There is a place that I should much like you to know of, though you in your better wisdom should wish to know it not. And were it not a real place, I would be entirely content to write of it and relieve my weary heart. But that it is real, I am forbidden to so do.
So I will write of it as if it were a fantasy, and in the mystery of your mind’s enchanted places, the vision of my story will reside—for you to judge and give it life or death, that if you let it live, and believe it to be truth, you alone will be to blame for this outrageous, unlawful act.
If you are to come to know this place that may or may not be real, you must first begin to understand the Royal Courts of Wise Men.
If I am not lying to you, the Royal Courts have been around for many a millennium, providing wisdom for the fool and ruling over all the earth. Many a man who has lost his way has come across the Courts, and with a trembling soul and desperate heart, he enters. There he finds the Noble Men who sit in the seats of mockers, and when he pleads his case before them, it is not until after much scornful laughter and disdainful condemnation that they take his soul’s adversity and put it in a box. They package it with proverbs and tie it shut with merit, and with this done they give it back and send him on his way.
He leaves in utter confusion, not sure if he should be sad or glad. He cannot tell whether the Royal Men were his dearest guides and friends or his tyrannical adversaries. Of only one thing is he certain: he will not reject their advice, which seems more like commands, for it has relieved him of his duty to think, and for this he is very grateful.
So do men come in and out of the Royal Courts in an assembly line of ignorance, and in those days—if there ever were such days, for remember, all of this is only true if you let it be—there was such a man who came to the Courts in desperate search for wisdom, for his heart had bore a grief much greater than it could hold.
And so the man came, in utter despair, through the forest of confusion; in lonely, solemn march, he made his way through those dark and winding woods. So thick and dense is the foliage that none who enter can hope to keep their bearings. Lost and wandering in aimless surrender, he came upon the Courts. Looking up he saw their construct towering above him as high as to the heavens, promising answers from the secrete places, and he, at the end of his will’s determination, seized the door and pulled it open with a force that came from the bowels of his heavy heart.
Upon his so dong, the massive doors began to open on their own, as if compelled by fate or moved by the supernatural force of wisdom.
With caution, he entered and beheld the most glorious sight his eyes had ever seen, for before him stood the Royal Courts in such majesty. He gazed across the endless palace ceiling decorated with Royal paintings and scenes of such beauty that the pen would reach beyond his means to try to write them down. The Court was structured with magnificent ionic columns and ornamentations of silver and gold that, from the outer perimeter, grew thicker and thicker until, at the centre, the room expanded into an immense flood of space with a domed ceiling of infinite hight, equipped with many skylights through which shown a sun that seemed much brighter than the one that barely graced the forest floor outside, all rising upward, ever upward. And at the very centre were three monstrous thrones upon the high tops of which sat the Counsel of Wise Men.
Our weary pilgrim, in speechlessness at the sight, fell on his face before the thrones in grievous, piteous solicitation. The Wise Men looked down on him. They saw his wrinkled tunic and equally worn brow, and taking him to be a common beggar, poor in wisdom as he was in wealth, they asked him his desire. And trembling, he lifted his head to try to speak, but no words would come out. At this, the man on the middle throne, whose voice was like thunder, commanded him, “Rise humble servant. What is it you wish?”
And rising to his feet, the peasant pleaded, “I have come, o noble ones, in want of an answer to my endless woe, that I might ease me of my pain.”
At this, the wise man on the left, seeing that the poor man had noble desires and being well pleased at so virtuous a solicitation, said to him, “It is good of you to seek the advice of wiser men, and we, as friends, shall be glad to grant you help. Please proceed. How came you to this state of desperation?”
The lesser man replied, “It was not long ago that I used to dwell in the safer hidden caves of this world, living there in silence and safety. Daily I secluded myself in their mysterious crevasses, taking care to never bother another soul. Though others called me selfish, ignorant, and dead to life, I was, for a long time, perfectly content with my invisible life, or non-life, of secrecy. I think I should have gladly gone on in that secluded state to this day if I had been so allowed, for I had no desire to leave.”
The man paused as if unsure he could go on, for the painful memory of his tragedy, he thought, would surely grab his tongue, shortly, and forbid him speak it. But the wise man on the right, who spoke in a gentle whisper encouraged him to continue, “How did it happen, then, that you should find yourself here? What demon’s curse could have compelled you from your blissful state?”
“No demon’s curse!” the man rebuked him, forgetting himself and his respect for the Royal Court, “but divine blessing of beauty beyond compare withdrew me from my cave.
“It was a glorious evening.” he continued, easing his tone, “The sun was setting on the horizon, painting every tree and plant a fiery shade of red and gold. The warm summer’s air blew fragilely across the landscape, hesitating before entering my cave with a gracefulness that was only mildly dampened by the harsh construct of the rocks. Moved by the sweet fragrance of lilies, as many are often moved, I thought it would be good to enjoy the evening’s air and peek to see what beautiful scene must lie beyond my cavern. I crept with caution to the mouth of the rock, a decision I would forever regret, and leaned against a protruding stalagmite to grace my eyes with the vision that lay beyond.”
“Aye, so it was the sun that drew you out” said the wise one on the left.
“No,” responded the amiable fool, “it was something much more than I could ever have imagined, for just outside my dark and hollow cave, I saw the most glorious angel that heaven could design. Her brown hair, tinted gold with the sun’s gentle beams, danced in the wind while she walked, as one of divine origin, through the open field, admiring the breathtaking view. Her delicate figure and grace was surly something of heaven, for the world is not equipped with such tender beauty. In her hand, she held a bouquet of lilies that she must have found among the many that were growing in the field. Though they smelled like heaven, and the evening looked more majestical than the glory of Rome, none compared to the incomprehensible beauty that I saw in her. And as she looked upon the field in awe, so did I look upon her.
“At last, I could bear it no more; I had to go become a part of her. Without thinking twice, I left the comfort of my home, which now seemed a prison, and pursued her with all my heart. When I had reached her across the field, I placed my hand on her shoulder. She turned and unveiled to me her divinely beauteous face that seemed to shine on me with beams from heaven itself. I felt my knees grow weak, and I could not speak.
“I wished to tell her how radiant she was. How her face was like the sun, and her body like that of a goddess. I wanted to tell her that she, a nymph, was the most glorious thing my eyes had ever beheld and that I had not known joy until that very moment. I wanted to ask her to never leave me but always stay, that I could provide for her every need and grant her every wish. I longed to tell her so much, but all I could not, for my breath had left me.
“Gentlemen, I may not be a nobleman of wisdom, but I do know this: the sun sets. And once it does, all that’s left is darkness.”
Upon saying this, the man grew silent, as if his words had run out like a music box whose spring becomes slack, and he began to weep. But the man with the thunderous voice roared, “You fool! You should have never left the cave, for the cave is small, and one may know its structure well and in it, may never get lost. But the end of the cave is the end of wisdom, and to leave was utter folly.”
“When you departed,” added the one on the left, “you left the one place where you were sure to live in peace. You should have never gazed over the edge of that rock, for the rock was all that kept you safe from this vain illusion.”
“This fantasy is folly,” whispered the one on the right, “and your overlooking your ignorance is what caused your vain desire. If you hadn’t left, you would never have desired that which you cannot have.”
“You must return,” the middle one thundered, “to your cave, even if it seems a hell, for you brought this on yourself, and for it you must pay. Away! To your prison!”
The man could not believe the words he heard, and he chose to believe them not. “No,” he said, “you misunderstand me. My mistake was not seeing her but remaining mute before her. I would never take away my memory of her, but the grief I bear is because I am a coward and would not speak.”
“You fool!” the council rebuked him again, “there is no sense in what you say, for she was an illusion. She was not joy, but the destroyer of happiness, for she lay beyond the reach of wisdom.”
Though the memory of his cowardly act gave the peasant much grief, this thought gave him more, and so he drew his breath in pain: “Well perhaps that’s what joy is,” he replied, “perhaps joy is the destroyer of all happiness, who lies beyond the reach of wisdom.”
And for that thought alone, the man was exiled to the place that isn’t real—the place where cowards are sent for crimes of treason and folly.
For the Noble Wise-Men of the Court, if there were such men, were very joyous, and all who said otherwise, if there were such people, were guilty of high treason and sent away to the place that lie beyond that kingdom ruled by wisdom, a place which, if there is such a place, must be dreadfully miserable, for there could be no happiness there.
However, my dear reader, there probably isn’t such a place, and all this probably never happened, so don’t let it bother you too much. For it, lying beyond the reach of reality, cannot bring much joy because it is the destroyer of all happiness, and only a coward would choose anything over happiness, and only a fool would believe such a thing exists.