“But there arose in our pathway a shrouded human figure, very far larger in its proportions than any dweller among men. And the hue of the skin of the figure was of the perfect whiteness of the snow.”
As our boat neared this figure, the shrouds of fog fell away, dispelling the mystery and awe, and there stood the most enormous of animals I had ever seen. Some, fair readers, may have chanced upon the brothers of this animal in the woods or at the dinner table, for it was a bear. This bear, though, was larger than any I have heard stories about, for it stood several spans higher than the tallest man, and its fur was as white as fresh snow. When I looked into its eyes, I felt a queer sensation of intelligence, a subtle knowledge that indicated that this was not a common beast, but a being of power and intelligence. These suspicious were affirmed when it called out to us in a rough, guttural voice,
“Come, over here, you look hungrier than a bear stranded in the desert.”
Of course you can imagine my shock, being talked to by a rather large, pure white beast, but as this strange current was pulling me to shore I had no choice. We set in, dropping ballast and anchor into the sandbar that appeared approximately 30.4 feet from the beach proper, and I locked the gunwales and oarlocks to keep the longboat from drifting. The wood of the bottom was sodden and showed that a leak had sprung in the past 19 hours, but I thought little of it for the ship was made of a rosewood that was particularly resistant to mold and corruption. Regardless, Peters and I settled the bilge to pump the brig while we explored the landscape with this talking animal.
I came ashore but found my footing to be less than sure, and accidentally pitched forward, jolting Peters to his knees. Instantly the bear bounded up and took Peters in his mighty jaws and crushed his head. My longtime companion, slain like a bull at the slaughter! I shook violently, for I feared my journeys would find a painful end, but the bear was content with the body of Peters. As he gorged himself on the flesh, he seemed to catch his senses and turned to me. He looked again deeply into my eyes, and then turned around and stalked away. I knew I was to imitate this action and thus followed without question with my new host. We ambled up a beachhead of pure white sand and came upon a stone structure that was made of a familiar type of rock. It was white marble, the same that the stonemason from down the road in Nantucket used to make gravestones.
Inside the building was a large room with a low set table in the center. There were braziers along the walls of the room that gave off a pleasant warmth while the candles on the table lit the faces of five…beings who were lying on low couches around the table. In the far corner I espied more of these white bears, three, clutching small instruments that I could recognize as carved metal flutes. My body quaked again with fear at seeing these beasts.
I neared the table and my guide announced, “I found this man drifting in a ship of terrible construction. He has offered his companion as payment, and I honor that act. I bring him to you.”
The first being to address me was a gargantuan, golden colored cat. The cat had what can only be described as a mane of reddish hair that appeared as a tuft at the end of his whip-like tail. He said to me in a resonant voice,”Come, sit with us. I know that you have been hungry, so listen to me without question and talk with us.”
I felt strangely moved by his words and felt myself lay myself on the couch next to this great being. To my left was a haggard-looking fellow, long black hair, and a slender frame. He gave me a sinister grin and moved a stick the length of my forearm from between us on top of the table. I felt unnerved by his dark robes and speculated that the stick was of great importance to him. The large cat next to me spoke to me again,
“Welcome to Symposium, young Arthur. We have partaken in a light meal already but crave sustenance more intellectual, and you happen to have arrived at precisely the right time. Feel free to enjoy the fruits and wine before us and the discussion between us. I hope you have some strong sentiments on the issue of love, for not the other day I ran into Apollodorus who said to me,
‘Aslan, I see that you have bathed yourself and are wearing sandals! I must inquire as to why you are so fine?’
‘Apollodorus, I have just returned from my bath and am on my way to a house of candy and sweets, deep in a magical forest that is somewhat reminiscent of childhood.’
‘I am on my way to the Symposium, at the end of the white river, to speak on true love! Oh, but alas, I cannot attend, as I have forgotten to guard my city from the Spartans; can you please go in my stead?’
“On the way to our Symposium, I came across a curious being. It called itself a daemon, and it said that it was the anthropomorphism of several human emotions, from love to conscience to identity. Before you arrived, we had an information session on daemons, and were about to begin discussion. You may feel free to join when it is your turn. Flute girls, we have no need of you, you may leave-” the snow-white bears in the corner slinked out, their soft whispers inaudible,”- and we shall begin with a statement from Mr. Sirius Black. Sirius?”
The haggard man beside me stood up and began to speak, and this is what he said.
Thank you, Aslan, for welcoming our guest and letting me begin our discussion. Only you could be so gracious to let me preface and initiate what will inevitably be a great discussion, for you are here to contribute. I must begin this discussion with the curious act of settling. It seems that after the first coitus, a daemon settles into a particular form. The cause and effect is sexuality in action and then settling of the daemon. Are they inextricably linked? I think not, and even a flobberworm would agree. The hypothetical situation of the monk or nun who doesn’t engage in sexual acts should logically not have a daemon that is settled, but as our friend from the Magisterium explained earlier, this is not the case. I propose then that daemons are not necessarily linked with sexuality and the arousal of it, but with the growth of sexuality.
What determines the growth of sexuality? It most obviously the maturity of the individual, and doesn’t necessarily require examples of the sexuality. A hermit in a cave would still have his daemon settle the same as a child who lives with many people. When talking of daemons, it cannot be forgotten that they are the anthropomorphism of emotions- the emotional soul grows just as much as the physical body. During pubescence, the body grows, and with daemons, it can be seen that the soul grows too.
The man next to Sirius began to move in response to these statements. He was a large man of great girth and stature. His rheumy eyes told tales of cruelty and deviousness, and he had nimble hands that enlaced and fidgeted with every comment. I saw a bag on the floor next to him with glittery objects that had spilled out earlier, and upon closer examination, they turned out to be eyes. I shrunk away as he began to speak:
Thank you, thank-a you great Sirius, but I must disagree. Give me eyes! The body may-a grow, and the soul may-a grow, but why does the daemon settle into a particular form? Don’t emotional souls change? Can it-a be that a person who lives by-a himself has no emotional growth? No growth?! Don’t emotions grow through experience? A man who has-a no experiences with his emotions would not-a have a settled daemon, and a man with a settled daemon can have his-a emotional soul change. Change!
I have to ask a question- what basis determines the form-a of a daemon? There are many examples that a daemon takes a form that relates to the class-a structure of his individual partner; the daemon serves as a type of caricature of his partner’s social class mindset. One example! One example! The sailor who lived at sea and his daemon became a dolphin. He was water-bound for his whole life, but that was what-a he did, so it worked. How is that tied to sexuality? The only rational answer is that-a he grew to a certain emotional maturity while at sea, and the daemon’s form represents his true identity or soul. Daemons then are the anthropomorphism of identity that determines identity at full emotional maturity.
Several of the creatures at the table nodded as this man sat down. I couldn’t see until now that there was a beautiful woman next to him that was hidden previously by his great girth. She moved not an inch during her couch-mate’s speech, and I wondered if she was deaf and dumb, or whether she was alive at all. I caught a glance of her eyes before she was hidden by the large man, and I felt a little more egotistical and proud of my achievements, but that feeling vanished quickly as she disappeared from view.
I could tell that this discussion was of some order, for the being to the left of the large man stood up to speak. This was the strangest being among us, for he was a light unto himself. He looked like the images I have seen in the old children’s Bibles back in Nantucket; we called them angels. This being was naked and had large wings that radiated light. I felt a sense of misplaced authority, as if a child had put on his father’s pants and found himself drowning in the folds but thinking he was the greatest being since God. He swept up into the air on his wings, as if stretching himself in anticipation of his response, and began.
You mortals have certainly tried in vain to truly represent what love is, and I applaud your minds for evolving even this far to create comprehensive thought. However, since you ARE simply mortals and I am a higher being, it is of no surprise for you two to be vastly wrong. I shall explain, since I have the greatest respect for Aslan, and will only pray to myself that you understand a fragment of what I am about to say. You have reached an interesting conclusion concerning daemons being the anthropomorphism of identity, but I want to address the term “emotional maturity” that you mortals have been tossing around.
What is emotional maturity? You lesser beings seem to insinuate that when an individual is capable to create complex and deep emotional bonds, they are at emotional maturity. However, can’t an infant have intense emotional bonds with their mother? Are a child’s emotional bonds with peers and parents less complex or diverse than an adult? I think not, because I have seen mortal children form alliances, wage childlike war, betray close friends, and taunt and mock until their target comes to tears. Children sometimes have far more intricate emotional matrices than adults, and they can change just as quickly or slowly as an adult. A grudge against a parent for not buying a toy can last longer than a blood feud betwixt Viennese families.
I shall of course make this argument clearer, because you simple beings must undoubtedly have been confused. The other end of emotional complexity spectrum- simpleton adults seem to have reached emotional maturity long ago, but their emotional maturity is like a newborn babe. Their daemons have settled, yet they comparatively have emotional maturity that is far less developed than other beings whose daemons haven’t settled.
All these musings, I’m sure, have fascinated you all, but I grow weary of speaking down to mere physical beings. I will just simply tell you what daemons really are, and what purpose they serve. I have spoken many eons with God on this topic, and I fully understand what daemons symbolize and their use. Daemons are- wait a second!
He looked at me, and gasped.
Are you Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket? The one who was about to reach the top of the world?
I nodded. With that, he disappeared in a puff of anticlimax.
Several people at the table shifted uncomfortably, but it was apparent that a grim judgment had been lifted from the table. Everyone seemingly let out a breath of free will that they had been unknowingly holding for a while.
After a couple of murmurs, Aslan spoke;
“That was most unfortunate, but we must make do with what we have. Mr. Metatron brings several interesting points to light. I believe, though, it is Ms. Gretel’s turn to speak.” He waved his paw at the final person at the table, a small girl wearing adorable pigtails and a darling red sundress. She spoke with a thick German accent.
Thank you so much, pretty lion. I’m not as smart as some of you bigger people, but I know a lot about being a kinder folk. I wish Hansel was here, he’s so smart, but he was eaten by your terrible bear. Please tell him not to eat me too, and if he doesn’t, I can take him to a house made of sweets.
I think that a daemon settles when someone finds a true love. Mr. Black, I think you have been dropping breadcrumbs to lead us a little astray from the start. I think that around pubescence, people find something in life that they love for a different reason than ‘just because.’ Kinder folk love their parents because of instinct and because of need. Kinder folk may make friendships and emotional bonds with other kinderfolken, but these are random and not as thought out as a true adult making emotional bonds. Kinderfolken do make intricate emotional ties, but not with total understanding of why they are made. If Hansel throws mud at me, I form a negative emotional tie with him. That tie is pre-empted and concluded by one act. This is different than love, which can be pre-empted with an act but doesn’t end there. The emotional maturity which many of you big people have been talking about is the fully rational knowledge that there is an emotional tie, it is recognized, and it is acknowledged. That may even be before coitus, or whatever that is that Mr. Black mentioned before.
What Mr. Coppelius said is partially right and partially wrong. I don’t think that daemons are necessarily the identity of the individual, but a form that may reflect the biggest aspect of their personality. A daemon may represent the capability and hubris of an individual, like a vibrantly colored monkey, or it can represent a love of the sea as a dolphin, as in Mr. Coppelius’s example. The daemon doesn’t necessarily indicate a person’s total being- that would be mean and discriminatory! That’s like saying that a person with a big nose believes in a monotheistic deity and reads from a scroll of elders in an ancient language that students at a Jewish accredited university study. That’s silly! A daemon can even take the form of a being that has been especially powerful in the person’s life, similar to animist beliefs in power animals.
Before Mr. Metatron went away, he made a good point that emotional maturity is a variable term. What he said was that there needed to be an absolute maturity that people reach for their daemons to settle. However, he tried to say that children can have more complicated and deeper emotional bonds than adults, but as I said before, those intricate bonds have none of the foresight and understanding that true emotional bonds have. He also made an interesting point that there are adults who have a very poorly developed emotional soul, but he compared these people to others. What should be noticed, though, is that relatively, these adults have reached the apex of their emotional maturity. Comparatively, the adults may have less of an emotional range, but relatively, their emotional capabilities are at their maximum. Their daemons settled because they came into this emotional maximum.
I hope that I have been as helpful as you other great people have been to me. I feel awfully smart, sitting with guys like you. Thank you, Aslan, for having this party, and if you could, could you bring Hansel back to life?
Aslan smiled at the little girl, which bared some rather fearsome teeth, and gestured to the door. A boy, of the same girth and age as the little girl Gretel, stood in the entryway. Gretel emitted a squeak of happiness and rushed over to her brother, and they embraced. Everyone at the table smiled at this display.
Aslan turned to me and said,
“Now that you have eaten your fill of food and drink, you may contribute to the intellectual feast.”
I felt dumbfounded. I had no way to respond, and I knew that if I did not repay these people in intellectual thought, the bears outside would be summoned in and I would be summarily eaten, just as Peters had been. My mouth moved noiselessly, and sweat began to bead. I stood up, and waved my arms as if I were to begin.
Behind me, two arms grabbed me and pulled me backwards. The room I was just in suddenly was obscured, as if I fell through a window. This window, though, was in the middle of thin air, and I was in a completely new setting. The people at the table stood up and started to come to this window, but a hand that had pulled me backwards reached forward and pinched shut what I can only describe as a window.
I looked around me and found myself on the wharf back in Nantucket. My eyes were not deceiving me! The same shops were on the same boulevard, with the same figures moving about the road. I stood up, in amazement, and looked at who had grabbed me. It was a small man, who was clutching a badly duct-taped knife in his hand. He looked at me and said,
“Well, here you are! I hope this works out well for you. I also resurrected your friend, which was a bit of magic, but of course I could do it.”
I didn’t know what to say. I gaped at him for a couple more seconds.
“So you’re probably wondering what’s going on, no? You’ve had quite some adventures! Well, hi, my name is Acem Six DuHane, but you can call me Ace. I’ve got this knife here, which is a pretty fun thing, and I’ve got some magical skills too,” he gestured to a stick on his belt that looked similar to the stick that the man Sirius Black had with him,”…and I go around fixing things. You can call me the adventure handyman; I keep things interesting while always leaving an outlet to solve gigantic problems.”
I finally found my words and asked, “What?”
“Well, I’d like to stick around more, but I’ve got more crazy adventures to solve through pure virtue of my omnipotence, but if you ever need me, just get some character development and a seemingly impossible situation to escape. Cheers!”
And with that, he cut a hole in thin air and disappeared into a window of omnipotence.