The Theologian's Nightmare - short story by Bertrand Russell - Eddie Vedder - 'Society'



The Theologian's Nightmare - short story by Bertrand Russell - from Fact and Fiction, 1961



The eminent theologian Dr. Thaddeus dreamt that he died and pursued his course toward heaven. His 

studies had prepared him and he had no difficulty in finding the way. He knocked at the door of

heaven, and was met with a closer scrutiny than he expected. "I ask admission," he said, "because I

was a good man and devoted my life to the glory of God." "Man?" said the janitor, "What is that? And

how could such a funny creature as you do anything to promote the glory of God?" Dr. Thaddeus was

astonished. "You surely cannot be ignorant of man. You must be aware that man is the supreme work

of the Creator." "As to that," said the janitor, "I am sorry to hurt your feelings, but what you're saying

is news to me. I doubt if anybody up here has ever heard of this thing you call 'man.' However, since

you seem distressed, you shall have a chance of consulting our librarian."



The librarian, a globular being with a thousand eyes and one mouth, bent some of his eyes upon Dr.

Thaddeus. "What is this?" he asked the janitor. "This," replied the janitor, "says that it is a member of

a species called 'man,' which lives in a place called 'Earth.' It has some odd notion that the Creator

takes a special interest in this place and this species. I thought perhaps you could enlighten it."

"Well," said the librarian kindly to the theologian, "perhaps you can tall me where this place is that

you call 'Earth.'" "Oh," said the theologian, "it's part of the Solar System." "And what is the Solar

System?" asked the librarian. "Oh," said the theologian, somewhat disconcerted, "my province was

Sacred Knowledge, but the question that you are asking belongs to profane knowledge. However, I

have learnt enough from my astronomical friends to be able to tell you that the Solar System is part of

the Milky Way." "And what is the Milky Way?" asked the librarian. "Oh, the Milky Way is one of the

Galaxies, of which, I am told, there are some hundred million." "Well, well," said the librarian, "you

could hardly expect me to remember one out of so many. But I do remember to have heard the word

galaxy' before. In fact, I believe that one of our sub-librarians specializes in galaxies. Let us send for

him and see whether he can help."




After no very long time, the galactic sub-librarian made his appearance. In shape, he was a

dodecahedron. It was clear that at one time his surface had been bright, but the dust of the shelves

had rendered him dim and opaque. The librarian explained to him that Dr. Thaddeus, in endeavoring

to account for his origin, had mentioned galaxies, and it was hoped that information could be

obtained from the galactic section of the library. "Well," said the sub-librarian, "I suppose it might

become possible in time, but as there are a hundred million galaxies, and each has a volume to

itself, it takes some time to find any particular volume. Which is it that this odd molecule desires?" "It

is the one called 'The Milky Way,'" Dr. Thaddeus falteringly replied. "All right," said the sub- librarian,

"I will find it if I can."




Some three weeks later, he returned, explaining that the extraordinarily efficient card index in the

galactic section of the library had enabled him to locate the galaxy as number QX 321,762. "We have

employed," he said, "all the five thousand clerks in the galactic section on this search. Perhaps you

would like to see the clerk who is specially concerned with the galaxy in question?" The clerk was

sent for and turned out to be an octahedron with an eye in each face and a mouth in one of them. He

was surprised and dazed to find himself in such a glittering region, away from the shadowy limbo of

his shelves. Pulling himself together, he asked, rather shyly, "What is it you wish to know about my

galaxy?" Dr. Thaddeus spoke up: "What I want is to know about the Solar System, a collection of

heavenly bodies revolving about one of the stars in your galaxy. The star about which they revolve is

called 'the Sun.'" "Humph," said the librarian of the Milky Way, "it was hard enough to hit upon the

right galaxy, but to hit upon the right star in the galaxy is far more difficult. I know that there are

about three hundred billion stars in the galaxy, but I have no knowledge, myself, that would

distinguish one of them from another. I believe, however, that at one time a list of the whole three

hundred billion was demanded by the Administration and that it is still stored in the basement. If you

think it worth while, I will engage special labor from the Other Place to search for this particular star."

It was agreed that, sin

ce the question had arisen and since Dr. Thaddeus was evidently suffering some distress, this might

be the wisest course.




Several years later, a very weary and dispirited tetrahedron presented himself before the galactic

sub-librarian. "I have," he said, "at last discovered the particular star concerning which inquiries have

been made, but I am quite at a loss to imagine why it has aroused any special interest. It closely

resembles a great many other stars in the same galaxy. It is of average size and temperature, and is

surrounded by very much smaller bodies called 'planets.' After minute investigation, I discovered that

some, at least, of these planets have parasites, and I think that this thing which has been making

inquiries must be one of them."



At this point, Dr. Thaddeus burst out in a passionate and indignant lament: "Why, oh why, did the

Creator conceal from us poor inhabitants of Earth that it was not we who prompted Him to create the

Heavens? Throughout my long life, I have served Him diligently, believing that He would notice my

service and reward me with Eternal Bliss. And now, it seems that He was not even aware that I

existed. You tell me that I am an infinitesimal animalcule on a tiny body revolving round an

insignificant member of a collection of three hundred billion stars, which is only one of many millions

of such collections. I cannot bear it, and can no longer adore my Creator." "Very well," said the

janitor, "then you can go to the Other Place."



Here the theologian awoke. "The power of Satan over our sleeping imagination is terrifying," he




Bertrand Russell - from Fact and Fiction, 1961







Eddie Vedder - 'Society' - Into the Wild

It's a mystery to me
we have a greed
with which we have agreed

You think you have to want
more than you need
until you have it all you won't be free

Society, you're a crazy breed
I hope you're not lonely without me

When you want more than you have
you think you need
and when you think more than you want
your thoughts begin to bleed

I think I need to find a bigger place
'cos when you have more than you think
you need more space

Society, you're a crazy breed
I hope you're not lonely without me
Society, crazy and deep
I hope you're not lonely without me

There's those thinking more or less less is more
but if less is more how you're keeping score?
Means for every point you make
your level drops
kinda like it's starting from the top
you can't do that...

Society, you're a crazy breed
I hope you're not lonely without me
Society, crazy and deep
I hope you're not lonely without me

Society, have mercy on me
I hope you're not angry if I disagree
Society, crazy and deep
I hope you're not lonely without me

Eddie Vedder - Society - Into the Wild - HD








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