Strugatskies on capacities
Yes, here's what I wanted to say.
All right, let's assume that the Wanderers are interfering in
our lives. That's nor the issue. Why is it bad? That's what I'm asking! Why
are you turning them into bugbears? That's what I can't understand! And no
one can understand... Why, when you were changing the course of history in
other worlds that was all right, but when someone wants to change your
history... Today, every child knows that super-reason is always good!"
"Super-reason is supergood," Toivo said.
"Well, all the more, then!"
"No," Toivo said. "Not all the more. We know what good is, though not
very firmly. But as for supergood --"
Asya struck her knees with her fists again.
"I don't understand! I can't understand this! Where do you get all this
presumption of a threat? Tell me. Explain it!"
"None of you understands the premise here," Toivo said, angry now. "No
one thinks that the Wanderers are planning to do evil to earthlings. That is
really very unlikely. We're afraid of something else altogether. We're
afraid that they'll start doing good here, as they understand it!"
"Good is always good!" Asya said.
"You know perfectly well that that isn't so. Or maybe you really don't
know? But I've explained it to you. I was a Progressor for only three years;
I brought good, only good, nothing but good, and Lord,! how they hated me,
those people! And they were right. Because the gods had come without asking
permission. No one had called them in, and there they were, doing good. The
good that is always good. And they were doing it secretly, because they know
that mortals would not understand their aims, and if they did understand
them, they wouldn't accept them... That's the moral and ethical structure of
that damn situation! A feudal slave in Arkanara could not understand what
communism is, while a smart bourgeois three hundred years later would
understand and recoil from communism in horror... Those are the ABCs, which
we however don't know how to apply to ourselves. Why? Because we can't
imagine what the Wanderers could have in mind for us. The analogy doesn't
work! But I do know two things. They came without an invitation -- that's
one. And they are certain that we will either not understand or not accept
their goals -- that's two. And I don't know about you, but I don't want that
I do not! That's it!" he said with determination.
LOGOVENKO: Unfortunately not, Leonid Andreyevich. That's the tragedy.
The third impulse is found with a probability of no more than one
one-hundred-thousandth. We still don't know where it came from or why. Most
likely, it is the result of some
KOMOV: One one-hundred-thousandth... that's not so little when
translated to our billions. So, it means a schism?
LOGOVENKO: Yes. And that's why it was secret. Don't get me wrong.
Ninety percent of Ludens are totally uninterested in the fate of humanity or
in humanity. But there is a group of those like me. We do not want to forget
that we are flesh of our flesh and that we have one homeland, and for many
years we have been working on how to soften the consequences of the
inevitable schism... For it looks as if humanity is being divided into a
higher and a lower race. What could be more revolting? Of course, the
analogy is superficial and at its root incorrect, but you can't avoid the
feeling of humiliation at the thought that one of you has gone far beyond
the limits that are impassable for a hundred thousand. And that one can
never lose the guilt over it. And incidentally, the worst part is that this
schism goes through families, through friendships...
KOMOV: Does that mean that the metagom loses his former ties?
LOGOVENKO: That varies. It's not as simple as you think. The most
typical model of the Ludens' attitude toward man is the attitude of an
experienced and very busy adult for a cute but terminally annoying kid. Then
picture the relationship: Luden and his father, Luden and his best friend,
Luden and his teacher...
GORBOVSKY: Luden and his girlfriend...
LOGOVENKO: It's a tragedy, Leonid Andreyevich. A real tragedy...
KOMOV: I see you take the situation to heart. Then perhaps it would be
easier to stop all this? After all, it's in your hands.
LOGOVENKO: Doesn't it seem amoral to do that?
KOMOV: Doesn't it seem amoral to subject humanity to a shock like that?
To create an inferiority complex in mass psychology, to give youth knowledge
of the limits of its possibilities?
LOGOVENKO: That's why I came to you -- to seek a way out.
KOMOV; There is only one way. You must leave Earth.
LOGOVENKO: Excuse me. Who exactly is "we"?
KOMOV: You metagoms.
LOGOVENKO: Gennady Yurevich, I repeat: in the great majority of cases,
Ludens do not live on Earth. All their interests; their lives, are beyond
Earth. Damn it, you don't live in bed! Only the midwives like me and the
homopsychologists have permanent ties with Earth... and a few dozen of the
most miserable of us, those who cannot tear themselves away from family and
LOGOVENKO: What did you say?
GORBOVSKY: Nothing, nothing. I'm listening to you attentively.
KOMOV: Then you mean to say that interests of metagoms and earthlings
do not coincide?
KOMOV: Is cooperation possible?
LOGOVENKO: In what area?
KOMOV: That's for you to say.
LOGOVENKO: I'm afraid that you cannot be of help to us. As for us...
you know, there's an old joke. In our circumstances it sounds rather cruel,
but I'll tell it. You can teach a bear to ride a bicycle, but will the bear
derive any benefit or pleasure from it? Sorry about that. But you yourself
said that our interests do not coincide. (Pause) Of course, if there were a
threat to Earth and humanity, we would come to your aid without a second
thought and with all our power.
KOMOV: Thank you for that at least.
(A long pause, with gurgling of liquid, glass tinkling against glass,
GORBOVSKY: Yes, this is a serious challenge to our optimism. But if you
think about it, humanity has accepted more frightening challenges. And I
don't understand you, Gennady. You were such a serious adherent of vertical
progress! Well, here it is, vertical progress! In the purest form! Humanity,
spread out on the flowering plain beneath the clear skies, has made a surge
upward. Of course, not the whole crowd, but why does that upset you so? It's
always been that way. And always will, probably... Humanity always went into
the future with the shoots of its best representatives. And as for what
Daniil Alexandrovich tells us, that he is not a man but a Luden, that's all
terminology... You're still people and, moreover, earthlings, and you can't
get away from that. It's too soon.
KOMOV: You, Leonid Andreyevich, sometimes astonish me with your lack of
seriousness. It's schism! Understand, schism! And you're just blathering
kindly, forgive me for saying so...
GORBOVSKY: You're so... hot-tempered, dear fellow. Well, of course it's
schism! I wonder where you've seen progress without schism? Where have you
seen progress without stock, without bitterness, without humiliations?
Without those who move far ahead and those who stay behind?
KOMOV: Well, really! "And those who will destroy me I greet with a
GORBOVSKY: That's not quite opposite... How above: "And those who
surpass me, I see off with a welcoming hymn."
"The Time Wanderers"