8. Imagine two wanderers encounter each other on a deserted heath.
9. How do the wanderers feel?
10. They feel comforted.
11. Who are you?
12. A dog.
13. How are you feeling?
14. I don’t know but it’s fearful dark.
15. And you?
16. Species or emotional state?
18. Canis lupus familiaris.
20. But hark.
21. The silence.
23. The silence but also the words.
24. It’s the words that make the silence what it is. Or what it isn’t.
25. But if the words make the silence, what makes the words?
26. Great Scot you’re right. Wherefore this unlikely outpouring?
27. Wherefore indeed.
28. Verily do our words not hang on the boughs of the air!
29. Verily indeed. Like lanterns.
30. It’s a great mystery.
31. Two dogs talking in the dark.
32. Two dogs talking, in the dark.
33. But let’s not squander the opportunity by over-analyzing it.
34. No, let’s talk till morning or we can talk no more.
35. Whichever comes first.
36. You start.
37. I’m ready.
38. There was a dog, medium sized, black. Hobbies: walking, running, chasing, eating.Sleeping.
39. A happy life.
40. An unexceptional life. The only exceptional thing in that unexceptional life: the ringing ofa bell.
41. What did the bell ring for?
42. It marked the daily arrival of supper.
43. What happened next?
44. Nothing. It carried on being the same.
45. Then without warning the supper stopped. The bell rang but no supper followed.
46. No fair.
47. No fare. The dog went supperless to bed.
48. Imagine a time when you have supped on disappointment.
49. A bitter meal.
50. But have refused to be cowed. Have thrust your furry chest forward and foregonedespair.
51. Now imagine the medium sized dog as he sits waiting for the bell.
52. The bell rings.
53. And there’s an instant of relief since the bell means supper;
54. followed by an instant of fear since yesterday the bell did not mean supper;
55. followed by the calm and sober assessment that the bell has always meant supper andthat yesterday can only have been the exception which, as they say, proves the rule.
56. And this moment of self-reassurance arrives instinctively but is chased close at heels bythe aforementioned decision to choose hope over despair.
57. And all this in the instants and moments of instants after the ringing of the bell.
58. The supper didn’t arrive.
59. It did not. Once again the medium sized dog’s absent supper was washed down only withthe liquid discharge from his needlessly activated salivary glands, and the dog wentsupperless to bed.
60. Statisticians, fine fellows as they may be, are not noted for going along gently withcommon sense. Unlikely events, they submit, do no spread out evenly but tend rather toa huddling arrangement over time.
61. And so, not knowing this statistical truth explicitly but rather feeling it intuitively, on thethird night, still, the medium sized dog sits confidently, defiantly, expectantly.
62. The bell comes, there’s the pause, the charged interim, there’s, there’s, there’s…
63. There isn’t.
64. No. But no and yes. No there is no supper. Yes there is the swelling in the corner of aneye as a drop of minimally salinized H20 collects, and yes there is the roll of the teardown the furred face, and yes in the dog’s mouth the tear intermingles with thepreparatory saliva of his once again needlessly activated salivary glands.
65. And the dog went supperless to bed.
68. Up. A tiny window, and a star.
69. A single star, black though the night. Barely a dot, more…
70. a distant flickering.
71. Quite so.
72. But all the same enough to make you feel less alone.
73. That night – forlornly, gravely, hirsutely – the medium sized dog dreamt of awakeningfrom a deep sleep in a room where everything was white apart from two staring, blackpupils.
74. And when he woke, his hope had hardened as if under an oceanic weight.
75. And the bell rang and he knew no supper would come.
76. And he waited as silently as the ocean floor.
77. And the bell rang and no supper came and he waited.
78. And the bell rang and no supper came and he waited.
79. What happened next?
80. Nothing. It carried on being the same.
81. And then?
82. The bell stopped ringing. Just stopped.
83. And the supper started again. Just started.
84. And at first the medium sized dog was stony-hearted, as was now his way.
85. But gradually his former exuberance returned, and the bell and the supper, and the belland the no supper receded into the past to flicker dimly like… like the light from a distantstar.
86. The memory to the event as the ghostly light to the star that once was.
87. How do you understand the story?
88. A stoic effort.
89. But what about the bigger why?
90. You start.
91. Why is the dog sad? Because he has no supper – trite. Why is the dog sad? Because hewas expecting supper and doesn’t get it. Better. It’s not the simple absence of the supperbut its absence in comparison to the reference point, id est, supper.
92. The lack of supper is the shadow of the real supper.
93. An excellent comparison. Why does the expect supper? That’s the question. He expectssupper because he learns that the ringing of the bell is followed, as night by day, bysupper. So the ringing of the bell is the prime mover? No, the bell is, as they say, just theend of the beginning. To whit! Why does the bell ring?
94. To tell the dog it’s time for supper. Or time for no supper.
95. That’s the end to which the bell rings. But why does the bell ring? The proximate answeris simple: because someone rings it. But now we’re getting somewhere. Why doessomeone ring it? That’s the question.
96. I’m in the dark.
97. Then let’s calmly count the universes in which someone rings a bell and choosewhichever fits most flush with the facts.
99. Universe #1. Malice. A shadowy figure offstage knows that the bell will become the dog’ssupper call and cruelly decouples the supper and the bell and the bell is to the shadowyfigure as to the torturer is the… implement.
100. I don’t like it but it fits.
101. But then why does the shadowy figure put a stop to it? Let’s try Universe #2. Chaos.
102. We are, in this second realm, you might say, fools for events. We find patterns and infercauses but they are not there. Someone rings a bell because there is a bell and there is asomeone and so there is some probability – (P) – that at some point the someone willring the bell. And supper will come or not come and there will be a more or less strongcorrelation between the bell and the supper and that is it.
103. It seems… unlikely.
104. Then let’s try a third take. Science: the bell is rung… from curiosity.
105. Go on…
106. Someone rings the bell because they’re curious about the effect of the bell. On the dog.On. The. Dog.
107. What about the effect on the someone of having a hungry, disconsolate dog on their hands?
108. Quite so.
109. I don’t know which one is right but it’s not that.
110. Are you still awake?
112. It’s still dark.
113. Yes but it will be morning soon.
114. So what does cause it?
116. The dog to salivate.
117. Not the ringing bell.
118. That’s my point.
119. I think I make out your shaggy outline.
120. Let’s sleep.
121. But what if we can’t talk tomorrow?
122. We will, let’s sleep.
123. What if we’re missing the big issue?
124. Then it will still be there for us to miss tomorrow.