Fiction: Ordinary Joe’s Guide to the Galaxy

Fiction: Ordinary Joe’s Guide to the Galaxy February 6, 2019

ORDINARY Joe was talking to himself. “I just want to know what all those preachers and teachers are on about; want to make sense of it all.”

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Above his head a wisp of fog filtered into the room and slowly condensed into a little cloud in a corner near the window. “I think I may be able to help.”

“Who are you?” Joe swung round. “And where are you?”

“You will not be able to see me, but you will be able to hear and understand. Call me the Eminence Grise. I will tell you the meanings of things. We will take it in stages:

First of all there was THE CRAZY ARCHITECT OF THE UNIVERSE. Why he wanted to create a universe at all is a mystery. A dream perhaps. It seems a bit like a dream where he wakened up before the end, because there isn’t an end at all. He started off all right with fireworks and a Big Bang. But now probably the whole thing will just fizzle out with Entropy in charge until all we are left with will be a lot of empty space and trillions of frozen stars and planets (why so very many?), a celestial graveyard.

“The only possible alternative is a Big Crunch with things endlessly repeating; expansion/contraction; Bang/Crunch, Bang/Crunch, Bang/Crunch, never getting better/ never getting worse, with no plot and no point, and everything from snowflakes to star clusters consigned to the same eternal recycling bin.

“At one stage it did look as if things might get more interesting. One undistinguished planet out of billions was taken over by THE DEMENTED DEMIURGE. On this planet the Demiurge created something called Life. But you wouldn’t believe how perversely he designed it! Everything that was born was doomed, sooner or later to grow old and feeble and then just die.

“A bit like the Universe itself. So maybe the Crazy Architect told him to make it that way. But there’s worse. Half the animals he created were flesh eaters; they lived by killing and eating the other half. But that’s not all; the eaters of grass didn’t cooperate; they stubbornly kicked or gored the hell out of the flesh eaters and very often they won, or at least escaped, so that the cubs of the unsuccessful carnivores slowly starved to death.

“So what was he point of it all? And, just to underline his sadistic tendencies, the Demiurge threw in bacteria and viruses to torment the rest of his creation. So perhaps that was the point of it all. Whatever his motives the Demented Demiurge was never happy with his creations for he repeatedly wiped them out and started all over again. Graptolites, trilobites and conodonts ‘abode their hour or two and went their way.’

“His most ambitious creation was the dinosaurs. He persevered with them for 300 million years and then killed them off and began again from scratch. But he still couldn’t get it right. Woolly mammoths, sabre tooth tigers, aurochs and ape men were all tried and scrapped in their turn.

“At last the Demiurge seems to have realised his limitations for he handed the whole business to his assistant, DOCTOR FRANKENSTEIN. This guy decided to engineer a new form of life – Man. Man would have something called freewill and would not have to die. But oh how it all went wrong! Right from the start Men did such terrible things that Dr Frank decided they would have to die too.

“However HIS BESOTTED SON, eager to atone for his Father’s miscalculations, came up with the weird notion that if he himself died that would somehow reverse the process and put things right. Some abstract principle of justice would be placated; the Father would forgive all Men, and they would become immortal again. The Father so loved his pet project that he agreed to this sacrifice of his only, beloved Son to it.

They couldn’t psyche themselves up to carry out their plan for 4,000 years, and when at last they did, they aborted it and restored the Son to life after only three days. However justice was not to be cheated. Men just went on dying and the Son hasn’t come back, as He promised He would, to finish the job. The last I heard Men were gassing each other at the rate of 6 million in five years. And now they’ve got a device that can blow 100,000 of them to smithereens at the touch of a button.

“After thought: my friend, Professor Quantum Quark, claims that Frankenstein and Son are not just clones along with the nebulous companion they call the Holy Ghost, but simultaneously three separate persons and one single, unitary being.

“I hope this summary clears things up for you.”

There was no reply. Ordinary Joe was dashing his brains out against the wall of the room in confusion and total despair.

• Jack Hastie, a long-time contributor to the Freethinker, is a retired history lecturer. He has published a number of papers on subjects of historical interest. You can get more from his website:  
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