I had been enjoying the sweet freedom from care for many hours, when I felt a hand on my shoulder.
Looking up I saw Zatamon. He brought up a chair and sat down by my side.
"Tell me," he said, "the impressions left in you from your life among the Behins."
To my question why that was necessary, he replied that it was necessary for the proper diagnosis of my present state. I tried again to sketch my sufferings in a few words, but the wounds of my soul were still so deep that even the mere memory sickened me. Trembling overcame me, my, voice faltered and I had to ask him to dispense, for the time being, with recalling the events.
"I am a British citizen," I said. "I was brought up to respect sanity and civilization, in a place where yes means agreement and no means denial. Mental disorder I only cured, and you may figure what it meant for me to be exposed to such a degree of insanity that it is impossible to picture it."
I expressed my sincere regret that this most terrible disease of the world had struck precisely their flourishing and peaceful island and suggested that he might describe the disease in more detail, since it was of extraordinary interest to me as a physician. Although he had said something about the cosmic rays of the sun before my being locked up, to my regret, owing to my then erroneous beliefs (of which I was by this time much ashamed) I had not paid due attention to it.
I truly ate humble pie and it gave satisfaction to me to do penance for my sin. Among the wise Hins I actually felt like a child, who had fled back to his mother's arms from, the bullying of bad boys.
"I have already mentioned," Zatamon commenced, "that the functions of life are influenced by the cosmic rays of the sun. That is the source of all life. The will to live also comes from the sun, together with warmth in the form of cosmic rays. This radiation is received by the brain as an aerial, and its operation goes on in a manner determined by the rays. This is what forms instinct."
"That is, the rays have an effect on the instinct similar to that which the hormones have on the functioning of the organs?"
"Yes. Even you partly know the effect of the sun's cosmic rays on life. You have experienced the coincidence of protuberances and sunspots with certain symptoms in life. You have been surprised at the close correlation you yourself have observed between solar activity and certain diseases and even the frequency of accidents. From such oscillations of the life force, you can see that it was dictated to the full by the cosmic rays of the sun to the nervous system. The life force and instinct come from the sun. And as long as instinct remains instinct without thinking, there is no trouble. Have you seen the kazo life of the ants?... "
"What?!" I, interrupted him in surprise, as he had already used this comparison once. "How does this witless animal come to the kazo which is the complicated rule of life for the intellectual beings of the Hin society?"
"Only that rule is complicated which is not life itself as, for example, the Behins' fantasies. Life is simple and comes automatically. It can be lived well in one way only and to live it wrongly is not only difficult, it is impossible. In Nature there are no contradictions as contradictions themselves perish, as you saw with the Behins. I'll give you an example: in the animal kingdom the long-lived and tough animals are the least prolific, while the short-lived and fragile species are prolific. You, of course, respect in this the organizing force, the mystic miracles of Nature, while it is nothing other than the kazo simple mathematical truth, reality itself: fact which cannot be otherwise. If the hare hadn't a high reproduction rate, there would be no hares in the world at all, as they would have died out. Now you can imagine that man could not live either if a contradiction had arisen in his productive labour, let's suppose, in the erroneous idea that instead of food we have to feed on pebbles or knives. You must admit that a man living like that would perish in the same way as a hare incapable of mating. This is expressed by the more sane among you as natural selection."
"Well, is it not that?"
"It's much more simple. It is a mathematical formula a - a = 0. That is: if I live but do not maintain my life I will perish. This is simply existing reality, the kazo, which, therefore, requires no learning. Knowledge and education are necessary only to be a Behin; the kazo is so. By itself."
I felt somewhat hurt for his talking to me as if I were unaware of even the elements of arithmetic, and incidentally I mentioned that I was perfectly familiar with the laws of mathematics.
"Let's not say 'law', he replied, because that already represents some intellectual creation whereas the kazo need not be understood, for our life cannot even be imagined in any other way."
"So, accordingly," I said, "Behinity is the lack of capacity for the elements of arithmetic, whereby one is unable to. perform even the simplest operation in subtraction."
"By and large it is so, but not because of an inability to count but because the patient is unaware of the meaning of the numbers. The Behin imagines that non-eating is actually eating and the knife does not end but promotes life."
"And how do such terrible misbeliefs get into his brain?"
"From the brain itself. The human brain is a more complicated receiver than the ant's nervous system and as such it also emits self-oscillation which mixes with the cosmic rays of the sun. And the brain receives this mixed wave, by which its comprehension of things becomes distorted, and its functions of life diverge from the kazo. Besides the real aims the brain itself produces aims, false or perverted instincts, ketni, kipu, bruhu, bikbam, boeto and thousands of other non-existent things, by which their existence destroys itself and turns into non-existence."
"Because they don't understand mathematics..."
"I repeat, the kazo does not have to be understood for it is so by itself. One plus one equals two, and the expression 1 + 1 = 3 is not only senseless, but doesn't even exist. It's kazi. The kazo is what exists and the kazi is what does not exist, and he who wants to live in a kazi manner is no longer alive."
"But the Behins were alive."
"But in an unharmonious way. And disharmony inevitably liquidates itself. The kazi cannot stop. Neither the knife, nor the mufruks' breathing into the thin air, nor the yellow pebble will ever be nourishment. All these are non-existent things, and the result, too, is non-existent life, death, as you have seen for yourself: for the boeto, square, ketni and anebas one has not to become satisfied and live, but to starve and die. The whole of their past consisted in massacring each other. But for the real aims one has to live: houses cannot be built and a cornfield cannot be reaped by a dead man."
I reflected on his words for a long time. They had a familiar ring, as if I had heard them already sometime, somewhere, but now I did not ponder on that. I was interested only in the essence.
"This is quite understandable so far," I said, "but you have mentioned that the human brain produces this confusing self-oscillation through its being complicated. How is it possible then that it confuses the Behins' brain while yours is free of it?"
"Physiological research has borne out that the original inhabitants of our island were all Behins. But things out of harmony with the kazo or, as you would say, with Nature, cannot survive for long — they perish and only what is harmonic remains. This is how the only organism which has staying power has developed — the kazo. You know that in the blood, phagocytes have developed which devour the bacilli and maintain the kazo balance — otherwise no man would have been able to live for a long time. And what the attack of the bacilli was, was the self-oscillation when human thinking began. Because of struggling for imaginary aims the ancient Hin or Behin was dying out until finally through a lucky permutation of the germ-plasm the new species, the Hin, came about, in which the antidote to self-oscillation already existed."
"And what is that?"
"Electric conducting layers took shape in the brain which shield the self-radiation which thus cannot get out and cannot interfere with the cosmic rays. The beings that have been produced in this way are the H i n s. Now you also understand why we consider the Behina completely different species."
"And how is it possible that Behins exist today?"
"Behinity is caused by a latent gene which sometimes occurs even in us, but of course we don't perceive it. It may easily happen, however, that when two Hins carrying this latent gene mate the Behinity gene from both parents gets into the zygote. In such cases the electric conducting layer is missing from the descendant's brain, that is a Behin offspring originates from Hin parents."
"In other words, the Behins' mental disorder is in point of fact a reversion to type?"
"Yes, that's it. A reversion to the disharmony of primitive conditions. Now you can understand why we separate, the Behins and why we exclude them from mating with us. We hope that with this continuous straining off of the sick. species, this harmful latent gene will disappear in a few centuries."
Now very many things dawned upon me all at once.
"So this is why the Behins are not human beings?" I asked.
"That's it, exactly. The Behin is an ancient Hin. An obsolete, superseded species. Do you understand our kazo life now? Do you see how perfectly united cooperation of the termites is possible between reasonable, thinking people, too?"
"So, you have returned to Nature?"
"We didn't return. One cannot step out of the kazo; one can only be annihilated. We are the self-evident result of a logical procedure. We have developed from the self-destroying Behin species as the only solution which has staying power."
I fell into deep thought. Newton might well have felt so when the apple fell to the ground before him and revealed to him the general theory of gravitation keeping the whole universe in balance. I felt how I was being transformed from one minute to the next. Huge perspectives opened up before my mind, and worlds wheeled over on their poles. Suddenly everything stood before me in another way, clearly. Things had become simpler and taken shape. The flame of the Burning Bush lit up a torch in me and suddenly there emerged before me the trunk of the Tree of Life, of which I had previously seen only the leaves, and only the greatest biologists had been able to grope back to the branches.
After lengthy pondering, one more question rushed to my lips.
"I am still surprised that it is not possible to make the Behins understand simple reality. For their brain is otherwise quite well developed; they can count, I've even seen mathematicians of great merit among them, but in the simplest matters..."
"The Behin' s brain doesn't separate self-radiation from the cosmic rays and that the receiver distorts in a complicated manner only confirms the fact of distortion. The more they know the more foolishly they will think; the hungrier they are the more food they will throw out; the less struggle required to produce our daily bread, the more they will kill each other for it; and when they writhe hungrily, sick and suffering they will hope to regain their strength through the "breath" of the mufruk, the kipu, the boeto, the yellow pebble or the salvation of the knife."
"There were also quite sensible Behins," I put in. "I heard of some bikru..."
"Yes, there are ones whose intellect understands the necessity of the kazo but their being is still Behin and this renders their way of thinking imperfect and prevents them from achieving full perception."
"What do you mean by that?"
"Their obsessions are characteristic of the Behins. The imagined misbeliefs."
"And what of the bikru?"
"Don't speak of 'the' bikru. You shouldn't think that they had only one bikru. There were several. Perhaps, you, too, might have become one of them."
"Indeed?!" I looked at him flabbergasted.
"Yes. They burn every bikru first. Later they recognize him because, as you yourself have seen, they have minds but the self-radiation doesn't allow them to dominate clearly and as soon as it comes to words, to say nothing of deeds, everything becomes reversed. The bikrus, however, have the ability to manifest their intelligence but, as I have said, in their being they are Behins and they are not free of imperfections and fixed ideas."
"Of fixed ideas? What is this fixed idea?"
"To be a bikru is also in fact a monomania; the erroneous belief that with the Behins there is a connection between the heard word and the brain. A bikru is a Behin whose only Behinity is that he doesn't realize among whom he lives; for it could not be imagined, could it, that somebody who was aware of the Behinic disease would still want to explain reality to them."
A deep awe-inspiring silence ensued, broken only by the song of the birds, and occasionally the murmur of the sea from far away. Zatamon stood up and gestured towards the sun with his rigth arm.
"It is only the kazo that exists!"
As I looked up at him from my recumbent position, he stood there in the spring sun's flood of light like the statue of life regained. A breeze ruffled the light folds in his clothes, his high bronzed forehead flashed in the sunshine while his eyes received the rays unblinkingly.
The trees in blossom on the mountain-side opposite us, the silvery spiral snaking upwards, the sea, the birds, the high-speed train shooting away below and this motionless 'health-man' merged in some marvellous harmony to an indivisible whole, a pure world, under the brilliance of the kazo.
And as the wretched writhing of the recent past occurred to me, I, too, opened my arms involuntarily towards the sun and heaved a sigh of rebirth.
The majesty of kazo played music in my heart. After the sick and dark tortures, the gates were opened up before me, and intoxicated with knowledge I drank the light. Zatamon sat down beside me.
The only thing I regretted was that I had learned something which I could not turn to the benefit of my own country. First, because the Behinic disease was incurable, and also because it fortunately did not occur with us.
Looking back to the horrors of their freakish and atavistic brain, their whole fate appeared to me as automatic and inevitable.
"Now I understand you," I said, "I fully realize that the annihilation of the Behins was not an act of inhumanity — on the contrary, it was a necessary process, kazo itself, which could only happen this way, and was inevitable. Salvation. How excellent that I, a man accustomed to the sane British environment, have been rescued from so horrible a society!"
Zatamon looked into the distance for some time and then said pensively, "One actually doesn't know one's own voice, one hears it from inside — through the bones of the skull."
"What do you mean by that?"
"When I heard my own voice for the first time from a speaking device I did not recognize it. I felt it to be alien."
"And what does that imply?"
"That you never recognized your own voice among the Behins because you were hearing it for the first time from outside."
"What?" I exclaimed, astounded. "You cannot mean..."
"And you did not recognize your culture as it differs from theirs in form. Their life destroys itself with different words from yours, but both are the same: Behinity. Or was it not you who told me once that the content of life was not the hospital, the factory, bread and health but the soul?"
I darted up. All of my limbs were a tremble.
"I hope you don't really mean that!" I cried. "Do you want to compare us to pebble squeezing and copper-cube worshipping lunatics?!"
"And you will never see yourselves," he went on in an unchanged tone. "You travelled throughout Lilliput in vain as well. Your Behin species merely entertains the children with amusing 'exoticism'. You have also come to us in vain. You are unaware of reason. You are an atavistic, transitional species which must at first drive itself from the existing world so that the kazo should shape the harmonic form."
For minutes I was on the verge of assaulting him to put an end to his abuse. I reminded myself in vain that I was dealing with a senseless automaton whose gramophone-like gabble should not be taken seriously but an insult had now been thrown at my nation which a gentleman had at all costs to avenge.
I say I was on the border of hitting him: he would not hit me back anyway, and it was indeed a miracle of self-control. that I was able to curb my temper. It occurred to me, however, that they might shut me up in the Behin settlement, or they would perhaps exterminate me as well, and among the Hins there was no law, justice and authority to appeal to for redress of the grievances one had suffered.
After a moment's hesitation, I looked him up and down contemptuously and without deigning to answer his words I turned my back on him.
And he looked after me without a word.