Minds Don’t Move: Inspired by G. K. Chesterton

Drained from incessant grilling by the army of reporters during the news conference, Mr. Slight was escorted out of the building and across the street by four older men in expensive, dark suits. Feeling a light drizzle on his face, Mr. Slight glanced at the lowering gray skies and heard the quick splash of his loafers on the pavement. His companions led him to a highly polished black door atop a stoop with three well-worn concrete steps. The sole bearded man in the group opened the door for Mr. Slight and invited him to enter the building first with a wave of his hand.firebirdofaphorisms

Beyond the door was a square anteroom, a dark hallway with sconces and rich oak panels. Directly opposite from the entrance was an enormous double door of oak. Somehow the bearded man stepped to the front again and opened the doors with both hands, and this time Mr. Slight followed into a room that glowed a rich red from the largest fireplace Mr. Slight had ever seen and it contained a blazing fire of alarming proportions.

The bearded man addressed Mr. Slight: “Please, make yourself comfortable and sit wherever you like.” He and his companions left the room by a side door.

Mr. Slight thought this simple instruction was easier said than done. Every couch and chair in the room, save one, had a tweed-coated occupant who was either engaged in conversation or cradling a snifter, or both. The room smelled of cigars though it was strangely free of smoke. The one available chair was a red leather wingback near the giant blaze. Beside the chair was a side table with a carafe of red liquid and a black lacquered cigar box. On the other side of the table was an identical wingback chair with a completely bald man sitting in it. In his right hand was an unlit cigar, and he balanced a partially full snifter of brandy on the cushion between his legs. To achieve this balancing act, only his toes touched the floor and were turned in such a way that he appeared pigeon-toed. Smiling, he waved the cigar toward the empty seat in a summoning gesture.

“Please sit down,” said the bald man. “And welcome to the Mossbunker Club. My name is Eggith. I am a retired professor of philosophy.”

“Thank you,” replied Mr. Slight with a smile that lived up to his name.

“I watched your press conference. You handled yourself well.” Eggith broke into a smile as he said this.

“What, did I not commit any non sequiturs?” asked Mr. Slight.

“Oh dear, I am afraid I don’t look for those. We philosophers are human beings after all and must live in the real world. Most talk is chatter to me, but when I must I will form a general impression of an oration in the form of its principle–if it has one.” Eggith laughed, though the joke was lost on Mr. Slight.

“Very interesting,” said Mr. Slight. “So how would you frame your general impression?”

Eggith narrowed his eyes and looked away thoughtfully. “Well, hmm. Yes, yes. Here it is…”

Eggith paused for a full ten seconds and then dramatically turned to Mr. Slight and looked him directly in the eyes. Mr. Slight could see his jaw muscles twitching. Egglith opened his mouth.

Minds don’t move,” Eggith said triumphantly.

Mr. Slight nodded his head slowly as if he understood this obscure comment. “Yes, yes, I think I see what you mean.” But he didn’t. This was sheer nonsense, and he wondered if Eggith was a bit cracked. He laughed at the thought.

“But then,” said Mr. Slight. “Before we get too hasty, You need to tell me whether the sense in which you used the word ‘move’ is intransitive or reflexive.” This was more nonsense, made up for effect. It hit the mark: Eggith nodded vigorously, as if he understood. Thus Mr. Slight pressed his case further. “If I say that I think minds are static, what then?”

Eggith’s features became completely screwed around on his face. Starting with his ears, his entire countenance, chameleon-like, reddened until his head looked like a great tomato with white eyebrows. He stood to his feet more violently than abruptly. Mr. Slight’s sight was drawn to Eggith’s hands. He noticed that they were unnaturally small, and now he clenched them tightly into little balls so that his arms looked like two enormous tweed matchsticks. He thrust his arms forward so that they were suddenly extended straight in front of him. “So here is our angry philosopher,” thought Mr. Slight. “Insane with the continually buried pain and resentment of being unloved, if not abused.” These musings were interrupted by an outburst from Eggith that ended his flourishing of contortions.

“No! Minds are filtered receptors of the One Mind!” bellowed Eggith, and he turned on his heel and fled the room. Sixty or more astonished eyes crowned silent, gaping mouths as the heavy oak doors crashed behind him. Mr. Slight’s eyes were on the cigar box as he lifted the polished lid.

“Well,” he whispered. “This dream is over.”