Ignatz follows the light

Despite his comfort in his corner, Ignatz began to move, to follow the glimmer of light he had seen a moment before. He had never seen a light like this one.

Though he saw only the tiniest glimmer of it, far, far in the distance, he knew it was different from any light he had ever seen before.  This light was, unlike all the light he had ever seen, was not filtered through pains of glass.


Ignatz followed the light. He was agile and knew his way around.


Ignatz could see the man clearly now. The man was holding a candle and reading from a book while he walked. Ignatz had never seen this man before. Ignatz had been many places and he had never seen this man, yet the man seemed perfectly at ease, reading his book.


Ignatz thought for a moment that he did not want to show himself and frighten the man. No one on the other side of glass had ever seen the likes of Ignatz, unless they’d had some pretty strange nightmares. The man would most certainly run away, he thought. He had seen men run from much lesser things on the their side of the glass. Best just to follow him, Ignatz thought.


But something else occurred to Ignatz. It occurred to him that this man was not unaware, but, rather, aware yet unperturbed.  Perhaps the man knew Ignatz was there, knew what he looked like, and simply wasn’t bothered by it.  The man seemed so tranquil, so absorbed in reading his book.


Before Ignatz could puzzle it out, the man turned to him and answered the question Ignatz had in his mind but hadn’t asked aloud: “Aristotle,” the man said.

“You’re reading Aristotle?” Ignatz asked.


“Naturally? I’ve never heard of people wandering around reading Aristotle!”

“And I’ve never seen anything remotely as strange looking, Ignatz, than you!”




Ignatz was not insulted.  “What are you really reading reading?” he said, suddenly looming directly over the man’s right shoulder. “Aristotle was Greek, this book, the book you are reading, is in Latin.”

The man replied calmly: “You have caught me out. It is a tome by Saint Thomas Aquinas, in the original Latin.  I do not understand a word of it.”

“Why do you read it, then?”

“It has become a habit of mine, I’m not sure why, Ignatz. I’m not sure why. I don’t have a clue how to pronounce these words. Didn’t they say Latin was a written, not a spoken language? I thought so. So who knows how you’re supposed to say these words in your head when you read them.  They say you’re not supposed to say words aloud in your head when you read. But how else are you going to hear them?”


“You know my name?” Ignatz said.

“Yes. I know everyone’s name here. Well, everyone except for the newcomers.”


“Yes. There are two people here who do not, I believe, belong here.”


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Essays on creativity, community, social change, and the search for meaning