Saturday, 8 December 2007

The border of truth

The mind has definite limits but we don’t see them because we do not know what we do not know. However, there is a way to feel those frontiers - trying to understand paradoxes like “What I say is false.” This reminds me of a story:

Tamerlane, may Allah keep him forever where he belongs, was sick and tired of the flatterers at his court, ready to lie away the stars from the sky and say to him whatever he seemed to desire. He loved to know all the truth (even details I am shy to mention), he wanted to possess every bit of it, and he used it sparingly.

At once, the Iron Emir sent a firman across the empire to summon a jester that would tell him the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

"Truth is safety! Rasti, Rusti! Let the candid people come to me freely! My royal tent is wide open, day and night. I will ask each of them one question. The sincere will be safe, but the one who lies, I will have his head cut. Him who is truthing, I will take in my service, garb in silk and feed at my tables. And his kin and town will be spared when I get to them."

Few tried. All lost their head. Whatever they said, the Emir was bored and resolved in his own justice:

"What you say is a lie!" he would decide, and add their skulls to one of his fearful minarets.

The people of Aksehir talked Hoca into trying his own luck for the sake of the town.

In the beginning, the road - on mule back - from Aksehir to Timur's tents was long enough. The longer, the better. With the lightning advance of the Horde, the distance grew shorter by the day. Suddenly he found himself there, with the Chagatai Tartars.

As soon as he entered the presence of the awesome conqueror Nasrudin shouted:

"Inshallah! I will be beheaded!"

"You are lying!" hastened to declare Tamerlane. And he added to leave no escape:

"And whatever you are about to say is false."

To this Hoça replied with a wide smile:

"The Infallible Timur has spoken truly."


This is how Timur Kurgan, Lord of the Fortunate Conjunction of the Planets met Khoja Nasr ed Din and appointed him as House Fool.

At that time the Mullah was only one hundred and ninety four years old. This is true as nothing is ever said by storytellers that didn't happen once upon a time.

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