Monday, October 03, 2005

A great segmented body

But supposing we are more a nonhuman form of life. Imagine a great segmented body moving in contractions and dilations at a rate of twelve or fifteen miles day, a creature of a hundred thousand feet. It is tubular in its being and tentacled to the roads and bridges over which it travels. It sends out as antennae its men on horses. It consumes everything in its path. It is an immense organism, this army, with a small brain. That would be General Sherman, whom I have never seen.

I am not so sure the General would be pleased to hear himself described so, Emily said in all solemnity. And then she laughed.

But Wrede clearly liked this train of thought. All the orders for our vast movements issue forth from that brain, he said. They are carried via the generals and colonels and field officers for distribution to the body of us. This is the creature's nervous system. And any one of the sixty thousand of us has no identity but as a cell in the body of this giant creature's function, which is to move forward and consume all before it.

Then how do you explain the surgeons, whose job it is to heal and to save lives?

That the creature is self-healing. And where the healing fails, the deaths are of no more consequence than the death of cells in any organism, always to be replaced by new cells.

--E. L. Doctor, The March

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