Re: >H What should you ask a wish machine to do for you?

Kennita Watson (
Sat, 27 Sep 1997 01:11:50 -0700

>> << What Klaupatius asked Trurl's wish machine for in
>> Lem's _The Cyberiad_: "Make Nothing".
>> >>
>> Which is?
>Quoting from memory: "The machine didn't move, it just hummed slightly.
>Klaupatius looked smug, and Trurl exclaimed 'What did you expect? It
>is doing nothing at all!'. 'Yes, but what I was refering to was not
>nothing, but Nothing, the great void, non-being itself. Obviously
>your machine is flawed since it cannot do it'. 'Excuse me', the
>machine said, 'but look around...'" Stanislaw Lem is a quite fun author,
>and the Cyberiad is another influence on my transhumanist ideas.
I just finished _The Cyberiad_ and thought it was _great_. I put a
poem from it on my Web page ( ).

>From "How the World Was Saved":

"H'm", muttered Klapaucius, displeased. "That's supposed to
be Negative? Well...let's say it is, for the sake of peace.
... But now here's the third command: Machine, do Nothing!"
The machine sat still. Klapaucius rubbed his hands in triumph,
but Trurl said:
"Well, what did you expect? You asked it to do nothing, and
it's doing nothing."
"Correction: I asked it to do Nothing, but it's doing nothing."
"Nothing is nothing!"
"Come, come. It was supposed to do Nothing, but it hasn't done
anything, and therefore, I've won."
[... ...]suddenly its metallic voice rang out:
"Really, how can you two bicker at a time like this? Oh yes, I
know what Nothing is, and Nothingness, Nonexistence,[...]
Look then upon your world for the last time, gentlemen! Soon
it shall no longer be..."
The constructors froze, forgetting their quarrel, for the
machine was in actual fact doing Nothing, and it did it in
this fashion: one by one, various things were removed from
the world[....]

Not bad from memory, Anders! But "Klaupatius"? ;-)


Kennita Watson | The bond that links your true family is not one of blood,| but of respect and joy in each other's life. Rarely do
| members of the same family grow up under the same roof.
| -- Richard Bach, _Illusions_