The Weight of the Contradiction

Alberto is young. He is eating his upside-down cake. Inside his upside-down cake is an upside-down wogly.

Alberto pokes it with his fork.

The upside-down wogly has banded blue and black skin. It is scaled like a snake. It is shaped like a torus. Inside the upside-down wogly is more upside-down cake.

“Hello?” Alberto asks, uncertainly.

“Hello!” says the upside-down wogly. “Would you like to volunteer to bear the weight of the contradictions of the world?”

Alberto wriggles uncomfortably in his seat. He looks at his parents. They do not appear to have noticed the upside-down wogly. They are engaged in deep philosophical discussion.

(“Can a heart-shaped record fit in the record player?” asks Alberto’s mother.

“Vinyl must be adaptable,” answers Alberto’s father, “or it will never find love.”

He is a gruff man, Alberto’s father, and he shows records his sternness.)

“Well, would you?” asks the upside-down wogly.

“I don’t know,” Alberto says.

The upside-down wogly’s voice is soft and gentle and stern. “You know how things are unfair in the world, don’t you?”

“Daddy says we can’t have everything we want,” says Alberto.

“When not everyone can have everything that they should have:” says the upside-down wogly. “When not everyone can have what they should fairly have; or should righteously have; or should desire to have—then there must exist someone who bears the weight of that contradiction.”

Alberto pokes the upside-down wogly with his fork again.

“Do I eat you?” he asks.

“I am very cold,” says the upside-down wogly. “Your tongue would stick to me.”

Alberto leans down and puts his tongue against the upside-down wogly.

“That was unfortunate,” says the upside-down wogly.

“Unh!” says Alberto. “Unh!”

His parents are discussing deep philosophical matters, and do not at first hear.

(“So this whale,” says Alberto’s mother, “has a bandolier of ammo wrapped all the way around her, and she uses two Uzis in her teeth. She’s all like leaping off of her motorcycle and going blam blam blam blam and then, ‘oh, toodles, I’ve beached myself.'”)

“UNH!” says Alberto.

“Oh,” says Alberto’s mother. “Oh, dear.”

“What’s that?” asks Alberto’s father.

“It’s something cold,” says Alberto’s mother. “But even the coldest heart can be warmed by love. Have you tried love, Albert?”

Alberto attempts love. Soon his tongue unsticks from the upside-down wogly.

“That was close, Mom!” says Alberto.

“I knew you could do it, Albert,” says Alberto’s mother. “But you should try not to stick your tongue on strange things.”

She ruffles Alberto’s hair, fondly, and then turns back to her conversation.

“If you help to bear the weight of that contradiction,” says the upside-down wogly, “why, then, it’ll make the world just a little bit fairer for everyone else.”

“Huh,” says Alberto, who is still quite warm with tongue-unsticking love. “I guess that’s okay.”

“Yay!” says the upside-down wogly.

“Hold on, son,” says Alberto’s father, whose brain has slowly assembled the content of Alberto’s conversation from residual auditory input. “That sounds like a bit of a bad deal for you.”

Alberto’s mother turns to the upside-down wogly. She thinks back with a puzzled frown.

“I shouldn’t?” says Alberto.

“You’re too young,” says Alberto’s father. “Make a deal with the upside-down wogly when you’re old enough to understand it.”

“But the world needs him to live up to his bargain,” says the upside-down wogly.

“I thought that recipe seemed a little off,” snaps Alberto’s mother, putting it all together. She rises to her feet. She picks up the plates.

“But I didn’t finish my cake,” says Alberto.

“But the world needs him,” says the upside-down wogly.

“Too bad,” says Alberto’s mother, briskly, and she carries the plates, the cake, and the upside-down wogly away.

12 thoughts on “The Weight of the Contradiction

  1. This is a very unusual wogly. It isn’t monochromatic, and inside it is not empty, but full of cake. I suspect it is an impostor.

    Or a bit of poetic license on Jane’s part–surely it must seem to her that she made a bad bargain at an early age–but it all comes to the same thing, in the end.

  2. are firewood woglies any more real than upside down woglies filled with upside down cake?

    What makes Alberto different than Siddhartha?

    Why do whales that beach themselves and live don’t try again?

  3. are firewood woglies any more real than upside down woglies filled with upside down cake?

    Yes. Also, no. And maybe. And “purple.”

    Woglies are contradictions.


  4. Do you have to be very, very smart to comment on these stories? Because I don’t understand any of the other comments.

    But I liked the story. Very much. I hope there will be more whales with uzis.

  5. Do you have to be very, very smart to comment on these stories? Because I don’t understand any of the other comments.

    There’s all kinds of intricate connections between the stories, in which we frequent posters have immersed ourselves.

    If you read A Summary of the Metaphysics and Histories, Legends and Stories, you’ll have a much better idea what we’re talking about. Read everything from the very beginning and you’ll know as much as we do! Plus, you’ll have read a lot of cool stories! Win!

  6. Here’s the problem with Alberto: he answers the suffering of someone by making them the perfect expression of their nature; i.e. giving them everything they should have. But if he is too successful, he turns that person into her dharma. And in the hitherverse, dharmas get eaten by Belshazzar. Those Alberto help become gones.

    This story puts out in the open something I’d been wondering about for a while. Are suffering, contradictions, and emptiness all the same thing?

  7. It seems that suffering and emptiness are indeed the same thing, or at least related; suffering causes emptiness. I haven’t thought much about contradictions, though. Whatever this entry says about woglies should be taken with a grain of salt, though, as this is not a normal one.

  8. In Hitherby as I’ve read it, overwhelmingly traumatic suffering causes emptiness; I don’t think that more moderate suffering is supposed to. The Buddha was supposed to be emptied by his compassion, but I assumed that this meant that his compassion/empathy with the suffering of others was so great that he suffered overwhelmingly as a result.

    nemryn, I don’t know if we can still say that this wogly isn’t a normal one. After all, you wrote a legend in which a wogly at least initially appeared to be pastry-filled. That could have changed the Hitherby universe! Both in the sense that RSB might have decided that it would be interesting for woglies to be that way, and of course the Hitherby universe is however she writes it, and in the sense that the Hitherby universe probably has the property that it can be changed by the stories told within it, even without reference to external authors. The original Audience entry did say that the Qwik Club is a legend for an actual story (i.e. a history) in Hitherby.

  9. I don’t know if it’s necessary for the legend with the partially-filled woglie spawned this (though it might be true). The Treasure Wheel already seems to be a woglie that was, in some way, partially filled. It seems that it’s possible for woglies to be created – maybe you can have “virtual woglies” that can be brought into existance in some way. The treasure wheel and the upside down cake could both be instances of “virtual woglies”, things which threaten to be inconsistancies, but aren’t woglies because there’s no actual inconsistancy there… remember from Martin’s project on woglies that woglies aren’t in fact inconsistancies themself, but some kind of creature that lives on the surface of inconsistancies. It’s possible that a woglie might have an entire life-cycle involving finding an inconsistancy to live on or that woglies might simply be able to go dormant (as neither the treasure wheel nor the upside down cake seems to be rotating)

    In this case I suggest that Alberto’s parents are suggesting that he not try to take on the weight of the world because it will cause an inconsistancy that he is not yet “mature” enough to understand, and thus give him a woglie that he will never, ever get rid of (though he might, as he gets older, trade it in for more fashionable and more socially-acceptable woglies) it’s still not a good idea to bring a woglie into existance unecessarily.

    Parents can be over-protective, methinks. but then again.. “would you sacrifice your child if it meant world peace”?

  10. Has there been previous discussion about the treasure wheel of the world being a wogly? I mean, obviously it is in a literal fashion (it’s a lacuna in the story; woglies represent lacunae, therefore the treasure wheel is a wogly), but even literally — it’s a spinning thing with a hole in the center, with counter-intuitive results, thus a wogly.

    Moreover, the upside down wogly in this story clearly is -actually- the treasure wheel. Thus it offering the weight of the world; taking responsiblity for something also gives you power over it. And on top of that, I’ll note the tags: Tags: Love, Treasure Wheel

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