The Atom Cracker

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Pablo Edronkin

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I am an atom cracker, and that's what I do all the time, I am afraid; I break apart atoms to look what is inside, and then I do the same with the remains over and over again. You cannot help me because if you open your heart to me I will probably crack it too because it is in my nature to rip the souls off bodies for the sake of truth, but everything - even nature - has an origin and a destiny.

It may sound like madness and certainly is but while I was still partly a kid and partly a teenager one day like any other a voice popped into my mind - my own, right? - with a question: "Do you want to be wise or happy?" It was probably the stupidest think I did, to enter a conversation with that particular genie, an obvious stranger, but now it is too late to lament. That day which I remember way too clearly after having gone thorough second by second many thousand times I was just by the swimming pool of the mansion that my parents owned, which is now my own and where I spend materially most of my days here, unless I am in the stone labyrinth that I am constructing for reasons not still revealed to me. Back then, that day by the pool with the genie hovering around, I don't know why I said to myself, answering to the (my?) voice of the entity that I was seeing, flapping its wings, but not with my eyes, that of course, I would like to be first wise and then happy, and the genius answered "Are you sure?" and I said, "Indeed!" So he moved around, looked absently for a tip of time at the blue water and parted company with me with no more words that day not to be seen again despite the fact that I have been trying to find out what it was and where it came from for reasons that you will now see.

Soon enough after that sunny day when I was still using those white shorts that kids use for their sport lessons at private schools I began to feel somehow different, like if my senses had been upgraded somehow, and then wisdom began trickling in. It was interesting at first, as I grew wittier to win arguments, make fools of my still-in-shorts-too rivals, and get better grades, but soon enough I realised that the initial joy of that expanded version of myself was leaving my thirsty while I found it increasingly difficult to drink anything enough from life and wisdom because it was not like fresh water anymore but mud, and then like red lava. Years passed by but still at high school I knew that I could get the best grades yet, I didn't find a reason to do so except during the last year just to show everybody that it was contempt what kept me from being a good student: After doing nothing for years I finished the last year with the highest grades possible, all of them. University was a bore right up to my doctorate, a mere formality to keep everybody happy.

Now, about twenty years later I have an airplane parked in a place where a couple of the richest people on Earth have theirs; their money makes a so-so impression on me, yet, but their bodies and their souls don't. I can talk to them just as well and easily as to the mechanic that moves the aircraft in and out of the hangar, and I am not boasting here and now, no matter whether you feel good or bad about it. Now I can perceive every day my head pulsating as Earth breathes, for it does and I know, getting filled with more and more things but as the budding wisdom and knowledge that today exceeds my capability to bear with began to grow I realised that I was parting company with what most people think of as "happiness" as I began to see things that others don't and believe me and take my warning when I say that the invisible worlds around us are neither wise nor happy, so that you think it twice before crossing the mirror as I did, and by all accounts if you are reckless enough to do so and find your way thorough - which I will not reveal now -, don't do that wearing shorts, but carry all sorts of provisions with you.

I saw the country where I live torn apart and shattered and understood what it meant, while people in other mental paths just felt good or bad about it, I witnessed a dirty war that now officially never existed, being something else so that some people feel politically happy or sad, and also feeling good or bad about it. I was ostracized by fellow schoolmates just because my parents were seen as millionaires, and even then, the tax office, thinking the same, began taking as much as they could just because they put us among the top one percent, highest-income in the land. It was gruelling despite that everyone else thought that we were extremely fortunate; then terrorists began stalking in order to get ransoms, counting myself among the heterogeneous yet small club of people who had to experience and survive a real Russian roulette played by others on my head just to get money out of my parents. I also saw what politics really is behind the veil of assumption of democracy and experienced first hand that politicians are not where they are to serve the people, but the other way around, while "optimistic" people kept thinking that voting could make a difference. I even met a couple of presidents that left me with the impression that they couldn't really keep an interesting conversation, while other people just feel good or bad about them and took pictures of those moments that I never cared about. Every time someone greets me with a smile, asking me about some moment ostensibly transcendental, I wave that person off with a stone face and some new form of sarcasm.

I saw that love is a relative thing and that the girlfriend that one day asked me to take a picture kissing her shortly after we made love in a forest, then went and took the same picture with another guy, after all tears and things have been wasted and rational explanations thought and executed, just because he lived closer to her home. I saw how mathematics try to whisper truths that no one wants to hear, and how books seem to be the true enemies of the people, for they are treated with the contrary, the exact opposite of love, which is indifference. I learned how silence, when you need to hear something, can kill your soul and even how to calculate interstellar trips thorough wormholes at speeds higher than light using simulation programs; perhaps one day I will also figure out how to do it in reality, for sometimes solutions for problems that I have not even perceived that exists pop right into my eyes. I even saw how friends really prove themselves once they find out that you have more money than they thought you had, or how little, and I realise that I am seeing, thought not with my eyes, in the same way I saw the genius, how hope is being consumed by a black hole into an invisible dot within an invisible dot.

Money helped me buy books and research instruments; I have tens of thousands of volumes in my library, something that people coming to see me have witnessed, as crates filled with boxes filled with books filled with words arrived from the biggest and most reputed bookstores around the planet, and I reserved a section of my mansion bigger than most people's homes to be used as a lab where, with the help of some friends we surpassed even colleges and research centres in producing advanced technologies like computer guided weapons systems, construction materials and communication devices. Our papers and publications became the stuff of classical college and postgraduate courses and we even devised a prognosis of the return of communism while everybody else thought that the whole thing was dead: See now what happens in South America, for example and remember that we have had something to do with that. Today I could talk to you in half a dozen different languages instead of English, at doctoral level in about a dozen different fields without losing a tic of the compass and without having passed thorough so many doctoral courses because I simply have learned almost all the stuff I know by myself; in fact, I find academic positions a little stupid, routine jobs with presumption of new feathers among snobbish barefoot Indians, and universities, for the most part, just as mass producers of happy employees contended with being small for the rest of their lives on the assumption that they are active, independent and have a career, while most people see them as temples where crumps of knowledge fall unto them from the roof, hoping to feed and engorge their reputations. Going to the university is for those that cannot do anything on their own and need to be fed like chicken in a poultry farm.

My name appears on scientific treatises and on the Internet without even having asked for that, while others desperately wade thorough life in research or academics, trying to have plastered their own identity with the blessings of a chief researcher that treats them as microscope cattle on the obscure credits of some minor scientific paper for their momentary satisfaction and a resume sheet that will become the only memory of all their efforts and the fact that they were once alive. I can read Mayan hieroglyphs, write the names of Egyptian gods and goddesses using different dynastic styles, admire the aesthetics of clay tablets form Nineveh like those who made them, imagine the worshippers of Marduk erecting monuments to him to the tiniest detail, hear high priests of incipient civilisations deliver their speeches to keep storms away of the brick villages thousands of years ago, speak of continent germination and terraformation in new planets and bore you to death with the niceties of quantum mechanics and artificial life programming. I see dinosaurs passing by and the Earth changing as it goes round the sun, round the galaxy, round the universe and what is beyond it in cycles that are obvious to me as lighting a match to make a little light.

But each time I see and understand a millimetre more of the fabric of our world, something that we call wisdom, I move away a step farther from the happiness of the many and sometimes I catch myself wondering in a whisper, ashamed that the genie may hear me, more and more if that is something to feel good or bad about. I cannot help understanding things like you cannot avoid reading street signs as you go on your way with a vehicle that we know as a car, which I also find petty, as a trophy that the vulgar usually attempt to seize by loan and desperation to show themselves that they are becoming better or wealthier in life, and once you understand many a thing like I do all the time, you feel a little more indifferent, thus less loving of reality. By this time I have amassed millions of dollars yet live in isolation because cell phones, vehicles, social activities, air conditioning devices, jewels, stock markets, a spouse and political clout, all the same, seem worthless and useless. I am just forced like a prisoner that hammers rocks to dig deeper and deeper into things without resting to just feel good or bad about them. There is no respite in wisdom as you crack atom after atom after atom, only to crack what is inside them because you know that in the inside of the inside there is yet another inside to crack.

I can climb mountains like you walk thorough the cubicles of your workplace, extract fossils from the ground like candies and calculate the displacement of bodies in multiple dimensions, more than four for sure, using just my mind; I have created computer systems with millions of lines of code just using my head and no plans or schematics, I can remember the Latin names of extinct species better than my birthday, use oil paints with dexterity, can walk you thorough pictorial collections, including my own, containing more than 200 oil paintings, drawings and watercolours, each one worthy of the dissertation of an emeritus professor, play music on various instruments, walk mentally each step of the invocations to Mokele Mbembe - yet not dance them - fly an airplane and even go into combat or life- threatening situations, in and out, with the same level of stress that drinking a cup of coffee entails just because I can factor and calculate the odds each time on the fly to my advantage - no exaggeration or boasting; so some people that know me personally say that I am cold and insensitive, arrogant, distant or cruel, while what happens is that my mind has been crippled, having lost the capability to help anyone, including myself, with pious lies. I cannot close my eyes and just feel good or bad about things because I cannot stop thinking.

So after so much fiddling with knowledge - one of the things supposed to give us wisdom, perhaps I just got a glimpse of what happiness really might be, for despite all the thing you put in your head to run away from, despite all your accolades, fortunes, porcelain jars, Norwegian girlfriends, property documents, feelings and ideas, if they are left small they will rot along with you, sooner or later, and what you call life, currently overrated and confused with existence, will be extinguished. Even your last remaining memories of love and your shiny airplane will be crushed after decades pass and time catches on you for good. After all, a black hole is just time and space packed in a needle's head, and during your lifetime you get poisoned with both anyway, albeit in smaller and slower doses, the result being the same. The universe is toxic, yet nobody seems to know the fact.

Then, what is happiness anyway? It certainly has to do with the opposite of time and space; why do you think Einstein seemed to be almost on the verge of laugh all the time? Perhaps happiness is just to exist, which is not necessarily the same as to be alive. And those things that exist perpetually and we know about are always ideas of the things that they were one day, no matter where and no matter when. Art is forever, but produced by people that live infinitesimally short lives when compared with the scale of the universe; the smallest produces the biggest, and also kills it.

Thus, happiness must mean that you have to beat space and time somehow, and cannot be found in material things but ideas beyond concepts such as belief or of justice, the petty description of what is good and evil for all sorts of petty sentient beings that no one hears screaming when they die in the void, for what is material exists within space and time only, and their idea of happiness is like trying to sing in various degrees of sincerity and loudness in order not to hear as others die in pain and loneliness. That's why I cannot be happy in the sense that you probably are or want to be, because I know, having seen other worlds, that your happiness does not mean a truly sincere smile but a scream of horror at the infinitude of smallness. Perhaps hope and the genie are waiting for me out there, beyond those boundaries with smiles and open arms after I somehow survive and cross the Shinvat Peretu, but my friend, you will perish.

I have not been blessed by wisdom but cursed by it. Socrates said that life is like a prison from which you have no right to leave on your own but only if someone takes you out or you serve your time. For me it is like school, a place where after the genie struck me I was bored to death in every inevitable day, longing to go back home to read on my own.

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