The premise of this world is no doubt fictional. It is a garden of many paths. Each path that is taken ends in a fork. If one tries to turn around, then they will find yet another fork, different than the one they previously traversed. It is unknown what happens to the paths that are not taken. The gods of this world, should they exist, must have had fickle motives.
Although the choice is only ever between two paths, this choice paralyzes some. Others always take the left path, or the right path, or they try to make no choice at all, but randomly go one way and then the other. Of course, some search for an endpoint and a meaningful purpose.
Albert, who lives in this world, has been many things in it – explorer, gardener, even philosopher. He credits himself with the singularity theorem: there are many different points in the universe where paths once began, and one day, as the numbers grow and spread, two paths will finally meet. He is a humble man, however, and so does not speculate about what would happen next.
Occasionally, neither frequently nor infrequently, you meet someone else on a path. Some people speculate this means many paths are, in fact, already connected – but that would give a regrettable incongruity to Albert’s singularity theorem, and so he personally disagrees. To him, meetings are like overlapping ripples in the same pond.
Many people in this world lack any purpose at all. They stop searching for meaning and find the endless choice of paths to be a senseless burden. Even if a path is new, it bears the same resemblance to all paths previously travelled. Some lie down and insist that they will not get up again. After a time, you can usually find them walking again, with renewed vigour and purpose. Instincts, even in this world, are difficult to overcome.
At least once, everyone tries not to follow the paths. They try to be free. They act like it is a giant maze, and if you could cut out of the side, you could escape. Often, these are the same people who are found lying down.
It is not all misery. The paths are beautiful and there are many gardeners that tend to them. It is an easy occupation to have in this world: you only need to begin tending to a path, and people will know you for a gardener. There is disagreement about whether the gardeners add any value to the paths, but it would be unwise to discuss it in their presence. It is a hardworking occupation, after all.
One day, while Albert was walking, he met a woman named Elise. Finding no reason for preamble, he told her his singularity theorem. She said it was very interesting, even plausible, but seemed much less likely than her completeness theorem: there was only one world, and one day, every path would meet another, making the world whole and complete. He said that her theory was very interesting, and indeed, even plausible, but it did not have the aesthetic merit of his singularity theorem. She corrected him, saying it was his theory that lacked the proper aesthetic merit. Since they were both dispassionate thinkers, they ignored each other’s defensive accusations, and remained firmly convinced of their own ideas. They walked along together, and after a time, became friends.
What neither of them anticipated was an abrupt change to their world. They reached a dead end. Dead ends were undreamed of – apart from the most fantastical theorists – for the simple reason that they never occurred. With due solemnity, they credited themselves with a great discovery. They examined every inch of the dead end but discovered nothing else of interest, beyond its existence.
Eventually, and with much reluctance, they decided to leave their discovery behind. They returned down the path, but after a time, found another dead end. This was irritating. They had already made one great discovery, and another one was now diminishing its significance. They turned around and eventually met another fork with another dead end. They turned around again. They made jokes and there was some talk of absolution, if only things returned to what they knew. They continued to find more and more dead ends.
After they had given into doubt and then despair, and then doubt at their despair, they reached a fork in the path. They examined this discovery with great care and grave attention. They began walking one path of the fork, and after a time, it also ended in a fork.
Albert felt vindicated. It was strange, he thought, that after the singularity had undoubtedly occurred, all the paths had naturally and spontaneously ended. Elise felt vindicated herself, after seeing every path meet another, the world had completed itself in dead ends. In any case, they agreed things had returned to normal. Saying nothing for absolution, they did not walk together for much longer. They could not explain why, but at a fork, he decided on one way, and she decided on the other.
Things continued along in this new world, until one day, Albert met another woman. He told her his singularity theorem, and she told him a completeness theorem. He was very perturbed by this occurrence, and imagined how Elise might meet a man claiming that he, and not Albert, had discovered the singularity theorem.
Feeling quite overwhelmed by the potential injustice, he asked the woman if she had ever heard about his singularity theorem before. She said, yes – but unlike her own theorem, it lacked originality. He corrected her, saying it was her own theory that lacked originality.
Luckily, they were both dispassionate thinkers, and after a time, they became friends.