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|infinite zest |
I like how all their videos disable embedding and comments. Besides those big mouth bass, I wonder what other things with big mouths have gone in there.
Sanest Man Alive
You'd think ninjas would have learned to keep their mouths shut by now.
One day Trurl the constructor put together a machine that could create anything starting with n. When it was ready, he tried it out, ordering it to make needles, then nankeens and negligees, which it did, then nail the lot to narghiles filled with nepenthe and numerous other narcotics. The machine carried out his instructions to the letter. Still not completely sure of its ability, he had it produce, one after the other, nimbuses, noodles, nuclei, neutrons, naphtha, noses, nymphs, naiads, and natrium. 'This last it could not do, and Trurl, considerably irritated, demanded an explanation.
"Never heard of it," said the machine.
"What? But it's only sodium. You know, the metal, the element..."
"Sodium starts with an s, and I work only in n."
"But in Latin it's natrium."
"Look, old boy," said the machine, "if I could do everything starting with n in every possible language, I'd be a Machine That Could Do Everything in the Whole Alphabet, since any item you care to mention undoubtedly starts with n in one foreign language or another. It's not that easy. I can't go beyond what you programmed. So no sodium."
"Very well," said Trurl and ordered it to make Night, which it made at once - small perhaps, but perfectly nocturnal. Only then did Trurl invite over his friend Klapaucius the constructor, and introduced him to the machine, praising its extraordinary skill at such length, that Klapaucius grew annoyed and inquired whether he too might not test the machine.
"Be my guest," said Trurl. "But it has to start with n."
"N?" said Klapaucius. "All right, let it make Nature."
The machine whined, and in a trice Trurl's front yard was packed with naturalists. They argued, each publishing heavy volumes, which the others tore to pieces; in the distance one could see flaming pyres, on which martyrs to Nature were sizzling; there was thunder, and strange mushroom-shaped columns of smoke rose up; everyone talked at once, no one listened, and there were all sorts of memoranda, appeals, subpoenas and other documents, while off to the side sat a few old men, feverishly scribbling on scraps of paper.
"Not bad, eh?" said Trurl with pride. "Nature to a T, admit it!"
But Klapaucius wasn't satisfied.
"What, that mob? Surely you're not going to tell me that's Nature?"
"Then give the machine something else," snapped Trurl. "Whatever you like." For a moment Klapaucius was at a loss for what to ask. But after a little thought he declared that he would put two more tasks to the machine; if it could fulfill them, he would admit that it was all Trurl said it was. Trurl agreed to this, whereupon Klapaucius requested Negative.
"Negative?!" cried Trurl. "What on earth is Negative?" "The opposite of positive, of course," Klapaucius coolly replied. "Negative attitudes, the negative of a picture, for example. Now don't try to pretend you never heard of Negative. All right, machine, get to work!"
The machine, however, had already begun. First it manufactured antiprotons, then antielectrons, antineutrons, antineutrinos, and labored on, until from out of all this antimatter an antiworld took shape, glowing like a ghostly cloud above their heads.
"H'm," muttered Klapaucius, displeased. "That's supposed to be Negative? Well... let's say it is, for the sake of peace. . . . But now here's the third command: Machine, do Nothing!"
The machine sat still. Klapaucius rubbed his hands in triumph, but Trurl said: .
"Well, what did you expect? You asked it to do nothing, and it's doing nothing."
"Correction: I asked it to do Nothing, but it's doing nothing."
"Nothing is nothing!"
"Come, come. It was supposed to do Nothing, but it hasn't done anything, and therefore I've won. For Nothing, my dear and clever colleague, is not your run-of-the-mill nothing, the result of idleness and inactivity, but dynamic, aggressive Nothingness, that is to say, perfect, unique, ubiquitous, in other words Nonexistence, ultimate and supreme, in its very own nonperson!"
"You're confusing the machine!" cried Trurl. But suddenly its metallic voice rang out:
"Really, how can you two bicker at a time like this? Oh yes, I know what Nothing is, and Nothingness, Nonexistence, Nonentity, Negation, Nullity and Nihility, since all these come under the heading of n, n as in Nil. Look then upon your world for the last time, gentlemen! Soon it shall no longer be..."
The constructors froze, forgetting their quarrel, for the machine was in actual fact doing Nothing, and it did it in this fashion: one by one, various things were removed from the world, and the things, thus removed, ceased to exist, as if they had never been. The machine had already disposed of nolars, nightzebs, nocs, necs, nallyrakers, neotremes and nonmalrigers. At moments, though, it seemed that instead of reducing, diminishing and subtracting, the machine was increasing, enhancing and adding, since it liquidated, in turn: nonconformists, nonentities, nonsense, nonsupport, nears ightedness, narrowmindedness, naughtiness, neglect, nausea, necrophdia and nepotism. But after a while the world very definitely began to thin out around Trurl and Klapaucius.
"Omigosh!" said Trurl. "If only nothing bad comes out of all this . . ."
"Don't worry," said Klapaucius. "You can see it's not producing Universal Nothingness, but only causing the absence of whatever starts with n. Which is really nothing in the way of nothing, and nothing is what your machine, dear Trurl, is worth!"
"Do not be deceived," replied the machine. "I've begun, it's true, with everything in n, but only out of familiarity. To create however is one thing, to destroy, another thing entirely. I can blot out the world for the simple reason that I'm able to do anything and everything - and everything means everything - in n, and consequently Nothingness is child's play for me. In less than a minute now you will cease to have existence, along with everything else, so tell me now, Klapaucius, and quickly, that I am really and truly everything I was programmed to be, before it is too late."
"But -" Klapaucius was about to protest, but noticed, just then, that a number of things were indeed disappearing, and not merely those that started with n. The constructors were no longer surrounded by the gruncheons, the targalisks, the shupops, the calinatifacts, the thists, worches and pritons.
"Stop! I take it all back! Desist! Whoa! Don't do Nothing!!" screamed Klapaucius. But before the machine could come to a full stop, all the brashations, plusters, laries and zits had vanished away. Now the machine stood motionless. The world was a dreadful sight. The sky had particularly suffered: there were only a few, isolated points of light in the heavens - no trace of the glorious worches and zits that had, till now, graced the horizon!
"Great Gauss!" cried Klapaucius. "And where are the gruncheons? Where my dear, favorite pritons? Where now the gentle zits?!"
"They no longer are, nor ever will exist again," the machine said calmly. "I executed, or rather only began to execute, your order..."
"I tell you to do Nothing, and you... you..."
"Klapaucius, don't pretend to be a greater idiot than you are," said the machine. "Had I made Nothing outright, in one fell swoop, everything would have ceased to exist, and that includes Trurl, the sky, the Universe, and you - and even myself. In which case who could say and to whom could it be said that the order was carried out and I am an efficient and capable machine? And if no one could say it to no one, in what way then could I, who also would not be, be vindicated?"
"Yes, fine, let's drop the subject," said Klapaucius. "I have nothing more to ask of you, only please, dear machine, please return the zits, for without them life loses all its charm..."
"But I can't, they're in z," said the machine. "Of course, I can restore nonsense, narrowmindedness, nausea, neerophilia, neuralgia, nefariousness and noxiousness. As for the other letters, however, I can't help you."
"I want my zits!" bellowed Klapaucius.
"Sorry, no zits," laid the machine. "Take a good look at this world, how riddled it is with huge, gaping holes, how full of Nothingness, the Nothingness that fills the bottomless void between the stars, how everything about us has become lined with it, how it darkly lurks behind each shred of matter. This is your work, envious one! And I hardly think the future generations will bless you for it . . ."
"Perhaps... they won't find out, perhaps they won't notice," groaned the pale Klapaucius, gazing up incredulously at the black emptiness of space and not daring to look his colleague, Trurl, in the eve. Leaving him beside the machine that could do everything in n. Klapaucius skulked Home - and to this day the world has remained honeycombed with nothingness, exactly as it was when halted in the course of its liquidation. And as all subsequent attempts to build a machine on any other letter met with failure, it is to be feared that never again will we have such marvelous phenomena as the worches and the zits - no, never again.
Apparently, they also asked the machine to make "nerd".
Also, hang on... that was from Stanislaw Lem, right? Isn't he Polish? Writing in Polish? if so, then A: why is the machine creating "n" words, when obviously what does and does not count as an "n" word would be different in Polish than it is in English, and B: why does the machine not immediately notice this problem whilst it is explaining its inability to create in foreign languages...?!
I must confess, I don't know much about Mr Lem's work, and would love for someone - Professor Ashtar, or another suitably nerdy individual perhaps - to shed some light on the answers. These questions will probably keep me up all night otherwise.
"Stanislaw Lem" was actually a communist plot to infiltrate American science fiction and spread red propaganda. Obviously, one of the people on the Party committee that wrote "his" work spoke English.
Or, he had a really good translator.
Also, EH. I'm not a professor; that title is earned. I don't want to be putting on airs or be arrogant. I only have a master's degree.
Please, call me "master."
I haven't read any of his stuff but I loved The Congress (the movie) I guess the book's different by a lot. As for the translation, I can't remember what it was, but it was a novel sort of like Kundera's the joke that got translated from Polish to English, and the play on words didn't make any sense. Or maybe it was a misappropriated Nietzsche quote.. I dunno, I'm not a professor or a master.
Just call me "The Bachelor." Ladies?
But *how* would one translate a thing that is so deeply rooted in language-dependent spelling conventions?! Was this story originally written in English? Or has it been substantially changed, and if so, how much of the original remains?
For example, I don't know any Polish, but according to Google's online dictionary, "negligee" in Polish is "peniuary". "Noodles" are "kluski". "Nearsightedness", "krˇtkowzroczność", and so on and so forth. I suppose the really important one, "nothingness", still works ("nicość"), so perhaps the translator just kept the one word which was critical to the story and changed the rest? Maybe? Gosh, I don't know.
Another thing that's bugging me is how the machine says he can't speak "in Latin". Yet how does the machine determine what is and is not "Latin"? What I mean is, Latin is a language that's seen heavy borrowing in other languages, yes? Many words that "are" English, or "are" Polish, are in actual fact either Latin or Greek words, matriculated into the mother tongue owing to their heavy use by the educated class; "nihilism", which the machine is evidently OK with, being one such word. Now yes, I suppose one could argue that at this point, words like "nihilism" ARE English (or Polish, or what-have-you). But at what point does this change-of-state between being-language and being-foreign occur? When do we know that a foreign word has now become sufficiently naturalized to be considered a native one? For example, I know a great many Japanese words, and a lot of them have entered into both my own and my peers' day-to-day lexicon - words like "anime", "hentai", "kuso", and "kawaii". Is "kawaii" now an English word, seeing that we all know what it means, and use it at least as often as many of the words found in English dictionaries? Could I, for instance, make a "kawaii" with an English-speaking machine, calibrated to create Ks? If not, why not?
In other words, if language is as the Ship of Theseus, always changing, then how can we say for certain what words DO and DO NOT constitute "the" language itself, and more importantly, with what rules could a machine like this presume to make such a judgement?
I know this is just a scifi story, but I'm finding it reeeeeaaaallly hard to accept this Communist guy's premise. I don't think such a machine could exist.
Unless perhaps that's the point? After all, the Communists were keenly interested in policing language, restricting it in certain ways, encouraging it in others, because they understood that exerting such control over language would control the flow of thought and help them to accomplish their political goals. Maybe the idea that a machine could destroy everything in the universe except for "n" words was an allegorical way of protesting against the authoritarian collectivism of Marxist-Leninism, as Orwell did in his sections on Newspeak and Minitrue? Or, perhaps, accepting Phillip K Dick's claim for the sake of argument, it was a way for the Lem committee to acclimate English-speaking audiences to the idea of having their language controlled, and eventually destroyed, by a vanguard of philosopher-kings?
Pooh. Again, not buying it. The machine is clearly fake.
Lem is awesome; poe-people will not regret picking up The Cyberiad.
Except EH, whose nerd brain would explode. That is some grade A nitpicking and quibbling, bro. I say this with sincerity and respect: you missed your calling as an academic.
My father, mother, and uncle are all academics, which is why I try to stay as far away from that career field as possible!
Same here. My best memories from college were outside of class, slacking off at my bodega job and a professor I thought wanted to bone my wife came in for cigarettes. He was trying his best to be "cool professor" inserting Velvet Underground and Bob Dylan into his History of American Jewish Art syllabus and such, but he was still Professor sitting in your tiny office, where as I was sitting on the counter smoking a cigarette and blasting X Los Angeles or Turbonegro when he came in to buy smokes and taking his class as a filler intentionally missing every lecture and getting an A just to piss him off. The money's nice but I'd rather be doing the field work that I do for the population I have to work with than sit behind a desk or podium, even if it means subletting basements and such for the rest of my life.
Actually come to think of it I think I did read something by Lem. I found a whole collection of old Galaxy Digest magazines that someone just threw out. It had something to do with the letter "N" as well but I don't think it was this one »\_(ツ)_/»
Also here's something I read once by Jay Rubin, who did translated most of Murakami's literature which has a similar Kafka-esque vibe that Lem's had from my understanding.
|Oscar Wildcat |
Hey, it's a Sampo.
|Caminante Nocturno |
Tea, Earl Grey, hot.
extra star withheld until it creates a human.
I've seen them create fluffy chicks that happened to all be male.
Like something out of a Fleischer cartoon.
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