Davey Dow and Lala, Part Two, by Theric Jepson

Part One here.

Lala sat down on the curb and motioned for Davey to sit next to her. As he slowly sat down and settled his feet into the orange leaves filling the gutter, Lala was opening up her laptop and getting it ready for a little presentation.

€œAll right, now first of all, look at this tree, € Lala said, indicating a photo of a windshorn lone pine in the top window of her screen. €œI call it Jake. Good name for a tree, eh? Now Jake here is something of an oddity. Not only does he have his natural form (whatever that should have been), but the effect of a thousand winds has altered his form substantially. €

Lala looked to see if Davey was paying attention. He was looking intently at the tree and so, presumably, absorbing her ever word. Encouraged, she continued.

€œNow let me make this tree a little smaller. Okay, great. Now watch: I’m pulling up . . . . Okay, good! Now, what do you see? €

Davey looked at her a little askew, then back to the cascade of numbers tumbling across the screen. €œBlack on white, € he said.

€œRight! It’s the tree! See? This is one equation which captures the essence of the tree! I wrote the program that does this myself, and it’s so incredibly amazing what it’s teaching me! Now, as soon as I get this back inside, I’m going to contrast this bewinded tree with all the other trees of its kind I’ve collected. Now that will really say something! This is sort of like your nothing out of something, see? Do you see? €

€œThese numbers, € said Davey, €œare like footprints. The footprints of a tree. €

€œYes! € said Lala excitedly. €œExactly! €

€œWell, first of all, trees, not having feet, don’t have footprints. But even if they did, what would that mean? Footprints in the dust are temporary and fleeting. And even in the rare case where a footprint turns to stone and can be read millions of years later, it is still a footprint and not a foot. A footprint can never be a foot. Just as numbers black on white will never be a tree. Writing down numbers taken from the tree is as foolish as writing down every word as it falls from the mouth of an echo. €

Lala blinked at him.

Davey gestured at the small picture of the tree on her screen. €œLook! You have captured a tree! € He reached out to touch it, and as his hand hit the display he seemed surprised. He tried to touch the tree twice more with the same result. He tapped it with his fingernails.

€œTell me, € he said, €œis that a tree? €

Lala narrowed her eyes. €œNo, not really. It’s a picture of a tree. €

€œAh! A picture of a tree! But it looks so real! So lifelike! €

Lala smiled. €œYes, yes. Well, I’ve got a really high resolution, you know. €

€œOh really? And what is your High Resolution? €

Lala started to tell him some numbers but he interrupted her. €œAh-ah! Those are numbers! Are even your goals and desires shrunken down into simple numbers? €

Lala stared.

€œDo you see numbers when you climb a mountain? €

€œNot exactly, but the numbers are easy to find. Like the six sides of a snowflake. Or Fibonacci numbers. €

€œYes, € said Davey. €œSnow is beautiful. €

€œYes, but that’s not all it is! Like everything in nature, Beauty is just the surface; there is so much more to be seen! So much more underneath! €

€œWhy do we have eyes? €

€œWhy do we have eyes? To see, I guess. We couldn’t see without our eyes. €

€œIf our eyes were made for seeing, is not then Beauty its own excuse for being? €

€œWhat? Say that again . . . . €

€œOh, tree! € exclaimed Davey, not looking at the tree exactly, but somehow through it. €œI never thought to ask, I never knew to know, but in my Simple Ignorance supposed that the Nothing that caused me here, caused you there. €

€œHang on. I’m sure I €” €

€œI think that I shall never see a Something lovely as a tree. € Davey abruptly turned to Lala just as she was again opening her mouth. €œCan you show me in numbers? €

€œWhat? €˜You’? €

€œCan you show me in numbers? €

€œWell, my stuff’s all designed for trees €”especially pines. €

€œBut can you show me in numbers? €

€œWell, yeah. I guess so. But it’ll think you’re a tree. €

€œAnd I am a tree more that numbers, am I not? € asked Davey, nodding at the laptop. €œHave you ever done yourself in numbers? €

€œWhat? Me? You want me in numbers? €

€œHave you ever done yourself in numbers? €

€œUm, no . . . . €

€œWhy not? €

€œAh, I don’t know. I guess I just haven’t. €

€œBecause? €

€œI guess because right now I’m interested in trees. €

€œHow many trees do you have in numbers? €

€œOh, several thousand I suppose. €

€œIndeed! €

€œOh, yes. I have a great deal of them. I think I have enough to establish normalcy. So now I’m collecting deviants for comparison €

€œSuch as me. I am reminded of the tale of the Grasshopper and the Chicken. They were sitting together relaxing when a Frog hopped by.

€œ €˜Hey there, now, Frog!’ called out Grasshopper. €˜From where are you coming?’

€œ €˜From the Lake,’ said Frog. €˜It is a stretch of water so far I cannot see the far shore, just the mountains beyond.’

€œGrasshopper and Chicken looked at each other and rolled their eyes. Every time Frog hopped by he had a story as ridiculous as this.

€œ €˜Oh really,’ said Grasshopper. €˜And what did you there?’

€œ €˜There,’ said Frog, €˜I met a creature called Swift. It is larger than you, friend Grasshopper, but smaller than you, friend Chicken. Swift told me how each year he would fly a thousand miles and then back again.’

€œAfter frog left, Grasshopper and Chicken took to discussing Frog’s story. They both agreed that flying a thousand miles was impossible.

€œ €˜Why,’ said Grasshopper, €˜it is all you or I can do to fly up to the first branch of that stately elm there. To fly a thousand miles €”! Impossible!’

€œ €˜Indeed,’ agreed Chicken. €˜A thousand kernels of corn I can imagine, but a thousand miles? I don’t know that there are a thousand miles.’

€œKnowledge such as yours of trees gives no true understanding of the boundaries between fact and falseness. You may know a Something, but something is no more Everything than nothing is Nothing. You accuse me of being a recluse from people by living among nature, but you are a recluse from nature by living among numbers. Your knowledge, such as it is, is as substantial as the footprint of a tree, and trees do not have feet. The task of understanding Everything is utterly beyond your powers. €

Davey Dow stood up and stretched his back. €œMuch as your Something is not more than it isn’t, so is this town and the all of all towns everywhere. Much as it has been pleasant being with you and your numerical trees, I must be going. €

So saying, Davey turned and headed deeper into town, the town he knew as the nothing that never was a Something, to buy seed and to never return
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theric2

To read more of Theric’s writing on WIZ, go here, here, and here.

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