White Telephones

When man way young, and woman too, each person lived in a silent world. But man soon came to a realization, or more likely woman, that the ideas of one person are too important to keep to one's self, and they each decided on their own, for they knew not of each other's intentions, that some method must be found to make the other see as you yourself saw the world.

Woman and man tried with all of their might to give their thoughts to one another, but the thoughts of man were silent, only dancing chemicals, and woman too could only fail at this endeavor. And so it was to the children of man and woman, and to their children in-turn to solve this, the first of human kinds engineering tasks.

Many ideas were submitted, and their efficacy tested. Despite the great distance of minds they were all of the same form after all, and many found agreement in their methods. Some took the hair that their bodies produced, forming it this way and that until messages emerged. Some found understanding in the careful layering of the brittle shells of the trees where tiny foods and stinging things crawled, thought their resource was is short supply. Still others made their points with the rhythms of rocks as they fell.

Each like minded man and like minded woman gathered their followers about them and shared their ideas, limited as they were by the necessities of their mediums, but to each woman and each man of a group, the thoughts of the other groups became foreign and strange. For as long as they could remember, each person was like an islands of thoughts, and the thoughts of others were of little concerns, but now with such easy understanding between so few, the thoughts of others suddenly mattered a great deal. With no basis to move thought between the groups, each was forced to imagine the thoughts of the others.

Here in was the first of human kinds mistakes, for with no foundations to base the imagined thoughts of the others besides their rejection of what was thought the best communications method, each group learned fear and suspicion of the other. Soon there was war, war until society tore itself apart for the first time. And from the ashes came a new thought among the people, so profound that only the war itself could have brought it to the minds of the men and women.

Man, and woman too found language, and then art, and music, and on the shoulders of each of man's children grew new and innovative methods of moving thoughts. This time, each building on the last, so that no one method supplanted or displaced its progenitor. Woman and man found ever more elaborate tongues, but still, the entropy from mind to method to mind was great.

All until one day. On this day a woman of letters, in and of themselves a symbol of the many thoughts she had collected into her mind, found a new path from mind to mind, a direct path. With excitement she used her old methods to spread the thoughts she had with her colleagues, self-assured with the thought that such a clunky process would soon be a thing of the past. Soon her device was constructed, and two volunteers came forth to be the first to see from the mind of the other. She gave them each a metal hat, and she told them that each hat would move the mind of one man into the mind of the other, though only for a moment. In that moment, each man would see for an instant what was the other man's view onto the world for his lifetime.

Each man agreed, excited by the prospect, and they took their places in the laboratory of the woman. She checked each man's hat in turn, and then she moved to the controls she had built, and she activated the device.

The woman was ruined. The boards convened, boards of her former colleagues, and each in turn berated the woman for her experiments. How obvious it was to all of them now how wrong she had been; the puzzled why she could not see the folly herself, even when they too had missed it when congratulating here just a short time before.

The woman didn't care anymore, no thought could enter her mind, nothing would block the images of the two men. She could still see them every day, and hear them too, each running to opposite corners of the lab screaming, tearing off their hats, and then laughing uncontrollably. Furious one minute, and giddy the next, their minds now a blur of what they thought the world was like just 5 minutes earlier, and what they now knew it to be having seen it from the other side.

Their laughter brought other researchers running to the lab, and the woman desperately tired to snap the men out of their delirium. She told herself now that she wanted to help them, but at the time all she wanted was to know what they had seen. Each man’s yelling grew louder and louder until they caught sight of each other from across the room and suddenly fell silent. Then each man fell to his knees and then slept and slept and never woke up again.