Stories

The Certainty Principle: A Possibility (Life or Death, Second Installment) – Patrick Pineyro

Author’s note: This is not a story. Better to categorize this as a possibility. Despite what the words say, Smith may not ever leave his grandmother’s apartment. The working title of this story is The Certainty Principle: A Possibility. This possibility is a depiction of what a day might look like for someone, whom I choose to call Smith, who believes there is nothing after the end, and is therefore mortified that his end will one day come. This is Smith’s sentimental journey towards the possibility of his end, and not just the possibility of his end, but the possibility of love. Please forgive any inconsistencies in narrative, as well as any seemingly insincere sentiments regarding the impact of humanity on the ecosystem. They are but a by-product of a sincere person trying to express sincere sentiments in an age that mistrusts, and indeed seems to deplore, any attempt at expressing sincerely their feelings of regret. Also note: the author regrets everything, every single decision he has made and every step he has taken throughout his entire life, as well as every single decision he has not made and every single step he has not taken throughout his entire life.

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What Smith knows

Smith knows what Smith knows. Smith knows that Smith knows that from this point in time today this morning, this time in space here in his grandmother’s appointment, Smith knows that from this point in time, this time in space, to that point in time, that time in space, that point in time later today, that point in space at the Cuban restaurant around the corner, that Cuban restaurant around the corner where Smith will retrieve the Cuban sandwich for his grandmother, retrieve the Cuban sandwich and return the Cuban sandwich back to Smith’s grandmother’s apartment for Smith’s grandmother to consume, Smith knows that many dangers lurk around each of the corners that must be turned in order to complete the objective of obtaining for his grandmother a Cuban sandwich from the Cuban restaurant around the corner from Smith’s grandmother’s apartment, Smith knows this to be so, that many dangers lurk around each of the corners that must be turned in order to complete the objective of obtaining for his grandmother a Cuban sandwich from the Cuban restaurant around the corner from Smith’s grandmother’s apartment, but, and this is important: Smith does not care.

Smith does not care about such dangers because Smith is convinced that if a person were to approach with caution each corner that must be turned in order to complete the objective of obtaining for their grandmother a Cuban sandwich from the Cuban restaurant around the corner from their grandmother’s apartment, they can, and they will, survive.

Smith knows that if Smith is to return home, if Smith is to survive, if Smith is to be the first one to survive forever, Smith knows that to do all this, all Smith must do is approach with caution each corner that must be turned in order to complete the objective of obtaining for his grandmother a Cuban sandwich from the Cuban restaurant around the corner from Smith’s grandmother’s apartment.

Smith knows, and so Smith will do so.

*

A second thing Smith knows

A second thing Smith knows: the Era of Man has been a dangerous one. What Smith would do if any person who disagreed with him on this truth would be to encourage the dissenter to ask any of the following species just how safe a planet the earth has been with Homo Sapiens running amok on its surface:

 

  • The Atlas bear
  • The aurochs
  • The baji
  • The Bali tiger
  • The Barbary lion
  • The big-earred hopping mouse
  • The bluebuck
  • The bubal hartebeest
  • The bulldog rat
  • The cape lion
  • The Caribbean monk seal
  • The Carolina parakeet
  • The Carpathian wisent
  • The Caspian tiger
  • The Caucasian wisent
  • The Cebu warty pig
  • The Chadwick Beach cotton mouse
  • The Chatham bellbird
  • The Chatham fernbird
  • The Dodo
  • The dusky seaside sparrow.
  • The dwarf hutia
  • The eastern elk
  • The Falkland Islands wolf
  • The Formosan clouded leopard
  • The Goff’s pocket gopher
  • The Guam flying fox
  • The Gull island vole
  • The Haast’s eagle
  • The Hemigrapsus estellinensis
  • The Huia
  • The Japanese sea lion
  • The laughing owl
  • The Madeiran scoops owl
  • The Moa
  • The New Zealand owlet-nightjar
  • The New Zealand quail
  • The North Island snipe
  • The South Island snipe
  • The Paschalococos
  • The passenger pigeon
  • The piopio
  • The quagga
  • The São Miguel scoops owl
  • The Sardinian pilea
  • The Saudi gazelle
  • The Schomburgh’s deer
  • The sea mink
  • The small Mauritian flying fox
  • The Steller’s sea cow
  • The Stephens Island wren
  • The stout-legged wren
  • The Syncaris pasadenae
  • The Syrian wild ass
  • The tarpan
  • The thylacine
  • The western black rhinoceros.

 

 

Throughout the course of this narrative, we will examine what happened to these species that would make it so difficult to extract information from them.

Let us begin with the story of the Atlas bear.

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The story of the Atlas bear

The Atlas bear was Africa’s only native bear that actually survived into modern times, a small miracle in and of itself, the fact that it actually survived into modern times. The Atlas bear derived its name from the Atlas Mountains, the Atlas Mountains and neighboring areas which the Atlas bear once inhabited, inhabited until this subspecies of brown bear was hunted to extinction by human beings, the main culprit in this tragedy of hunting to extinction the Atlas bear named for the Atlas Mountains which the Atlas bear inhabited having been the Roman Empire, that same Roman Empire that expanded into Northern Africa, that same Roman Empire that intensely hunted and intensely captured the Atlas bear, a bear named for the Atlas Mountains which said bear inhabited until hunted to extinction by that same Roman Empire, that same group of humans that hunted the Atlas bear as their empire expanded into Northern Africa, where said empire hunted the Atlas bear and featured the Atlas bear in the sporting games of the humans of that time, although the games in reality were arena fights where the Atlas bear was forced to fight against gladiators, lions, tigers, bears. Cruel treatment, starvation, malnourishment, these are the tools the Roman Empire used to increase the desperation of the Atlas bear, which in turn heightened the aggression of the Atlas bear within the arenas where the Atlas bear was forced by the Roman Empire to fight against gladiators, lions, tigers, bears.

Time passed. The Roman Empire passed. The Atlas bear actually survived into modern times, a small miracle in and of itself, survived longer than the Roman Empire that intensely hunted and intensely captured the Atlas bear, a bear named for the Atlas Mountains which said bear inhabited until hunted to extinction by that same Roman Empire, that same group of humans that hunted the Atlas bear as their empire expanded into Northern Africa, where said empire hunted the Atlas bear and featured the Atlas bear in the sporting games of the humans of that time, although the games in reality were arena fights where the Atlas bear was forced to fight against gladiators, lions, tigers, bears.

Time passed. Human beings invented firearms, but the firearms that human beings made prior to 1850 did not possess the firepower to bring down an Atlas bear, a bear named for the Atlas Mountains which said bear inhabited until hunted to extinction by that same Roman Empire, that same group of humans that hunted the Atlas bear as their empire expanded into Northern Africa, where said empire hunted the Atlas bear and featured the Atlas bear in the sporting games of the humans of that time, although the games in reality were arena fights where the Atlas bear was forced to fight against gladiators, lions, tigers, bears, including a bear that actually survived into modern times, a small miracle in and of itself, a bear that survived longer than the Roman Empire that intensely hunted and intensely captured the Atlas bear, a bear named for the Atlas Mountains which said bear inhabited until hunted to extinction by that same Roman Empire, that same group of humans that hunted the Atlas bear as their empire expanded into Northern Africa, where said empire hunted the Atlas bear and featured the Atlas bear in the sporting games of the humans of that time, although the games in reality were arena fights where the Atlas bear was forced to fight against gladiators, lions, tigers, bears.

Time passed. Human beings invented more powerful firearms. Human beings developed modern firearms. Human beings continued to hunt, intensely hunt, the Atlas bear, although the human beings that invented firearms and developed modern firearms and more powerful firearms, granted, were not those same human beings that intensely hunted and intensely captured the Atlas bear, a bear named for the Atlas Mountains which said bear inhabited until hunted to extinction by that same Roman Empire, that same group of humans that hunted the Atlas bear as their empire expanded into Northern Africa, where said empire hunted the Atlas bear and featured the Atlas bear in the sporting games of the humans of that time, although the games in reality were arena fights where the Atlas bear was forced to fight against gladiators, lions, tigers, bears.

Time passed. Human beings collected Atlas bears for zoos. Human beings thus sealed the fate of the Atlas bear, a bear named for the Atlas mountains, a bear that actually survived into modern times, a small miracle in and of itself, and that same bear that could sustain an attack from the early firearms invented by human beings, that same bear that survived even as human beings developed modern firearms and developed more powerful firearms.

Time passed. By the late 19th century, the Atlas bear succumbed to its oppressors, those human beings that intensely hunted and intensely captured that bear named for the Atlas Mountains which that bear inhabited until that bear was intensely hunted and intensely captured to extinction.

Now, the Atlas bear is nothing more than an example, an example to Smith of cruelty, or an example to Smith of Darwinian reality, but does it matter which of the two is more accurate?

*

One more thing Smith knows

Smith’s grandmother fidgets in her chair. Smith’s grandmother fidgets in her chair and as Smith’s grandmother fidgets in her chair Smith’s grandmother’s stomach rumbles. At the present moment, Smith’s grandmother’s fundamental mood is hunger, which in a way is tied to Smith’s fundamental mood, which, as you might recall, is survival.

Smith’s grandmother desires to motivate Smith to undertake the endeavor of obtaining for her a Cuban sandwich from the Cuban restaurant around the corner from Smith’s grandmother’s apartment.

This endeavor of obtaining for Smith’s grandmother a Cuban sandwich from the Cuban restaurant around the corner from Smith’s grandmother’s apartment, Smith’s grandmother is aware, will tax Smith’s empathy, will test Smith’s empathy to the utmost, and more than that, more than just testing Smith’s empathy, this endeavor of obtaining for his grandmother a Cuban sandwich from the Cuban restaurant around the corner from his grandmother’s apartment will test Smith’s affection for her, for his grandmother, and more than that, more than just testing Smith’s empathy, more than just testing Smith’s affection for her, for Smith’s grandmother, this endeavor of obtaining for his grandmother a Cuban sandwich from the Cuban restaurant around the corner from his grandmother’s apartment will test his capacity for affection in general, and more than that, more than just testing Smith’s capacity for affection in general, this endeavor of obtaining for his grandmother a Cuban sandwich from the Cuban restaurant around the corner from his grandmother’s apartment will test Smith’s basic humanity, and not only that, not only testing Smith’s basic humanity, this endeavor of obtaining for his grandmother a Cuban sandwich from the Cuban restaurant around the corner from his grandmother’s apartment will satisfy a curiosity in Smith’s grandmother herself regarding whether or not Smith is even capable of raising in priority a desire to please someone for whom Smith may or may not feel affection above Smith’s desire to survive, if indeed, that is, Smith is even capable of feeling affection for someone other than Smith himself, if indeed Smith is even capable of raising above his own will to survive the desire to please someone for whom Smith may or may not feel affection, if indeed, that is, Smith even is capable of attaining affection for someone other than Smith himself.

What Smith’s grandmother does not realize is that Smith will not base his decision on affection, at least not in the usual sense where people and animals will perform tasks and/or make sacrifices simply because people and animals love other people and animals.

No, Smith will do this thing for his grandmother because he loves her, that much is true. Smith will embark on this journey to obtain for his grandmother a Cuban sandwich from the Cuban restaurant around the corner from his grandmother’s apartment because he loves her, but it is important to note that Smith loves only because somewhere down the line in evolutionary history performing tasks and/or making sacrifices for other people made sense from a survival perspective, thus natural selection promoted the survival of individuals who were disposed to performing tasks and/or making sacrifices for other people, a trait handed down through the millennia to Smith himself.

All of which is to say that Smith does not perform tasks and/or make sacrifices and/or express love in the same way or for the same reasons that most people perform tasks and/or make sacrifices and/or express love for others.

Nonetheless, Smith will do this thing for his grandmother. Smith will embark on this journey to obtain for his grandmother a Cuban sandwich from the Cuban restaurant around the corner from his grandmother’s apartment. Smith will do this because Smith cannot help but love his grandmother, despite knowing that love, that love and the act loving, leave one vulnerable.

Yet somehow, love, love and the act of loving, they still exist, still exist within Smith, still exist within Homo sapiens. And who is Smith to doubt the value of love, who is Smith to doubt love and the act of loving, when the fact that love and the act of loving simply exist tell him that natural selection, in its unknowing, non-doing wisdom, has confirmed the value of love, has confirmed the value of love and the act of loving?

That is one more thing Smith knows: never doubt the unknowing, non-doing wisdom of evolution.