How much does it cost a man, or a woman, to stick within the bounds of their prescribed personality, to abide by the rules of their allotted ego construct? This was the question that I asked myself, in all solemnity. This was the question I always asked myself on these occasions. It was five o’clock and we had gathered, as usual, to hear the story-telling machine unfold its stories. How sweet are the fruits of the deep, I whispered softly to myself, how sweet the fruits… No took the slightest interest of me and my murmurings, of course. Everyone was waiting to hear the story-telling machine unfold its tales, in its usual hypnotic fashion. Once it started speaking there wouldn’t be a sound from the assembled crowd here in the dusty town square. It was a ritual that played itself out the same way every day. How much does it cost a man, I murmured softly, how much does it cost? I felt that my consciousness had left my body and that it was floating high above the square, looking down on the enraptured crowd. I looked down at the faces of the assembled devotees, each face I saw wearing the very same expression. I was observing everything from above as a disembodied presence. There was an air of hushed expectancy – expectancy like an electric current that spread from person to person. No one had their own story anymore; all stories belonged to the story-telling machine. The ritual was about to play itself out again, as it always did. The sacred ritual. How much does it cost, I asked myself again, sadly, knowing as I did that all traces of wisdom had long since fled from the earth. Long since fled. Long since fled. Wisdom had fled and no one missed it, I told myself. No one would miss it because all eyes were on the show. What value is gained, I asked myself, when a man or a woman stays always within the allotted bounds of their predetermined personality-construct? What merit would accrue? The story-telling machine was about to speak, it was about to launch into one of its tales. The story-telling machine owned all the stories; it owned all possible stories. We were all but one small part of its story. It told us the story of ourselves. It told us the story of ourselves and we hung onto its every word. We drank its words. Until it told us who we were we could not know – we dwelt in darkness and dressed in cobwebs. We crawled on the floor and drank from stagnant puddles. The story-telling machine restored us to ourselves; it gave us life again. A type of life, at least. A semblance of life. What will it cost us to stick like glue to the tawdry rules of our allotted personality-constructs and never venture beyond them, I asked myself sadly. What terrible price will we have to pay?