The light changed slightly. Mari looked up and over at one wall. There was now a narrow, roughly door-shaped hole in it. Standing in the hole was Mage Alain. Mari stood up, realizing that her mouth was hanging open. That wall was solid. I felt it. There wasn't any opening. She watched as the Mage took two shaky steps into the cell, then paused, some of the strain leaving his face. She blinked, wondering what she had just seen, as the hole in the wall vanished as if it had never been. One moment it was there, the next it was gone. ...Mari took a long slow breath. 'They use smoke and mirrors and other 'magic' to make commons think they can create temporary holes in walls and things like that. It's all nonsense.' "Mages actually can make real holes in walls." "No."Her head hurting with increased intensity, Mari glowered at the Mage. "You didn't make a hole in the wall?""I made the illusion of a hole in the illusion of the wall."Mari looked at Mage Alain for what felt like a long time, trying to detect any sign of mockery or lying. But he seemed perfectly sincere. And unless she had completely lost her mind, he had just walked through that solid wall. ..."We can get out the same way that you got in?" Mari asked. "Through imaginary holes in the imaginary wall?" She wondered how her guild would feel about seeing that in her report. Actually, she didn't have to wonder, but she wasn't about to turn down a chance at escape. The Mage took a deep breath and swayed on his feet. "No.""No?""Unfortunately—" Alain collapsed into a seated position on the cot next to her—"the effort of finding you has exhausted me. There were several walls to get through. I can do no more for some time. I am probably incapable of any major effort until morning." He shook his head. "I did not plan this well. Maybe the elders are right and seventeen is simply too young to be a Mage."Mari stared at him. "Are you telling me that you came to rescue me, following a metaphorical thread through imaginary holes, but now that you're in the same cell with me you can't get us out?""Yes, that is correct. This one erred.""That one sure did. Now instead of one of us being stuck in here, we're both stuck in here."The Mage gave her a look which actually betrayed a trace of irritation. He must have really been exhausted for such a feeling to show. "I do not have much experience with rescues. Are you always so difficult?
He wants to tell her that he is not hopeless, that he is not filled with hatred or violence, that he is not a number, a 300 or 600 or any hundred, but just a kid with no one and nothing, and who would do anything to make it otherwise. Just tell me how, he wants to scream. He wants to tell her what it's like to have the same dream night after night, that he's playing tag with his little sister, laughing, happy - then waking up and not knowing if the image in his head is a dim memory, or just something his mind cooked up to fill the black hole. Do you know what it's like to have no past? he wants to ask. And behind it all, like a ringing in his ears, is the question that really nags at him all the time, the one that has haunted him since he was six years old and his family evaporated. He wants to ask it, then and there and for good: What did I do wrong back then? What did I do to deserve this life?
Language as a PrisonThe Philippines did have a written language before the Spanish colonists arrived, contrary to what many of those colonists subsequently claimed. However, it was a language that some theorists believe was mainly used as a mnemonic device for epic poems. There was simply no need for a European-style written language in a decentralized land of small seaside fishing villages that were largely self-sufficient.One theory regarding language is that it is primarily a useful tool born out of a need for control. In this theory written language was needed once top-down administration of small towns and villages came into being. Once there were bosses there arose a need for written language. The rise of the great metropolises of Ur and Babylon made a common written language an absolute necessity—but it was only a tool for the administrators. Administrators and rulers needed to keep records and know names— who had rented which plot of land, how many crops did they sell, how many fish did they catch, how many children do they have, how many water buffalo? More important, how much then do they owe me? In this account of the rise of written language, naming and accounting seem to be language's primary "civilizing" function. Language and number are also handy for keeping track of the movement of heavenly bodies, crop yields, and flood cycles. Naturally, a version of local oral languages was eventually translated into symbols as well, and nonadministrative words, the words of epic oral poets, sort of went along for the ride, according to this version.What's amazing to me is that if we accept this idea, then what may have begun as an instrument of social and economic control has now been internalized by us as a mark of being civilized. As if being controlled were, by inference, seen as a good thing, and to proudly wear the badge of this agent of control—to be able to read and write—makes us better, superior, more advanced. We have turned an object of our own oppression into something we now think of as virtuous. Perfect! We accept written language as something so essential to how we live and get along in the world that we feel and recognize its presence as an exclusively positive thing, a sign of enlightenment. We've come to love the chains that bind us, that control us, for we believe that they are us (161-2).