Are such genealogical searches for foundations themselves evidence of the proverbial nonsense on stilts? —William Rasch
Genealogical research has some mysteries and paradoxes that nobody really likes to talk about. (We merely hint at them in our controversial Heirs to the Queen of Hearts: Tracing Magical Genealogy.) But we were delighted to encounter Scottish playwright N. F. Simpson's revelation that the emperor isn't wearing any clothes, in his precursor to Get Smart, The Cresta Run. The vital passage runs as follows:
Harker: Claims to have had two parents, I see.
Cask: That's right, sir.
Harker: One father, one mother. Seems as if they both had two, as well.
Cask: That's what he maintains, sir. Four grandparents.
Harker: And eight great-grandparents, by the look of it.
Cask: Yes sir.
Harker: The further you go back, the more people seem to have been involved. Eight, sixteen, thirty-two, sixty-four, a hundred and twenty-eight. Goes on doubling up indefinitely, as far as I can see.
Cask: We did work it out, actually, sir. On the computer.
Harker: And what did you arrive at?
Cask: Well — the figure we were left with was somewhere in the region of eighteen million at the time of the Norman Conquest.
Harker: Eighteen million? But that's completely and utterly ridiculous, Cask. In 1066 the entire population of the British Isles couldn't have amounted to much more than a million and a half. At the very most.
Cask: That's rather how it struck us, sir, too.
Harker: Just doesn't add up, does it?
Cask: It's just possible that the other sixteen million or so were out of the country at the time, sir.
Harker: If they were, I'm not sure that it doesn't raise more issues than it settles, Cask.
Cask: I know what you mean, sir. . . . Eighteen million at the Norman Conquest — what must it have been at the time of Christ?
Harker: Astronomical, I should think, Cask.
Cask: Let alone the Garden of Eden.
Harker: How many people do you understand there to have been in the Garden of Eden, Cask?
Cask: Well — just the two, sir. So far as I've always understood.
Harker: Yes. That's what I thought. Discrepancy somewhere.
Indeed, the math simply doesn't work out, and one must confront a mind-blowing possibility. The thing is, when we trace our predecessors back, we invariably run into dead ends: thrice-great grandparents who seem not to have had two parents, to put it bluntly. There are so many folks in the tangled branches of the tree who defy further investigation. Were they not who they said they were? or where they extraterrestrials? or did they suddenly pop into existence like the virtual particles of quantum physics? These dead ends suddenly begin to make sense, mathematically. They can't all keep doubling, because world population surely diminishes in Prospero's "dark backward and abysm of time." For the math to work out, a whole, whole lot of our predecessors must have no origin. One can't help but to think of particle-antiparticle pairs. (Note that even allowing for postmodern interpersonal relationships and non-nuclear ["No nukes!"] family models, the data still tends toward exponential growth of predecessors by generation.) (As my co-researcher concludes, the walls are there for a reason, to protect us from what's on the other side.)
We confided in tech wizard Gordon Meyer
that this photo breaks a rule, as we learn in E. J. Gold's Slime Wars
: "See, one of the Rules of World Domination and Control is that you can't actually do anything to change anything, or you'll lose total control. Of course it goes without saying that you can't tell anyone that you're in total control of everything or you'd lose total control by one mind, which is exactly enough to louse it all up. The thing I hate most about Total World Domination and Control is that there's no one with which to share it, to actually know and appreciate it all, to see and take part in the enormity of it all, to appreciate the good job I'm doing here at the Very Center of It All."
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Original Content Copyright © 2014 by Craig Conley. All rights reserved.