Purification and Beauty in Simplicity

The wonder of the anti-depth movement

From his pulpit, the cleric of the Anti-Depth holds up his hands, the thick sleeves of the robes fold back along his arms, the staff gleams in the night. It is a staff of power, plain, unadorned, a length of polished steel. It commands respect for this man, more than his size, more than his physical strength. With this staff he exceeds every king, he will conquer every emperor. The crowd has stilled. They hang upon his whim. Every eye is on the staff, the box which is the pulpit.

"My people!" He shouts.

"The people!" Thousands of throats echo back.

"Why revere the simple?"

The chant is simple, even so, a few voices garble it, marring the purity of the phrases; "The simple is pure. The simple is true. The simple is known."

The cleric swings the rod above his head, bringing it crashing against the pulpit. Both artefacts, simple and true, hold, sending a retort through the audience, electrifying them to his words. "The simple is known because it is knowable." The crowd responds with a yes, though some, probably new initiates go too far and holler alleluia, breaking the purity of the moment. "Mistake not subtle depth for simple purity! Subtle depth is the anti-simple, the great evil which stalks our land." Again the staff crashes to the pulpit. Again the crowd is electrified.

"Reject that which requires work!" This is the populist portion of the sermon, and, as always, the mob forgets restraint as it responds. Gritting his teeth, the cleric continues. "If a rational mind cannot grasp it in a second, it is evil. It stinks of depth." Again, the terrible discordance. "Strike down the overlords! Kill the monster's masters!"

Grating, seething dissonance. "Platonics!" Fractal noise. "Love." Hateful, painful racket. "The obvious!" Somewhere, hidden in that crowd there are the avatars of depth, polluting the call. "Destroy the artists." He sees them. Brazen fools. Relying on their subtlety to hide them in the crowd. "Long live the craftsmen! Kill the artists!"

The noontime crowd is surprised. Normally the madmen preaching their various artistic philosophies are ignorable, the tourists even pose around them, pretending to be listening so they can get their pictures taken by friends or family. The murder comes as a complete surprise. People around the square try to remember what that particular madman was preaching from his orange crate. The madman is released from the hospital a few years later, but his orange crate bears a warning to avoid approaching while wearing loud floral patterns or frilly dresses. As a result, no tourists come close to him. A few of the artists take pity on the broken old man, and eat their lunches while he rants. One day an artist happens to bring a strudel for dessert.

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This work is Copyright (c) Mike Fletcher 1997