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The plenum, part 2


I have returned from the plenum in New York City. I did not kill anyone while I was there, though I thought about it.

My clone batch is as bizarre as I remember them to be. Distinctly unpleasant to be around. The previous batch was there too, similarly bizarre but muted, because they are older. There were several dozen of them, all told. Darling wife and I spent five hours in their collective company, and after we could no longer stand one minute more, we were the first to leave. Apparently I let the exit door slam rather loudly, because everyone was startled, and one of them came rushing after me to inquire if everything was okay. I didn’t care if I disturbed them with my departure. I needed to leave before I did something they would regret.

I have discharged my duty. The next plenum may be in a decade or two. I may attend, if the bad taste in my mouths from this one has abated by then. But I will not ask darling wife to go. She has suffered enough.

The rest of the time in New York City, we wandered around. It was less violent and slightly less dirty than I remember it to be, which was a pleasant surprise. But one thing struck me very profoundly. Each member of the teeming millions who live there and work there, do so mostly because they don’t know any better. They think that it’s normal to live in concrete canyons, dwelling in perpetual shadow and grime, breathing exhaust fumes from hundreds of thousands of vehicles, crammed together on trains and buses and subways, going to work at sad pointless jobs in monstrous glass towers, and going home at night to tiny compartments in century-old rickety buildings or in newer, blank concrete monoliths.

They think they’re lucky, that they’re living the good life in “The Big Apple.” To us, as observers, they are just rats in a concrete maze, and even if they could find their way out, they will never leave, because they like it there. If they grew up there, their whole universe revolves around the street where they grew up, and they will defend their neighborhood’s honor to the death, never understanding that their neighborhood is exactly like the next one three streets over, and the next one two avenues north, and the next borough four kilometers away. It’s all the same urban wasteland, despite their strident claims to the contrary. Seeing it made me very glad that I am not posted there on a permanent basis. I think I would have to quit and go back to Mars, rather than live in such a place.


That said, every single individual we met among those teeming millions was friendly, polite and helpful. Not a single person was nasty to us in any way. That must mean that the nastiness which we regularly encounter from New Yorkers who visit our tropical jungle home, must come out only when they are no longer stressed by the pressures of their urban environment. It’s interesting, if annoying.

At some point, I will post pictures.

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