I have no doubt that what we read in the newly posted installment 6 of Narrative 5: Janice Among the Immortals will provoke great controversy. As it should. (Note: Please use this blog post itself for comments. As the comments are now threaded, we can now choose which threads to participate in, and let us use this forum to burrow deeper rather than to attack one another.)
Janice quotes Alexandros as saying approximately the following things (I am editing slightly):
I was young when the ice sheets melted and the ocean rose to flood the world. I was young when the first great fields were tilled, and the foundations of Jericho laid. These I remember, and much more beside. So do others among us. We look back and see the human world becoming, and with memories so full we can also foresee. So it was in 1919 when as one world war ceased we saw a second war coming. As did many others, mortal as well as Immortal.
But we saw too what others did not: a flood of fire, a catastrophe so fearful only a god could create, and, yet made by the hands of mortal men. Yahanna too envisioned the nuclear gods, and she was amazed. And she gave us leave to delay that fire until passions cooled.
We could not stop the second world war from coming, but we could shape it. And so we did. We found two terrible men and brought them to power. Why? Because in blurred future sight, we saw that the great horrors of Stalin and Hitler would prevent a greater horror. And so it came about: though the nuclear gods did come to birth, the two powers that wielded these gods were chastened by the horror we had caused them to know, and found the wisdom not to unleash them.
Were we right to have touched history in this terrible way? Did we do good or evil? Was it an act of compassion to cause in clear sight the death of millions because we saw otherwise in blurred future vision the death of billions? Was this egoism or wisdom? Did we have a right to act? Or, did we have the right not to act, foreseeing as we did?
Janice’s comment after hearing this is as good a summary as any: “You create a Hitler knowing he’ll kill millions because you think that otherwise nuclear bombs will kill billions. That’s what you call stepping up. Or really awful. I’m not sure.”
Nor am I. This is hard to swallow.
There is much more of interest in this installment as well, including credit given by the Immortals to mortals, rather along the lines of some things our reader “Bob” has said. But it is, in my opinion, overshadowed by ths one great matter; a matter foreshadowed, clearly, in Soraya’s fable. – Stephen