Oral Exam

Emre, young free and handsome, all but dissertation, Nest Cohort 99-t-alpha, family Blattidae, species sapiens, hastened across the writhing mass of his brothers and sisters to the chamber where he would be examined on his chosen subject, the history of human philosophy.

He was going to let the examiners ask him why humans had been so obsessed with destruction of the world: Old Kant who had said that it would be better that the world never existed than that an act of injustice occur, genial Hume who argued that it was not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the world to the scratching of one of his digital manipulative organs, and of course after thinking about it they had done it.

And the examiners Emre knew as he entered the Knowedge Hall illuminated by their commensalistic fire-fly larva would ask him: was there a connection?

Would he agree with old Davaa that once having thought about the destruction of the world the humans could not stop thinking about it and thus they were drawn, inevitably to do it? Or would he instead endorse the view of venerable Drayfu that the human thinkers had known of the tendency to world-destruction in their race of killer mega-monkeys and had engaged with it, doing the best they could to forestall it? Or would he thread the needle and say they thought what they had and did what they did, and there were many ways to connect or disconnect the two?

But as he continued towards the chamber it troubled him that perhaps there were cockroach parallels to the suicidal and mundicidal monkey monsters. Because was there not the Blastozore that all Blattidae knew you should not think of but thought of any way? Once Alu had theorized the Blastozore could any of them stop?

And beyond the Blastozore was a topic that he had never even dared to speak of. He had never heard anyone mention it. Perhaps — perhaps! — like the planet Neptune deduced by perturbrations in the orbit of Uranus he could detect this Thought by certain cirmulocutions and evasions in the thoughts of his most daring colleagues. Or perhaps that was his imagination and what he was detecting was his own fear, his own sacred trepidation and ambivalence, projected outwards.

That thought Emre could barely dare name but now as he cleared the last struggling feeding sub-sister he dared to.

The Amblomorph!

The Amblomorph in all its necessity! In all its urgency and unthinkability and glamour and guile!

The Danger of Thinking the Amblomorph made his spiracles gasp and his antennae shiver as if he were laying egg after egg though as a male he had no ovipositor and never could. Danger and Joy! Joy and Danger. The sweetest because of or inspite of Being the Most Forbidden Thought!

When the exam was over Emre was told to leave the chamber for a moment and then invited back in by the three sage insects. “You passed.” said Drayfu and they all four shared a piece of rotten banana.

He was a teacher now. But what would he teach? It didn’t matter. He felt as light, bubbly and iridescent as a mayfly. Outside the nest a rainbow stretched across the sky from infra-red to ultra-violet and the palette of spring smells was off the hook.


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