B. Bendig:  Clever People Everywhere - A Modern Fairy Tale

 

(From: Privately-distributed handout at the 5th Scientific Congress of the GFSS, Königswinter, March 1979)

 

Behind the mountain there was said to be a fearful abyss, as the people called it, and it was all they could do to try to protect themselves from it. There were, however, those who didn't want to believe it. They made preparations to secretly have a look at what lay beyond the summit. Some of them were apprehended and punished terribly, although they did in fact declare that behind the mountain was no abyss, but instead, a lovely garden. But this only garnered them even more anger and hatred from their neighbors, who didn't want to accept what they were saying, and would sooner stick to their notion of the dreadful abyss.

However no wall was high enough, no punishment sufficient, to prevent some from – again and again – daring to have a look beyond the summit. In order to avoid being discovered, they came up with the most comical disguises. And even as their skill at playing their roles increased, so did that of their apprehensive pursuers to catch them.

Woe to those of the apprehended who stuck to their assertion that they had not seen a abyss but a garden. Something might be not quite right with them, thought the clever people amongst the populace, and as proof they often cited some curious things about the lives of those imprisoned, which they had needed to keep secret. It was also the case that some captives became quite confused, because everyone wanted them to talk about what they'd seen, and yet, they knew no one who had shared their experience. If they came to believe once again in the abyss, they were cured. The obstinate among them, however, held firm, and the clever people amongst the populace came up with all sorts of ways to cure them of their supposedly false notions. Some of the prisoners even let themselves be pushed into having their eyesight taken away, only for the purpose of regaining their freedom. If they could no longer see anything, thought the clever people amongst the populace, they would also no longer make any attempt to look beyond the summit.

But regardless of what was thought up and carried out, the news – that beyond the summit was not an abyss, but rather, a garden – would not be squelched. Then, even scientists began to become interested in this claim, and conducted complicated studies into it. Of course, the simplest thing would have been for them to just have had a look over the summit for themselves. But of course, they were not allowed to do that. Therefore, they studied those persons who said that they themselves had looked over the summit and seen a garden. And since no one was permitted to verify this assertion, not even a scientist, we are still at the beginning of our story.