One day a great debate arose at the animal council: What is the Sun? Giraffe said it was a shining golden city in the sky. Crane scoffed and responded with a long-winded reply about how the whole exterior of the universe was on fire but was blocked from view by a layer of light blue tissue paper with a single, moving pinhole. Buffalo said it was nothing more or less than God Himself.

The animals debated for quite some time until a raspy, small voice spoke up, saying,

“The Sun does not exist.” Everyone turned, stopped talking and Rhino asked the speaker to repeat himself. “The Sun does not exist,” Mole said with greater boldness. The animals listened somewhat incredulously as Mole expanded on his thesis. “You think that the sun exists because you feel warmth in the day corresponding to its presence, and because you see it rise and set with predictable regularity, if not great precision,” Mole continued. “But what are your eyes, anyway? Don’t these organs you rely on trick you constantly? You see water on the horizon where there is none, and every single one of you has some pigmentation, or arrangement of feather and limbs, that you know are sure to betray the eyes of your enemies. Not only do your eyes deceive you, but you know this must be so.”

“I myself was born blind,” Mole said, really coming into himself, “and therefore am not susceptible to the folly of Seers. I know only what I can touch. Do I feel warmth during what we call the day? Of course. But sometimes deep in the Earth I feel a rumbling, and warmth coming from below. And there is of course the warmth of my own body. I can no more explain these than I can the supposed warmth of the Sun, and as we know that our eyes cannot be relied on, there is no value to the correlation you observe. You must therefore conclude that the Sun is an illusion, or if not so, that at least it is impossible to know if there is a Sun or not.”

The animals were astonished by this argument. “If there is no Sun,” said Baboon as he articulated what the other animals could only sense, “then this debate is pointless. And if this debate is pointless and the Sun does not exist, then everything we suppose about the Sun and the life it gives is not, even our very selves.”

“Not so!” said Mole. “As I said, even one blind as I am still knows what he can touch. This is the sense that you may rely on. Cold, hot, wet, dry, hard soft… you can understand the world through this, not to mention smell and taste, and hearing.”

“Yes,” acquiesced Baboon, “but seeing is so much of who we are, so much stronger than our other senses. What should we do if we cannot believe our eyes?”

“Dig,” replied Mole, succinctly, even gravely. “Dig and live in the Earth as I do. Free from your illusions, free to understand the world as it is, not merely as you pretend it to be.”

There were some protestations, but no one could refute Mole’s logic. So every animal began his hovel. Some of the largest animals (and therefore those with the largest eyes) had to dig so deep to avoid the so-called Sun that they could not build holes large enough to connect all one to another. Therefore, the elephants and hippos concluded that they must live alone to make it easier on everyone. Others, like the lions, were used to working together but found it too difficult to coordinate on something so unnatural to them. Worse than the large animals, they tried to stay together and fought until they drove themselves to kill each other. One thing was certain. when Buffalo had dug himself deep enough he realized Mole was right: deep in the darkness of the Earth you finally understand there is no Sun.

Of course, only one animal already knew how to live underground and blind. Every animal made sure to build his lair close to Mole’s and they all build tunnels to communicate with his. When all the work was done the word got around that there would be a council in Mole’s hovel in the evening. Rhino was especially interested to hear what he had to say. The wet, cramped space seemed so much less pleasant than the other council had in the fields, but Rhino supposed that must be an illusion too, and shrugged off his discomfort.

Everyone quieted down as Mole began, “My friends, I am so glad to finally have you here tonight. You all have no idea how long I’ve desired to have some company, and may I compliment you on having the wisdom to live down here. I know there are still some folks up top -as we say down here- who think they are happier for living under their supposed Sun, but we know their lives are a farce, and we are the better for it.”

Mole cleared his throat, “Ahem, now to address the subject of tonight’s council. This is a problem that has plagued me for some time, and I am glad to have so many to help with it, especially the wisest of all animals, those who now live underground.” Mole looked down for a just a moment to make sure that he formulated his proposition precisely, “What is dirt? Is it crushed up rock or some other substance? Any ideas?”


[From Friend of the JG James]

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