An Ontological Allegory

Sam was an ice cube. He was born on February 11, and that was of course his birthday, but he had 19 other brothers born the same day. They were identical except for their ears. They each had one ear, where they had been attached to the center of the rotating ice cube tray. When they broke free to fall into the ice bucket, some of the ears came out longer than others, and that’s how they could tell each other apart. They actually weren’t cubes at all, but rather crescent-shaped, but it would sound silly to call them “ice crescents”, wouldn’t it?

Sam's life in the ice bucket mostly consisted of long conversations with his brothers, but it was livened up by the 'Mixer-Upper', a silver armed god that turned on occasion and moved the ice cubes around in the bucket.

One day Sam found himself in the middle of other cubes who were discussing the nature of their world.

"The Mixer-Upper is there so we don't get bored," said one.

"But who made the Mixer-Upper?" asked another.

"Blasphemy..." whispered a tiny voice from the bottom of the bucket, but it was ignored

"Well, you may as well ask who made US!"

"So you think the Icemaker has designed our world to keep us entertained?"

Sam thought about this for a while as the others continued the discussion. In fact, by the time he thought of a question, they had wondered off into an argument over which way was in fact UP, and did it really matter.

Sam said "I wonder about something."

"It speaks," said another. "Wait, wait, Sam has something to say." It was not a nice tone of voice.

Sam's voice cracked as usual, for that's how ice cubes speak to each other, "How is it that newly born ice cubes can fall into the bucket at all?"

"If they didn't we wouldn't be here to argue about it," said one smugly, "therefore it MUST be that way."

"But," said Sam, "if ice cubes keep falling, why doesn't the bucket ever fill up all the way to the top?"

That was something no ice cube had every thought of before. They were stunned into silence for a few moments.

"I have it," said one finally. "It's well known that ice cubes shrink when they get old. Do any of you know Stinky? He's been here forever, and he's about one third our size."

The others agreed. Sam wasn't so sure.

"But then there should be a LOT of little tiny ice cubes around. I know Stinky, but he seems to be pretty alone, stuck to the bottom of the bucket as he is."

"True." The originator of the theory seemed as puzzled as the rest.

"What if…" Sam said, "…what if the Mixer-Upper does more than just rearrange us?"

"How so?"

"Well, the only time we ever move is when the Mixer-Upper does its job. If an ice cube were going to leave the bucket, that would be the time."

The other cubes almost cracked up over that.

"Leave the bucket! You're losing it Sam. No one ever leaves the bucket."

"I'm just saying that could explain it. What if the mixer upper takes cubes out of the bucket and then dumps them back in the top as new ones?"

"You know better than that. The newly born cubes are flawless. Not old, beat up relics, which they would be if they were recycled like you suggest."

"Well maybe they get new bodies."

"I don't know how we'd test that theory, Sam. How would you know The difference? Unless you're suggesting we all have memories of leaving the bucket and being reborn over and over."

"What if we forget?"

"Sam, Sam. If we have new bodies and new minds, what of US is left?" But the question would go unanswered.

The Mixer-Upper began its long grinding noise. Sam felt himself lifted up, and suddenly he and three of this neighbors were dumped down a chute into a smaller bucket. As he was drenched in Whiskey, Sam realized that the world was much bigger than he'd ever suspected. His last act was to yell this fact as loud as he could, in hopes that some in the big ice bucket might hear him. He cracked and popped as loudly as he could, until the warm liquid consumed him.


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