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22 Harv. C.R.-C.L. L. Rev. 401 (1987)
Alchemical Notes: Reconstructing Ideals from Deconstructed Rights

handle is hein.journals/hcrcl22 and id is 407 raw text is: ALCHEMICAL NOTES: RECONSTRUCTING IDEALS
Patricia J. Williams*
I. A Bit of CLS Mythodology
A. The Meta-Story
Once upon a time, there was a society of priests who built
a Celestial City whose gates were secured by Word-Combination
locks. The priests were masters of the Word, and, within the
City, ascending levels of power and treasure became accessible
to those who could learn ascendingly intricate levels of Word
Magic. At the very top level, the priests became gods; and
because they then had nothing left to seek, they engaged in
games with which to pass the long hours of eternity. In partic-
ular, they liked to ride their strong, sure-footed steeds, around
and around the perimeter of heaven: now jumping word-hurdles,
now playing polo with the concepts of the moon and of the
stars, now reaching up to touch that pinnacle, that fragment,
that splinter of Refined Understanding which was called Super-
standing, the brass ring of their merry-go-round.
In time, some of the priests-turned-gods tired of this sport,
denounced it as meaningless. They donned the garb of pilgrims,
seekers once more, and passed beyond the gates of the Celestial
City. In this recursive passage, they acquired the knowledge of
Undoing Words.
Beyond the walls of the City lay a Deep Blue Sea. The
priests built themselves small boats and set sail, determined to
explore the uncharted courses, the open vistas of this new and
undefined domain. They wandered for many years in this man-
ner, until at last they reached a place that was half-a-circum-
* Associate Professor of Law, CUNY Law School at Queens College. I am deeply
indebted to the following people: my sister Carol Williams, whose research into our
family's history gave me the idea for this piece; Richard Delgado, whose enthusiasm
kept me going; the uniquely wonderful community of CUNY, past and present, faculty,
students and staff; and, of course, Derrick and Jewell Bell, teachers, friends and
inspiration to the many of us who are their students.

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