Commons

Dialogue – Commons

 

Elpis: Your face is of great length, friend of mine. What disturbs you so?

Achlys: The lower orders – I feel the bile rise in my throat at the thought of them, rage chokes my vision at their mention – how I hate them!

Elpis: Come now, they are but men and women as any others. What matters their pecuniary position? Whether a man possess many things or but few, is he not still a man? If a woman shouldn’t direct great hosts, is she not still as much a woman?

Achlys: It is not their material possessions that I take umbrage for, no, it is their inborn weakness that causes me strife. Mewling creatures little better than beasts, they ought to be silenced entire!

Elpis: Friend, you go too far! Such pronouncements, without nuance or art, how can they catch evasive Truth? You, of all, should know better. Is not every man a universe unto himself? Every woman distinct, monadic and isolate? How can such broad statements, flat and lacking care, catch all the manifest peculiarities of individuals?

Achlys: Are you unable to determine the hollowness of your words? Your good-naturedness blinds you to the obvious. I’ll grant you, you may find an assortment of different qualities, a roster of interchangeable traits, as you cast your eye over these teeming hordes. But – as a set! – they are the same. What matter it that one should differ from the next in the superficial, when they all of them are afflicted by a low bearing, gaze eternally cast into the dirt? When they, aggregately, have no love of learning, revelling in mysticism and ignorance? So what if one should have short hair and the next long, or one digs ditches while her neighbour prefers filling them?

Elpis: Without conceding the position – I still feel, still trust, that you sell them short – if things are as you say, that the hoi polloi possess some characteristics in common, why assume that these are in-born? Is it not just as likely, perhaps more so, that they are subject to them, moulded from birth and in no way deficient in fundament? This being the case, would it not be more appropriate to vent your hatred on the structure that provides the die?

Achlys: This cuts to the root of it – we know, given centuries of fact-gathering, of theorising, of proof, that that is the case. And yet! Who acts against their own interests more often and more faithfully than these, even in light of this knowledge? Who blithely disregards the better choice in favour of the expedient and the mesmeric at every opportunity?

Elpis: You talk of proof, and yet, what proof have you that this, this imperfection, this too is not product of the circumstances they find themselves in? All humanity is fallible, for they are but arms-length from their animalistic brethren. More fruitful, I think, is to see what has been thus far achieved, and what is still possible, waiting in the wings for its day to come! Do we not find ourselves in an era of plenty, with the ability, material and intellectual, to vault into the heavens themselves, leaving behind earthly limitations?

Achlys: It is true, ours is a peculiar moment – never before has there been such vast heaps of wealth, such easy plenitude. And I answer you – never too have such vast discrepancies lain between the possessor and the possessed! And where have the mighty schema gotten us? Terra itself chokes on the effluvium of industry! In full knowledge of their fore-coming doom do the people of the earth toil on, self-centred and self-focussed. They run to their deaths, as wanton as the leech that bursts from gorging, rupturing at the seams. Worse, for they at least have no ability to know better!

Elpis: My poor friend, you speak as if the day were later than it is. The horizon is overcast, it is true. Foolish to deny that. But, our vantage is situated. I ask you, when does the future not appear cloudy? We do not have the power of omniscience; our vision is delimited. Night has yet to fall, so why speak as if the clock is spun down already? Especially when there is much work to be done? The Great Game isn’t through yet, and – who knows? – there may still prove to be some way of up-ending the hourglass. Time enough, perhaps, to change the parameters and free your lower orders of their forced enfeeblement.

Achlys: Go forth, and savour disappointment all the greater when the moment comes. I will hold to my doubts.

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Posted on May 31, 2015, in Dialogues, Mauve Prose, Short(er) Stories and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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