“Walls of learning, indeed. Barbaric marauders, all of them. Such a peaceful, fertile land we all lived in, until you let those horrors in. We lost most of our numbers in the first ten years.”
Jack could barely believe what he was hearing but he sat transfixed, rooted to his chair and a hapless victim to the visions that the other Jack was running before his eyes. Yes, yes, he could see the atrocity of cramming in all those new ideas, dislodging the previous tenants. At that time it had felt exhilarating and he hadn’t spared a thought for what was being scattered. His mind, after all, was not a container but a bottomless sea that could house many different beings.
“Yes, maybe. There was enough space at least initially” said the other Jack, clearly seeing the big Jack’s thoughts swim through the visions he was conjuring up.
“But,” he continued, “They didn’t seem content with that. They had to vanquish every one of us, obliviate us from your memory in order to exist. An idea that eats up another idea isn’t an idea at all, it’s a parasite! And you let a horde of them take us over!”
“The right idea won out at the end. It’s the way of the world. Survival of the fittest.” said the Big Jack.
“Ah, that one. That’s one of the Darwin guy’s pets, isn’t it? And what did he know of imagination? What did he do except live with his head in the past and explain how things were then? What good did that do to your kind?”
“He was right. The better idea won, after all. If it couldn’t stand the test of reason, it didn’t deserve to exist.”
A loud gasp escaped the fat lady and the little Jack quivered in his miniscule shoes. When he spoke again, it was in the gruff voice of his grandfather.
“Bite your tongue, boy! A warrior will kill better than a poet. But a treasurer will pull a kingdom through famine in a way the warrior never will. Have you forgotten even that one? The golden edict?”