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 ancient mutation.

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 loved ones!


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, gulps, sighs)

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 welcoming hymn!"

GORBOVSKY: That's not quite opposite... How above: "And those who surpass me, I see off with a welcoming hymn."

"The Time Wanderers"