And in the 2500 eons of time before ranked time, there was formlessness. Apart from The Academy and The Lyceum, one knew not where a department stood, nor how deeply one might plant one's feet. One's judgment was clouded by the gossip of the philosophers and the void created by opinion and argument. And one wandered often as in a trance, sometimes lost, sometimes uncertain, but sometimes also in such a fervor of happiness and jouissance that one clung to unranked time.
But, then, out of the darkness of unranked time, came The Lighter. The Lighter paved the way, first with the early tablets of ranking law. These firsts--small things, involving staples, circulated lazily, for every philosopher, in the wake of Kant and the German Idealists, was slow to bow his or her yoke to any law except one that he or she had authored (and staples, verily, required stamps). But The Lighter, in his prescience, saw glimpses of the future and pressed on, for he knew that a giant Network would be built. And The Lighter bent that Network initially to his will and he clothed the law in tasty morsels of food, feeding the hungry and starved, but also the curious and wandering alike.
Not all approved, however, of what he was cooking. Most loudly, from an ivy palace, there arose The Heckler, who fought with The Lighter for 40 days and 40 nights. But his weapons were weak, for he used letters, hoping to unite the philosophers. But this was folly, for in the wake of Mill and Bentham, the philosophers valued utility greatly. And above all, The Lighter appeared useful, appealing to philosophers, and especially their curiosity (and it is suggested, in cyclopean tracts out of Meßkirch, their boredom). Working from his Gourmet Shoppe, the Lighter grew in power, calling to himself advisers from the Network. And The Network, too, grew in power, and the two became intertwined. And The Lighter cooked his food, and the philosophers ate. And for a time there was quiet.
Soon, though, the Administration discovered The Lighter's treats, and they gorged themselves on it, stuffing themselves into a frenzy, and growing greatly in power thereby. And with that power, The Lighter's power also grew, and The Lighter grew more fearsome. And this power unnerved many and great rifts grew in the world. As the rifts continued to multiply, there arose rival Gourmet Shoppes, for ultimately The Network owed no allegiance to anyone, not even The Lighter, and it birthed further offspring, perhaps even to spite him.
But none, within the shoppes and without, could agree on the best ingredients, for much in the world of food is cloaked with secrecy, and it is hard to predict which salves will serve best in future, even if they had served once before. With the threat of formlessness again, there arose The Miller and The Gambler, and the two did their cooking in the open, using sauces and spices they offered to share, and The Lighter, now even more fearsome, grew wary or perhaps frightened. And he struck at The Gambler with a mighty wind, but The Gambler parried his attack. And then the philosophers found themselves in between two mighty forces. We might call them "past" and "future." And after Arendt, it has come to be known that these two always produce a third, a deflection of forces. Thus a question is posed for all those who exist in ranked time: might such a deflection offer a path out of ranked (and unranked) time? And if so, what grand seas and vistas will we find there? And what dangers?