As a matter of fact, questions such as "Who are you?" have existed since the day of creation. Our Lord, after getting his hands dirty in the clay, molded the bearded muzzle of Adam, and when this little chump had hardly opened his eyes, he reached up to God"s nose, asking, "Who are you?" God did not answer. God has still not answered. Perhaps he was offended-- or is still thinking about the question.
Thus, of course, expecting the legitimate question, "Who is this Lilli-Bunny1 anyway?" I present you with the following explanatory conversation, because readers indeed love books with a lot of conversation and pictures, and I don"t want to disappoint you from the first page.
- Who is this Lilli-Bunny? Is he that important to write or, even worse, read novels about? We have never heard of him. Did he kill fifty million people?
- But did he participate in any massacres?
- Did he invent the A-bomb?
- No, he did not.
- Did he drop an A-bomb? (One of those who dropped the A-bomb was recently declared a hero by Time Magazine.)2
- No, Lilli-Bunny didn"t drop the A-bomb.
- Maybe Lilli-Bunny is the kind of bearded guy, like Karl Marx, that invents the kind of theory that makes a couple of continents almost strangle themselves?
- Well, would you excuse us, but this personality is unremarkable, because it is necessary to murder a certain number of souls in order to be considered a great hero or even a historically significant figure.
I"ll try to argue that Lilli-Bunny is an ordinary character with the virtues of anyone trying successfully to live a happy life, but you won"t listen. You"ll turn away. My novel will stomp into the corner sniveling.
You"ll go on with your life, through your uneventful working days between traffic jams and washing machines, proving my novel to be unimportant. Actually, you don"t realize that novels are guiding your lives. Look out at the street -- do you see Harry Potters carrying their brooms, Raskolnikovs3 with their axes, Pickwicks sitting on the benches, Captains Nemos hiding silently somewhere in the city sewers? Each of us selects, subconsciously, a character from a novel read in one"s childhood, and this person hobbles through one"s life.
You might say that the present generation does not read any literature. They simply read new novels or watch the movies, which does the same simple trick. These books and movies rule our lives...
As a matter of fact, this is a novel for you. It will treat your anxieties, make your back pain go away and help you work healthy insight into your life3 (This is true, of course, only if you haven"t been so abused and neglected before you reached these lines that it is already too late to help you out. In that case, you will carry on with your miserable life, dragging Raskolnikov's axes to kill old ladies for money. Or maybe you will play the role of an Idiot4 and feel sorry for Raskolnikovs and old ladies whispering to their own ears sweet fairy tales about their uniqueness. But murdering with an axe sounds so unique that it deserved to be included in the novel.)
Lilli-Bunny is a positive hero and does not fight with axes. Then why should you give precious minutes of your priceless existence to the reading of my book? Because the efforts of your teachers shouldn"t go in vain. Your English teacher, some Mrs. Watson, didn"t sleep at night reviewing your English papers. You are indeed the last generation that can still read! I do not mean inscriptions in graffiti on the walls; I mean text longer than a parking ticket.
Anyway, God forgot to give us instructions on how we are supposed to use ourselves. So we can be excused, at least, for reading those.
Lilli-Bunny might be you, but without the dog-eat-dog life, work that sucks, shrimpy wage, abuse and discrimination, burnt porridge, rubber love, clay conscience, spat soul, snotty childhood, wooden toys, finger in the glass of milk in kindergarten (so that the neighbor would not drink it), blots in your copybook, ice cream fallen to the pavement, slaps of bully schoolmates, Jules Verne ships that set sail without you, pathetic marriage, or pressure of "certain circumstances" that became fully-grown boneheads who smoke in your basement (not just tobacco), dysfunctional family, disrespectful grandchildren, measly old age, early death, solitude in the crowd, and also of course the Major Disappointment of Your Entire Life (what-so-ever you choose it to be) and other insignificant troubles...
Lilli-Bunny might be you if, of course, you add to your life a full scoop of sunny days, some semolina porridge with raspberry jam, a friendship with a teddy bear, some common sense, some sense of humor, some sharp-toothed satire, some merry laughter, some unrestrained laughter with hands swinging and feet stamping on the floor-- "Ha! Ha! Ha!"
Lilli-Bunny"s Furry Slippers
Lilli-Bunny was famous for his furry blue slippers. First, Lilli-Bunny met his right slipper. It hopped along the road singing a slipper-y song. Lilli-Bunny liked this funny guy and so gave him a cookie-- Lilli-Bunny always carried one in his pocket just in case something like this should happen. So, Right Slipper followed Lilli-Bunny home and settled under Lilli-Bunny"s bed. Then it came out that Right Slipper had a Left brother. However, Left"s left-foot views were too liberal for everyone"s taste, which made it impossible for respectable Right Slipper to introduce his brother to Lilli-Bunny.
But at five o"clock tea, Lilli-Bunny showed his political indifference. He offered raspberry jam to those who sat to his right side and those on his left, without any discrimination. Moreover, he even sent some jam to Hamster Hamlet, an insignificant inhabitant of his house who lived in the basement near the furnace and didn"t care to show up for tea. Seeing such a pluralistic approach in Lilli-Bunny"s behavior, Right Slipper found the courage to introduce his Left brother, in spite of the leftist slogans Left was apt to spout: "Distribute the Wealth!" "Overthrow the Government!" "Reduce Gas Prices!" "Turn off the Light!" and even "Death to Global Warming!"
Left Slipper was invited to join the very next tea party, where he was pleased to make acquaintances with the merry company which lived in Lilli-Bunny"s cozy brick house: Lilli-Bear, Lilli-Kitty and Lilli-Jake, two cats (Lilli-Bunny usually carried an armful of cats, even though he had only two of them. His were pretty fat, or to be more exact, fat and pretty), two quite articulate little parrots with well-developed two to three word vocabularies with which they could fully enjoy their freedom of speech, and Hamster Hamlet, who has already been introduced to my honorable reader.
However, Hamster Hamlet soon departed from Lilli-Bunny"s house, because it turned out that he had solved the popular question, "to be or not to be?" in the most irresponsible way, amorally engaging himself in random relationships with numerous mice in the house.
Very soon, Lilli-Bunny started to notice the seemingly inexplicable appearance of mutant mice offspring with hamster ears and mouse-tails in his house.
Such an impact on the course of evolution quite upset Hamster Hamlet himself in such an unfortunate way that he placed the following ad in the local newspaper:
(Way cuter than average)
Looking for a new apartment
Won"t accept any offers from mutant mice.
And the telephone number
Hamster Hamlet had a telephone line of his own. He, frankly speaking, was a hamster-individualist. I am sorry, but Hamster Hamlet did not give me his consent to disclose here his number, because he doesn"t want to be disturbed during his winter hibernation that usually starts in mid-August and ends in mid-June. Though, in case of some sort of emergency, you may find it in the phone book under his name. But don"t look under the section "Rodents." You must look under "Princes of Denmark."
After acquiring such politically engaged slippers, Lilli-Bunny ceased to express any interest in politics. But it often occurred that Lilli-Bunny fell asleep while watching TV, putting his slippered feet right in front of the screen. While Lilli-Bunny took his nap, the slippers attentively watched all available political commentary and quietly discussed the current political climate (climate is very important because if it changes, some politicians will start sneezing and coughing, and might even need warmer cover-ups to cover their political ass-- yep, you got me right , I was going to say "assets.") Sometimes the slippers even debated different changes in the political system. You probably know that not all changes in the system are healthy. For example, changes in the gastrointestinal or cardiovascular system can turn deadly. Some democratic changes in the political system might be good for democracy itself, while changes in the systems of internal organs usually are considered a disturbing sign. Democracy between the systems of body organs may lead to some undesirable consequences if it gets too far-- imagine that your liver passes a no-confidence vote against your head, or-- excuse the medical details-- your rectum impeaches your dignity. Sorry? Dignity is not an internal organ? Sometimes it is.
But debates among the elective organs are a good thing, for this means democracy is on the move. Democracy needs more physical activity, otherwise it gets obese and finishes up all the food in the nation"s fridge. But democracy shouldn"t move too fast, because it is not very young anymore, and its constitution sweats if it gets too heated.
Then the world"s tyrannies declare with disgust that democracy has got its constitution sweaty. Democracy promptly checks on its constitution and honestly confirms, "Yes, it is pretty wet. But this is reparable. But look at you, bloody tyrants! You keep your constitution dry, and it is entirely eaten up by moles!"
Then tyranny and democracy jump on each other and have a fight. And the rest of the world yawns while watching it on TV.
I always supported democracy and the ultimate authority of the majority in theory, though I never got a practical answer to what should be done if the majority is evil or gets things wrong. Perhaps democracy has some mysterious power to improve human nature, otherwise wild and brutal, and which only gets worse in a crowd. Probably I am wrong and democracy has never turned bad, or if it has, people try to forget such unfortunate occurrences. Let us forget it too, for it is better to forget unsolvable questions than try to solve them.
The only problem with the politically-engaged slippers popped up when Lilli-Bunny woke up and went to the bathroom. He was very sleepy, and by mistake, put the right slipper on his left foot and the left slipper on his right. This forced the slippers to change their political orientations almost immediately. This occurs fairly often in politics, but was tough for the slippers because they retained shreds of dignity, which isn"t quite true of politicians. To remain consistent in such confusion, the left slipper argued that he had gone so far to the left, that for the first time in his life, he had actually got things right, and the right slipper tried to convince himself and the others that since he had now traveled so far to the left, he had to adopt some leftist tactics. Don"t get heated, my dearest reader. This is a simple truth of political life. Changing one"s mind constantly is just one of the professional hazards of any political career.
But Lilli-Bunny was sleeping and not paying attention to all these political acrobatics. Once, he slept so deeply that he flipped over in his armchair. Thus, he pointed his slippers up at the ceiling. That was the real moment of national unity. By raising both up, Lilli-Bunny won the hearts of his slippers. They agreed to elect Lilli-Bunny as President.
They cast their ballots that way because, first, Lilli-Bunny treated everybody to raspberry jam, which made him very important, and second, he sometimes threw the slippers at his cats when they got too playful-- and who, if not a real president, would do such a drastic thing in order to restore public order? You know, excessive playfulness might interfere with healthy sleeping, and this is unacceptable! Never wake society while it is sleeping. This may have serious consequences, especially to the one who wakes it up. And third, Lilli-Bunny was the owner of the house, and who, if not the owner, is supposed to be elected president? I mean, he owns the house. It is very important for democracy to confirm the real situation of society by electing the one who would rule anyway, even though he wasn"t elected. This practice adds more legitimacy to the government and therefore makes the loyal citizens feel better. Isn"t that what modern democracy is all about?
The slippers didn"t tell Lilli-Bunny about their decision, because they were afraid the knowledge would make him nervous and preoccupied with his new political career. The slippers knew such preoccupation could seriously damage not only the household of the politician himself, but also households of many fellow citizens. Nor did the slippers tell anyone else in the house about electing Lilli-Bunny for the office. The other inhabitants seemed not to care. But that was just okay, because in a normal society politics shouldn"t much interfere with household issues.
Now the slippers formed a coalition and began to run against Lilli-Bunny"s winter boots, which would compete with the slippers for the leader"s feet in December, or even as early as mid-November, if it snowed early that year.
Chapter 2 Lilli-Bunny and Lilli-Bear
Lilli-Bunny was always looking for a real friend, and finally he found him. This was Lilli-Bear. Lilli-Bear was a kind of teddy bear, but even more educated and polite. You might say that lilli-bears are not very talkative and tend to fall on one side. This is true. This Lilli-Bear also always fell on his side, trying to fit himself to benches, sofas, armchairs, or, generally speaking, to everything it was possible to lie down on with a reasonable degree of comfort and peace. But one couldn"t call him "not talkative" or "untalkable." That just was not true. He kept silence here and there, now and then. But all of sudden he"d start talking, and God witness, it wasn"t easy to make him mute. At such moments, Lilli-Bear tried to say everything all at once, and one would think he heard a chorus of lilli-bears. So far, conventional science hasn"t found any reasonable explanation of how it is possible for one lilli-bear to sound like many, though this is not the only thing conventional science finds difficult to explain.
Lilli-Bear talked especially much if he sat on something wet. It also occurred in the pond or the bath. Then he became so chatty one could make friends with him as much as one wished. That"s why Lilli-Bear avoided towels after a bath-- he didn"t want to lose his capability to complete the sentences that he might start once he was wet.
I must say, it was even worse when Lilli-Bear sat on something cold, like a bench lightly frosted with snow. Then he could go so far as to write verses of songs.
Here is one such song. Lilli-Bear wrote it for Lilli-Bunny with help from all the fellow inhabitants of the Lilli-Bunny house.
We love Lilli-Bunny and both of his slippers
And this nice household that we gladly possess
Because Lilli-Bunny is the one who can feed us,
Two parrots and an armful of cats.
He always works hard, but he never gets tired
He shoots any trouble, once and for all,
You can"t find a person who"s equally kind
Such goodness may save our world.
Keep walking with courage in your furry slippers,
And always with an armful of your stupid cats,
We cannot express our love any deeper,
We love you as much as it possibly gets!
Lilli-Bear looked at his poem and thought, "I like it, but if I can use French to speak of my love for Lilli-Bunny, why don"t I?" French is the best language for expressing love. Even if you order French fries in French, it sounds like erotic talk-- Je voudrais. Listen to the sound of this word: v-u-u-d-r-e-e-- the "r" sounds like the roaring of a sleepy tiger. Does it turn you on? Well, try it again, and eventually, you"ll get there.
Without distinctly knowing whether he should use French to express his love to Lilli-Bunny, Lilli-Bear decided to take the chance and wrote the following song:
Nous aimons beaucoup notre lapin
Et notre maison que nous possédons
Parce que notre lapin nous traite avec le bouillon
Et parfois il nous donne même du vin!
Il travaille toujours dur, mais il n"est jamais fatigué,
Et quand il travaille, c"est un plaisir à voir,
C"est vrai, depuis que ce vieux monde s"est créé,
Il n"y a pas pour lui de meilleur espoir!
Marchez avec le courage vers un meilleur l"avenir
Nous t"aimons et nous aimons tes chats
C"est si important encore pour devenir
Le meilleur lapin que le monde possédera.
Lilli-Bear didn"t quite know what this poem looked like because he didn"t exactly know French, but successful writing of the song in two languages encouraged Lilli-Bear. So he tried to write it in Russian, as well. He knew those nice guys who call themselves "new Russians" and speak Russian in New York and London exactly as they speak it in Moscow. They think if they speak Russian louder and slower, people will understand them. Anyway, Lilli-Bear wrote the poem in Russian, just to make his friend Lilli-Bunny prepared for such a pleasant invasion. It is so educational to live in the United States, Great Britain, or Canada in our day! You don"t need to travel the world to meet people from distant corners of the Earth. They are all here. You can save the money you"d spend on expensive tickets and tours. And you can calm your fear of falling victim to a terrorist attack while you are in the air. They are all here too!
And French is not that bad after all. Look at you, what you are going to say when we all have to learn Chinese? I already did. You don"t believe me? Well, here I go:
"Wo Schan Yao Chi" and "Wo Schan Yao He!" This means "I want to eat and drink."
One of my friends told me that he knows how to say "Hello" and "Good-bye" in Chinese. We decided to act together in case the world turns all-Chinese soon. He will be my "public relations department." He will say, in Chinese, "Hello" (just to make the conversation more polite), and I will say, "I want to eat and to drink," and then he will say "Good-bye." I think this is an excellent plan for survival. Don"t you think so? It is much easier than trying to make more children and teaching them to work hard, the only way Chinese know to work.
What was I talking about? Now I remember. Do you want to listen to the Russian song? Then here you go:
На свете есть Маськин в голубеньких тапках,
У Маськина много есть разных хлопот,
То кошек своих он таскает в охапках,
А то вдруг всем варит он вкусный компот.
Среди непонятностей внешнего мира
Наш Маськин понятен и нужен всегда,
Чтоб милые тапки ходили красиво,
Весь мир наш спасает его красота.
Шагайте же дружно, пушистые тапки,
Хватайтесь в охапки, дурные коты!
Мы Маськина любим свово без оглядки,
Ни дня не прожить без его доброты.
И может, звучим мы, как три подхалима,
И может, мы слишком хотим подхалить,
Однако наш Маськин, откуда вестимо,
Даёт нам прекрасно и весело жить.
"Wow," said Lilli-Bear to himself. He always was saying wow to himself, just to make himself feel better. But he didn"t say "wow!" with an exclamation mark, as everybody else does. He said it with period in the end, like this: "wow." Lilli-Bear was confident that wow with a period on the end sounded more convincing.
When Lilli-Bear read all three poems to the fellow inhabitants of Lilli-Bunny"s house, they made pale efforts in the beginning to applaud him; but these efforts were too hopeless to be persisted in. The inhabitants of Lilli-Bunny House didn"t know many languages. Only Lilli-Bunny clapped his hands loudly and kissed Lilli-Bear on the nose. Lilli-Bunny loved his friend, because only a real friend can write you a poem in three languages he doesn"t quite know.
The truth is you don"t have to know a language in order to use it. There are so many ways to express yourself without employing any language at all. Lilli-Bear had many other things that could do the same trick: giggling, clapping, coughing, sneezing, yawning, and even farting-- Oh, I am sorry; I wasn"t supposed to say that. But too late. Lilli-Bunny"s left slipper likes to look over my shoulder at what I am writing, and when he saw the word "farting," he went crazy, proclaiming a new slogan: "Freedom of Farting! Freedom of Farting!" and I didn"t have much way to stop him. Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god-- How could I use such a vulgar slang in my noble piece of writing? Well, there"s still some hope that the editor will delete the whole passage. You know, deleting is much more creative than writing. Because when you write, you don"t have much choice what to write. You are just expressing your heart, exactly as Lilli-Bear did. But when someone has the power to delete-- oh, that is a hell of a power! One might say that deleting is, in a way, more influential than writing. So, if you still can read all this, blame the editor, not me.
After so much linguistic effort from Lilli-Bear, how could Lilli-Bunny not consider him a best friend? He even gave Lilli-Bear a present: a ring, a cute little ringlet with writing on its inside: "For Love and Friendship."
Lilli-Bear was so happy he put two sticks in the ground in his backyard and started to throw the ring, trying to get it on a stick. He labeled one stick "Luff," and on the other, he wrote "Phrent-Sheep" (Lilli-Bear"s way of spelling the words "Love" and "Friendship").
As a direct descendant of the Honorable Winnie the Pooh, and like all his descendants, Lilli-Bear suffered from slight difficulties in spelling.
Once I thought that spelling would die out by the next generation, but computers saved it with their "check spelling" option. Now we don"t have to remember the exact spelling even of simple words to get them right and be considered a well-educated person. Shakespeare didn"t have such a luxury. Poor thing! Once a computer does the spelling for me, I can allow myself to become a strong supporter of the conventional way of spelling.
Can you possibly imagine how many generations of teachers" kicks and slaps the word "enough" carries on its bloody letters? Regretfully, teachers don"t beat up their students anymore (they found more elaborate ways to humiliate their students. We must admit that this constitutes substantial progress in the educational system), but it doesn"t make the word "enough" any less bloody. Its Old Germanic origin caused a lot of damage to young souls in their unhappy years of schooling, maybe even more damage than the German military machine did to Great Britain and the English-speaking world. Well, I guess we had enough with the word "enough." We must let it rest in peace.
So Lilli-Bear always followed Lilli-Bunny and tried to fit himself on anything it was possible to lie down on. Lilli-Bunny kept telling Lilli-Bear, "You lay around too long," or "you sit too long." But Lilli-Bear didn"t argue. He always agreed saying, "right," and then staying where he lay. When Lilli-Bunny baked pancakes for him, Lilli-Bear would lie down on a small gauzy bench that Lilli-Bunny put in the kitchen for him.
When the pancakes were ready, Lilli-Bear always started to philosophize. So specialists promptly dubbed this sort of philosophy "Kitchen Philosophy."
Lilli-Bear"s Kitchen Philosophy:
Pancakes are better than buns.
Pancakes are better than buns, particularly because I ate all the buns yesterday, and I"m eating pancakes today. If I eat waffles, that means that they exist, whatever Descartes has to say. "I think, therefore I exist." -- Not true. Waffles do not need to think in order to exist.
Nietzsche is an idiot.
That"s it. Lilli-Bear, of course, had new thoughts sometimes, especially if he was given semolina porridge with raspberry jam, but these thoughts were so short that Lilli-Bear wrote them with his spoon directly on the porridge, and porridge is not a very reliable material for preserving eternal ideas. So, humanity shall have to be satisfied with the three lines of Lilli-Bear"s Kitchen Philosophy that we have already respectfully presented.
Chapter 3 Lilli-Bunny and Lilli-Kitty
As a matter of fact, it was Lilli-Kitty who first called Lilli-Bunny by his name. Before that, Lilli-Bunny was just an ordinary bunny without any special function in this world. Now we know that the main function of Lilli-Bunny is to find the way to live a happy life. But when Lilli-Bunny was just an ordinary bunny, this function was obscure and undefined.
At first, Lilli-Bunny started to argue. "I am not a Lilli-Bunny." But Lilli-Kitty just ignored his objections and called Lilli-Bunny "Lilli-Bunny." She often said,
let"s go shopping!" or
is Lilli-Bunny?" or
let"s draw pictures together!"
And eventually, Lilli-Bunny got used to his cute name. He ceased to grumble when she used it, and then judged it philosophically, "Well, I am Lilli-Bunny. But who is not?" Then he looked at himself at the mirror and noted with relief and satisfaction, "Everyone is a lilli-bunny." If you don"t believe it, look at yourself in the mirror, and you will see that sometimes you are just a cute little lilli-bunny, no matter what you do in your official life.
Lilli-Kitty and Lilli-Bunny were friends. Lilli-Kitty even found her own funny pair of furry slippers, but hers were politically illiterate.
Lilli-Kitty liked to spend quality time with Lilli-Bunny. Each day, they took a small, fresh Piece of Time and treated it so kindly that Time did not want to depart and always remained to drink tea.
Lilli-Kitty knew how to do everything better than anyone else. She cooked scrumptious meals while Lilli-Bunny was occupied with training and educating his cats. As he trained them, he studied them in a scientific and philosophical way. This occupied much time. First of all, it was necessary to wait until they woke, and they slept most of the day; in fact they slept almost always. Unless, of course, they were busy taking dust baths in the backyard.
After some thought, Lilli-Bunny concluded they did this to ward off the fleas. Fleas attach themselves by their teeth to the cat"s skin. But when the cat bathes in the dust, the fleas" noses fill up with it, making the fleas sneeze and fall off the cat.
This is why the cats were so clean, even though Lilli-Bunny"s cats were of low-class origins. No, I didn"t say that they were garbage cats. I said, "Low class." Well, if you insist-- they had some garbage-cat background on their résumés. But it was all in the past, and there is nothing wrong or humiliating in being a cat of garbage class. If you get a garbage cat clean and feed him well, he will be even better, happier, and healthier than some aristocratic or middle-class cats. You ought to love garbage cats! They are the true source of hegemony for any progressive reforms! They also are the only hope for nuclear-weapons-free future. You don"t agree again? Well. Please raise your hands who ever saw a garbage cat with a nuclear bomb in his paws. Now do you agree I am right? Well, if garbage cats get their paws on the nuclear bomb, there won"t be anyone around to ask my stupid questions or answer them, anyway.
When Lilli-Bunny was busy educating his cats, he had to sleep a lot, because he had to wait until they woke up. Lilli-Kitty managed Lilli-Bunny"s household when Lilli-Bunny was busy sleeping. Sometimes it took a lot of time, because when Lilli-Bunny was awake, the cats were sleeping, and when the cats were awake, Lilli-Bunny was sleeping.
This is exactly the same situation we have in our society. When the Best People of the Nation are awake, the society is sleeping. The Best People of the Nation don"t want to wake the society, because it may have disturbing consequences. So the Best People don"t know what to do with themselves and just take it easy and smoke pot. Eventually, they fall asleep. Then the society wakes up and finds that the Best People of the Nation are sleeping. So society lights a joint, because it really has nothing to do without the Best People of The Nation leading everyone to a better future. Society doesn"t want to wake the Best People of the Nation, because it knows that while they are awake they may disagree with the current values of the society, and it may suffer some inconvenience, like a civil war. So society covers the feet of the Best People with warm blankets and puts pillows on their faces, not because it wants to suffocate them, but to prevent them from waking suddenly, when society is not quite prepared. Then society finishes the joint that it took from the cold hands of the Best People of the Nation. Society eventually gets stunned and falls asleep. The Best People somehow manage to remove the pillows from their faces and wake up anyway, and so on and on and on, in rounds.
Well, what goes around comes around. The Best People of the Nation actually never meet their society in person. Pot makes both of them a little bit hippy and less ambitious with time. You might ask, what society am I talking about? Doesn"t matter. They are all the same. You might argue: What about China? They are very ambitious and active lately. Oh, that"s because they are antipodes and smoke anti-pot. Obviously anti-pot makes people less hippy and more ambitious.
I have to confess that I never tried to smoke pot. Probably because I am not a Best Person of any Nation, nor do I fill a real part in any society.
Lilli-Kitty was very cute and handy. She went fishing, and drew naturmorts with fruits (it is very economic to draw naturmorts with fruits. You buy one apple and draw it a couple of times, so you get a whole bunch of apples in the picture. You just have to make sure Lilli-Bear doesn"t eat your apple by mistake before you have drawn it at least once).
Lilli-Kitty also made sure there were no quarrels of any sort in the house. Sometimes everybody would sit around the table and have tea. One such time, Lilli-Bear asked Lilli-Kitty, "How are you doing?"
"Doing what?" asked Lilli-Kitty and burst into tears. Then she said, "Here we go; it all started again!"
"What started again?" asked Lilli-Bear.
"Everyone is shouting," said Lilli-Kitty, starting to shout.
But Lilli Bear said, "Wow." Yes, "wow," with a period in the end, and Lilli-Kitty felt better.
"You ask how I am doing? I am okay. Thank you," Lilli-Kitty told Lilli-Bear in a calm voice.
Lilli-Kitty had many shadow-like friends. They came and went, and never took their hats off.
They usually joined dinner. Lilli-Bunny watched them closely, trying to discern whether the newcomers were good or bad. Then Lilli-Bear told them his kitchen philosophy, and tried to teach them to say "wow" with a period in the end. They seldom got it right; they said "wow?" or "wow;" or--
When Lilli-Bunny found that one of them was more bad than good, he didn"t give the person any more jam, because jam usually affects the head, and all good and bad comes from this part of the body, even when you think it comes from another part.
Lilli-Kitty"s friends never took off their hats, because hats helped them find their heads. And the head is a very important part of the body, if you know how to use it. For example, you can use it for eating or sneezing. When Lilli-Bunny tried to take their hats off, they didn"t let him and this caused a lot of confusion, and added to their shadowy nature. But eventually they all said, "wow." the right way, and became quite welcome in the house.
Chapter 4 Lilli-Bunny and Lilli-Jake
Lilli-Jake was a nice guy who looked like a little bear, even smaller than Lilli-Bear. He possessed many unique things: binoculars, small cute bells, locks, bolts, sand clocks and even a sand thermometer. Yes, a sand thermometer. Lilli-Bear made it for him as a birthday present. It worked the following way: if the sand was warm, the weather was hot, and if the sand was cold, it meant the weather was cold. Lilli-Jake also had a small portable Angry Face Generator, but he sold it. That wasn"t very smart, because he sold it cheap, and angry faces are now in high demand. But the advantage was that he could not make angry faces anymore.
Encouraged by his first commercial success (no matter how insignificant was the profit), Lilli-Jake decided to start his own company.
He called it Brain Company, Ltd. Every time Lilli-Jake had a problem to solve, his Brain Company went into action. Small, smart boys jumped out of his head and asked, "Okay, what is the problem?" These micro-lilli-jakes could solve any problem.
Lilli-Jake liked to be a just person, and always made sure there were no injustices in Lilli-House. He always gave the cats enough food, in even parts. So the cats grew fat, looked like barrels, and slept even more than usual. Once, he gave one cat a snack, but decided it was unjust not to give the same snack to the other cat. But when he gave some to the second cat, he realized that the first cat had gotten less. He continued to feed the cats until the bag with the snacks was half-empty. Then he activated his Brain Company, and the little boys jumped out and said, "There is nothing to think about, you must feed the cats until the bag is empty."
Isn"t this what we have with social services? They try hard to be as just as possible, and end up with empty bags. So, what are we to do? Maybe think a little bit more than Lilli-Jake"s Brain Company did.
Look at our society:
The government apparatus, bulky and ineffective, spends on itself the larger part of what it collects in taxes. The state does not love to advertise how much it spends on itself; official numbers usually hide it under the obscure title "Other Spending." Why is government so inefficient? Since the state does not experience the competition that exists in the world of business, there are no external mechanisms to force the state to reexamine its role in the life of society.
This can be remedied. First, the majority of state works must be transferred to private firms under strict control and on a competitive basis, exposing state functions to the positive influence of competition. This will increase effectiveness and reduce the cost of services and systems for which the state presently bears responsibility. This practice does exist, but is not widespread.
Second, basic concepts of the economic life of the society should be reexamined. For example, taxation. What part of his or her income does the active member of the middle class return to the state in the form of taxes? Income tax, real estate tax, sales tax-- it seems you can"t make or spend a dollar without paying the state. Overall, taxes in many countries exceed 40%, and in some, they reach 60-70%.
The legitimate question arises: why, exactly, must taxes constitute 60% of the household budget, rather than 80%? Or why not 100%? It could be necessary to make taxes 120%-- on each dollar earned, you return a dollar to the state and pay the remaining twenty cents for the privilege of living in the country.
You say that people cannot survive in that manner. You are correct. You think exactly as the government thinks. In essence, the state withdraws as much money from each household budget as is possible to take from the population and leave people willing to work and keep silent. But then state leaders loudly report their great achievement, the reduction of a tax by one or two percent, and expect everyone to applaud it. And the masses do applaud, electing the reformers to another term.
Politicians forget that the state is nothing but an institution created by its inhabitants to advance their common interests. Turning to Rousseau, we read "Chacun de nous met en commun sa personne et toute sa puissance sous la supreme direction de la volonte generale; et nous recevons en corps chaque membre comme partie indivisible du tout,"5 which means, "Each of us shares his person and all his power to the supreme direction of the general will; and we become like indivisible part[s] of the whole."
What can we expect in return from the state, if not fulfillment of our desires and protection of our interests? But see how this is not achieved in practice.
I don"t think there is a conspiracy of the state against its people. The problem is ineffective organization of the system.
Computers, relatively new to this world, can make most systems more efficient. But we still use them more like printing machines than intelligent partners.
Moreover, the state, which once took upon itself responsibility for social welfare, has shifted this responsibility to the employer, forcing employers to pay, in addition to high wages, whose larger part goes to taxes, "social taxes," like retirement, health insurance, and unemployment.
Consequently, the work force becomes expensive and drives up product and service prices. Most of the population, already paying high taxes, sinks into debt trying to pay the 18-22% rate on credit cards.
The question arises: how does the state use the money it gathers?
One source of major spending is government contribution to the creation of workplaces. The state tries to fight unemployment because it is generally accepted that in modern society all healthy persons must work. This needs to be reexamined. In today"s society, and especially in the future, it may not be wise to require each person to work the way work is defined today.
The creation of workplaces, often used as a main criterion when evaluating governmental performance, should not be. The majority of the created workplaces produce nothing useful; however, their creation requires enormous spending. For instance, must we force single parents to work? Allowing them, if they wish, to stay home and care for their kids by paying them for this important work would save government and business money and improve childcare.
Modern computers and robotic systems are thousands of times more efficient than humans are at most tasks. More money should be spent on the development of automated systems that will replace inefficient human labor and let people stay home with their families, leave big cities, and raise their kids.
You say people sitting at home will die of boredom. But doing hard, inefficient work (like regulating traffic on the construction site of a new highway) eight hours a day is not thrilling, either. Yet in the opinion of today"s nations, such people are in their place.
But the state is less criticized for inefficient projects employing thousands of people than high unemployment rates. So the government tries hard to create jobs, when we just need to improve the efficiency of our systems in respect to a new era of artificial intelligence.
Sorry, I forgot that I am writing a funny story. Sorry for not being funny in this chapter.
Lilli-Jake was always excited about being a king and having a lot of money. But the two rarely come together in our day. Once, Lilli-Jake proclaimed himself king, but he ran out of funds almost the same day, and had to respectfully take the paper crown off his head.
Such a pity it is that the kings are disappearing. Of course, I am not a supporter of absolute monarchy, but at least we would have a nice crowned head to print on our stamps.
Lilli-Bunny and His Cats
Lilli-Bunny adored animals. Every kind of animal: big and small, fat and skinny, furry and not very furry. It was easy to amuse Lilli-Bunny by telling him a story about them. That is why Lilli-Bear read illustrated journals about different animals. Sometimes, when Lilli-Bunny came to the kitchen, Lilli-Bear lay down on his bench and retold the stories. He told how bird"s eggs hatch, how whales breathe, how elephants take their baths-- Lilli-Bunny liked these stories and listened happily. That is how Lilli-Bunny came to think he needed a pet. At the time, he didn"t have any pets in the Lilli-House, and he dreamt of having a whole menagerie-- cow, horse, piglets, dogs, sheep, geese, and many others.
But Lilli-Bear didn"t want to share Lilli-Bunny"s love and attention with anyone, so he said to Lilli-Bunny that it was enough to have his slippers for pets.
Lilli-Bunny was so upset that Lilli-Bear wouldn"t let him keep any pets or farm animals he almost started to cry. Then Lilli-Bear agreed to let a cat in the house, because Lilli-Bear loved Lilli-Bunny a lot and didn"t like to see his friend upset.
Lilli-Bunny brought a small kitten to the house. The kitty"s yellow-orange fur shone like gold, so they called him Golden Cat.
Lilli-Bear liked this cat a lot, and started to play with him and talk to him. Lilli-Bear even helped Lilli-Bunny educate the cat.
The opportunity to make friends with cats exists only when they are small. Then they are still playful and active, they jump and race around the house, showing their vitality. Only after growing up did the Golden Cat discover his philosophical nature. He sank into philosophical thoughts, sharing them rarely. For the most part, he spent his time sleeping in different poses. One could name this occupation "sleepy tourism" or "tourist sleep." During a single day, it was possible to see Golden Cat sleeping on all the tables, all the chairs, all the beds, and all the armchairs, to say nothing of such exotic tourist places as the piano cover and the basket with the clean laundry. Lilli-Bunny studied how Golden Cat changed the place of his sleep over twenty-four hours. As a young sprout moves its timid head in the direction of the sun, Golden Cat began the morning in the solar speck of light on the floor in the bedroom, then passed with it into the corridor, drawing room, and so forth. Lilli-Bear"s Encyclopedia for Lilli-Bears revealed that the process of catosynthesis, in which many cats are constantly occupied, caused Golden Cat"s need for the sun. Its namesake, photosynthesis, forms nutrients and oxygen, useful for the surroundings. But from catosynthesis, nothing, not even the cat itself, is formed. You ask what, then, is catosynthesis good for? Simple: for the sake of the process itself. Try to imagine-- you lay in the sun, you catosynthesize, you wave your tail-- it is good, isn"t it? The philosophical thoughts of Golden Cat revolved around themselves. They descended to the depths, for a long time, they hovered in the air. They lengthened, deepened, and passed into no less philosophical dreams. But no one in Lilli-House could write down one single cat thought. Nor could anyone decipher them. Despite this, everyone in the house considered Golden Cat the wisest of them; and even Lilli-Bear, known in his lilli-bear circles as a great poet and philosopher, considered Golden Cat no more or less than his teacher. These were golden days for the Golden Cat. No one dragged him around in an armful of other cats; no one called him a foolish cat.
This all ended when a new cat appeared in the house. Her name was Basia. She was the complete opposite of Golden Cat. She was genuinely stupid, forgetful, fussy, importunate, unbalanced. She skipped everywhere like a real fool, and always aimed her bites at Golden Cat"s head, rear parts, paws, and tail. Golden Cat was almost hospitalized with the diagnosis "injured by a cat" when he fell down the stairs, unexpectedly attacked by stupid Basia.
Golden Cat"s philosophical thoughts began to grow dim. He became nervous and took aspirin for his headache. He was so upset, frustrated, and confused, that he mistakenly urinated on Lilli-Bunny"s bed.