Blargh Blog

Friday, October 15, 2004

The Island of Truth and Lies, Part III

(See Parts I & II before reading on)

Part III: To the Village

The logician's wondering was all in vain, which, initially, may have made it a more effective distracter. If he had figured out that the man was a liar, then he would never have been able to believe that the native was honest, and so the islander would have told a true statement - a feat which this rare breed of liars, as we know, is incapable of. If he had figured out that the man was honest, then the native's statement would have been false, which is surely not possible for an honest islander.

We who speak of this poor logician in a strange land can observe that he never will believe that the mysterious islander was an honest one, and thus we can see that the islander spoke the truth, and that he is indeed an honest fellow. But this amateur logician, though just as adept at reasoning as we, was never able to come to this conclusion, caught up as he was in the midst of the action.

As he approached the threshold of the village, his thoughts on the islander and his peculiar statement never sorted out logically. Instead, a few lines of study raised contradictions, which brought befuddlement, which precipitated the initial stages of panic. The intrepid anthropologist had been counting on his logical prowess, after all, and any weakness in that respect could spell his doom.

Fortunately, his ruminations were cut short by the appearance of another native on the side of the path. "Is this your village?" he asked immediately. An affirmative response from the native cleared the anthropologist's mind, and he did not mind that the native quickly slipped off towards the village.

The anthropologist's spirits lifted at this confirmation and he began to recognize what a momentous occasion was approaching. He was thinking clearly now, logically and practically, about how he was going to get in touch with the chief and explain himself with a minimum of questions. He could see more people up ahead, mostly women and children, in the midst of an ordinary day at this unstudied village.

On the verge of entering the village, a group of tribesmen suddenly materialized from the trees all around him. They went right for him, and, as he tried to explain his situation in just the right words they firmly and efficiently took his bag, pinned his arms behind his back, and led him towards a hut. He quieted down and they remained quiet as they locked him captive, alone, in the hut. Something had gone very wrong.

Continue to Part IV: An Honest Chief

Continue to Part V: Out of the Boiling Pot, Out of the Fire


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