cambridge book review

Consultation (cont’d)

“And how do you distinguish one creature from another?”

“Simple. I added a random name generator to the program, and it ascribes a name of several words to each creature. Sometimes the names are rather hilarious …”

“Like  … ?”  The Professor became interested.

“Like, for example, Theophrastus Phillippus Aureolus Bombastus von Hohenheim—this one I like more than any other.”

“Can you sum that up?”

“Yes! Paracelsus, meaning ‘greater than Celsus’—so he nicknamed himself. With him I have fully succeeded. He teaches that amusing creatures ‘are made by me, God, from the alchemical extraction of the world, like in the great laboratory, and bear the image of the Creator.’ I am not sure about the ‘extraction’ but, as you can see, Paracelsus realized whom he looked like and who created him. And he is not the only one who has cracked me.”

“If so, then you deserve praise, God, you accomplished a lot!”

“Ah, Professor, if it were not for one thing: These amusing creatures are mostly busy destroying each other. With each new cycle of the program they create increasingly sophisticated weapons to kill their relatives.”

“I do not want to repeat myself, God, but your single time dimension causes the problem. It leaves them no alternative; so be it, keep these three spatial dimensions—they are certainly accustomed to them—but introduce at least one additional time dimension, and you’ll see it all will change for the better.”

“I’ll try, Professor, but I fear that this would come as a shock for them.”

“So introduce it cautiously, slowly, so that initially only scientists can guess the existence of the second time dimension—there should be scientists there, right?  And so on, until you reach the politicians, and then these will decide how to proceed,” the Professor suggested with sarcasm in his voice.

Knowing that the sarcasm was caused by the Professor’s recent failure in the elections, God in his own way wanted to comfort him: “Professor, you should see how my amusing creatures hold elections. Recently the opposition there has won sixty percent of the vote and, nevertheless, lost.”

“It cannot be true,” the Professor was astonished. “I do not believe it! You mean your amusing creatures have been able to think of nonlinear logic?”

“Yes, imagine that … but not the scientists, no. Scientists out there were persecuted for centuries! A few hundred cycles ago they burned at the stake a philosopher who claimed that the creation of only one universe is unworthy of me, God.”

“Imagine that! They managed to hit upon it! What insight! And what was your philosopher’s name?”

“Giordano Bruno,”[*] replied God.

“Nice name, I like it,” the Professor said thoughtfully, and unexpectedly added: “Excellent! Really, I did not expect this much from you, God. I will recommend your work for the prize.”

The Professor looked at God, wanting to see the seeds of joy on his face, but God was silent. He sat with his head bowed.

“Is something wrong, God?  You’re not happy with that?”

“I am glad, of course,” God sighed. “But, you see, Professor, the data of these two visionaries, Paracelsus and Bruno, are long in the archives, and few of the amusing creatures are aware of them. There are now various fashionable theories about the origins of the amusing creatures. While some do recognize me, God, as the creator of the universe, for some reason they have decided that I did this in six days, in the end personally sculpting from clay the first amusing creatures. Complete misapprehension of the problem. Then there are those who believe that the theory about six days is a fairytale, and argue that amusing creatures emerged during the evolution of other, equally funny though less intelligent creatures. That is closer to reality, but they have completely eliminated the possibility of my very existence, while, in fact, I conceived and wrote the program that really drives their evolution,” God said with undisguised bitterness in his voice. “And one of the highest authorities in this school of thought is trying to convince everyone that I, God, am just some mental virus that gets into the heads of amusing creatures in early childhood. I do not know what to say. Me—a virus?”

“Do not worry, God,” said the Professor. “One cannot avoid surprises in such a complex problem. But that’s why it is so interesting! I was wrong. Do not delete this universe. Leave and continue to monitor its development. At the same time, here is my advice: make a backup copy and cautiously enter the second time dimension—you will see a lot of new interesting things. But only after exams!”


[*] The great Italian philosopher and poet Giordano Bruno was burned alive at Campo dei Fiori in Rome on the morning of February 17th, 1600, after spending eight years in the jails of the Holy Inquisition.


Ruben Varda (Vardapetian) was born in Yerevan, the capital of Soviet Armenia. He wrote and later published in Moscow his first fantasy novel in Russian, The Girl with a Lute. Ruben is now writing his second novel. He received his PhD in physics from the Moscow Lomonosov University and  then worked in Armenia, teaching and doing research in in the Yerevan University and in the Academy of Sciences. In 1992 he moved to Denmark and in 1996 was posted by the Danish Ministry of Research to Brussels. Since then he has lived in the Belgian capital, mainly occupied with the management of R&D projects, the latest being on EU-Russia cooperation in nanoelectronics.

June 15, 2011 - Posted by | fiction | , ,

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