Thursday, September 02, 2010

But why? Why? Why? Why not?

Here's something to think about.

"Why are we created only to suffer and to die?" is the primal question Simon Wagstaff, the immortal space wanderer, asks in the often-hilarious science fiction novel Venus on the Half-Shell by Kilgore Trout. Actually, Wagstaff is an earthman who flees in an inexhaustible Chinese spaceship after earth is destroyed by floods. Time stands still as Simon wanders through space drifting from one planet to the next, one galaxy to another, desperately in search of an answer. He doesn't find one easily.

Simon spends three thousand years roaming intergalactic space till he lands in the super-advanced dumbbell-shaped world of the Clerun-Gowph, whose natives look like giant cockroaches. Maybe, the Clerun-Gowph have the answer to my primal question, he reflects. After all, their giant computers had told them he was coming a few billion years ago.

When Gviirl, a cockroachoid attending to Simon, tells him that he will meet Bingo, the dying head of the Clerun-Gowph, he asks, "Do you think he'll have the answer to my question?"

"If anyone can answer you, he can," Gviirl says. "He's the only survivor of the first creatures created by It, you know." The Clerun-Gowph called the Creator It. Earthlings call theirs God.

When at long last the space wanderer stands before the as-old-as-universe Bingo, he blurts out, "Why, then, did It create us?"

Bingo the wise tells him:

"Look at the universe. Obviously, it was made by a scientist, otherwise it wouldn't be subject to scientific analysis. Our universe, and all the others It has created, are scientific experiments. It is omniscient. But just to make things interesting, It, being omnipotent, blanked out parts of its mind. Thus, It won't know what's going to happen."

Bingo goes on, "That's why, I think, It did not come back after lunch. It erased even the memory of Its creation, and so It didn't even know It was due back for an important meeting with me. I heard reports that It was seen rolling around town acting somewhat confused. It alone knows where It is now, and perhaps not even It knows. Maybe. Anyway, in whatever universe It is, when this universe collapses into a big ball of fiery energy, It'll probably drop around and see how things worked out."

Not happy, as most earthmen rarely are, Simon cries out, "But why? Why? Why? Didn't It know what agony and sorrow It would cause sextillions upon sextillions of living beings to suffer? All for nothing?"

"Yes," Bingo says.

"But why? Why? Why? Why?" Simon shouts.

"Why not?" Bingo answers.

So, why are we created only to suffer and to die? Simon Wagstaff isn't the only earthman asking the primal question. Millions of earthlings today ask this question at least once in their lifetime. Simon wandered through outer space looking for an answer, 21st century earthmen will find that the answer lies somewhere in their inner space.

1 comment:

  1. And while "Trout" was a character in Kurt Vonnegut's novels based mostly on writer Theodore Sturgeon (and a bit on Vonnegut himself), this novel was written by Philip Jose Farmer, who loved the kind of literary "hoax" where the reader is in on the joke...three writers you will enjoy, for the most part, I strongly suspect...(Farmer went on to write short stories as by the characters in Trout's stories).