the Nobel Prize and you at Arlington
The Nobel prizes are kind of monstrous in an awful around the bush way. I bet you did not know this but all the money that provides those prizes—for Peace, Science, Love and Harmony, et al—comes from the sale of dynamite. There is nothing in the body of world literature as ironic as this. I can do nothing to beat it so I tell you a true tale.
Dynamite, like everything, has good uses. Mining, construction, Federal Agencies. Did I let that slip? My editor can take it out [Ed: he’s on his own and his opinions are not necessarily the opinions of myself or the publisher]. But most of the time dynamite is used for lousy stuff like blowing the feet off of Cambodian children because there are so many fucking landmines still planted around the world that only come into bloom when stepped upon. They would be very pretty flowers indeed if they could be watched from a safe distance.
This is the greatest triumph of guilt money the world as ever known. If the Swiss gave all their gold back to the Jews it would not equal the act of this one man. He invented the technology to destroy untold millions and then tried to buy his way out of it. He and Oppenheimer will make great bridge partners in Hell.
I was told—my secretary hasn’t checked this up for me yet—of the reason they don’t give the prize in Economics and Astrophysics.
Nobel had two wives. One ran off with an economist and the other with an astrophysicist. I heard this story from an astrophysicist of dubious wit, however, and economics doesn’t deserve anything but a big black foot in its ass. So it may not be true.
I criticize economics on the ground that it’s an absurdity. Economies are chaos systems. They are unpredictable. All the computers and satellites in the world can’t tell you the weather accurately more than a couple of hours ahead. That’s chaos. Economies are the same. The idea that a butterfly wing flapping could cause a storm is ridiculous because chaos is a natural system just like weather or a river. The patterns of current in a river also follow chaos. The viscosity of chaos systems differ but the idea of a butterfly cause a storm is the same idea as a pebble in the Rio Grande causing a tidal wave. Provoking! Hogwash! Economic theory is like meteorological theory: The national economy will improve tomorrow if we raise the federal lending rate. Preposterous! We build docks into the ocean but the continents are no closer.
Dear Mr. Five,
Mr. Alfred Bernhard Nobel was against the bloody applications of his brilliant chemistry. That was why he established the prizes in his will; they did not begin until five years after his death in 1896. He wanted to improve the world and, yes, avert being posthumously labeled a “merchant of death.”
Did you know that the first death Mr. Nobel was torn by was personal? His little brother was killed in their family factory in an explosion.
Your own opinions on Chaos are interesting. I will respond at length when I’ve had time to check some of your logic against the literature. I should point out that the continents are in fact growing closer due to plate tectonics. But I got your point.
I hope you are well. My wife sends her best and our daughter Ashley also says hello. She’s writing a book, did you know? At nine, can you believe it? HarperCollins has expressed interest. An amazing world, truly, as you say.
Your most confirmed fan,
Dr. Jacob White, PhD, MD, ME, DDS, and DVM
Weevilbow, North Carolina, USA
PS: I nearly forgot. You can tell your secretary to call off the search. Nobel never had a wife, let alone two. Usually it is Mathematics in the story since there actually is a prize in Economics though you are correct in a round about way that the related Economics prize is not in fact a Nobel award but the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in his memory.
Crazy son of a bitch. Damnit to Hell! I thought we went through this already.
I called him because I didn’t want to risk receiving another letter before he might receive my reply.
“Dr. White, why do you persist in your fan mail? I think I was quite explicit that I neither wish it nor have the abdominal fortitude to withstand it.”
“I’m sorry,” he said, “A friend of yours suggested it. He said that you were quite ready to begin correspondence anew and that you had actually missed me. I apologize for the misunderstanding.”
“What friend? CM?”
“Mr. WS Burroughs.”
“Goddamnit!” I said.
“I’m sorry, sir.”
“It’s not your fault.”
“I’m sorry anyway.”
“Will you quit being so fucking polite!” I yelled into the phone and hurt my own ear.