"I was born," the Mouse said. "I must die. I am suffering. Help me.
There, I just wrote your book for you."
--Samuel Delany, _Nova._
SAMUEL R. DELANY: NOVA
I endured the interminable tarot card readings, and discovered many gems. Two are presented here:
Katin shook the nets again. ''From star to star, Mouse; imagine, a great web that spreads across the galaxy, as far as man. That's the matrix in which history happens today. Don't you see? That's it. That's my theory. Each individual is a junction in that net, and the strands between are the cultural, the economic, the psychological threads that hold individual to individual. Any historical event is like a ripple in the net.'' He rattled the links again. ''It passes over and through the web, stretching and shrinking those cultural bonds that involve each man with each man. If the event is catastrophic enough, the bonds break. The net is torn a while. De Eiling and 34-Alvin are only arguing where the ripples start and how fast they travel. But their overall view is the same, you see. I want to catch the throw and scope of this web in my ... my novel, Mouse. I want it to spread about the whole web. But I have to find that central subject, that great event which shakes history and makes the links strike and glitter for me. A moon Mouse; to reitre to some beautiful rock, my art perfected, to contemplate the flow an dshift of the net; that's what I want, Mouse. But the subject won't come!''
The Mouse was sitting on the floor, looking in the bottom of the sack for a control knob that had come off the syrynx. ''Why don't you write about yourself?''
''Oh, that's a fine idea! Who would read it? You?''
The Mouse found the knob and put it back on its stem. ''I don't think I could read anything as long as a novel.''
''But if the subject were, say, the clash between two great families like Prince's and the captain's, wouldn't you at least want to?''
''How many notes have you made on this book?'' The Mouse chanced a tentative light through the hangar.
''Not a tenth as many as I need. Even though it's doomed as an obsolete museum reliquary, it will be jeweled'' --he swung back on the nets -- ''crafted'' -- the links roared; his voice rose -- ''a meticulous work; perfect!''
''I was born,'' the Mouse said. ''I must die. I am suffering. Help me. There, I just wrote your book for you.''
Katin looked at his big, weak fingers against the mail. After a while he said, ''Mouse, sometimes you make me want to cry.''
...When I play I'm up there, see, I'm with the tightrope walkers, balancing on that blaxing rim of crazy where my mind still works. I dance in the fire. When I play, I lead all the other dancers where you, and you ''--the Mouse pointed out people passing--'' an him and her, can't get without my help. Captain, back three years ago, when I was fifteen in Athens, I remember one morning up on that roof. I was leaning on the frame of the grape arbor with shiny grape leaves on my cheek and the lights of the city going out under the dawn, and the dancing had stopped, and two girls were making out in a red blanket back under the iron table. And suddenly I ask myself, 'What am I doing here?' Then I asked it again: 'What am I doing here?' Then it got like a tume caught in my head, playing through again and again. I was scared, Captain. I was excited and happy and scared to death, and I bet I was grinning as wide as I'm grinning now. That's how I run, Captain. I haven't got the voice to sing or shout it. But I play my harp, don't I? And what am I doing now, Captain? Climbing another street of stone steps world away, dawn then, night now, happy and scared as the devil. What am I doing here? Yeah! What am I doing?''
''You're rapping, Mouse....''