Words on Parchment

Escher hands

I looked at the words that I had written on the page. They were good words. Well chosen and formed. But I puzzled about where they had really come from. So I asked the parchment upon which the words had been written.

But the parchment replied: “No sir! These words are nothing to do with me! I am a piece of compressed papyrus – nothing more! It’s that inkpot who’s responsible! She is a blot on this establishment! She comes and blackens my beautiful white surface…”

So I then asked the inkpot. But she replied: “Why – no sir! These words have nothing to do with me! I am just ink in a pot! It’s that quill – he comes over to me and uses my ink without so much as a by-your-leave…”

So I then asked the quill. But he replied: “You blame the tool over the hand that wields it? Fie on you! I’m a tool sir! A tool – nothing more! It’s that hand sir! The hand – he who wields me to do his work, making me scurry over the parchment whether I will or no…”

So I then asked the hand. But he replied: “Me? A bit of flesh and bone – that’s what I am! No different than a corpse – unless for those nerves inside me pulling the strings, just as they please. The nerve of it! I hardly ever get a rest as it is, always jumping about to their bidding…”

So I then asked the nerves. But they replied: “As if we know anything about it! We get our orders from higher up – we do as we’re told, that’s all. It’s the brain you need to talk to. That brain – thinks he’s on top of everything, he does. While we do all the hard work, he takes the credit…”

So I then asked the brain. But it replied: “You’re confusing me with someone else, sir. It’s all in the mind – that’s what it is. I’m just an open door for the mind to enter as he wishes. I keep the house tidy sir – that’s what I do. But the mind is a harsh taskmaster, he is…”

So I then asked the mind. But he replied: “I say – you’ve got the cart before the horse! I do what I’m told, that’s all! I do get to slip into places – but I take my orders direct from the intellect. Smart chap he is too: he knows all there is about it…”

So I then asked the intellect. But he replied: “Steady on, old boy! I’m just a lowly clerk in this here outfit. It’s the will that’s the top brass around here. Will he tell you what you want to know? Maybe he will, if you go ask…”

So I then asked the will. But he replied: “Well I never! I never have the slightest will in the matter unless consciousness gives me the all-clear. We both work well enough together – but I willingly acknowledge he’s the boss – I’m nothing without him being about…”

So I then asked the consciousness. But he replied: “What perfect cheek! But I won’t let anyone palm off their own responsibilities onto me like that. Everyone around here knows I report directly to soul. A pretty girl – but a demanding mistress – make no mistake! She’s the soul of this operation, she is…”

So I then asked the soul. But she replied: “Oh – I see what you’re about. And you are going the right way about it. But the spirit is top dog around here – he holds all the cards. A spirited chap too, he is right enough…”

So I then asked the spirit. But he replied: “Well – yes: I do write. But – no: not really. You see, I’m just one agent here – and not the most important, you understand. I need inspiration, you see: that’s what moves me to write anything at all. Inspiration – illumination – revelation: how could I write one word without it? It’s not the word – but the spirit that counts: and I owe it all to muse. She can tell you all about it…”

So I then asked the muse. But she replied: “Well, that’s not the whole story – spirit knows better than that! I inspire, illumine, and reveal – that’s all quite true. That’s my job, you know. But everything I give is first given to me from above: from a higher power, Providence. I’m subject to God Himself, you know – as all created beings are and must be…”

So I then asked God. And He replied: “All the days of your life were written in my book before one of them came to be. I make known the end from the beginning: from ancient days what is still to come. I am God – and there is none other like Me…”


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