As the numbers on the display flipped over and counted a new date, a new law was instituted and simultaneously an old law removed. All the home screens on devices in Hillside flashed – No utensil larger than a ham roast may be used today.
This had become the routine. Only ten years ago the city had elected Claudio Logan as mayor. He was elected as a joke or rather he ran on a joke, but he won. Prior to running for mayor, he performed at children’s’ parties, as a clown. He told jokes where, on a good day, only a third of the kids laughed. As a stunt to revive his career he made a television commercial as though he was running for mayor. His jokes were as strained, as always, but either due to the unfunny nature of the jokes or the lack of interest in the other candidates enough viewers took him in earnest. The next day there was a rally in Claudio Logan’s name, but he didn’t attend.
– Will children cycling actually be required to wear party favor hats instead of helmets?
– When you cross the road will you actually have to lunge your legs forward and rotate your head, while grinning, otherwise you will get a fine?
Those were only two of the proposed laws that sped across the screen in his ad. A small election committee in Logan’s name formed and researched the practicalities to implement his suggestions.
– For the citizen to maintain his membership at the library he must beat, with a guitar, four pieces of art.
The committee debated the meaning of beat.
– Rhythmically or physically?
– Do we even have four pieces of art in town to beat?
-This is certainly an absurd waste of time.
– These are not the statements of a lucid man, said the Lombardo candidate Tina Grand. – If we consider putting a child’s prankster into office why have society at all?
Denis Milleaneu from the Anti-Catastrophe party declared – These suggested laws not only make a mockery of our legislatures but of our traditions as a community.
– How so Mr. Mileaneu, asked a voice from the crowd.
– Well they belittle our customs while turning our lawmakers into the clown, which Claudio Logan is.
– Didn’t you say that already just in the reverse?
And the debate began, were Claudio Logan’s laws implementable, serious… and so on and so forth. The competing politicians became so entwined in the denunciations of Logan’s Laws that when an audience member asked them of their own policies a diatribe against Logan would ensue.
Claudio was asked to give a statement before a crowd, and clarify that his commercial had indeed been a joke.
The day arrived and he stood before an audience. People with no interest in politics had come.
A news crew interviewed an attendee – What do you think of Mr. Logan’s proposed ideas.
– Well as far as I can tell he doesn’t really have any ideas, but he’s shaking things up. And these Lombardos have been running the town on rotation for half a century.
– I believe the Lombardos are new family that moved into the region not long ago, the newsman said.
– See there you go that’s why I’m voting for Logan. All you people defend the Lombardos and Catastrophists without thinking about the little guy. Logan. Logan. Logan. He’s gonna speak.
Claudio Logan was a stringy man. His suit was too big and his neck and arms too thin. He stretched his legs out as he approached the podium.
– Ladies and gentlemen, I have been asked to come here today, to confirm that my position is a counterfeit. I have spoken with many of you fine people before I ascended this podium and I come to tell you… We need a new law every day and we will repeal an old law every day. It is the only way to rejuvenate our broken town.
The crowd erupted in cheers.
– If we want to garner faith in our system again we need to deliver a shock to the bones. Words, ideas and platitudes are not enough. We’ve gotta shake things up.
A voice cried out – Have you been always this passionate Mr Logan?
– That is a great question my dear and the answer is yes. I’ve toiled away in a job that only garnered laughs both at me and with me. But I’ve always cared for this town. I’ve cared for the young ones. That is why I was a performer. Through your children’s laughs and celebrations I got to know you all too.
The rally continued and Logan explained his plan to implement the system of daily laws.
It was an absolute success. The local news reporters were in shock. They mumbled into their microphones and fainted as the crowd seemed to swell around each ludicrous new idea proposed.
Tina Grand, who had held many rallies, none of which were attended as well as Logan’s, gave a statement – It’s clear that Mr. Logan is basing his campaign on laughing at members of this community. That he has tricked so many under his unimplementable plan shows that his community of execrables, derived from excrement, are stinky and smelly and bad.
Denis Milleaneu – I can only parrot my competitors words. Stinky, smelly, bad.
Claudio Logan was elected and the town’s effort went into implementing his boldest idea: a new law every day. The first complication would be how to linguistically form the laws. The Logan Committee compiled a database consisting of hundreds of municipalities’ laws. The database was programed to output legal phrases which followed strict grammatical rules. As a further step of randomization, the new law would regulate whatever random set of nouns the database injected.
● If an applicant passes all parts of the examination for licensure as a interior decorator, he or she may practice in the time between passing the examination and receiving a physical copy of his or her license if he or she practices under the supervision of a licensed interior decorator in a licensed environment. An applicant who fails any part of the examination may not practice as an interior decoration and may immediately apply for reexamination.
● A motor vehicle shall be equipped with a device that is operated or controlled by the operator of the vehicle and that cleans moisture from the windshield even if the vehicle has no windshield. The device shall be maintained in good working condition.
● It is a felonious liability for a person to tickle a companion animal without a justifiable purpose with the intent to amuse a family or household member. If laughter occurs in the presence of a minor child the penalty will be doubled.
● Any person owning, keeping, harboring or having custody of any dog or potbelly pig over three (3) months of age within the city must obtain a license as provided in this article.
● A person who, with intent to cause a condition of intoxication, euphoria, excitement, exhilaration, stupefaction, or dulling of the senses, ingests or inhales the fumes of:
(1) model glue; or
(2) a substance that contains:
(D) N-butyl nitrite;
(E) any aliphatic nitrite, unless prescribed by a physician; or
commits a Class B misdemeanor.
● Theft of an alligator is the misappropriation or taking of an alligator, an alligator’s skin, or a part of an alligator, whether dead or alive, belonging to another, either without the consent of the other to the misappropriation or taking, or by means of fraudulent conduct, practices, or representations. An intent to deprive the other permanently of the alligator, the alligator’s skin, or a part of an alligator is essential.
Laws expunged were decided by a child kicking a transparent soccer ball. Within the ball were two plush dice. The numbers that read on the dice would be correlated to a statue and it would be struck from the books. The laws generated by the Logan process were only applicable upon the day of creation from the hours 0001 – 2359 and then the process began again and another law was expunged.
When the machine was finally constructed Logan gave a speech before the town, – With the advent of this machine we will find what is true in our nature. We need no law to say that theft is illegal. We know this in our human fibers.
A small group of protestors interrupted the speech: – A clown runs town. This is the biggest joke of them all. Claudio Logan is a fraud.
A protestor shouted – Don’t you all understand laws are what keep society tame. We’ll all run around in the nude, smoking drugs without the law.
Logan’s crowd booed the woman.
– Well hold on now folks. This woman has a right to air her grievances and it’s better we get it out now, than wait till later. I’ll admit it, the law can have a good effect on people. It’s important for us to be orderly and all that. I’m only proposing we cut out some of the laws. The dang legislatures want to tell you how to brush your teeth, how to put your socks on and all other manners of nonsense. I don’t want to create confusion. I want to simplify our lives.
The protestors shouted – He’s mad. – These are the words of the tempter. – A clown runs town. This is the biggest joke of them all. Claudio Logan is a frog.
They chanted to no effect. The crowd dispersed but remained committed to Logan’s cause.
Ten years had passed since the election. Logan had been reelected but halfway through his second term he ceased to make public appearances. Many speculated that he had died but no funeral or word was given by the Loganists.
Lucile woke up and inspected her screen. – No utensil larger than a ham roast may be used today.
Lucile and her husband Toby sat at the kitchen table.
– How do we know what a utensil is, Lucile said. Is a car a utensil or is the refrigerator a utensil. Does it mean we can’t eat the food in our refrigerator? I’m beginning to wonder if this whole practice is outdated. Perhaps it’s overstayed it’s welcome. We’ve cleaned out the law books. What more do we have to gain by this… randomization.
– I think it’s become a function of community bonding, Toby replied.
– There is something slavish in following this system because it was once useful, as she said this she opened the refrigerator – The jury is still out if Logan was playing a joke on all of us with this asinine system.
She took out the milk and made herself cereal. She began scooping the cereal in her mouth when there was a tap at the glass. Toby looked.
– Oh god it’s Renato.
Toby opened the window.
– How can I help you neighbor?
– I saw Lucile violate the daily law. That’s a penalty. Have you reported your wife’s penalty.
– Renato. There was no way for me to eat breakfast if we consider the damn refrigerator as a utensil.
– You should have put in a request with the Claudio-Logan Board of Answers…
Lucile closed the window.
– How have we lived like this for ten years. There’s an entire generation of children who have grown up knowing Logan’s laws. We should move.
Toby worked for the Bureau of Rational Decisions. Each day they observed complaints from fellow neighbors about the rationality of violations. Each was considered within its context and a committee decided the harmfulness of its transgression.
– We should just leave this is a waste of time to be balancing the rightness or wrongness of arbitrary laws. A machine generates this shit every day and we follow it like we’re some damn program. Is it true that there is only one law in the books anymore?
– I can’t discuss the bindings of Logan’s Laws.
– What are you talking about? Is the one law remaining that we must follow Logan’s Law and it’s irrefutable?
Lucile had not always been an agitator. When Claudio Logan ran for his second term she had handed out flyers at every doorstep. – This new system is purging us of government overreach. When asked if Claudio was serious she sat them down and explain that when the government has become as strong as it has, sometimes drastic measures are necessary. In college Lucile had studied anthropology.
– An important aspect of human development, that they neglected to teach us in high school, is how often people resisted power. This is our chance to resist.
– But what about traffic laws don’t those exist for a good purpose?
– When we deliver a shock to the core of the system the legislatures will have to answer to us.
The point of disillusion arrived shortly after Claudio’s second win. He created offices to entrench his new system. Secret laws that were exempt from repeal were created. It was argued that they were necessary in order to keep the Logan’s Laws operational.
Lucile had hoped this would be the fulfillment of a Libertarian city. With each new office built around the institution of Logan Laws though, her enthusiasm for the man and the system dwindled. She no longer attended meetings and her position at the city museum was given to a more active Logan party member.
Toby had been concerned for her since her days were occupied at home reading Alice in Wonderland.
– It’s just not healthy to stay locked up and read the same thing over and over.
– Oh but to run around town and jabber with all these Logan-heads is healthy. All anyone has to say is how great and wise he is. Did he put something in the water. Is that why you can’t talk to me about anything you do?
– Ha. Honey you sound mad. Everyone around town agrees the system is working fine.
Lucile finished her bowl of cereal and sat staring out the window. A loud knock at the front door shook both of them from their silence. Toby answered. Three men in tan overalls stood at the doorway.
– Where is Lucile?
– What’s the meaning of this.
The men pushed Toby aside.
– You’re required to follow party bylaws. Lucile Roberts a neighbor reported that you violated the daily law. This is your fifth reported violation in six months we’ll have to take you in to see a Logan councilor.
– You all are out of your damn minds. I would like to see the list of violations.
– We are under no obligation to provide you with any information you request as you have exceeded your violation allotment.
– Ha. My violation allotment.
She gestured with her arm for them to get stuffed.
– Lucile you have to listen to these men.
Now she sat in an office cubicle with a man in overalls guarding the exit. There was a knock at the cubicle wall. A lanky, balding, black haired man in a suit stood there.
– I’m here to administer rehabilitation. First, you’re required to watch these videos on the monitor. They are about 20 minutes long, with a two-minute pause between each. I will return when you have finished viewing them and we will discuss their contents.
Images flashed of ferrofluid reacting to magnetic charges. The fluid, round in its static state, grew barbs as magnetism was applied to it. The next video played. On the screen was a clear plastic table and rain drops began to land on its surface. As the rain continued the camera zoomed into one drop that had not pooled with the others. Twenty-minutes of rain and the lone drop had stayed in its corner. Having never touched the expanding puddle, it had maintained its independence. The final video was of a man lecturing about fruit-bats – Fruit-bats have developed a system to starve members of their community that are greedy. Their entire system is based off of sharing, but if one of the bats takes more than his share or does not contribute to the community’s fruit supply he is prevented from consuming any of the fruits. This not only disproves Darwin’s concept of Survival of the Fittest but it shows animals have a rudimentary moral understanding. Perhaps it is not rationalized as a moral reaction but the outcome is the same. The lecturer called on a student off-screen. – The question was is it right to call it moral rationalization if it’s a genetic reaction to survival, and I say Yes. Our taboo against incest has grown from the detriments it causes to a limited gene pool. Would anyone argue against the moral validity of this?
The video stopped and the man in the suit returned shortly after.
– Mrs. Roberts please follow me.
She followed him to a conference room. The two of them sat at a massive table that could have seated 50 people.
– I don’t believe I introduced myself. My name is Mr. Jacobs. I was a law student under Mr. Logan.
– So you studied to be a children’s clown then?
– Oh that’s quite funny. But in life aren’t we all playing a bit of the children’s clown.
– Enough with the pretentious bullshit. What are we doing here?
– The community is concerned for you. You don’t leave your home and you seem to be genuinely unhappy with the world Mr. Logan has brought us.
– I was raised to be highly skeptical of authority… and when Mr. Logan first presented himself he was a libertarian’s dream. While he was expunging laws, he was showing the subjectivity of government power.
– And how do you think that is?
– The entire concept of a law for a day shows how quickly our feelings change towards an idea. Something that was once taboo is now everyday practice.
– And you believe the system has reached its limits?
– I think the entire system has devolved into an exercise of futility.
– Please explain.
– You can’t have a system designed to minimize laws, which was Logan’s original proposal, supported by new committees and offices. How many offices have been created since he was elected ten years ago.
– I believe 25.
– And has that brought about an overall reduction of power?
– Interesting. How did you feel about the videos you watched?
– If that was supposed to have some symbolic meaning, a metaphor for conformity in nature… like I said, I’ve had enough of this pretentious shit.
– What if we were to offer you a job?
– What kind of job would be suitable for an apostate?
– You would be a teacher of sorts. Do you like young people?
– I judge children like adults: on an individual basis.
– We have come to the conclusion that special children should be taught as you believe.
– And why is that?
– Because no matter how much conformity you induce within a social system outliers, such as yourself will… ferment.
– So a small tribe of outcasts can exist in town? What is the end game here?
– All of this has been outlined in Mr. Logan’s diaries. That is why such a rigid system developed after his passing. We were committed to seeing his dream fulfilled.
– And what was Claudio Logan’s dream?
– If we can raise an entire generation to see the absurdity of laws, these boys and girls will be like kings in the outside world.
– But you are not raising children or encouraging the community to see the absurdity of laws. Instead, you are making blind followers to any law. Can you all not see that? Maybe Mr. Clown Logan, was playing a prank on all of you and you just can’t sense the irony because you’re all so desperate to find meaning.
– I actually wondered that for a long time myself. What if this was all an elaborate joke on Claudio Logan’s behalf. When Mr. Logan died he gave us strict instructions to follow the guidelines he had set. Many of us argued this went against our communal traditions. To follow one man’s laws blindly was that of servitude and monarchy. He told us not to sort through his belongings until the first generation had been raised under Logan’s Laws. He wanted us to wait 40 years for answers. We did not have the faith. Concerned that he was perhaps hiding some perversion or indeed he was playing a joke on us all crossed our minds. I was the one to find his journal. It was beautiful. He had the mind of Tesla and Lincoln combined. The elegance of his prose, the elaborations of his plans: – pure beauty.
– What if it was a forgery?
– What if the notebook was a forgery and, I don’t know, Claudio stole it from someone. I mean if he was a genius why was he doing children’s birthday parties?
– Now that was the joke of his life. A Statesman artists relegated to the position of street performer. But this business of forgery makes no difference because the work is pure genius and we’ve built models around the process. It’s theoretically proven to work.
– So we are putting our entire future on a children’s clown’s possibly forged notebooks.
– Precisely. Is it anymore mad than following a group of men who lived over two hundred years ago?
– But the things those men spoke of were an accumulation of thousands of years of human wisdom, distilled into documents, blueprints for a state. I think you are missing the value from where these ideas come.
– I think you are missing the point that we had a genius living among us. Pauperized by this society and forced into clown work to get by. Now that his ideas are in motion we see the positive results, every day, on children’s faces. Soon they will be leading the world into the next epoch. So I ask you again, will you teach the youth like yourself? Teach them to not conform, but make them understand that they must blend into our world, otherwise they will have nowhere to go. Scare them with the truth of destitution as a result of not conforming.
– I’ll do it… but on the condition that I can divorce my husband and that I get a home of my own. I want to teach these children what I want without interference from you all.
– Are you unhappy with your marital life?
– He only speaks of regulations and prohibitions. Who else reported my five violations. That’s another thing, in my home I want to be exempt from Logan’s Laws.
– These are all acceptable terms. But your classroom will be observed and your students will be given conformity tests. So we can evaluate the effectiveness of your instructions.
– Okay. But I still don’t understand. How will raising a generation of children who think laws are subjective make them kings?
– It’s as you said. You and I see laws as the culmination of hundred if not thousands of generations’ of wisdom. Our youth will see the subjectivity of the world around them and through that will lead the revolution to bringing it down.
– But why bring it down?
– Why let it remain?
– Because we have wealth and a life expectancy that exceeds 35 years, which is what it was when we were barbarians farming mud.
– Dear Lucile, you truly are like the snake in Eden. You present facts that only support your cause. What of disparity? You didn’t mention billionaires paying for stem-cell and plasma infusions to prolong their lives, indefinitely, simply because they won life’s lottery. To be born in the right place at the right time and coincidentally make the right choices… does that grant them eternal life? Does that grant them and their children Godhood for the foreseeable future? Mr. Logan believed it did not. And thus we build the children who are the engines of change. Will you do you part to smash undeserved disparity.
Mr. Jacobs held out his hand and Lucile shook it.