• Vol. 10
  • Chapter 06

Theory of the Magnolia Edges

In his study, the professor told the philosophy student: ‘Your thesis is worthless. You’ve failed to include references and a bibliography. You haven’t provided context.’

Despite such criticism, the student remained calm. ‘My “Theory of the Magnolia Edges” that I expound in the thesis has no references and context because there are none. My work is original. Nothing relates to its concept. It stands on its own.’

The professor glanced at his watch. ‘You’re wasting my time with a lazy excuse. But I’m required to discuss the thesis with you, so kindly summarise it in as few words as you can manage.’

‘Of course,’ the student replied with a smile. She stood and adjusted the tone of her voice to one of didactic assurance. ‘Existence is contained within a frame comprising magnolia edges, magnolia being a suitably non-committal and, I suggest, non-controversial colour.’

‘Yes,’ the professor muttered. ‘Hurry up, would you.’

‘The frame encloses the stars of our universe. When our birth occurs, we step among them. Later, we choose to stand still, drift, or acknowledge our environment before we fade. Thus, my theory describes the nature of existence, which is exactly what philosophical studies endeavour to understand.’

‘At least your summary is concise,’ the professor said and reached for a cigarette. ‘In turn, I’ll try to be reasonable in my comments.’ He remembered that he shouldn’t smoke indoors and gave vent to an exasperated grunt before continuing. ‘I find it hard to believe that your three years of work here in the university has led you to formulate such a nonsensical, unsupported theory.’


Theory of the Magnolia Edges

‘You were going to be reasonable.’

‘Don’t interrupt. First, your fundamental notion is fantastic, in the sense of highly imaginative and fanciful. Second, as an individual, your head is in the clouds. Moreover, these clouds are nacreous. In other words, your ideas float thousands of metres above the earth and may appear lustrous but are idiosyncratic ruses of light. Third, your thinking wavers like a quivering jellyfish. It is transparent and annoying. Where is your research? Where are your knowledge-based arguments and considerations?’

The student’s gaze moved from the professor to a window. A magnolia-painted frame held the glass in place. Through the glass itself, the student noted a change in the sky, from blue to a lime-green hue that she had once seen on lichen in a decaying wood.

‘You’re an incorrigible daydreamer who pays no heed to anyone or anything,’ the professor said and reached for a cigarette once again. This time he lit it and sat back in his chair.

Beyond the window, against the lime-green background, the student watched a Luffa acutangula float into view.

‘And you,’ the student said to the professor, ‘are a loofah. Dry and rough. Fit only for scrubbing dirt away.’


Rather than respond, the student crossed to the window. She opened it without asking and stepped out among the stars.