Excerpt From The 13 Lives of a Television Repair Man

This future, a million and a half years away, is filled with strange creatures that have no money, nor any need of it; they have no bills, because they get what they need from the planet. There is no such thing as rent, or a mortgage, because no one owns anything. Why would they? They didn’t create the Earth with divine purpose or mastery of the universe, so therefore they cannot lay claim to a certain geographic region, nor charge others to sleep there. There is also no need for money because these creatures, which have replaced us as the dominant form of life on planet Earth, have no eyes. They evolved this way because of the radiation, maybe, but also because they thought it best when evolving, to refrain from looking at things covetously, so they killed their eyes. That’s one way to do it.

They also have no ears, so they cannot argue over music, or politics, or improper language.

They do have an exquisite sense of touch, which, incidentally, is exquisite only because it doesn’t tell them if something feels bad or good, but only that it’s there. The deaf, dumb, and blind creatures are neither good nor bad, they simply are. They eat and shit, and reproduce asexually, so there is no jealousy or infidelity and so on. They do not understand religion, because they haven’t any need for it.

Instead of vision, their primary sense is smell. They have tremendously big noses. They conduct nearly all of their business by smell. The part of their brain that interprets olfactory is very large indeed and is directly linked to the part of the brain that deals in pleasure. There is no part of their brain that deals in pain. If one dies, they simply die and are happy up until the point when the do. And why not? After all, they are perfectly fine as far as they can tell. And the part which deals in memory is very limited. So where a smell might remind you and me of a person, place, or a thing, a smell simply reminds them of the last time they smelled that smell. They never get sad or lonely, because they need nothing they don’t have.

The only eat one thing: gardenias. And they have no natural predators, because they and the gardenias are the only remaining life forms on Earth. Their giant nostrils suck up and sneeze out pollen, fertilizing seed for the gardenias. They eat the gardenias and then secrete the pollenated seeds and manure two days later. They use their fantastic sense of smell to guide them to fresh gardenias to eat, and then to depleted areas to void their waste. They never spread manure where they eat, or sleep. They circle and circle year after year, but they aren’t aware of this. They simply smell food, and go eat it, then smell where food should be, but isn’t, and go there and shit.

They sleep somewhere in the middle.

They’re quite perfect.

Incidentally, though, they do make a great deal of noise, braying like a pack of old women at a bingo hall, and are absurdly gassy, which could also be represented at bingo. They don’t notice any of this and aren’t offended because they haven’t the faculties to notice, other than the obscene smell. But they don’t think it’s obscene at all. Their brains don’t appear to have the capacity to represent negativity whatsoever, and all smells are pleasant and bring them exquisite joy, and the only degrees of how pleasant something is, is how strong or pungent a particular aroma is. They can, of course, tell the difference in one odor or the next one—or else how could they find the gardenias?—but have no preference, unless it’s meal time or time to void. Other than that, they fill their lives sucking in the odors of farts and seawater and dirt and gardenias and lack of gardenias and so on into their enormous bulbous noses.

You and I would think this world to be perfect and beautiful, with all the gardenias and with the giant walking noses on small furry feet, and we would like very much to live there in peace. But inevitably, we will become offended by all the noise and the smells and the carelessness with which the giant noses rubbed up against us blindly and sneezed gardenia pollen all over our legs and feet, and we would become so offended that we would insist on carving out a patch just for us. Suddenly we’d “own” land again.

Eventually, that patch would become somehow smaller and no longer suitable to our needs, and we would require more land, where we would trample and kill more gardenias and more of the little big-nose people. And so on and so forth. And then it would all go to pot.

That’s certainly one way to do it.


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