There was once a beautiful lady, whose habit it was to sleep on disused railroad
In that same country there lived also a brutal surveyor who ran the trains up and
down the tracks. He was at heart an explorer and therefore was particularly
attracted by those branches of the railroad system where no trains had passed within
living memory. These were precisely those tracks where the lady delighted to
So it happened over and over again that she would be disturbed in her sleep and
compelled to retreat hastily while a powerful and smelly engine dashed over the
very place she had been happily resting.
Every time this happened there was a falling out between the lady and the
gentleman. He maintained that she was an old-fashioned, trivial, and superstitious
thing. She, in return, would spit out insults in a quite unladylike manner saying that
he was indeed a thing, subhuman, and nothing but a small boy interested only in
silly noisy toys.
And so it went on. For about two thousand years she would always be finding new
and unexplored parts of the railroad system upon which to sleep and he always
choosing those very branches of the tracks for the exercise of his monstrous
He asserted that it was his right - and even duty - to map the railroad system and
that the whole system was entirely his - especially the unexplored parts of it. He
argued that the system was a single, entirely logical-causal network of tracks.
She averred that the tracks were designed for the rest and peace of the human soul
and cared nothing for his dreams of causality and logic.
He mapped every detail of the tracks along which he ran his engines. She
continually found other parts of the system not yet mapped.
One day the engineer carelessly left one of his maps beside the track and the lady
found it. Gingerly, holding it only with the tips of her fingers, she picked it up. She
handled it as if it had been left there by the devil.
It was curiosity that led her to open the map, unwilling to see what it might contain
and therefore not really looking at its details. Looking at this from a distance through
half-shut eyes, she was surprised to find that thus half-seen, the document was in
At the next confrontation between herself and the engineer she said without
thinking, ‘And you don’t even know that your own maps are beautiful.’
At this the surveyor was amazed. He gruffly replied that he was not interested in
She said to herself ‘Ah, then there is something in the universe in which he is not
interested. That something belongs to me.’
‘For ever,’ she said.
After they parted, each considered what had been said. The surveyor was forced to
agree that indeed the beauty of his maps and correspondingly the beauty of the
railroad tracks were not within his province. She, on the other hand, was delighted
and hugged to herself the secret knowledge that he would never invade what she
most valued - the elegance and symmetry of the total system. Not its details but its
At their next meeting he asked whether she was still interested in the so-called
beauty of the maps. When she rather defensively replied in the affirmative, he said
in an offhand manner that he had perhaps something to show her.
He then confessed that while she slept upon the railroad tracks he had come quietly
and had made a careful drawing of her body. It was this drawing that he wanted to
He unfolded and placed side by side before her his map of the railroad tracks and
his drawing. He said it was ‘scientifically interesting’ that the map and the drawing
appeared to resemble each other in many ‘formal’ characteristics. He specially
wanted her to see this strange resemblance between the two documents.
She briefly dismissed the matter. She said she had always known that. But, saying
this, she looked away and smiled.
--Gregory Bateson, 1978
I look to the stars for i cannot remember the last time,
yet they are not there.
I look for the moon on its fortnightly climb,
Yet it is hidden from my care.
Clouds of darkness cover and mock,
staring with dark eyes,
I hear the chime of the mid-nightly clock,
Its thunder tears the skies.
Electric shards rip the seams,
the sky sheds its tears,
with mounting mist rolls and steams
the beginning of all fears.
The howling wind yells a call,
the red drops hit my face ,
The scraping sea salt starts to fall,
a constant losing race.
"Will it end ?" i start to ask,
"Can it now?" i pray,
"it's too late" the lightning rasps,
"Here you're damned to stay"
what's it to you?