by John Chilver
published in Schizm, issue 4, London, April 2012, p9
In exchange for past favours and future God-knows-what, the crowd leave looking pleased with themselves. Why do the men all have to have shaved heads and no necks? For all their conformity, they place a high value upon the very traits that prevent them from being a harmonious community by consensus. This faction represents not the cowards and the bleeders but persons on a borderline of choice. Witness their shoes that are so cheap and flimsy they fall to pieces. Shoes like these can’t be repaired. Convenience differentials have shifted sufficiently for these people to change their minds. Though loathe to swallow anger, they now advocate handling strangers so they are an asset rather than a menace by creating conditions aimed at persuading a high proportion of the indigenous residents, whoever they may be, to stay put by choice over time. Aiming to outfox the merchants, they strive to ensure the presence of people who go out on different schedules and are in the place for different purposes, but who are able to use many facilities in common. A possible world isn’t a distant country that we are coming across or viewing through a telescope. Generally speaking, another possible world is too far away. Even if we travel faster than light, we won’t get to it. Perhaps all that is immediate now is the other way around. Flowers won’t grow, bells won’t chime. Time and again vehicular movement is impeded by accidents. So chronic is the problem that engineers propose to remove stalled cars from highways by helicopter. Hard necessity or tradition and custom can enforce on everyone a disciplined selectivity of purposes and materials, a discipline by consensus on what those materials demand of their organizers, and a disciplined control over the forms thereby created.
© John Chilver
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