“Something is wrong. I don’t mean with you or me or with any person. I mean in general." --Ragle Gumm

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

“The Gun” (1952)

Look at what he’s done. He’s put us on a planet that is dead except for a mechanical gun which functions “as if” it were living and intelligent. This gun has only one duty—to protect the treasure that is buried within it. This dead planet is earth.

The treasure consists of artifacts of the now extinct human race which represent its highest achievements, left to be admired by any other race that happens along and wonders who once lived there. And other beings do arrive after seeing a “fission flash” from their distant system. As their spaceship nears the planet, they are fired upon by the gun and damaged enough that they have to land on the planet for repairs. They land near the gun.

As they examine the gun, they realize that it responds to what they are doing and will protect itself. They look around and find buried beneath the gun the treasure it is protecting. They understand the value of the treasure and disable the gun as best they can with the intent of returning to earth to retrieve it. With high anticipation of what it has to offer, they repair their ship and lift off. Meanwhile, the gun repairs itself and reengages its purpose. When the ship returns, it will again have to face the gun protecting the treasure.

The gun is the last artifact of the human race, an artifact that prevents any recognition of what the human race was, other than the implications of the planet's burnt out surface. Not only has the human race destroyed itself, it has negated its existence in the universe by creating an intelligence that is not intelligent; the gun will destroy any effort to retrieve the treasure. The gun is what it is and all that can be said of the human race is that it was insane.

Look what he has done. Put us in a reality that negates itself. Entrapped a piece of universal intelligence within a box that has no door. And pushed us into a cul-de-sac of existence beyond which there is no which to be.

Devastating to realize that you are no more real than the tail you chase.