Discover more from William Shunn’s Main Wish Null
Mechanisms for transmitting words and thoughts and emotions across the gulfs of time and space are not exclusively recent phenomena.
This poem was written in 2012 as a fundraiser reward for the Chicago Writers Conference, and was later published in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, May/June 2018.
The telegraph was not invented in 1836 but three thousand years before Christ, when the first writer took up a pointed stick and traced out on papyrus the careful, causal chain of coded symbols that transmitted meaning across time and space directly into a brain equipped to decipher it. The telephone was not invented in 1876 but over five thousand years ago when the first writer took up a pointed stick and scratched out the vibrations in clay that tickle the tympanic membrane of the heart with thoughts conceived in days older than dirt. Telepathy was not invented in 2170 but forty thousand years before Christ when, by the light of smoky torches, the first writer poured out his heart in ochre, hematite, and charcoal, unable in any other way to express the experience of stalking a god, and slaying it with a pointed stick. ∅