Friday, December 05, 2008

from: Geographical History of America or The Relation of Human Nature to the Human Mind

Now listen a minute.

If you fly over Salt Lake City it is exactly like flying over the bottom of the sea with the water not in it.

The water is not in it, and so is there any reason why the water should be in it. Sometime the water has been in it but now that the water is not in it it makes it more easy perhaps not to fly but to see what you see as you fly.

Now the reason for the water not being there is one thing but the water not being there is another thing.

Now suppose it is a detective story.

Well it is astonishing to see a pigeon where you had not expected ever to see one.

Not because a pigeon could not be there, not even because a pigeon had never been there but because you could never have expected a pigeon to be there.

Even the wind could not blow the pigeon away once it was really there where the pigeon is.

The pigeon almost falls off because suddenly there is another pigeon there and the pigeon had not believed it possible for another pigeon to be there.

Perhaps there is still another pigeon there but it can not be seen even if it is there and any way the first pigeon turns his back so that he will not be able to see them or the other one and then he changes his mind and turns around toward them.

Perhaps from now on pigeons will always come there. Very likely because that is what anybody can do.

So once more no pigeons being there never again can there never be any pigeon there.

Detective story no 2.

Suppose you know just what has happened does that make any difference if you tell it.

What is the difference between write it and tell it. There is a difference you can tell it as you write it but you can tell it and not write it. There is a difference and the next detective story is to detect that difference.

If the pigeon can come again and he has come again then he can surprise some one but he cannot surprise me.

A pigeon itself if anything is a surprise such as being there can be interested in anything being surprising.

Think how heavily a pigeon flies and alights and if he is there is he likely to think that the wind can blow him away. The wind does blow but does it blow as a surprise or anything to him. Has he a motive in being there and having been there does he come there again.

He does come there again and this has no connection with the wind blowing and there has been no motive for the coming there.

So then what does human nature do.

It does it because it does and having done it it is not because it has done it that it does it it does it because it is there again.

There they are again.

The three pigeons are there again. There is no reason for it.

But if looking at it you are to paint it, the pigeon is there again and turning his back on the two other pigeons who are below it. You only can see from the side where you are seeing everything you only can see the two heads of the other two pigeons and now there are three. That makes four in all.

That is why numbers really have something to do with the human mind. That they are pigeons has nothing to do with it but that there was one and then that there were three and that then there are four and that then it may not cease to matter what number follows another but the human mindhas to have it matter that any number is a number.

So then detective story number III

-- G. Stein


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