Found among the wreckage of New Kaiadas, east of Agrona. Included are the following letter and accompanying text.
To those who might come after me,
It is by our count the year 1046 of what I now suppose to be a conclusive era of human society. My name is Lao and I am the chief civil management officer of the city of New Kaiadas, the current capital of civilization, our Constantinople. It is my job to design and oversee the collection and eradication of the leaders and loyalist of a former regime so that they may be properly handled. It’s been over 40 years since their usurpation, but for most of that time they seemed to be a irrevocable patron of our society, that was until me. I am quite good at my job. Presently there are fewer than 400 of these insurgents remaining, essentially all of whom are in captivity, awaiting their trial and punishment. Before this I was a mathematician.
It is a quality I’ve noticed of a mathematically oriented mind, when offering a description, to demand all circumstances be explained, and context properly laid. This assures no mistakes will be made in understanding a situation. And so, this is my context, that I might be explained, and possibly forgiven.
I’ve always been the type to be perpetually dissatisfied with my work the moment it is finished. When my response is recorded, I’ve always found some fault that demands better explanation or some gap that need filling. So I ask for leniency, knowing that this is just a framework for something, a vantage point, a means only to another means. My hope is that you will learn to look for yourself. When you look at your world, I want you to know why. That’s as far as I can go with you.
There are appetites in Man which demand satisfaction but branch beyond any hunger the body can muster. These appetites consume their bearer as they are gratified, and as they are sated, are more greatly matured. This is not because they can never be replete; but because as they are refined, a man realizes that their foods, called Beauty and Truth, seem to be brought it by the senses and are limited to the scale of the window by which they enter.
One might think that would produce a hopelessness and a futile venture that being beyond the scope of our best efforts is beyond the chance of being completed. However, human history has shown a relentless journey towards this goal. Why do we reach for what we cannot fully own? Why do we fill ourselves with what only seems to grow our need? What hope is there in gathering what we do not have the means to contain? Our justification and hope rests on some deep seeded knowledge that this will not always be the case. We want, one day to submerge into wherever it is that Beauty and Truth come from and, by submersion, be united with it.
It is the animal in Man that builds cities, stores his food, competes for his status and fights for his security. He does not live, but he survives; my God does he survive. The Man of the matter is the gypsy in him, always moving not because he does not have a home but because he already knows that he won’t find it here.
This is instinctual in Man as Beauty is perfectly still, though it can only be seen in motion. It is timeless, we are not, and can be found in every moment that we wish we could have back. It’s not the falling water, nor the wind on the grass, nor the unrelenting flow of life that’s beautiful; these are biological, admirable, but something else entirely built around a need and its being sated.
What the painter or the poet sees is the instant where life lines up with whatever mystery beauty must be, that little bit of eternity leaking through. We find something attractive when we can realize some use towards putting it, but something is beautiful when just by witnessing it we are improved.
However, what is Life without Death? Without the backdrop of hunger, how can we know the real gratification of being filled? So, we need our failures and their ugliness to remind us that there really is something Beautiful out there, demanding to be seen and waiting to be explained.
Like Beauty, Truth can never be taken out of context, once it has done so, it ceases to be itself and is only a poor reflection. It is a completed piece and a ringing bell. You cannot separate part of the message without ruining what was really said. Nevertheless, I admit this is only my best attempt, and should not be regarded as anything more.
A man’s shortcomings are as telling as his fulfillment. What can a man hope for but to offer his little part as a window into the whole. We should expect nothing more. But to those who wish for such things, you may find them with Conditional Love and the Greek Calends.