Gipsy Lizzie was at the School. Again I am under the influence of that child’s extraordinary beauty. When she is reading and her eyes are bent down upon her book her loveliness is indescribable.
Rep. Francis Kilvert
July 28, 1871
Why did the ancestors invent the hero? Hypothesis 155 reads: They were fed up with gazing. What they woke up to were long hours in the presence of dire beauty, eye-haunting specimens of the lovely near or far from the hearth. In the superhuman effort to preserve order and lock away the freedom of insanity, the ancestors invented the workweek and all the component workhours.
Long before fire, they had already invented the gaze. They patterned it from moonlight. Yet, nights without moon threatened them with dreams of even longer and madder bouts of gazing. They created fire and from that new quality of light created dance and from that dance they crafted the hero – the one among them who would take all their dreams out into seas and mountains.
They trained their sights on what the hero saw, for the hero looked and conquered and possessed, never needing the fantasy or time to gaze. At a glance, he decided on desire and leaped to the take. Sometimes this killed him.
Death does not make a language. It is not the only word the ancestors inflicted on the hero.
There was one hero they fashioned from youth-hair and god-eye. They drove him out to sea in the most glorious ship of his time. Out, to conquer women. Out, to win other heroes. Out, to the worthless fleece. Then they gifted him with their scornful life and feted him with tragedy. They crowned him with old age, with pained mobility, with the only remaining path leading down into the pits of memory, where he fell inward into the spell of his own story, falling until he perceived the handiwork of the ancients. Until he apprehended this very idea of his fall. Thus was he killed, trying to say something.
As the hero cast his ultimate gaze at the design of his life, the vast civilization of termites that thrived on his ship learned their singular name, achieved the end of their hunger, and weighed down on the mighty bones of the ship that crushed its captain.