The Unknown: The Blue Line.
  S: Um, no division of labor whatsoever?

W: Um, no, well—

S: —I don’t think that would work out. There’s only so many things you can do like that. For instance, it’s very difficult to grow coffee beans in Chicago. I mean, you wouldn’t be alienated, so you wouldn’t have any Columbian workers, you know, getting paid peanuts for coffee beans, but—

W: If you wanted a home computer, you would have to design and build and program it yourself. Which would be hard, but—

S: —That would make people’s lives very short, William.

W: Why?

S: Because they’d get on these projects and that’s all they’d ever do. Say I’m going to design some kind of a multimedia VRML workstation. I’d have to gather all the materials, and blow the glass for the, ah, monitor tube or gather all the liquid crystal for the liquid crystal display, uh, it would get very complicated and time-consuming. And we wouldn’t have the kind of sophisticated technology we have today.

S: I think people should be more concentrated on sharing their labor. Rather than sort of this I don’t know ah, Hobbes, thing you got going on, dog eat dog, don’t be divided from your labor, divide and conquer kind of Hobbesian—

W: It’s also kind of a vaguely Marxist and Buckminster Fullerish kind of notion that we had to have had a lousy society in order to get the kind of society that we want, so things like the highway system were built for people to drive their own car and, ah, be alienated from the wilderness and from their fellow travellers. Even though it was a bad idea, it was necessary, so that we could have the highway system, which will now be the public bicycle paths that I described earlier.

S: So are you trying to say that these Asian Longhorn Beetles infesting the trees all over the Chicago area, eating them from the inside, turning them into firewood, that that’s a good thing?

W: What does that have to do with it?

S: Well, because that will bring down one element of society in Chicago and necessitate something to take its place. People planting trees or just adapting to streets without any trees whatsoever. Is this the kind of nightmare dystopic future that you envision?

W: No. My nightmare dystopic future is different from that. We’re passing the ah, stadium, of the Chicago Cubs.

S: Wrigley Field. Have you ever been there, William?

W: Yes I have.

S: Do you like baseball?

W: No.

S: Why not? Not even at Wrigley?

W: There’s just enough people who like baseball that I feel that the world would be better off if I concentrated my interests in areas of knowledge that were less well developed.

S: Is that part of being hip? Not liking baseball?

W: No, well, at some point it, well in some—No. Not at all.

S: You did stumble on that. Kind of as if it were revealing one of the chinks in your alternative armor.

W: I thought it was, but then I found out Paul Auster likes baseball. Now I don’t know what to think.

S: Well.

W: Speaks French fluently, and he likes baseball.

S: How fluent is your French?

W: Not very.

S: You’re of French origin, though?

W: I don’t think so.

S: Not at all? What would your ancestral origins be?

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The Unknown at Spineless Books.