The Distinction

Submitted by Ken Watts on Sat, 12/23/2006 - 11:36

G1's prose is spare to the point of austerity, which, oddly, works as a kind of description. Unlike p, g never gives us any indication of the appearance of characters, or of their surroundings, and thus places them in a kind of empty world, which leaves them all the more intriguing.

Janice Molesk,Reader in Chief, The Methodist Research Group

"What is the difference between humans and animals?"

"This is an age-old question, and like many questions that go unanswered for a long time, it is rooted in a category error. As the question is phrased, there is no answer."

"Okay, what is the main difference between humans and animals?"

"You have only made matters worse. Think, what classification error does your question imply?"

"Very well. What are the differences between humans and animals?"

"Better. But which animals? Humans don't have wings, and that makes them different from birds, but it does not make them different from beavers. Humans don't have tails, and that makes them different from beavers, but it does not make them different from starfish."

"There must be at least one way in which humans are different from all animals."

"Give me an example."

"Mathematics. Can you show me any animal that can even multiply seven times six?"

"Any at all?

"Any at all."

"Forty-two2."

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1"G" stands for "guru", after the constant character (never named) in these dialogs. T tends to use g mainly at transition points, even though there seems to be good reasons for other placements. This fact has been one source of the many disagreements about the proper order of The Book. -ed.

2 The number 42 appears time and again in the literature of the period, almost always in contexts that suggest either significance or allusion. The religions of the period do not seem to have attributed any special meaning to the number, though it is a multiple of 7. -ed.