Aimé Michel

Le premier mystère est: pourquoi y a-t-il quelque chose plutôt que rien?
Et le deuxième, aussi grand que le premier: pourquoi suis-je là en train de penser?


Diogenes’s Invectives

Science and kicks in the pants

Atlas – Air France n°91 – January 1974


Archiloques and I were walking meditatively down the street and through the squares, indifferent to the din of the city.

— Give me your honest opinion, he said to me suddenly: you who have such a subtle intelligence, what do you think happens to all the kicks in the pants that people deserve but never receive?

Archiloques is a penetrating thinker. In this particular instance, for example, what could be more to the point than his remark. For it is true that my spirit is extremely subtle. Yes, no doubt about it, nothing could be more accurate than this observation.

As for the kicks in the pants which are never given, I declared to Archiloques that his question was idiotic, and that I saw no reason why they had to go somewhere.

— You don’t understand because you’re an imbecile, replied Archiloques (who, just between us, has a very uneven temper). Haven’t you ever been taught that nothing is created or lost? It’s Lavoisier’s Law. There are kicks in the pants which never arrive at their destination: therefore, they must go somewhere else. That’s Science.

— Well, I ventured, perhaps there’s a sort of reserve, where some Celestial Guardian notes them in a Great Account Book of Kicks in the Pants, with Debit, Credit, and Balance.

— If that’s the case, asserted Archiloques, he’s an old miser. He hoards everything. In my days, fewer kicks in the pants were wasted in such a manner. Everyone had a right to them. It was far more democratic.

— Perhaps, I suggested, perhaps the Celestial Guardian foresees a time of scarcity in the near future? Foresight, Archiloques, foresight!

— I don’t know, but I think you’re forgetting the importance of redistribution. The kick in the pants has an enormous circulation. No sooner is it received than it is almost always immediately passed on.

— Redistributed, but always to the same people! Admit it, there are people who collect kicks in the pants.

— And maybe even speculate in them! If kicks in the pants circulate, who’s to say there aren’t piles of paper ones, like Eurodollars, that no one knows what to do with?

And thus we went along our way, meditating on these great issues, indifferent to the din of the city. And the crowd crossed our path, unaware of our profound thoughts.