And just what's the difference, said Marguerite,
Between this goal and that of Elijah?
How can you compare me to that low life?
He was truly a prophet without honour,
For the measure of honour is one of scale,
The one that runs up from petty theft
To grand larceny and beyond, to swindles
Of a sublime, breathtaking magnitude.
The only honour greater, Marguerite,
Than being listed on the stock exchange
Is getting de-listed on grounds of fraud
Too extensive and too extreme in scope
And too over the top to overlook.
And there would be no honour left, in fact,
Were it not for the honour among thieves.
No commerce would animate Nineveh
And there'd be no trade in city markets
If there did not exist, approved by all,
The white collar criminals to conduct it.
Yes, I perceived how things must be done,
And I must teach myself to walk the walk,
Talk the talk, and hum that little tune
If I wanted to score big city big.
I think, bird, that you are being unfair
Concerning the town's business community.
But as I said, Marguerite, you are inured.
You have not seen the bar being lowered,
Slowly, imperceptibly, notch by notch,
Until one no longer needs to vault
To be deemed honest, only stroll across.
There are many regulations, to be sure,
And every appearance of propriety,
But what, in truth, is being sold and bought?
Little by little the town leaves behind
Concrete foundations for abstract space,
Trades away or disposes the physical
For concepts, for the intangible asset.
All is permissible, anything goes,
If it goes accompanied by paperwork.
This is a benefit of the computer.
No longer does one work to document
Each slight movement of hot air by hand.
It's all fully automatic now.
Now these billions of tiny confessions
Are recorded forever in blue ether
Painlessly, and without consequent guilt.
This is not, as claimed, for tax purposes,
But to keep a genealogical chart
Of ascending, evaporating gases.
This is the alchemy that runs the city,
The burning away of reality's dross
To find financial records hid within.
And no city is now so bookkept,
So rooted in memory, as proud Nineveh,
Yet none of them is so insubstantial.
One might suppose the town now composed
Solely of half-remembered transactions.
That sounds, she said, like the point of view
Of bitter, disenfranchised country hicks.
If a girl isn't smeared in mud and dung
She must be some empty-headed harlot,
False and foul and drenched in sickly perfume.
Most prophets come from rural backgrounds,
I admitted, and know little of harlots,
Other than, of course, by reputation.
The well-known, undeserved misfortune
That befell the famous prophet Isaiah
Would surely have been averted had he known
Enough to take some simple precautions.
However, my own view is more profound
Than that of your simple, ranting prophet.
It's a deep philosophy, very deep,
Possibly too deep for your intellect.
You lack, I suppose, the proper circuitry.
Liber Jonae Contents