Time trudges on as it must, and so do I. Slow and steady progress is being made on the teachings of both Platocrates and Augustine, and I am starting to find that my journey may be a little more organic than I had imagined. I have taken many detours, exploring various sub-concepts espoused by the great men I follow, and in so doing I am learning far more than I could have hoped to had I simply stayed on the beaten path of justice, Republics and Confessions. The time is coming when you and I shall begin to have discussions on the thoughts and postulations of these and other men, but unfortunately, it is not here yet. At the moment I wish to draw your attention to the fellow that has been following me since my departure; in the weeks past, he has become quite the problem.
As I mentioned in my last letter, the little spat over the season’s sacrifice resulted in the shocking growth and enlargement of my companion. This growth seems to have affected more than just his size. His voice appears to have changed as well, turning slowly from its playful, high-pitched squeal to a deeper, more ominous baritone. And with this change in tone and size has come a disturbing change in demeanour. When he first joined me, he yammered about useless, trivial things. I would look upon the sky and marvel at its blueness and he would ask how I knew it was blue and not some other colour. I would breathe the air and marvel at its coolness and he would ask whether or not it was hot to the fellow down the road. There was nothing too little, too simple, for him to have an opinion about, and while at times I found his yammering to be nerve-grating, it was for the most part rather harmless.
All that changed when the Season of the Fast began and I was forced to consider what to give up for you. For the first time, it seemed, he turned introspective; he turned serious. It was as though he understood the gravity of the season, and what a sacrifice to you would entail for a soul as lost as mine. For a few moments I felt he’d finally realised that his constant bickering was of no constructive value, and that he was to be quiet while I tried to sort out my deep questions. Of course that is not what happened. His questions did not cease; they became even more disturbing. There was nothing he did not drill; every point, every sacrifice I considered, he questioned till it could be questioned no more, causing me grow increasingly unsure of its worth and its importance. There was nothing I could hide from him, nothing that was sacred to him. Even when I tried to push from my mind the habits to which I was most attached he latched onto them in an almost prescient manner, asking why I did not wish to consider those for sacrifice, questioning my perceived nobility, how much I actually wished to sacrifice, and whether or not I was simply posturing to sate my inner guilt. In those days after we heard the bell it seemed like he saw into my very soul; I may have made light of the matter at the time, Father, but it was a very troubling period for me.
In the end, overwhelmed with uncertainty and unsure of even my innermost intentions, I decided to default to food. It has proven most helpful and useful, and after assuring myself with soothing words and intimidating the creature with harsh ones, he seemed to quiet, and I was left in peace. The damage had been done, however, as I found the day after that he’d grown much bigger overnight. When I first noticed this many weeks ago I was filled with a deep dread. I already hated the way he had attacked me on the sacrifices; something told me that his playful and frivolous questions were going to get much fewer, and his deeper and more powerful ones much more numerous.
I mentioned last time how he seems to grow more talkative whenever my thoughts are focused on you and things concerning you. That was why I refused to add your Book to those I was currently focusing upon, in order to pre-emptively keep him from talking. But like a being that knows my innermost thoughts he has brought his questions regardless, determined to force conversation in his direction. It is not enough that I have tried occupying myself with a variety of things, from my on-going quest for you and for Sophie, to my normal duties as one of your children on this earth. Not to be deterred, it seems, he has wormed his new, deep voice into almost everything now. Where his questions were at once fun and foolish they now cast a spectre upon my day, paralysing me completely and preventing me from making a single decision. It is only when faced with matters of extreme urgency, or when I am able to muster the full breadth of my resolve, that I am able to get past his voice. If I have even a modicum of time to think on something, I find it impossible to shut him out.
This has been going on for a while now, and the longer it lasts the larger he grows. I mentioned in my very first letter how I wasn’t sure whether or not he was a minion of You-Know-Who, and in a funny and subversive manner, it seems even he is not aware. I have tried my best to figure out just what he is, and I think I may have arrived at an answer. He is not my conscience, that wonderful thing that many in the House have held up as reason to praise and thank you every day. No. While he may sound and act like it from time to time, I believe he is something even more fundamental than conscience, something that on some level even conscience needs in order to operate. I doubt he is some strange manifestation of myself, or my stereotypical innermost desires. If he were, it would be fun and terrifying to study him, not annoying and incapacitating. No. From the nature of his questions, and the timing of both his appearance and his growth, I believe he is Doubt.
Think about it, dear Father. He questions everything I do, even the very act of doing. He is always there, commenting on even the most mundane of human pursuits. He at times offers amusement and introspection, at others confusion and fear. And perhaps most important of all, he showed himself the moment I left the safety and reassuring protection of the House. Now I have no doubts that he has been with me long before I stepped beyond the Gates of the Rock. I mentioned, in the letter on my reasons, the many questions I had concerning you and your love and your presence; I am certain it was he that was the source of these questions. It seems he joined me when my faculties of reason reached a threshold, when I could finally look upon the world and attempt to understand it.
Where he came from, and who sent him, I do not know. Doubt, I have been told, is a healthy thing, a good thing. Perhaps then he comes from you. That would certainly explain why he grows bigger when I consider the more important issues on this your earth. On the other hand, Doubt is perhaps the underlying motivation behind my departure from the House, which from where I am standing, and from where history has stood, is almost always a bad thing. So perhaps he is from You-Know-Who. It has always struck me as odd that you would allow the Dark One so much access to your House and all within that he is able to plant his minions comfortably among us, and it seems this may be one of them. Strange then that only upon leaving the House did he appear; perhaps you were keeping me from seeing him, that I may defeat him without truly engaging him, and now that I am no longer under your care, you have removed the protective veil…
I have been thinking about what to do with him, Father. I cannot let him continue to grow, and it seems the more I leave him unattended, the more likely that is to happen. I have managed to get to him to cower on occasion, by either berating him into silence or by sufficiently showing him that he is wrong. Now I am a cultured fellow, dear Father; shouting at someone to get them to shut up is something that should only be done when one has no other recourse. And so it is my initial intention to reason with Doubt. His biggest questions, my biggest doubts, lie with you: Who you are, what you do, where you are, why you seem to have left me, why I am compelled to seek you out. Of course these are perhaps the biggest questions that all of humanity has come to ponder across all ages. Silencing Doubt on such matters will not be easy, and in many ways I doubt simple reason will be sufficient to ensure that he stays quiet – as of this writing there is no issue on which I have managed to guarantee his eternal silence; the best I have been able to achieve is a simple reduction in the frequency of his questions.
So how, Father, shall I tackle and tame my once little friend? With tools learned from my quest for Sophie like reason, truth, observation and evidence? With a dogged, House-like conviction, even as he grows larger and fatter before my very eyes? With choice and fortuitous revelations from you, as you have done for others many times in the past? Of course you know the answer, dearest Father, and of course you will not tell me; I have been told that is not your way. I will not be deterred by this uncertainty, however; it is fairly evident that if the current situation persists the creature will eventually drive me mad, and I am very much in love with my sanity. So I plan to sample all three methods, to the best of my powers of course. Await my letters, dear Father; my battle with this beast is bound to be a very, very interesting one.
With a little hello from Doubt,
Your Prodigal Son