babel blog

A And All Alephs
August 30, 2008, 11:46 pm
Filed under: story

This is part 1 of a story I wrote

The initial letters are the monogram of Albrecht Dürer, who has his own myspace these days!



am lay stretched out sideways on the grass, thinking. Eyes scrunched shut, head to one side. His slightly protuberant tongue connected to his shoulder via a delicate string of saliva that sparkled in the sunlight. Hearing footsteps, he hurriedly wiped his mouth and adjusted his features into what he hoped was a more intelligent expression – eyes open and looking wistfully into the middle distance, lips held gently together.

-What are you doing?


-Thinking! Eve’s tone could not have been more skeptical, -Thinking what?

Adam sighed, and the serene expression on his face changed into one of anxiety. He wasn’t much good at concealing emotions the way she did. He glanced at the container full of black, many legged creatures that lay on the grass beside him.

-It’s not easy you know. There’s millions of the little buggers. I think I’ve named about half of the creatures in this box here but they scurry about so much that I can never remember who’s who. Of course, they never remember either – they don’t seem to care.

Eve looked into the box, her nose wrinkling.

-Have you noticed that the more legs a creature has, the less intelligent it seems to be? I’ve been talking to one of those long, slithery creatures (he says you haven’t named him yet), he has no legs at all and he’s a lot brighter than you.

She said this last word – you – rather viciously for she perceived that Adam was not listening. His attention had returned to the box. He was trying to take out the creatures one by one, setting each one free as he gave it a name. It wasn’t working. Every time he tried to pick one up scores of others would swarm onto the back of his hairy hands, laughing and shouting gibberish, obliging him to shake his hand furiously and scatter them to the ground regardless of whether or not they had received their name. Eve touched him gently on the arm,

-Adam, weren’t you listening at all to the creator? she said softly. He completely missed the harmonics of irritation in her voice.

-Of course I was listening. That’s why I’m out here doing my job, naming things.

She tried increasing the volume

-You’re not supposed to be naming each and every one of them! “Each according to their kind”, remember! You need to work out a sensible taxonomy based on common features and take the nomenclature from there!

Adam blew the remaining creatures from his hand and shifted slightly away from her. He had already begun to suspect that Eve was more different from him than than he would have thought possible. Nomenclature? Taxonomy? He was not confident that he even knew what the words meant. In the days before Eve arrived things had been different. He and the creator had communicated infrequently and largely by means of telepathy – each able to place a fully formed thought into the other’s mind without the impedance of language. Eve, however, had taken a dim view of telepathy. It was, she argued silently, too nebulous, too full of ambiguities. She had depths in her mind she want to map more precisely and thoughts that required more than just thinking. The creator had indulged her (unwisely in Adam’s opinion) and allowed her to choose a language to be spoken throughout Paradise. Continue reading