Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson




1 The Arousing of Thought


With a number of young rascals like myself, I was once laying snares for pigeons on the roof of a neighbor’s house, when suddenly, one of the boys who was standing over me and watching me closely, said:


“I think the noose of the horsehair ought to be so arranged that the pigeon’s big toe never gets caught in it, because, as our zoology teacher recently explained to us, during movement it is just in that toe that the pigeon’s reserve strength is concentrated, and therefore if this big toe gets caught in the noose, the pigeon might of course easily break it.”


Another boy, leaning just opposite me, from whose mouth, by the way, whenever he spoke saliva always splashed abundantly in all directions, snapped at this remark of the first boy and delivered himself, with a copious quantity of saliva, of the following words:


“Shut your trap, you hopeless mongrel offshoot of the Hottentots! What an abortion you are, just like your teacher! Suppose it is true that the greatest physical force of the pigeon is concentrated in that big toe, then all the more, what we’ve got to do is to see that just that toe will be caught in the noose. Only then will there be any sense to our aim—that is to say, for catching these unfortunate pigeon creatures—in that brain-particularity proper to all possessors of that soft and slippery ‘something’ which consists in this, that when, thanks to other actions, from which its insignificant manifestability depends, there arises a periodic requisite law-conformable what is called ‘change of presence,’ then this small so to say ‘law-conformable confusion’ which should proceed for the animation of other acts in its general functioning, immediately enables the center of gravity of the whole functioning, in which this slippery ‘something’ plays a very small part, to pass temporarily from its usual place to another place, owing to which there often obtains in the whole of this general functioning, unexpected results ridiculous to the point of absurdity.”