Category Archives: Itsy & the Infinite Web

Itsy & The Infinite Web 7: Hands In The Palm Of The Head

The three walked silently down the long reflective hall past many, many indistinguishable doors for what seemed like an overlong time.  Finally one of the doors flew open and out stumbled a giraffe in a long lab coat. He saw them and stopped in his tracks, bewildered.

“Oh!  Hello!  I didn’t know we had visitors.  I’m the division head here. Did you know that six hundred and seventy two orangutans in seven piles would put precisely ninety six apes in each?  I thought you would not. Allow me to show you around or two,” he said, chuckling at his little joke as he continued across the hall to the door opposite the other, which he opened, revealing another giraffe in a lab coat.  “This is my disassociate.”

No I’m not!  I’ve never seen this giraffe before in my life!  This isn’t the time or the place!  I’m not here right now, but you can leave me a message after the beep,” stammered the second giraffe, clearly surprised and upset.

“On second thought,” the division head said, carefully closing the door in the disassociate’s face, “let’s go over here, instead,” and he walked back across the hall to a third door and opened it.

The silence of the hall was filled by a sea of sounds.  The giraffe ushered them into a gigantic factory full of humming and buzzing machines, swarming with attendants in white hazard suits and thick yellow gloves.  They worked away in all shapes and sizes, with little way to distinguish their species. The division head led the tripartite tour group through the room and between the machines, clasping his hooves together as if he had a firm grasp of the situation, and gazing upward from the top of his long neck as if the ceiling held secret answers no one else could see.  He began to lecture the three, presumably to guide the tour.

“Have you ever wondered to yourself: Who are all these fools and jerks?  Where do they find them all?  Is there some sort of competition to be this stupid, or can anybody do it if they know the right people?  Clearly it takes all kinds, and not just the kind kind of kinds.  We know our world is full of fools and jerks, yet many important questions remain unanswered.  Are jerks merely fools of a certain feather? Are fools always fooled by jerks?  Can fools or jerks be contained or counteracted through the proper use of institutions, or is it always a losing battle?  Here at Establishment Labs, we are first and foremost in these fundamental studies.

Sometimes we say things, others agree, we put them in practice, and things work out, but there are also times that all this happens and not a single thing works out, sometimes because of fools, sometimes because of jerks, and sometimes just because.  Then there are times when we say things and nobody agrees, times we can’t do anything right, and times when we say things as if we don’t mean them, sometimes because of fools and jerks, and sometimes just because.  Because of all that, we haven’t completely extracted fools or jerks from anything yet.

We now know, after extensive, objective analysis, that fools and jerks are sub-composed of solids, liquids and gases: food, water and air, irrespectively.  Unfortunately this does nothing to isolate them from or contain them within the general population.  There are even those who theorize that fools and jerks are indistinguishable from ordinary folks like us, but that could mean…” and here he trailed off, bit his lip, and motioned for them to huddle together, his eyes darting nervously around the room, lowering his higher head carefully down to their level.  “We could be surrounded by fools and jerks, right now,” he whispered, “ IN THIS VERY ROOM!

HELLO MARSHMALLOW!” sang Joy to one of the suited attendants, who fell backwards in fear and curled up into a ball on the floor, covering masked head in massive gloves.

“Oh, you don’t want to talk to the hands,” said the division head.  “They aren’t trained to communicate. We carefully breed them to have no life outside the lab.  They live and work in arranged pairs, taking turns working and sleeping. One hand washes the other, feeds the other, sends the other up here to work, and then they rotate.  They don’t interact with others, other than that.  You should really only speak to me, or any of the other division heads.  We divide people and things, and speak for them.”

“Typically, things can’t speak,” said Itsy with a questioning gaze.

“Actually, science, religion, politics, philosophy, history, art and all sorts of things say all sorts of things, but they have to say them through us, the analysts.  We specialize in everything.  We envision how things are, and put the tune to words.”

Itsy & The Infinite Web 6: You’re In & You’re Out

As the three reached the end of the road, they passed underneath a large sign that said: ESTABLISHMENT LABORATORIES – Distilling Life to Fortify our World!

Beyond the gate the tower was towering, wide with many sides and tall with many stories.  The three approached two huge doors covered in golden symbols. Prudence examined the door while Itsy watched Joy sail her boat through the air and make motor noises.

“Ah, here we are!” said Prudence as she pushed a large X that produced a small chime.  “The bell tolls for these.”

The doors swung open outwards and with them came two guards, both large bears, covered with badges and medals, as if highly decorated after countless past battles.  The guard on the right had a hat that said “Out Warden”, and the guard on the left had a hat that said ‘“In Warden”. The two stood shoulder to shoulder in the doorway, glaring at the three inquirers.

“Alright, stop right there, all of you!” demanded the Out Warden.  “You’re clearly all outside, and thus are not to be trusted!”

“Yes!” agreed the In Warden, “Stop right here, and come inside immediately!

YES,” shouted Out, “Stop and… Wait, what?  NO!  We were told to keep everyone OUT who was out, and by someone up high inside!”

“No we weren’t!” IN ‘sisted.  “I spoke to several superiors and THEY want everyone IN!

WHO HIRED YOU?!?” exclaimed OUT.  “They can’t have clearance!  What kind of guard keeps everyone in?”

Prison guards?” suggested Prudence, trying to keep Joy from climbing between them, using their ribbons for grips and footing.  “JOY!  These people are not toys.  They are serious tools.”

“And what if one of them has a knife, HUH?” thrusted OUT, as oblivious as IN to the upwardly mobile duckling.  “Should we give everyone a group hug to check for weapons, you long-haired anarchist?  Remember, I’m the old guard here.”

“Anarchy?  ME?!?” IN ‘quisitioned with surprise.  “You’re the one who lets dangerous strangers run around without supervision!  If any of them is armed, we should make sure to look in on them, not leave them out here without any oversight!”

“Between the two of you,” Itsy intervened, “you must let some in and some out some of the time.  Otherwise, seal the door shut and there’s no need for guards.”

The two stared at Itsy and then at each other, while Prudence tried to stop Joy from cramming as many medals as she could into her mouth.

“How about we compromise,” thought OUT out loud.  “She can get in, or her or her!

“Finally we’re getting somewhere,” IN vented with frustration, and pointed to Prudence and Itsy with two claws.  “You and you, get IN here!”

“No,” said OUT.  “I said her OR her, OR her!”

“Right!” said IN.  “So her AND her, NOT her!”

“No, no, NO!” screamed OUT.  “What part of OR don’t you understand!”

“If the choice is mine to make, you silly screaming person, then I could choose her, her or her, or her and her, her and her, or her and her.  I could choose her and her AND THE SPIDER, but I’m trying to compromise!” said IN, completely exhausted.

Prudence pried the slimy ball of ribbons from Joy’s mouth, tossed them safely aside, and pulled a sandwich out of her coat.  “Perhaps you could share this?” she suggested.

Both bears eyed the sandwich.

“I say one of us eats it or nobody eats it,” said the Out Warden.

“And I say both of us eats it or nobody eats it,” said the In Warden.

“So you both agree that nobody eats it,” concluded Prudence.

NOT NECESSARILY!” the two passionately objected together.

They turned to and on each other, both hungry but both stubborn, arguing over the standing practices of when and how sandwiches are shared that lasted far longer than it would have taken for either or both to simply eat the sandwich.

Itsy, interested in neither side and now bored, slid beneath their disagreement, and the other two followed her through the door and down a long reflective hall.  Prudence left the sandwich on the doorstep between the arguing guards, though this clearly bothered her.

“See that!  Three more got in!  That’s YOUR FAULT!” said OUT as an echo down the hall.

My fault?  First of all, I win!” said IN, another echo.  “Second to none, you were distracting us!”

“They barely listen,” sighed Prudence, “either to us or to each other.”

“I’m not really sure what we’re getting into exactly,” said Itsy, glancing back towards the doors, “It certainly looks like we’re in for a long haul, but thanks for getting us in the door, Prudence.”

“Not a problem,” replied the swan calmly.  “Everyone fights over truth as if it’s the last sandwich on earth, or on wheat, on Dutch crunch… JOY! Don’t lick the walls!  You don’t know where they’ve been!

Itsy & The Infinite Web 3: Anywhere To Any There

As Itsy crested over a tree-covered hill, she saw a fox in a hat and another in his fur both perched beside a pile of supplies overlooking a chasm filled with thick fog.

 

“Greetings!” said the hatted.  “I wonder if you might assist us.  We are building a bridge from here to THERE.”  He pointed off into the fog, towards nothing Itsy could see.

“Yeah, and we could knock it over, but we’ve made other finer, fancier plans!” said the other, beaming at his hatted brother.

“Yes, as amusing as that might be,” said the hatted, “we’ve decided the bridge should stand properly, at least for some decent length of time.”

“Yeah, at least until we get to THERE,” said the unhatted with a confident nod of his head.

“Where?” asked Itsy, shading her eight eyes with her favored leg and scanning the horizon, seeing nothing beyond the jungle and fog.

THERE!” they cried and pointed, together in the same direction.

“And what will you do when you get to this “there”?” asked Itsy.

The two looked at each other, confused, then together at Itsy, then off into the fog in widely and wildly different directions.

“We’ll build another bridge… back to HERE!” the unhatted triumphantly volunteered.

“No, certainly not,” said the hatted.  “We’ll already have done that!”

“Oh… yeah…” the unhatted admitted.

The hatted looked at the other annoyed, then at Itsy.  “Look here!  We’re not going to get this bridge built if we all just stand around speculating.”

“I’m not building anything anymore,” said Itsy, “not with anyone, two or three even.  I built my web, by myself, over an over-long time, and now I go wherever I please, letting others build whatever they want.  It’s plenty for me to go on.”

“Must be nice!” said the unhatted.  “Going THERE whenever you please, and back HERE again whenever you don’t!”

“It certainly sounds divine,” agreed the hatted.  “Perhaps when we two get over to THERE, you’ll be THERE with us too!”

 

Itsy looked at them both, quite confused.  “I don’t go merely HERE and THERE, but anywhere, to any there!”

“Wait, where?” said the unhatted, clearly puzzled.  “There’s no wheres other than THERE and HERE!

“Actually, there are many wheres,” said Itsy.  “I’m doubtless they’re countless.”

Really!” said the hatted, clearly intrigued, stroking his trimmed whiskers with interest.  “Then if we build our bridge… over-long,” he looked over to Itsy to check his correctness, “we will not only get THERE, but another THERE beyond THAT!

“Now, hold on for one fine and fancy minute!” said the unhatted, panicked. “I’m not so sure and certain I want to leave HERE now!”

“Well, we certainly have to get somewhere,” reasoned the hatted.

WHY?!?” screamed the other, clutching his hatless head with both hands in sheer terror.

“Now, now, and here, here,” said the fox in said hat.  “Everyone knows the world works a particular way, therefore we work a particular way.  It’s common logic.”

“Does the world really work?” asked the other.  “It just sits around, really.”

“The world works because it has purpose!” insisted the hatted.  “Rocks have purposes! Pillars have purposes! It’s only up, or THERE, from HERE!  There’s no need for downtime!  A bit of work will cheer you up!  Let’s start with a pillar, a fine and firm foundation!”

The other fox thought this over in silence, then turned to the pile, dragged out a pillar and placed it squarely in the direction of THERE.  “Pillar in place,” he affirmed.

“And, let’s add a beam!” said the hatted fox with a renewed confidence in their common project.

The other sulked back to the pile, found a beam, dragged it and lifted it onto the pillar, though slowly.  “Beam, balanced,” he said in a lower voice than before.

“And, to ceremoniously complete the first section of what I am sure will be a monumental bridge, we must have a slab!” the hatted cried with delight.  “Something to support our walking weight.”

The other turned and stared at pile, then shuffled over to drag out a slab, but instead of balancing it on top of the beam, he laid down on the slab looking hopelessness, and said nothing.

 

The hatted looked mad.  “What, do you gather, is the problem?”

“I don’t think I’m going to gather anymore,” said the fox without coverage.  “Why should I bring you a slab? What’s my motivation?  Why should a slab determine my existence?”

“Because without work there is no purpose, and without purpose there is no sustenance, and without sustenance there is no existence,” said the fox from the shade of his hat.

“Well, if I keel over and die, at least there’s this slab,” said the other.

“This is serious!” said the hatted.  “We must proceed with the series!”

“I don’t see why,” said the other from the comfort of his slab.

“If we’ve already begun, we must somehow agree!” said the hatted.

“I don’t recall us agreeing to anything, other than getting to THERE,” said the other.

“It is imperially imperative,” the hatted growled, “that we build one bridge to SOMEWHERE!

“Why a bridge?” asked the other.  “Why not a tower, or a tunnel, or a shallow trench to die in?”

“Because there is a serious and proper way to do things!” said the orderer.

The orderly stroked his whiskers, then shook his head.  “That doesn’t seem entirely clear.”

The hatted clenched his teeth.  “There’s only one way to do one and two: One and one are two,” he said, pointing first to himself with one paw, then to the other with the other, then bringing the two together like a little bridge that illustrated his point quite nicely.  “At least we agree with that!”

“I’ve heard one and one can be three, if you’re not careful,” said the fox on the slab.  “Sometimes one and nothing are one, and other times one and nothing are ten, and sometimes they’re even nothing at all, if you stack ‘em right.”

ARE YOU GOING TO BUILD THIS WAY WITH ME OR NOT?” the hatted shot back.

The reclined crossed his arms on his chest and declined.  “Convince me.”

“Well, isn’t this a kick in the two on all fours!” spat the hatted, unhatting himself in frustration.  He twisted his hat back and forth in his hands as if he didn’t know what to do with it, then slowly put it back on his head and gathered himself.  “Let’s start again, as we haven’t started much yet. Let us agree that one and two are three.”

Maybe,” said the other at rest.

“Oh, come on,” said the rehatted.  “If I have one thing, and you have two, then we certainly and unquestionably have three between us!”

“What if one gets lost or broken?” said the other, sitting up, who eyed his own other with narrowing suspicion. “Even worse, what if something is stolen?”

“If we both work together, that shouldn’t happen,” said the fox with both hands on his hat.

PROVE IT!” said the fox who stood up from his slab.

“Well, I suppose I should get going,” said Itsy.  She figured this back and forth would last a very long time or a terribly short one.  “I have things to find and do once I find them, but I’ll be happy to see your bridge, tower or trench if you reach an agreement.”

Itsy slid onward into the fog beyond, leaving the two and the hat and the slab behind, unsure if she would ever see any again.  “I have no more time to give an opposed pair of fox and must be on my way and my web.”

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