Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tolstoy's Theory of Llamas

     On Thursday, April 30th of 2009, I sat down at my laptop to write the answer to an essay question for my final exam in Global History. The task at hand was to examine Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy's theory of History, to be extracted through the reading of the prolific pages of his renowned realistic fiction, War and Peace. I immediately began typing and anticipated genius to be translated from each keystroke. This is what I found myself reading, as if having lapsed into some transient unconsciousness and awaking to the first paragraph of my essay.

     In the beginning there were two llamas, Dandy, and Sandy-doo. Together one sweet, sweet autumn they birthed forth a child llama whom they affectionately named Miranda. Miranda was a cute girl llama with an under bite and occasionally bleeding nostrils that looked as if they were pressed deep in to her misshapen and lumpy skull sac machine. This loving and caring and daring and sometimes staring family oft looked down the steep mountainside that they called home. It was peculiar the sights they saw; a dark flame absently twisting in the fog; shapes moving about with strange and alluring motion. It was these shapes that one day Miranda decided to scuffle from home, on her two short front legs and one long hind leg and back stump, in search of.

     Indeed, I was worried for my own sanity. Why did I do this. What compeled me to write this? In all honesty, it felt really good to do, and it was not exactly like going unconscious like I said... it was more of a satisfying release, akin to a long and extended stretch first thing in the morning after having slept in, followed by swift relaxation and expenditure of breath held in your lungs along with a shudder from sheer content. I realized that day back in 2009, that I actually do this often, especially before beginning an essay or report. It is almost like I just need to get the gears moving, clear off the dust and the crazy, and release. As an aside, I really want to know what happens to Miranda. Am I alone here? Perhaps this is the subsequent chapter to the story I initiated in that previous post... which nobody has responded to, but I know there are those who are fervently working on it!
     I found the above excerpt while looking through old documents on my laptop, and reading that, I wanted to see the final product. I must admit, this pseudo-intro did not have any apparent overt influence on the content, but who knows what neural pathways and doors it opened and therefore indirectly contributed. Here is the final form that my first paragraph assumed in my essay:

     “History is the life of nations and of humanity.” Tolstoy’s theory of history is encompassed within this quote, though it is in his definitions of humanity and ‘the life of nations’ that it is really defined. Humanity is the reaction of all mankind to key ideals and it is under that influence that the collaboration of individuals drives forth and molds the future of a nation. When Tolstoy remarks on the battle of Austerlitz in his novel War and Peace, he captures this sentiment perfectly: “Just as in the clock the result of the complex action of innumerable wheels and pulleys is merely the slow and regular movement of the hand marking the time, so the result of all the complex human activities of these 160,000 Russian and French ... was only the loss of the battle of Austerlitz ... that is to say, a slow movement of the hand on the dial of human history.” In contrast to this view, history seems to be defined by individuals and therefore does not accurately portray the reality of human nature but rather the image given to it as icons. “In historical events great men — so-called — are but labels serving to give a name to the event, and like labels they have the least possible connection with the event itself. Every action of theirs, that seems to them an act of their own free will, is in an historical sense not free at all, but in bondage to the whole course of previous history, and predestined from all eternity.”

     Now, reading through that I first think to myself that I liked the other intro better. This one seems too cooked up and considered, where as Miranda's tale came forth from a frothy nebulous vomiting of extemporaneousness, and it was fun. It is not something I can disagree with since it has no orientation or implicit lesson, and I cannot argue with it as it transcends argument. I could attribute meaning to Dandy and Sandy-doo's legacy with which I could argue, but in its nascent construct it is without need for discretion. In the final form, this paragraph is based entirely on arguable material. It is the sense to my nonsense; the matter to my antimatter; the "encompassed within this quote" to my "misshapen and lumpy skull sac machine." I did say that I was thinking to myself that I liked the original intro better, but now I'm not so sure. I really do enjoy delving into the complex of an idea just as much as I enjoy having a menagerie of thoughts erupt from my brain like so many wild animals fleeing a small pen after being tazed. Is this truth a realization of universal balance being expressed in the microcosm of my intellect and creativity? Maybe it is. Maybe this is the reflection across my own personal taijitu, where at the limit of yin of my own "supreme ultimate" becomes the yang; my random becomes my deliberate; my llamas flow into my theories. Or maybe, this is completely wrong... and by posing that side of the argument I have successfully acheived balance! Or have I? I have. Not. !...? What is the opposite of an elipsis? Zhou Dunyi would be proud.

Also, this: Llamas with Hats


  1. Your creativity is truly inspiring! Your ability to come up with a whole story originating from a simple idea or even one word is extraordinary. I can't wait to read the "nonsense" (although I disagree with that statement) that follows!

  2. That Llama story has an incredibly intruiging introduction. I just want to read on!