Interra and the Authors
When I was a child, my mother told me the story of the Internet. She told me of the Librarian who fought the Authors to bring information to everybody. I will tell you the story as she told me.
Many years ago, in the land of Tenenlibris, all information was kept hidden and locked away in the halls of the Authors, who viewed themselves as the only beings worthy of accessing all knowledge. The only information that made its way to the people was what they chose to allow the people to read; it was stored in libraries that only catered to the citizens of Tenenlibris that the Authors allowed inside. Our story begins in one of these libraries.
A Librarian safekept one of these sacred rooms; for years, she carefully tended to her collection, dusting each leatherbound tome with the gentleness of a mother. She led each patron of the library to the knowledge they sought. She polished the tables and swept the tile floors and sang, her haunting melodies echoing against the domed ceiling—and she read. Every book that entered the library endured the meticulous scrutiny of the Librarian.
As she read, she thought. Only the blessed ones whom the Authors favored were allowed inside the hallowed halls of knowledge. But where were the citizens, the poor, the unfavored? Why should they be kept from this knowledge?
“It is the way of the world,” Author Obex told her. “You, our favored Librarian Interra, have been granted a station that very few achieve. You are among the most blessed. Be content.”
Interra tried to forget her wonderings, but each day brought up more questions. The people of Tenenlibris could not gain power or wealth without knowledge, but knowledge only belonged to the powerful and wealthy. Nothing would change until the common folk were allowed to learn.
The Librarian waited until the night of a new moon. Then she crept from her library into the castle where the Authors lived. Their vast stores of books were hidden away in the innermost part of their sanctum. She had been privileged to see the Supreme Library on occasion, when the Authors called for her to fetch more books for her humble library.
The pathway was blocked by a solid iron door. Upon the door lay an inscription: Qui habet scientiam, perducat. Qui non habet, sequatur. Only Authors and some Librarians spoke Latin, in those days, and thus Interra knew that this was the code. She lay her hand upon the door and whispered, “Scientia sequitur scientiam, potentia sequitur potentiam.”
The door creaked open slowly. Tiptoeing inside, Interra lifted her lantern and let her gaze travel over the rows and rows of imposing shelves. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of books stood in stately rows. This was the core of knowledge; this was what the people deserved. Her few scripts in her library couldn’t compare to the worlds that lay inside this room.
Interra lifted a small notebook out of her pocket. She had crafted this little book weeks ago, as she began her planning. It was bound in the softest leather, its pages crisp and clean. She opened to the first leaf and set the notebook on the ground.
“I thought you might come,” a hollow voice echoed behind her. She spun to see Author Obex. “Our dear Librarian Interra, we offered you so much. You had a place second only to us. And this is how you repay us?”
Interra stood straight, hiding the trembling of her hands. “You thought I might come,” she echoed. “Truly, I stand in awe. Such is the knowledge of the Authors.”
“Such is the knowledge of the Authors.” He smiled patronizingly, joining her word game. This was a common habit among intellectuals, and the Authors enjoyed it greatly. “We are the most intelligent; thus, we guard the books. Your place is in the Library, not among us.
“My place is in the Library, not among you. I was given my place by the grace of the Authors. If the Authors are gracious, the citizens should be given knowledge.”
“The citizens should be given knowledge—the knowledge that the Authors graciously allow. It is the order of things.”
“It is the order of things. The order is established by the Authors, who rule through knowledge. Knowledge follows knowledge; power follows power. You rule unchallenged through a system of your own creation.”
“We rule unchallenged through a system of our own creation. It is because we know what is best for the people. Knowledge is power, and power unchecked in the hands of untrained denizens can lead to harm. We prevent that harm by our rule.”
“You prevent that harm by your rule. Your rule offers no opportunity for anarchy; such wisdom is to be expected from the Authors.”
“Such wisdom is to be expected from us. We have knowledge; we create knowledge. Only we have the minds to hold such knowledge.”
“Only you have the minds to hold such knowledge. The people cannot create as you can; I only create small things. My creations are nothing to yours.”
“Your creations are nothing to ours.” He smiled wider. “You see, Librarian. Our rule is for everyone’s best interest. Your own creations are mere echoes of our might.”
“My own creations are mere echoes of your might.” Interra hid her smile, keeping her eyes fixed on the plush carpet. “My notebook is a mere shadow of your volumes. I could fill it within seconds if I tried to copy your Library.”
“You could fill it within seconds if you tried to copy our library,” Obex replied. “Clever Librarian. Your humility befits you. Try to fill your notebook; you may take all the knowledge it fits with you. Then be satisfied.”
“I will be satisfied,” Interra answered, finally looking up with triumph written in her eyes. “Thank you, Author Obex. Your kindness is appreciated.”
Turning back to her notebook, she knelt and stroked her pencil across the first page. Soft light rose from the paper, slowly growing brighter. A responding light lifted from the books on the shelves surrounding it, drifting down to meet the little notebook. Words scrawled across the surface, unmarked by human hands. They printed themselves onto the page, shining brighter and brighter. The glow spread throughout the Supreme Library as more and more words filled the little book. The pages fluttered and shook, but still the words continued their steady march. Every book in the room glowed; the notebook shone like the sun.
Then the glow faded; the book snapped shut. Interra picked it up. “Thank you, Author Obex,” she said with a bow. “I’ll take my leave.”
Author Obex nodded shakily; even his vast wisdom had not prepared him for such a sight. He escorted Interra out of the castle and back to her library.
The Librarian took her little notebook to her room. There, she worked tirelessly into the night, preparing the next stage of her plan.
Morning dawned, and Interra fell into her habits of tending to her library. She greeted the patrons, organized the books, and read some more. Then as night fell, she retreated to her rooms once more to work.
For weeks, she toiled away, hunched over her desk with only the light of a single lamp to aid her. Hundreds of little notebooks filled her rooms; they lay scattered across her bed, the floor, every counterspace and tiny shelf. On the night of the next full moon, she sat back and admired her work. Taking her first notebook from her pocket, she placed it on her desk and tapped the cover. The warm glow emanated from the pages again, meeting with the answering light from the new books. Interra opened one; words had drifted to the page, words that had only existed in the Supreme Library until recently. Every word, every semicolon, every paragraph and chapter, now filled every miniscule notebook.
That morning, Interra took to the streets, abandoning her haven on her quest to deliver knowledge. Pushing a shelving cart full of notebooks, she handed one to every person she saw. Every child and grandparent, every healthy and sick soul, every burdened worker and innocent waif received a notebook. They consumed the words therein, only needing to speak to the notebook what they wished to read and having it delivered right to their hands. “It’s a miracle!” they cried. “Interra has saved us!”
Interra returned to her library, where she placed a notebook on a pedestal in the very center. She ran her fingers lightly over the cover. Then, beginning to hum happily, she picked up a duster and began to clean the shelves.
And that, children, is where the Internet comes from, and why it comes in small devices.
Author Karis Wagner can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Feature photo by Pastor Bo Wagner
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