. Maybe it was just because they were so "bad," as everyone seemed to believe.
The domesticated ideas, of course, were jealous, and patrolled the planet looking for the last of the wild ideas. When they caught one, it was big news, and the public execution of the wild idea made great spectacle.
The mottoes of "Consume!" and "It's All About You!" paraded past on the eyeglass digiscreens and were repeated in greeting as the citizens satisfied their appetites for sex, food, fun, and euphoria.
But the good student wanted something more.
She knew there was only trouble down this road, but she felt compelled to feed and free her mind. She puzzled over the words by Jung and Marx and Thoreau. The words became her friends more than her friends, her comfort in the dry desert that passed for intellectual inquiry.
But the ideas were not tame and could not be fenced in. They began to inhabit her facial expressions, even when she said nothing.
Some of the workers at the Hologram Immersion Theater noticed that she had less and less enthusiasm for "It's All About You!" or "Trivia Rules!" when they shared the greeting. They wondered if they should notify the Domesticated Idea Agents.
They worried about her, were frightened by her. She sat more and more by herself, without her digiscreen, as she mulled over some question she kept to herself, some memory of a time long gone, when it seemed so important to touch a lovely, delicate, vanishing mystery.