“Most people grow old within a small circle of ideas, which they have not discovered for themselves.”
-- Marquis de Vauvenargues
The inhabitants of Lud, by way of their astonishing advances in science and by profound insight into that Ludnikian philosophy, the mere flickerings of which dazzled the blind and addled the shallow brains of good people, had arrived at such a command of their energies -- such an enviable state of perfectibility! -- as to control the elements and navigate the boundless regions of cyberhypedspace. The prodigiousness of sailing in the air and cruising among the stars is a tad more astonishing and incomprehensible to mass man than was the ancient mystery of navigating floating castles through the world of water to the savage natives. The disparity between the former, and the aerial vehicles of the philosophers from Lud, might not be greater than that between the bark canoes of savages and the mighty ships of their discoverers.
Thus it was that a raving crew of these soaring philosophers, in the course of an ethereal voyage of discovery, chanced to alight upon an outlandish land somewhere near its purported cradle of civilization, that is, the region along the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, known today as The Lap of Civilization.
The ethereal visitants, possessed of vastly superior knowledge in the art of extermination riding on apparatus belli -- defended with impenetrable carapaces -- were armed with concentrated sunbeams and provided with vast engines to hurl enormous intercontinental BMs. The people from Lud were as superior to the The Middle Eastis in knowledge -- and consequently in power -- as the Europeans were to the Indians when they first discovered them. The poor red savages, before they had any knowledge of the white men, armed in all the terrors of glittering steel and tremendous gunpowder, were as perfectly convinced that they themselves were the most wisest, the most virtuous, the most powerful and the most perfect of created beings as are, at this present moment, the lordly inhabitants, the volatile populace and the self-satisfied citizens of this the world's most enlightened republic.
The ethereal voyagers, then, finding this cradle of civilization to be nothing but a howling wilderness inhabited by poor savages and wild beasts, took formal possession of it, in the name of his Most Gracious and Philosophic Excellency, Ned im Lud. Finding, however, that their numbers were incompetent to hold it in complete subjection on account of the ferocious barbarity of its inhabitants, they took the worthy shah, the potentate, the caliph, the sheikh, I say the very nabob himself and returned to The Land of Lud, carrying him to court as a spectacle, as was done to the Indian chiefs at the courts of Europe. Making such obeisance as the etiquette of the Lud court required, they addressed the puissant Ned im Lud, in, as near as can be conjectured, for the historic document has been lost, the following terms:
Most Serene and Mighty Ned, whose dominions extend as far as the eye can reach, who rides on Big Bertha, uses the sun as a looking glass and maintains unrivaled control over tides, madmen and sea-slugs -- oh Great Ned, I say, we your liege subjects have just returned from a voyage of discovery. In the course of this, we landed and took possession of an obscure dirty little patch of land called The Middle East. This uncouth monster, which we have brought into your August Presence, was once a very important chief among its fellow savages, a race of beings totally destitute of the common attributes of Ludanity and differing in every way from the inhabitants of Lud inasmuch as they carry their heads upon their shoulders instead of under their arms, have two eyes instead of one, are utterly destitute of tails and are of an unseemly complexion -- a horrible burnishness instead of the pure white of Lud-luster.
“We found these miserable savages sunk in a state of the utmost ignorance and depravity, every man shamelessly living with his own wife and rearing his own children, instead of indulging in that house of wives and garden of kids enjoined by the law of nature and as expounded by the Philosophers of Lud. They have scarcely a gleam of true thought among them. They are, in fact, utter heretics, ignoramuses and barbarians. Taking compassion, therefore, on the sad condition of these sublud wretches, we endeavored, while we remained in their land, to introduce among them to the Light of Reason -- and the comforts of Lud. We treated them to banquets of Ludshine and bracers of nucleaide and bouquets of cloud of mushroom, which they swallowed with incredible voracity -- particularly the females. We likewise endeavored to instill into them the precepts of Ludan philosophy. We insisted upon their renouncing the contemptible shackles of religion and common sense in place of adoring the Profound, Omnipotent, and All Perfect Energy of the Ecstatic, Immutable, Immovable Perfection of Ned im Lud. But such was the unparalleled obstinacy of these wretched anthropophagites that they persisted in cleaving to their wives, adhering to their religion and absolutely set at naught the Sublime Doctrine of Lud. Among other abominable heresies, they went so far as to blasphemously declare that this ineffable land of Lud was made of nothing more nor less than apple pie!
At these words, the great Ned im Lud (being a very profound philosopher) fell into a terrible passion, pulling his hair and gnashing his teeth and thrashing about on the floor. Possessing equal authority over things that do and do not belong to him, as does His Holiness the Pope Hallowed be His name, he forthwith issued a formidable decretum or diktat, that is to say, a pronunciamento:
Whereas a certain crew of Luddites have lately discovered and taken possession of a newly discovered land called The Middle East; and whereas it is inhabited by none but a race of two-legged animals that carry their heads on their shoulders instead of under their arms, cannot talk the Luddite language, have two eyes instead of one, are destitute of tails and of a horrible drab fuchsia instead of pearly white; therefore, and for a variety of other excellent reasons, as they are incapable of possessing any property in the land they infest, the right and title to it are confirmed to its original discoverers, the Luddites. And furthermore, the colonists who are now about to depart to the aforesaid land are authorized and commanded to use every means to convert these infidelic rogues from the darkness of their Imamic souls and make them thorough and absolute Luddites.”
In consequence of this benevolent bull, Ned im Lud's philosophic benefactors returned to the land of The Middle East and set to with hearty zealotryness. They seized upon fertile territories, scourged the denizens of their self-considered rightful possessions, relieved them of their unwonted wives and daughters. When the miscreants were unreasonable enough to complain, the Luddite missionaries turned upon them saying, “Miserable miscreants! Ungrateful uncouths! Have we not come thousands of miles to improve your worthless land? Have we not fed you with Ludshine? Have we not intoxicated you with nucleaides? Have we not befogged you with cloud of mushroom? Does not our Ludan erudition give you light and knowledge beyond your ken? We could have kept all this to ourselves. But no! We gave it away without asking for so much as a whimper. And now you have the gall to murmur when we claim but a pitiful return for this our beneficence?
But the upstarts not only persisted in absolute contempt of Ludnik reasoning and disbelief in the True Philosophy, going so far as daringly to defend their property. Luddite patience was exhausted and so the men from Lud resorted to their superior powers of argument, such as hunts with massive moving knuckle-dusters, transfixings with concentrated sunbeams, demolishings of cities with Ludstone iron rations until, by main force, the men from Lud had converted the The Middle East insurgents to the True Philosophy.
And so, the Luds graciously permitted the locals to exist in the torrid desert land, there to enjoy the blessings of civilization and the charms of Luddite philosophy, in much the same manner as the reformed and enlightened savages of the New World were kindly suffered to inhabit the inhospitable scrubland of the north or the impenetrable wildernesses and wastelands of the south and west.
This clearly proves and strikingly illustrates the right of the Luddites to the possession of The Middle East. All this is very true. It is only others' mutual admiration societies that makes them think otherwise.
Minna vander Pfaltz is a freelancer traveling the world, looking for a home. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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