> ...but what of the brass ring? That is, what of the past?
> Can that be restored, rebooted, recovered, what have you?
> One can hold on to the notion that what has been obliterated
> is trivial, or one can conceive of the utility of trivial data being vital,
> to the needs of a future, remote epoch. I hold with the second view.
"'We did our best. We gave the world Shakespeare, after all.
And -- you know of Shakespeare?'
'Leonardo da Vinci.'
'Michelangelo. Mohammed. Marx. Darwin.'
'No. No. No. No.'
'Plato? Aristotle? Jesus?'
'No, no, no.'
Clay says, 'Do you remember the moon that this planet once
'I have heard of the moon, yes. But none of these other things.'
'Everything we did is lost, then? Nothing survives. We are extinct.'
'You are wrong. Your race survives.'
'No,' Clay says. 'If everything we have done is dead, our race is
dead. Goethe. Charlemagne. Socrates. Hitler. Attila. Caruso.
We fought against darkness and the darkness swallowed us anyway.
We are extinct.'
'If you are extinct,' Hanmer says, 'then we are not human.'
'You are not human.'
'We are human.'
'Human, but not men. Sons of men, maybe. There's a qualitative gap.
Too great a lapse of continuity. You've forgotten Shakespeare.
You race through the heavens.'
'You must remember,' Hanmer says, 'that your period occupies an
extremely narrow segment of the band of time. Information crammed
into a narrow bandwidth becomes blurred and distorted. Is it
surprising that your heroes are forgotten? What seems like a
powerful signal to you is merely a momentary squirt of noise to us.
We perceive a much broader band.'
'You speak to me of bandwidths?' Clay asks, astounded. 'You lose
Shakespeare and keep technical jargon?'
'I sought a metaphor, only.'
'How is it you speak my language?'
'Friend, you speak **my** language,' says Hanmer. 'There is only one
language, and everything speaks it.'
'There are many languages.'
'Ci sono molte lingue.'
'Only one, which all things comprehend.'
'Muchas lenguas! Sprache! Langue! Sprak! Nyelv! The confusion of
tongues. Enchante de faire votre connaissance. Welcher Ort is das?
Per favore, potrebbe dirigermi al telefono. Finns det nagon har, som
talar engelska? El tren acaba de salir.'
'When mind touches mind,' Hanmer says, 'communication is immediate
and absolute. Why did you need so many ways of speaking with one
'It is one of the pleasures of savages.' says Clay bitterly. He wrestles
with the idea that everyone and everything are forgotten. By our deeds we
define ourselves, he thinks. By the continuity of our culture we signify
that we are human. And all continuities are broken. We have lost our
immortality. We could grow three heads and thirty feet, and our skins
become blue scales, and so long as Homer and Michelangelo and Sophocles
live, mankind lives. And they are gone. If we were globes of green fire,
or red crusts on a rock, or shining bundles of wire, and still we
remembered who we had been, we would still be men."
-- _Son of Man_ (1971)
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