because I believe in following things to the end, and because I
didn't want to, and I believe in doing things I don't want to do, too.
Eventually. So it seemed clear enough: I couldn't find any mistakes
in the chain of reasoning. Elect one thorough nut-job per century
to the helm of a nuclear power, and sooner or later, the bombs fly.
And then all the people are dead. At which point most things
are drained of what we usually call meaning, right? The kids
you worked so hard to keep alive, their kids, everybody's kids --
Welp, there they all go. What was the point of that? I mean, you
can rhapsodize about eternity in an hour, and all that, but I find
the blackened corpses of my descendants discouraging. Maybe
it's just me. But to proceed: I read somewhere that someone
thought eukaryotes anyway would make it through a nuclear winter.
And from there the game could begin again. We've still
got billions of years: plenty of time. Though I'm sorry about the cats.
So then I think: do I care what happens to the creatures
who finally make the leap? Make it for real, I mean? And I thought
well, I do if they're good. And there I paused: a new scent
was on the wind. If they love what's beautiful and worry what's true:
well, sure I care. And I wonder how to leave them a message, and then
I wonder what message I would leave? "Be careful, dears, there's
a tricky part that comes when you industrialize"? "Put your house
in order before you learn how to burn it down"? Hard to know
what they'll need to know, and whether they could learn it from us anyway.
Maybe every teenager needs to wreck his own car. I don't know. But
True, and Beautiful, and Good: those are Plato's words, and
I would have sworn I'd left them long behind. But suppose, suppose
these things come down from the top as well as up from the bottom.
Suppose the god is imaginary to start with, but slowly becomes real
And begins to create his creators. Suppose the flow reverses, or rather
suppose it goes in both directions, both at once, all the time: the ideas
rising from our snuffly snouts and dreams of fruit, but also seeping down
and making sense of us, make sense through us. How do we know
after all, that what we grope for is not a thing that is becoming real,
more real than the hand that seizes it? How do we know? That scent:
a new scent on the wind. And I, as old as Odysseus's dog,
lifting my head. Wine and wrestling oil and clothes
damp with sea-rinse: surely I knew once what that meant?