The Route to Never (III/IV)

Posted on September 15, 2005 by Jenna

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Sing, muse, of the sacred path to Never; of the guides that led men and gods there in the ancient days, of the guides that now are blind.

There is a place where the sea is strange and its smells are strange and its waves are not the waves one feels in other places. There is a place where the sun beats strangely down and the sound of the surf is chaos.

There you must take a man who knows of sight but cannot see—a man, a woman, even a child, though children are not best. You must beseech them, there, and flatter them, for it is only in their grace that Never may be found.

Cut down the fruit of some fruit-bearing tree; bring them the wine of the vineyard; give them cold sweet delicacies to ply their mind and loosen their vision.

Then take their hand and walk with them into the tide.

They are not just any men, who make their maps of blind man’s country. They are precise and they are delicate in their work. They must know the land and sea through which they travel. They must know it in their bones. They must scribe it for you, in words or with their hand, marking on the parchment of the map the route you travel.

They must tell you as they walk of the stories of the place. They must say, “I feel the wind to the west.”

They must say, “There is a stone underfoot. I know this stone. I have trod on it before.”

They must say, “This is the knife of Apollo that beats upon our backs.”

And they must tell you the stories of these things.

They must stumble not through the land of ignorance but through the land of knowing.

And they must be wrong.

The wrongness must build. You must hold your tongue on it at first but as time goes by you must raise it ever more urgently in their mind.

They must cling to their certainty of place as the map grows ever convolute.

Then they will take you to Never. Then they will see that point of contradiction that is unbearable; that point where they at last let go of being anywhere that guides do know; and say, with the deadly earnest of a leveled sword, “We are at New. We are at New, amidst the clarity of shape, in the harbor at the gates of Never.”