On Quality: Thesis by Ian P. Hornsby

A Short Interlude

Hannah springs down from the tree and lands on her feet by Martin's side.

Hannah: Shall we take a walk now? My bum had started to go to sleep up there.

Martin slowly gets to his feet and then stretches. Hannah bends down and picks up a small but beautifully bound leather book, which is lying next to Martin's bag.

Hannah: How did you come by such a beautiful old book?

Martin reaches out for the book as if needing to hold it and smell the earthiness of its binding before he was able to reveal its secrets. Hannah carefully passes Martin the old book.

Martin: Finding this book is where it all started; this was the catalyst that set me off upon my journey along the Pirsigian trail of Quality. I found it here on this path a little over three years ago. I remember it had begun raining and a cold wind was blowing into my face. It was one of those storms that so often appear out of nowhere in fictitious tales. Then suddenly out of the corner of my right eye, I caught sight of a book flapping towards me; I ducked as it whirled over my head, the winds finally pinning it open against a row of bushes. I must have gazed at the book for a couple of seconds in astonishment as it stuck like Velcro to the hedgerow. It didn't have a red leather cover then; just grey soggy cardboard. I bound it myself several days later using the cover from an old book of philosophy. After I had eventually, and very carefully, peeled the book from the hedgerow I discovered that most of its contents had been destroyed. I looked around for the person who might have lost the book, but there was no one about; and to be honest I'd seen no one on Albion Downs all that day. I walked back and shielded myself from the worst of the weather under this old yew tree. I sat down and began to inspect the book and even in its rain-splattered state I could sense Quality. Whoever wrote it did so with all the care that they possessed.

Hannah: So, who did write the book?

Martin shrugs his shoulders

Hannah: You've no idea who wrote it?

Martin: No, it didn't say. Yet, I have a feeling that whoever it was knew both of us Hannah!

Hannah: How can you possibly know that? Does it mention us inside?

Martin: No!

Hannah: Then how can you possibly know who wrote it, unless, of course you wrote it yourself.

Martin: If I did write it I don't remember. However, I think whoever it was placed it upon this path for me to find.

Hannah: You mean the Post-man?

Martin shrugs once more.

Hannah: Let's hear some of it then?

Martin: All right.

After opening the book and running his fist passionately up and down the central crease several times, Martin begins to read,

The Lost Book of Quality

A young woman, so the parable runs, heard about the extraordinary exhibitions of art that stood in the nation's capital. She laboured long and hard for several months to afford herself passage to this place of creation. The young woman was a keen artist herself and although she didn't consider her skills complete she was proud that she rarely went over the lines and always matched the correct colours to the appropriate numbers.

Eventually the day of her excursion arrived and she set off for the city humbly holding her work. On the journey she marvelled at the buildings she saw, at the clothes people wore and envied the inspiration upon which city folk could draw. On arrival in the metropolis she noticed on the side of a wall the artwork that she had foolishly imagined would be hidden away in side a vast hall. She stood in silent admiration, yet believing deep down that her own work shared with this art a kinship of process and imagination.

She is said to have stood there for several days until a boy interrupted her trance by asking her what she thought of his craft. The young woman called him an artist and showered him with honest praise. She then nervously showed him the work that she herself had done. He told her that if he was an artist then she must also be one and with this, the will of the weather washed away all trace of his work.

The boy smiled and took the young woman to an exhibition of art where rooms where built within rooms and on a small and empty wall he placed a piece of the young woman's work. As they stood back to view the picture a crowd began to gather and a voice from behind them questioned, "Do you really think this is art?" An argument broke out between experts who all claimed to know what was best. Some said that the art was the object, while others made claims for the concept. One even maintained that the rest had all lied; he believed that between the two the truth must reside. Leaving these connoisseurs to argue into the night the boy and the young woman took flight; some say in search of a brilliant light, marked with a number and matched to Maya white.

Martin closes the book and places it back into his bag; then both he and Hannah begin once more to walk along the bank.

After a short while they both notice that off to the left leads a long upwardly winding track, by the side of which is a sign marked with the words: To The Sweat & Spirit; after a short hesitation both Hannah and Martin nod in each others' direction, smile and begin to ascend.

Next: Section 3 (Elocutio) >>


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