The Illustrated Man. Ray Bradbury

“Not without moving, I can’t.”

“You see. You have no mental evidence. That’s what I want, a mental evidence I canfeel. I don’t want physical evidence, proof you have to go out and drag in. I want evidence that you can carry in your mind and always touch and smell and feel. But there’s no way to do that. In order to believe in a thing you’ve got to carry it with you. You can’t carry the Earth, or a man, in your pocket. I want a way to do that, carry things with me always, so I can believe in them. How clumsy to have to go to all the trouble of going out and bringing in something terribly physical to prove something. I hate physical things because they can be left behind and become impossible to believe in then.”

“Those are the rules of the game.”

“I want to change them. Wouldn’t it be fine if we couldprove things with our mind, and know for certain that things are always in their place. I’d like to know what a place islike when I’mnot there. I’d like to besure.”

“That’s not possible.”

“You know,” said Hitchcock, “I first got the idea of coming out into space about five years ago. About the time I lost my job. Did you know I wanted to be a writer? Oh yes, one of those men who always talk about writing but rarely write. And too much temper. So I lost my good job and left the editorial business and couldn’t get another job and went on down hill. Then my wife died. You see, nothing stays where you put it—you can’t trust material things. I had to put my boy in an aunt’s trust, and things got worse; then one day I had a story published with my name on it, but it wasn’t me.”

“I don’t get you.”

Hitchcock’s face was pale and sweating.

“I can only say that I looked at the page with my name under the title. By Joseph Hitchcock. But it was some other man. There was no way toprove —actuallyprove, really prove—that that man was me. The story was familiar—I knew I had written it—but that name on the paper still was not me. It was a symbol, a name. It was alien. And then I realized that even if I did become successful at writing, it would never mean a thing to me, because I couldn’t identify myself with that name. It would be soot and ashes. So I didn’t write any more. I was never sure, anyway, that the stories I had in my desk a few days later were mine, though I remembered typing them. There was always that gap of proof. That gap between doing and having done. What is done is dead and is not proof, for it is not an action. Only actions are important. And pieces of paper were remains of actions done and over and now unseen. The proof of doing was over and done. Nothing but memory remained, and I didn’t trust my memory. Could I actuallyprove I’d written these stories? No. Canany author? I meanproof. I mean action as proof. No. Not really. Not unless someone sits in the room while you type, and then maybe you’re doing it from memory. And once a thing is accomplished there is no proof, only memory. So then I began to find gaps between everything. I doubted I was married or had a child or ever had a job in my life. I doubted that I had been born in Illinois and had a drunken father and swinish mother. I couldn’t prove anything. Oh yes, people could say, ‘You are thus and so and such and such,’ but that was nothing.”

“You should get your mind off stuff like that,” said Clemens. “I can’t. All the gaps and spaces. And that’s how I got to thinking about the stars. I thought how I’d like to be in a rocket ship, in space, in nothing, innothing, going on into nothing, with just a thin something, a thin eggshell of metal holding me, going on away from all the somethings with gaps in them that couldn’t prove themselves. I knew then that the only happiness for me was space. When I get to Aldebaran II I’ll sign up to return on the five-year journey to Earth and so go back and forth like a shuttlecock all the rest of my life.”

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100

Categories: Bradbury, Ray