Lem at Amazon

NOTE! This site uses cookies and similar technologies.

If you not change browser settings, you agree to it. Learn more

I understand
5 1 1 1 1 1 Rating 5.00 (1 Vote)


I don't know what to do. If I could say "I'm miserable," it wouldn't be so bad. I can't say "We're miserable" either because I can only partly speak for myself even though I'm still Ijon Tichy. I used to talk to myself while I shaved but I had to stop because of my left eye's lewd winking. Coming back in the LEM, I didn't realize what happened to me just before lift-off. The LEM, by the way, doesn't have anything to do with the American NASA module manned by Armstrong and Aldrin to collect a couple of moon rocks. It was given the same name to disguise my secret mission.

Damn that mission. When I returned from the Calf constellation, I intended to stay put for at least a year. But I agreed to go for the sake of mankind. I knew I might not come back. Doctor Lopez said my chance of survival was one in twenty point eight. That didn't stop me: I'm a gambler. You only die once. Either I come back or I don't, I said to myself. It never occurred to me that I might come back but not come back because we would come back. To explain I'll have to release some highly classified information but I don't care. That is, partly. I'm writing this too only partly and with great difficulty, typing with the right hand. The left I had to tie to the arm of the chair because it kept tearing the paper out of the machine. It wouldn't listen to reason, and while I was immobilizing it, it punched me in the eye. It's because of the doubling. Our brains all have two hemispheres connected by the corpus callosum or great commissure. Two hundred million white nerve fibers connect the brain so it can put its thoughts together but not in my case. It happened on that range where the moon robots tested their new weapons. I stumbled in there by mistake. I'd accomplished my mission, had outsmarted those unliving creatures, and was on my way back to the LEM when I had to urinate.

There are no urinals on the moon. They wouldn't work anyway in a vacuum. You have a little container in your suit, just like Armstrong and Aldrin, so you can relieve yourself anytime, anywhere, but somehow I couldn't, not there in the full sun in the middle of the Sea of Serenity. Not far from me was a solitary boulder. I went over to its shadow. How was I to know there was an ultrasound-inducing field there? While I'm urinating, I feel this little snap. Like a crack in the neck, only higher, in the middle of the skull. It was a remote callotomy. It didn't hurt. I felt funny but the feeling passed and I continued on my way. The strangeness I attributed to an understandable excitement, considering all I had been through. The right hand is controlled by the left hemisphere of the brain. That's why I said I was writing only partly. My right hemisphere obviously doesn't approve of what I'm writing. And I can't say "I'm writing"-it's my left hemisphere that's writing. I'll have to reach some compromise with the opposition because I can't sit forever with my hand tied. I've tried to appease it but nothing works. It's arrogant, aggressive, vulgar. Fortunately it can read only certain parts of speech, nouns mainly. I know this because I've been reading up on the subject. It doesn't understand verbs or adjectives, so while it's watching I have to express myself carefully. Will this work? I don't know. And why is it that all the civilized behavior is in the left hemisphere?


Translated by Michael Kandel, Harcourt Brace