Dr. Thoth and the Heresy of Art
SCENE: Burning books, a crowd, three judges, a stake and a soon-to-be martyr.
ENTER DR. THOTH, our beloved ibis-headed hero. He observes the scene with beady interest.
JUDGE WANDA CROSHAW: - don’t seem to recognise the
seriousness of the charge –
MARTYR: How can I take a charge seriously when it defies
sweet logic herself?
JUDGE COLIN ODONAL: And, pray exactly how does it defy
logic? Those wiser than yourself have seen fit to cleanse our great land of
heresy and you have written the following poem:
“Paper and skin are one and the
Soft and supple
With the fresh smell of newness at youth
And the musty smell of decay in their later days.
Every word, freckle, hair, sentence
line and mark
Tell of a story
A story whose secrets
Are laid naked
By the caress of eyes.
Some may shrink from the stories that
And seek to burn them to prevent them from being beholden again
Little do they know
That when they burn the pages –
The skin lives on.
If they burn the skin
The pages live on
And if they burn both pages and skin
Their own skin will be burnt in the process
And will now bear the marks
Of the story that was lost.”
This is vile, disgusting, seditious refuse and an obvious
falsehood designed to create dissent for your own unknown murderous purposes and
you are charged as such!
JUDGE ELWOOD GARDINER: Don’t forget that it doesn’t
MARTYR: Rhyme! I am an artisan. I am above rhyming…
JUDGE ELWOOD GARDINER: Well, when I was a youth, a poem wasn’t a …
JUDGES and MARTYR continue to bicker in background. DR. THOTH is distracted by a little girl eating a sweet in front of him. He pushes the girl causing her to drop her sweet in the dirt.
GIRL: Oof. Hey, he took my
DR. THOTH: Finders keepers.
He gleefully eats the dirt covered sweet.
JUDGE WANDA CROSHAW: Now that defendant has been gagged, we
may proceed with the matter at hand. Will anyone come forward on behalf of the
defendant before we pass judgement?
The crowd is silent except for DR. THOTH making crunching
noises. He stops for a moment and steps forward.
DR. THOTH: Ahem. Well, I’m not one to stick my beak where it
doesn’t belong, but I believe I may be able to assist you in your
JUDGE COLIN ODONAL: Assist us! And who do you think you
DR. THOTH: Allow me to introduce myself. I am Dr. Thoth, a
humble adventurer. I was attracted to your village by those pretty little flames
over there. I must commend you on that novel idea of yours to use the library.
It gives off a most splendid warmth. Reminds me of back home.
JUDGE WANDA CROSHAW: You are a doctor? Where did you
DR. THOTH: Hmmmm. The title is mostly honorific, if you get
JUDGE COLIN ODONAL: Bah! He is of no use to us. This court
does not recognise you…sir.
JUDGE ELWOOD GARDINER: What does it matter whether he is a
doctor or not – more to the point sir, can you rhyme?
DR. THOTH: I can do so, anytime.
JUDGE ELWOOD GARDINER: Aha! A worthy opponent.
DR. THOTH: You might say I was heaven sent.
JUDGE ELWOOD GARDINER: A most excellent riposte!
JUDGE COLIN ODONAL: Elwood cease this nonsense at once! The
court does not recognise –
JUDGE ELWOOD GARDINER: Be quiet Colin! I have the highest
authority here and I have him on the run!
DR. THOTH: Indeed, my lord. I am undone.
DR. THOTH bows slightly.
JUDGE ELWOOD GARDINER: Don’t be too hard on yourself, my dear doctor, for I was known as Elwood the Eloquent and none have bested me yet, as I was telling that chap over there.
He gestures towards the gagged
And as you obviously must be a learned man to compete with
me, you may speak before the court on my approval.
DR. THOTH: You are most gracious. I merely wished to render
assistance to your honours by pointing out that there may be a small problem
with burning this man for heresy.
JUDGE WANDA CROSHAW: I am afraid not, the law is quite clear
on the matter. We too, must abide by the law.
DR. THOTH: Hehmmm. The poem is a vicious lie, is it
JUDGE WANDA CROSHAW: Of course. Our lords cleanse the land
of heresy for our own protection.
DR. THOTH: You agree that the poem states that if the author
and poem are burnt, the poem shall live on in the memory of the
JUDGE COLIN ODONAL: Yes, yes, what does this –
DR. THOTH: And you agree that you would remember this poem
after it and its author had been burnt?
JUDGE ELWOOD GARDINER: I know I’d remember such an awful
JUDGE COLIN ODONAL: But what does –
DR. THOTH: Herein lies your quandary. If you burn this man
and his books, you will be making his heresy into the truth. Your very own
actions will confirm its content.
JUDGE WANDA CROSHAW: I see.
JUDGE COLIN ODONAL: Nonsense!
DR. THOTH: And if you confirm heresy, then you judges are
nothing more than heretics yourselves. And as you know, all heretics must be
burnt to protect the people. So, in the interest of protecting your esteemed
lives, I move that the poet be found not guilty and sent on his way.
JUDGE WANDA CROSHAW: I hardly think our lords would welcome
news that we have left a heretic to his own devices.
DR. THOTH: Perhaps they might be happier with that news,
than news of this court turning heresy into truth and three eminent judges into
JUDGE ELWOOD GARDINER: I say we let him go. Not worth
risking our own necks. And besides, how dangerous a heretic can he be? Nobody
ever listens to poetry that doesn’t rhyme. Wanda?
JUDGE WANDA CROSHAW: I concur.
JUDGE ELWOOD GARDINER: Colin?
JUDGE COLIN ODONAL: I…also agree.
Several half-hearted cheers and
disappointed boos emanate from the crowd.
JUDGE ELWOOD GARDINER: Then it pleases
To set you free
By reason of being Not Guilty
And now do you see
It can be
To use a rhyme or three?
The MARTYR is ungagged and begins to
DR. THOTH pulls out the sweet and begins to crunch again.
DR. THOTH: Really,
There was no need for obscenity.
He wanders off on his merry way.
Copyright: Jasmine Choinski
Organic Divination for the Urban Jungle
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