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A Cashmirian Tale

Translated from the Cashmirian and Edited by C.C., Ph.D.

Many eons ago, when the world was younger but no less wise, a meeting was held at the Center of Intellect [The equivalent of our modern university (Tr.).] of Cashmir by some puzzled and some irate Inquirers [The equivalent of our modern professors (Tr.)].  Since they had spent their time and their energy in the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge, they had only the most tenuous grasp on the more important things of life.  For example, they had heard of Responsibility Centers, but they had dimly supposed them to be like unto recreation centers; that is, places where one went to get some. Those few Inquirers who had given the matter some thought quickly concluded that they already had enough responsibility, and so dismissed the subject from their minds. The day came, however, when it was made plain to them that these Responsibility Centers were areas within the Center of Intellect [See above (Tr.).] which were charged by sovereign decree of the Mouphti [The equivalent of our modern administrators (Tr.).] with generating the riches necessary for the continuation of their own functions. It was this stunning revelation which had brought the Inquirers [Remember (Tr.)?] together. It was generally agreed that the idea of Inquirers as wealth-generators could arise only in the mind of a keeper of a bazaar [The equivalent of our modern discount supermarket (Tr.).], but for much time this was the only agreement to which they came. Suggestions for wealth-generation, like guaranteed-success seminars, riotous debauches in nearby Konshohocken [A famous Cashmirian pleasure resort (Tr.).], sinuous nautch-dancers on lecture platforms, and the giving of Green Sticky-Squares [Some sort of gift (Tr.).] to enrollees, were greeted with unpleasant lip-sounds [One supposes that these were not unlike our contemporary "Bronx cheer" (Tr.).]. Then, an Inquirer in Impossible Languages [A term used in ancient Cashmir to refer to all foreign tongues and to the native tongue when employed by others (Tr.).] gave voice to what seemed to him to be a good idea. "Why not," he asked, "make of the Mouphti a Responsibility Center?" "Nonsense!" retorted an Inquirer in Low-Temperature Magic [The equivalent of a branch of what is now called physics (Tr.).]. "What do Mouphti have to do with generating riches for their own functioning?" What do we have to do with that sort of thing?" asked the first Inquirer. Logic forced his interlocutor first into silence and then into acquiescence. The Mouphti were petitioned in due course to constitute themselves a Responsibility Center. With the objective even-handedness that characterized them, they saw the logic of the request, and complied. The Grand Mouphti [the equivalent of our modern university president (Tr.).] began to charge a fee for his ceremonial orations. The Sub-Mouphti who dealt with Captive Learners [I.e., undergraduates, one supposes (Tr.).] began to charge them individually for these services. And so it went. But at the end of the year, in spite of their best efforts, it was clear that they were hopelessly short of generating the equivalent of the riches they had consumed. With the objective even-handedness that characterized them, they voted themselves out of existence. Their absence, to which the Inquirers and Captive Learners were completely oblivious for some time, was discovered by the Great Visitors [The equivalent of our contemporary trustees (Tr.).] during their next great visit, after much irritating searching of the halls of the Center, and this prompted a long discussion on their part, during which they concluded that, having begun to think in terms of riches, they would be remiss only if they failed to pursue this goal with all diligence. Consequently, they transformed the Center of Intellect into a center for the Cultivation of the Unconscious and Transcendental Woolgathering [The meaning of this phrase is unknown (Tr.).]. Presided over by a round adolescent, the new Center generated great riches, and grass was made to grow between its paved walks. Once again, to use the words of the divine Vichtoiu, a Great Good had come from a Small Evil.

Originally published in Almanac December 18, 1973.




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