Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Looking Backwards

Wolff, once a Knight Commander of the Citadel, is looking at a heavy grey book. It is like an iron-bound grimoire of the corrupt; it is a compilation of voices speaking strangely about things humans were never meant to know, a xenoglossic enchiridion.

In that book, the voice of the Grand Inquisitor speaks loudly, through his own mouthings and the words of others suborned to his cause. And he saith, regarding the Citadel of the old days, "Affective education and holistic education were not emphasized in those years."

What a lie, Wolff thinks. The years after the sad departure of the Lord High Chancellor in 1984 were equally sad years, but the spirit of the Citadel never flagged. Indeed, a continuous thread of great truths and grand endeavours runs like a stream of holy fire in a river of multicoloured flame.

Wolff remembers the words of the man who succeeded the Dauntless Hero himself. Those words show the truth:

Some will naturally enquire if our only business is to gain percentages and promote boys in their standards. As well might we say that the erecting of a place of worship and collecting people in it are the chief aim of the Church, yet the building is needful, and the people are essential to the very existence of the Church. We have the boys, and we are attempting to teach them, but we do not forget for a moment that our great object is directly and indirectly to mould their characters and shape their destinies for eternity.

The transition from the office of Lord High Chancellor — a person running the Citadel for the sake of his own divine master, to that of a Grand Inquisitor — a person running the Citadel for other reasons, is clearly an awkward one. It is also not a good one, in the long term — especially if the task at hand is to 'shape their destinies for eternity.' Wolff ponders, as he pondered before he was cast out: Have we lost sight of the goal?

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