I admit this is getting ridiculous. What will hence be known as my “Electric Trilogy” (See The Electric Monk, September 23rd and The Electric Caterpillar, October 1st) has arrived for its third installment in a way so absurd that I hesitate to elaborate on it. Even David Lynch, the famous cult director, would say, “Too weird, man.” Jean Arp, the father of the Dada art movement, would say, “Nein!” And Cecil Taylor, the freeform jazz pioneer, would simply slam his hands onto his piano in order to drown out the foolishness.
The worlds of micro-science and nanotechnology have outdone themselves this time. German engineers, which for some reason is fitting, are putting tiny motors on the tails of sperm cells to boost their swimming power in an effort to help with conception. I’m not sure what your definition of sloth is, but when your sperm cell needs an outboard engine to fertilize, you know you’ve crossed a barrier of laziness so profound that there is no hope for redemption.
The modern world moves fast. It doesn’t slow down for anyone. It is dangerous. There is hazard everywhere. It requires energy, stamina, perseverance. Thus the first big elimination trial, that is human fertilization, is critical to the individual’s future success. If science starts to rig that competition there is no telling what the consequences will be. Imagine walking down the street and seeing a well-dressed man stretched out on the sidewalk, completely inert, and having him call out in a lofty British accent, “Excuse me, but would somebody be so kind as to lift me up, carry me down to the coffee shop, purchase a double espresso and pour it into my mouth. You see, I’m feeling quite logy today, and I’ve never been effectively prompted to perform these tasks myself. Anyone. Anyone.”
It would be obvious from the cut of the man’s fine Italian suit and his articulation that his family was wealthy enough to purchase a tiny motor for his gamete’s wonky flagellum, and ever since then he would conduct himself like a human jellyfish, just riding the tide. He would be one more thing to trip over. One more thing to avoid. His contributions would be minimal, at best.
I was a breach birth, myself. My mother has often chided me, saying, “Even from the start, you never had to do any work. They cut me open and lifted you out and you’ve been lazy ever since.”
“Well fine,” I would defend. “I’ll have you know, though, about nine months before I was lifted out of the womb I competed in a nasty little swimming race with a hundred million other contestants and I won. So take that.”
My argument would fall short, though, were I to learn that my “swimming race” was bought, that I had an unfair advantage, that I cheated, that I didn’t deserve to win. It is undignified. It is embarrassing. It would be as uncomfortable as watching that hunchbacked freak John DuPont pinning other, better wrestlers who were bribed to let the billionaire win. DuPont was not better off for these farces. Some might say it actually made his delusions of grandeur even worse. The DuPonts are the kind of family that could equip every gamete with a big hemi engine, and a generation of slugs would result.
Lucky for the rest of us, early spermbot trials seem to be failing. Apparently one scientist attached a motor with way too much horsepower to a test sperm and it shot through the egg, the fallopian tube, out the back of the woman, through the wall, into the neighbor’s house and somehow impregnated the family cat. Back to the drawing board, as they say.
Once again I have been snubbed for the Nobel Prize. I’ll take any one. I’m not picky. Physics. Literature. Dancing. Juggling. Congeniality. Whatever else they give them for, I don’t care. I’ve decided to go abstract for next year’s awards ceremony. It seems the trick is to be engaged in experiments that nobody else really understands, and so I’ve been tinkering in matters so arcane that I am baffled by them, and by the end of the day my results are so nonsensical and random that even the great mathematician David Hilbert, if he were alive, would be scratching his head and trotting off to the saloon to count his toes, pinch the behinds of the barmaids, and build some weird theory about the relationship of it all.
Superconductivity, which, because of the name, I assume is better than regular conductivity, may be the future of my studies. It has to do with matter in certain extreme states that offers no resistance. Because I needed some funding for my project I tried to contact Bill Cosby, whom I heard has shown great interest in substances that offer no resistance, but his legal team has threatened serious action if I persist in my requests.
The physicist winners this year are molecular topographers. Their big discovery is the theory that, “There is no such thing as half a hole. Holes exist singularly, as integers.” I’m pretty sure I could’ve come up with that one myself. For now I will toil in anonymity. I will go blind with simple contradictions like, “I am unprovable.” If the statement is wrong then my logic is inconsistent, if the statement is true I don’t actually exist. Or my favorite paradox of all time: This sentence is false.
The title of my autobiography.
More Alembics to come