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May 13, 2024

The Tragedy of Jonathon

By K.B. Updike Jr

Part 1: Introduction

There is a thing people everywhere have some inkling of, and have had some inkling of for at least as long as I can remember.

How long can I remember? My earliest memory is ... I don't remember.

Belief holds a certain power. People sense this power, instinctively I think. You see it in popular, optimistic phrases: You can do anything if you set your mind to it. You see it with philosophers: I think, therefore, I am. You even see it on children's television shows, when is uttered that magical word, Pretend! With Pretend, all things are possible.

Pretend makes children helicopter pilots and firemen. Pretend sends kids to the moon and back. Pretend breathes life into invisible friends. Invisible friends are real, for some. Then you get older and fancy fades. Pretend comes close to what I want to touch on here.

Belief is reality. What you believe defines your reality. A crazy in an asylum believes himself a king. No man can prove to the crazy that, in reality, he is not a king. Why? Because, while of course the lunatic in question is not really a king, the doctors would know if he were, he at the same time absolutely is a king.

It has been said that circular logic is what so often confounds attempts at proving wrong imaginative lunatics. For instance: You will say, I would know if you were a king. The lunatic will say, I know I am a king. You will say, How is this kept a secret from myself? The lunatic will say, There is a conspiracy to conceal my identity. You might be daft enough to say, I have heard nothing of any conspiracy. The lunatic would smile and reply, Of course not. What conspiracy announces itself to the world? What I observe is that all logic is circular. The circular logic attack is applicable against every argument ever made. Therefore, logic alone is too malleable to define the boundaries of reality.

I have a proposal, already mentioned: That the lunatic is not, in fact, a lunatic, except in relation to the doctors. That the lunatic is, in fact, a king. The lunatic believes himself a king, the victim of a conspiracy. The conspirators do exist, and are no more imagined than the air we all breathe, the ground we all walk upon, the skin we all use to conceal our organs. That is not to say any of these things are real beyond imagining. It could be argued they are all imagined. What fool would dispute such a claim?

The only remaining problem is that posed by the nihilists. If a person cannot believe, really cannot believe, how is said person to exist? I say all the nihilists you have ever heard of are liars, either to themselves or to the world; for you would never hear from a true nihilist. I believe this, so it must be so.

Please forgive this digression. I have an incredible story to tell, and I want it looked upon as objectively as possible. Having read my introduction, after sitting through my tale, you may judge my sanity as you wish.

Asylums are not so very torturous for those prepared to face them. They are constructs necessary to reconcile conflicting belief. I would welcome being sent to an asylum. Send me, please! yet that will not be possible.

Part 2: My Problem

I, as all Creation, have no man to blame for my problem other than myself. If I had not believed it into existence, I would have been fine. The idea popped into my head, and when this happens, they tend to take me places.

You see, I have a problem directly opposite that of the nihilist: I have a very difficult time not believing anything. Knowing what I know about belief, how can I tell myself this thought it real whereas this other is not? Being conscious of the fact that believing defines my reality, how do I police myself into believing only paradise? I begin thinking of bees. I think, what if I were a bee? Poof! I am a bee. You see the trouble?

What if I were a bee? What if? Of course I am not. I have a task to perform. Over the years, I have learned to police my thoughts, despite myself. I watch television, devour popular literature, scan intellectual magazines. I try to anchor myself to the reality I grew up on. Tap into the social consciousness, if you will. For the most part, this works. My thoughts stabilize on this singularly perceived state of existence, and I am. One of you.

Two weeks ago, the year, the month, the time of day; these are things that are of no importance. Time is an invented dimension that must exist for all, once first observed. You cannot disbelieve time. I can and do, however, disbelieve the importance of exact time.

Anyway, some place in my life before now, my thoughts wandered. I thought, What if I were some god's puppet? I thought the thought literally. I feared I would believe it, then believed I would believe it, then believed it. Strings sprouted from my arms and legs.

I thought, What if my mind keeps wandering?

Part 3: The Journey

There was a giant towering over a table, pulling my strings. I bathed in his acid laughter as he sent me dancing across this table. Unbeknownst to the giant, a larger giant stood towering over him. This larger giant cut my strings for me, content with being the only manipulator, then went back to pulling the strings of my manipulator. Another larger giant towered over the larger giant, and my manipulator felt his own strings being cut. On up into the heavens.

The table I stood on became hot sand. It sucked me under, into a tunnel. I went sliding down the tunnel. It brought to mind the tubular slides popular at so many theme parks. So I found myself splashing into a pool at Water Country USA. The water agitated my ears. They felt as if they would burst. They did. Sound so suddenly being plucked from me, I felt very much alone. I was, suddenly, very much alone.

There was whiteness everywhere. Whiteness like ice cream. Almost as if I were inside a ball of ice cream. Well, if a man believes he is inside a ball of ice cream ...

Suddenly, I was very cold. I thought to myself, between bites of my surroundings, This is foolishness. And it was. Then I thought, guiding my belief, I am Jonathon Walters. I live in a large yet economic suburban apartment. I am about to watch the Simpsons. If I believe these things ... I do believe these things!

Part 4: The Journey's End

Finally, as I found myself again grounded, watching the Simpsons, one last, dangerous thought crept into my head: What if I die here and now? Then, quickly, frantically, No! I cannot die until I have made an impact upon the world. The world will hear my story, then I will die. Fool that I was, I believed it. So now, as I finish writing, steeling myself to the task of sending this story off to my publisher, my hands tremble. It is very important I decide exactly what it is death entails.

Most of K.B. Updike Jr's writings may be found for free on his website, www.individuatechurch.com

Article © K.B. Updike Jr. All rights reserved.
Published on 2023-02-27
Image(s) are public domain.
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