Parmenides of Elea

Frame all illumination

Parmenides of Elea, born of an illustrious family and held in high esteem for his excellent legislation and exemplary life, paused at a fork in the road where he covered his head and became pensive, but eventually was forced to mumble an opinion: “Two roads to take,” followed by: “Relativity, relativity, all is relativity.”

Frustrated by the alchemy of heat and logic he sat down, out of the sun, under a large plane tree and beckoned his understudies to join him: “The first rule of science, lads: only ever study that which is. Remember: everything we study exists and cannot not exist, for if it does not exist then it cannot be recognised, and it should not be mentioned.” Then, looking at the hunched shapes before him, mottled by shadows of wide leaves: “We can only think of that which exists, and that alone is what can be thought of. If I can recognise it, or can think of it, it exists. If I can recognise it I can think of it. It is not possible that that which exists does not exist, if it does not exist it is not possible that it exists. If it does not exist it does not exist. To be and not to be, the same thing is and is not, exists and does not exist.” And when he had everyone nodding at his wisdom he laughed and shook his head: “But also remember that existence is also a relative thing,” inspired by his own mind twisting into the realm of a new found truth: “There are things here that exist here that do not exist in Libya. There are things in Libya that do not exist in Cyprus,” and his eyes flashed: “Relativity, relativity, all is relativity,” then became absurdly serious: “Think with me of things that do not exist.”

The acolytes nodded and murmured in unison as with responding to a prayer:

“We will.”

“Speak to me of things that do not exist.”

“We will.”

“Study with me these things that do not exist.”

“We will.”

“I cannot believe in anything that is not necessary,” a scepticism which made him grey: “Why think of death, if it is but a return from where we have come?”

Now only one of the students, the would-be philosopher himself, Zeno, was brave enough to ponder an answer:

“Because it is a necessity.”

And all were surprised when their mentor nodded:

“Necessity, yes. Maybe. But what is necessity? To be born from nothing? Why? Why would one want to be born from nothing?” which encouraged a new dip into the metaphysical lake: “Walk the infinite path, unborn, undying. The integral, the unique. Unmovable, balanced, that never was, nor will be, that is always Now. One continuum. Imagine the absolute – what need is nothing? – What need? To be born and die? What is the need of it?” and then: “It is or is not, that is the need. There is no coming into being. It is or is not.” Which made him gasp at the revelation opening before him and within him: “It is… It is all. It is all the same. All and the same. Everything and the same everywhere, the same size. There is no beginning and no end. The Genesis and Destruction are lost on the horizons so far away. There are no horizons. No curve,” then directly to his apostles: “O, true faith is required to believe in the infinite: do you have the balls for it?” Then when he had them cautiously nodding: “Nothing is, nor will be, other than that which is the same,” then lifted a tremulous finger: “From here to there and there to there, the same. From here to anywhere, from anywhere to anywhere, the same… same, always the same.”


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