But one fact has not one single but in most cases very many opposites and bewildered common sense cannot indeed know which of the many untruths is to be selected. As I have already mentioned, the sane mind knows only that white must never be said to be white, but he never knows which is the obligatory colour.
Nonetheless there is one case where the Behins' opinion can be calculated, namely in matters where there is only one opposite.
An already familiar example is suffering, the only opposite of which is pleasure. In this regard I could reason almost always with certainty, and had I spent more time among them, I would have discovered by myself that the thorny chair caused pleasure while to sit in a cushioned armchair was suffering, or if a kemon tore off a kona's ear that was pleasure but having spirituality was suffering.
Similarly inevitably, the opposites seriousness and laughter belonged to each other; of these I will write a few words in the present chapter. And, indeed, the Behins always laughed at the completely serious things that made sense, while at things which they termed deep and serious the sober European would have laughed his head off.
I came to discover this regularity by a wretched adventure. When walking in the yard on one occasion, my attention was caught by a man running in fear. He rushed straight towards me shouting, "Help! Help! Danger at the gates!"
I myself became terrified; I thought lava was pouring from the hillside or a flood was about to inundate us.
"What is it? What's happened?" I asked excitedly.
"There... there... " he panted, "round the corner... a wicked assailant... a damned fire-raiser... "
"What is it, what did he do?" I urged him.
"With a chalk. .. "
"With a chalk?"
"Yes, he drew a diagonal into the square!"
I may say I hadn't had such a hearty laugh for a long time.
"Lamik!" he said in deep contempt and ran on.
But in less than a minute a host of raging Behins came running back with him and they chased over hedge and ditch the hapless creature who had outraged the square.
On another occasion after work I was walking at the very end of the yard and from under the eaves of a detached house I saw smoke billowing out. Down, near the wall, in a bundle were the remains of a burnt fire-brand still smouldering. Obviously the house had not caught fire by itself.
I saw that immediate help was needed before the wind carried the glowing embers over to the Behins' inflammable botched up buildings. I began to run and shouted:
"Help! Help! Fire!"
I thought if such a trifle had moved so large a crowd, then a real danger, a true conflagration, would raise thousands. Indeed, a whole lot of konas ran towards me. "What is it? What's happened?" they shouted.
"There... there... " I panted, "some fire-raiser."
"What did he do?" they asked in indignation.
"He set a house on fire."
At this moment an enormous tongue of flame darted up.
"There..." I said, "a house is burning."
"But why is there danger?" they queried.
"Well, if a house is burning, is that not enough danger?", They looked at it.
"That is a kona's flat and it cannot burn," they said, "because with the kona there is order. And, as for you, don't play the fool or you'll find yourself in trouble."
The house, of course, burned to the ground.
But that is not the end of my story.
Later, I mentioned the event to Zemoeki in indignation, but instead of being shocked, he laughed at me and said that, although my behaviour had been perhaps comic, the next time I had better not disturb the kona's peace with false alarms.
"False alarm?" I asked with my eyes wide open. "Why false alarm if the house was indeed in flames?"
"No house can ever be in flames within the kona, because the houses are of iron. with us and are built on rock."
I did not understand how a Behin could say such a thing where there was every possibility to see what wretched hovels they built of boards and mud; veritable fire traps. However, when I remarked that I had been present at the fire, and had seen the thatched roof and the flames with my own eyes, he warned me severely that it was forbidden to say such a thing because it was arson, and called my attention to a paragraph of law that severely punished the arsonist.
I was completely stupefied, but realized that any further debate would be fruitless. I noted that the fire-raiser was one who cried fire when there really was one.
With this, however, I began to see the light, and became conscious of the above thesis. That is, arsonists and firemen. are the sole and exclusive opposites of each other so in this case the Behin way of thinking was calculable.
Suddenly I asked Zemoeki whether there was a book dealing with the Behins' mode of thinking.
His, face brightened, he praised me for at last showing interest in rational thinking and suggested that I should read, the works by some of the more remarkable phosophs, from which I would learn very serious and extremely important things.
After all this the phosophs' works began to interest me. Although I guessed in advance that I was looking forward to some hair-raising stupidities, I thought that it was only with. a description of the whole range of symptoms of the Behinic disease that I should be able to perform a significant service to science, so I boldly set about studying the works of the phosophs.
I can safely say that I have not come to regret it.. If all the humorists of Europe were to cooperate, they would not be able to invent fooleries so amusing as these.
The first book I tried was very old but its author is highly respected even today, because — as they say — he laid the foundations of rational thinking.
The book claimed that it was his brain that raised the Behin above the primitive animal which coolly snapped. up the fly without working out how many legs it had, while the Behin was led even to that by systematic thought.
He termed his method the absolute pivot and professed it infallible. It was a method which enabled Man. to solve all the problems which he could otherwise never learn about with his limited sense organs.
To determine the number of feet that a fly has for example can be carried out as follows:
1st step: The fly is an animal.
2nd step: The animal moves.
3rd step: Moving requires feet.
4th step: The feet are to ensure that the fly should not overturn.
5th step: The fly does not overturn.
6th step: That it should not overturn, a body requires three firm points.
7th step: Consequently the fly has three feet.
When I had read this, I remarked to Zemoeki that the number of the fly's feet could also be found out by catching one and counting its feet.
Zemoeki laughed at my proposition, called me a bivak, and added, "Other people, too, have said such things, but they had no idea of phosophology and they were very ordinary people, which is also proved by the fact that their results were entirely wrong. They stated, almost without exception, that the fly had six feet, which, as you could see, is in complete contradiction with the scientific result obtained by rational sense."
Then I read a book by another phosoph, a certain Zum. Its basic principle was — "The Behin has no mind."
The educated Reader, of course, would be prepared to conclude that this Behin, as an exception, still had a mind. It is for this reason that I hurry to convey Zum's original mental flights. He expounded his thesis as follows.
"When the Behin is born he knows nothing of the world. It is only when he has seen the first wardrobe or dog that he will come to know that they exist. He has to burn his finger before he will not reach towards the fire. Thus the whole intellect is nothing but a mass of memories collected from the outside world and nothing originates in the Behin himself. Thus it is obvious that the Behin has no mind."
Zemoeki recommended another phosoph, Zantim, who was one particularly knowledgeable about pure reason. This book, on the other hand, asserted that the Behin had only a mind, and no hands, feet or head. Progressing even further he put forth his theorem.
"There is nothing that is, only that is that is not."
I ask the Reader not to exhaust his laughing-muscles because the proof is still to follow.
"Our sense organs," says Zantim, "are deceptive and yet we become acquainted with the outside world only through them. Thus we do not know whether ice is warm or cold because, although it feels cold to our touch, it is possible that it is actually warm; it is only that we call this feeling cold. Similarly, we shall never come to know the flea," called dingas by Zantim for the sake of scientific accuracy. "We don't know whether it bites or strokes, because it is the flea that bites us and not we it. And we feel the bite through our deceptive sense organs. The bite (which he called briefly categorial-attribut-imperativus) is felt only by the flea actually (that is posteriopriorice) as it does not feel the bite but bites."
"But," Zantim continued, "the flea is in space, and the bite takes place in time. Accordingly space and time are but concepts needed 'by our imagination for placing the dingas and the bite in them, but in itself neither space nor time exists."
"And since everything that is, is in space and in time, from this it is obvious that if these do not exist, nothing is that is, there is only the imagination which, however, is neither in space nor in time, so it is not."
But all this was not enough for him. He also drew the conclusion that there are also anebas because they are not, and that the people are to be oppressed in order that they should live in freedom.
I think the Reader cannot even imagine that the Behins appreciated the products of a mental disorder of such degree — why, they could not even understand them.
Well, the Behins appreciated them just because they did not understand them. They used to say, "In this is the real depth. Zantim is such a profound intellect that up to now even the cleverest ones are unable to understand him."
His works were also highly valued because anything could be deduced from them. Some, for example, asserted that space and time existed and that Zantim had wanted to say just this why, according to his own words, space and time did not exist. But as they are not, they must be, because only that exists that is not. His opponents, of course, seized upon existence and said that space and time existed, but were not because, according to them, there was a significant difference between the two.
But why should we bother our heads about this? Suffice it to say that since Zantim centuries have passed, and during this time a thousand kinds of Behin maniacs have all been hurling quotations from Zantim in each other's face.
And I am the only one who presents all this jumble in such a simple and lucid form.
I must ask the Reader not to take this to be a mockery because, compared to the original text, I, indeed, have rendered it in an incomparably more intelligible form. The most characteristic attribute of the original text was that even with the simplest possible things like sensation, thinking, or even a flea, a rake-comb or a dish-cloth, it glossed behind tortuous words concocted with hard work that they should be more phosoph.
And there were people who were able to spend a lifetime on this, without creating one single pin or fitting a hen-house together. After all this it was only natural that the Behins made such statements about them.
"Zum is a tremendous creative genius!"
"Zantim was a great constructive intellect!"
However, to my regret, I cannot say that the Behins would have shown a unanimous reaction to this either.
Once I met the already mentioned proko who dealt with the dulling of children in the institute for degeneration. I was sure that this terrible being in whom, precisely because off his calling, all the obscurity of the Behins must have been united in a condensed form, would speak about the phosophs with great respect.
All the greater was my surprise when he made the following reply to my question.
"Zantim was a stupid pedant together with all the other phosophs. Any man in his senses laughs at the stupidities he scribbled together."
I gazed at him in wonder. I had to admit that I shared his views in full measure, but asked him to give his reasons.
"Real life," he said, "cannot be invented at the desk. If I were a betik I would put all these idling swindlers to some useful work."
With some suspicion I asked what his opinion was of real life and useful work. My precaution was not unjustified.
"These dusty-eared loungers don't see that the kemon danger is at our gates," he continued, "and if we don't sharpen our knives ceaselessly the fate of the square will be sealed Real life, therefore, requires us to unite and develop all our strength in the defence of the square. The phosophs, however, emasculate youth, and divert their attention from the salvation of the knife."
That is, if one Behin criticizes the stupidity of another, he does it only because he wants to perpetrate a still grosser nonsense.
After all this one might well believe that the Behins' "cultural life" was made up exclusively of the tomfoolery of the phosophs, and they have never had any wise men.
Yet, strange to relate, I must say that they had. But what a pitiable plight lay ahead of them!
The Reader already knows that if anyone professed sensible things, he would be beaten to death. For this very reason only very few wise men could get away with it.
"But how?" The Reader may ask. "If the Behins had wise men, that already meant they could not be Behins. "
I have therefore to explain that there were indeed almost completely right-minded people among them, whom they put into two classes: one kind they named makru and laughed at them, the other they called lamik and beat them to death or burnt them. (To their further fate I shall return later.)
The wise man becomes a makru by a clever. word from him being misunderstood once, and from then onwards he may express his opinion almost freely.
Some of the sages becoming aware of this property of the Behins consciously flew to makruness. They did not rend their clothes in the kipu manner but went in quite normal, intact clothes, which in itself provoked laughter. They were treated like lunatics, and whatever they said was drowned in ridicule.
The makrus went even further. If they wanted to say something particularly sensible and dangerous they put a cap and bells on their head and put their fingers into their mouth. And the Behins listened to them with great amusement, many people made notes of their words and gave them to nurses to cheer up a crying child.
So the makrus' lot was better than that of the lamiks only in that instead of an ignominious death they were awarded an ignominious life. The Behins jovially thumped them on the back asking them to say something silly. And if they replied, "Turn to the betiks," that in itself was enough to give the Behins a fit of laughter and make them thump the makrus' back again.
One such a famous makru, a certain Zoltaire, even got. into the house of a formidable ear-betik. The ear-betik was one of the most terrible blows in the Behin settlement, who with his henchmen robbed and raided the poor wretches. Famine and plague prevailed. One need not wonder that Behin history knows him as "the Building and Bread-Giving Great Healer".
This monster nevertheless received the mentioned makru in his house, and — according to contemporary notes — he amused his master very well. Once, having caught sight of the ear-betik, he cried a loud vake-vake but snatched at his pocket instead of his foot. When the ear-betik asked why he did so, he answered, "Being so close to such a pickpocket, I must take hold of my purse."
The ear-betik laughed so heartily that his bilevs dangled like anything.
He named the ear-betik highwayman, rascal, parricide, seducer and crazy ripper, hoping that among the laughter something would perhaps once start him thinking, but all in vain. And the ear-betik, in turn, named him the god of amusement, took him along everywhere he went, and laughed at him from morning till night but — to the good fortune and tragedy of the makru — he never understood him.
Some openly described how stupid and wretched the Behin life was, but the konas believed that all this concerned the kemons and the kemons thought it concerned the konas. And though all the vileness the makrus wrote about ravaged among themselves just as perfectly as with the other beha, it never occurred to them that it might also apply to their own life. If such a one pronounced, "The betiks are base evil-doers," they said, "He has rebuked the kemon."
A makru named Zift openly described all the filth and horror of the Behin settlement. Today it is from his book that they explain to the children in the skoro how amusing farces are to be written.
A sage named Zadách wrote that the Behin life would always remain dreary suffering and it could not even be hoped that this cursed race would ever be relieved of their torments, which they themselves caused. This sage they called the "Great Comforter" because, as they said, "He warned us to struggle and trust in a better future."
In fact the reading of Zift's book awakened me to my duty to publish my experiences gained in Kazohinia once I returned to my country, with which I would benefit science and general public alike.
Thus I began to compile my travel notes. Through Zemoeki I managed to borrow a typewriter. By the nature of the matter my intention was highly secret. I told him that I wanted to disguise in a long study the kemons' ignobilities.
So I received the typewriter, on which, of course, there were only Behin characters, and I intended to translate the text into English after returning home.
So I settled down to work. I described the wise and quiet perfection of the Hins, which then, in that incredible environment, appeared to me even more clear and majestic than when I subsequently reflected on it in cultured Europe. Then I proceeded to the Behins. I described the hypocritical oppression of the people by the betiks, Zemoeki's crazy ideas, the behas' aimless quarrelling about the anebas, the stunting of children in the institutes and all the self-torture with which they rendered their life unbearable.
Zemoeki, of course, inquired more than once about my work. I managed to elude him saying that it was still in the very early stages, but I decided that for the sake of form I would write some pages of nonsense for him concerning the ignobilities of the kemon.
Regrettably I left this to the end and thus it came about that my work did not remain secret.
That is, since the memorable fight the lock had been broken off my door and they know nothing about knocking. In' an instant Zemoeki rushed in with a loud pricc- prucc just when I was hard at work.
I endeavoured to get rid of the papers quickly, but with this I drew his attention to them all the more. I protested in vain. He snatched them from my hands and began to read. Although I said that all this was but a rough draft which required complete revision and that I did not like my work to be read at that stage, he said that was all the more a reason for him to read it, because he owed it to me and the anebas to be of help in the work of revision.
Zemoeki, therefore, set about reading, while I submitted to my fate and was prepared to be burnt alive.
Of course, right at the beginning he asked why I had commenced with the Hins.
Again I told him that the whole of what he saw was but an introduction that we should better understand the ignobilities of the kemon which I would come to only at the end.
Zemoeki gloomily read the part dealing with the Hins' serene and peaceful life. Several times a heavy sigh broke from his bosom, and at the end he stated with recognition that the torments of the Hins' comfortless world had not yet been described in such soul-stirring colours.
With this he proceeded to the Behins, while my teeth were chattering at the thought of my poor family. I must say that I was prepared for anything except what actually ensued.
He immediately stated that the characters were not only kemons, but mainly konas, to which I could not even reply but only cast down my eyes.
And as he read on, his face became more and more cheerful. Later he simply laughed from page to page.
In the beginning I thought he did not understand, but it turned out that he had recognized everything perfectly. Interrupting his reading more than once, he expounded how splendidly I had expressed my opinion of the many monstrosities.
At the end he stood up, paced up and down the room, then stepping up to me began to scratch my posterior in ecstasy. "You have told them off wonderfully!" he cried. "This book must be published."
The words stuck in my throat. I didn't know whether I was on my head or my heels. And Zemoeki continued dashing to and fro and did not tire of praising me. Once he stopped and, turning towards me, suddenly asked, "My name also figures in it. Would you disclose whom you want to represent by that name?"
At first I thought he wanted to bring me to account because of personal offence. Why, all the inanities that figured under his name he himself had said, professed, done ! But he inquired in so friendly a manner and with such interest that I was convinced he did not recognize himself!
This turn, apart from all its fantasticality, was comforting for me inasmuch as I managed to avoid Zemoeki's wrath. In my confusion I could say only that his name was, of course, a symbol, but I could not reveal who was hidden behind it.
At this he began to try to guess who it could be. He was suspicious of a beratnu then thought of a familiar betik.
"It's all the same," he concluded. "The book is good, and it must be published!"
At this I already found my voice.
"But the betik!" I said. "What will my betik say to it?!"
"Nothing. He will be amused by it."
"But for God's sake, haven't you read what I wrote of him? I named him a baking-sheet-soled idiot, a demagogical pickpocket, a narrow-minded ape, to whom they vake- vake only because they are afraid of him."
"There you are!" he answered. "You yourself know what a narrow-minded ape he is. How do you imagine that he would recognize himself? He will believe that some of the kemon betiks are concerned, or that all this is a description of the transitional or half-raw age. Should he ask it of you, in spite of everything, you, too, will tell him that, and that's all."
He carried on for a long time, expressing his joy that I had told all the idiocies of this lunatic society to their faces so directly.
"And that, too, is splendid," he said, "that you have defended the anebas against certain deceptive Pharisees. You have pronounced it very properly that they humbug the people for business only. Many such books would be needed to restore the pure cult of the yellow pebble and the square, to rescue them from the mud in which they have trampled them!"
He also spoke of my merits in connection with the defence of the kipu, which, of course, was also manifested in my pointing out the claptrap of the charlatans and displaying bold support of the classic chair thorns.
"Surely," he said, "we need many such militant professions, that we should clean the dirt away from the anebas, and help the many dormant values assert themselves in the kona which are languishing oppressed in the jostling of frauds."
I think this was my greatest surprise among the Behins. I did not understand a word of the whole thing.
Finally he rose and took leave saying that he had to hurry to a clothes-rending master, as the next day he was due to go to a betik's jubilee where he would be the guest speaker, and his clothes had to be made more kipu for this occasion. Further he asked me for some yellow pebbles so as to have something to squeeze under his arm with the betik, and he rushed away in rapture.
"And the book must be published," he said from the threshold. "You will see how that narrow-minded ape will laugh at it, and we at him!"
The proposal was enticing but after some thinking I realized that for the very same reason there was no point in publishing it. How could it be imagined that reading it would make them even one iota cleverer or would render their life one jot more endurable with such a lack of comprehension. Should I publish the account of my travels? It deserved a better lot than to be the object of idiots' imbecilic guffaws.
And as to what would have happened to me if they had understood it is better not to speak of that.
That is why I preferred to keep to my original intention and bring my book home to educated Great Britain where the general public, together with the august leaders of my country, will certainly be well amused by the infinite narrow-mindedness of Zemoeki and the betik.
This was how I managed to avoid becoming a makru and a laughing-stock for everybody.