Sitting in the light of the winter sun which casts a golden glow on the orangeries and the statue of Jules Janssen, Prof. Ellipson is thinking with feigned wonder of the recent wedding of his astrophysicist-colleague at Joddrell Bank, who, in spite of his seventy-three years and remembering Monroe’s measurements, more than ever defies the laws of gravity, G. included. His colleague is lucky indeed, Prof. Ellipson esteems, for this blessed man envisages a honey-moon on the Proxima Centauri (at roughly 23 millions upon millions of miles from our planet, not counting the return), but we are already, it is true, on the edge of this milky way dear to Wordsworth and hence to the residents of St. John’s College, Cambridge. Prof. Ellipson has seen enough of this sun which he has been photographing every day God makes for fifty years, a sun, of which Pascal alleges, in the wake of the vicar of Meudon, that it cannot be looked at directly. Basically no different from what Horkings murmurs to his Nanny on evenings of full-moon, when the dew moistens the Backs up to the edges of the Bridge of Sighs.
Expansion of the universe, stationary universe, contraction of the universe (Achtung ! Achtung ! Andromeda is racing towards the planet Earth !), density of the matter of the cosmos, quasars, pulsars, quarks, neutrons, protons, star cluster of the Virgin, Laplace, Lemaître, Friedmann, Hubble constant, Vaucouleurs (and Sandage who doubles the stake), Pierce, Freedman and Nial Tamvir who put the work back on the loom, Hoyle, Bondi, Gold who laugh contemptuously, Penzias and Wilson who bring the 3 K-radiation out of their alphabet-book, so-called fossile trace of the Big Bang, while the opposition, led by Harp, Narlikar, Burbridge and ... Hoyle launches another attack ... Prof. Ellipson does not believe any more his eyes, nor his ears. Prof. Ellipson is thinking of the impending honey-moon of the scientist Horkings who, in these times of austerity, could have been content with some sun-spot about eight light-minutes from Meudon Observatory, such as he, Ellipson, had identified on a high-quality negative-photo which he would have been pleased to send him, without charge, of course; he sees himself again at the Vatican Congress of 1981, animated by the Jesuits, a congress which Horkings had honoured by his presence, he who had come in by the Porta Santa Anna after slipping through the Porta Angelica, in order to better listen incognito to the declarations of the Holy-Father, assisted by the Bishop of the Béguin, highlighting an easily seen-through theory, the so-called “shaddocks theory”, according to which things have a length, but no other dimensions.
Prof. Ellipson remembers that at this congress he came across Bell who did not doubt the existence of “unstable particles”, even if he affirmed that the rotation of these particles is never complete and that a lucky throw of the dice could not abolish chance (nor Necessity, by the way, if we believe the Scientist who wanted to deprive the Planet Mars of its liquid resources and obtained a Nobel Prize for this dehydration of the canals of the Red Planet). As for Prof. Ellipson, he had gone as far as to deny the existence of the “neutrino”, invented by Pauli, the desperate, at the time of the Charleston, with the help of the Lavoisier principle, since he had found himself in the presence of a unique and solitary “anti-neutrino” squatting in a family of “lepton tau” in the proximity of the “charm quart” and this after the use of reactors susceptible, it was said, to trap these phantom particles plentifully produced in the one and indivisible Universe, with the help of the Laplace - illusion.
Professor Ellipson, legs stretched out in the weak winter-sun (between 1780 Me V und 1860 Me V), is trying to empty out his mind with a moving thought for the maths-genius Mangebroute, while smiling at the story told by their professor in specialized maths in order to better demonstrate that maths cannot in any case master the infinite figures (oh J.-C. Y., oh LP 2 !), as little as, by the way, the games of dice in the bar on the corner ! (oh Einstein !) : the scene is at the university of Provence, Escartefigue auditorium :
Q : Tell me, Marius, what are 500 years to you ?
R : That’s 5 minutes !
Q : Tell me, Marius, what are 500 francs to you ?
R : That’s five cents !
Q : I say, Marius, lend me five cents !
R : Yes, but wait for five minutes ! ...
- We have trains from Paris to Lyons, says Monsieur Brun, which go so fast that ...
- And we, Marius answers, last time I took the Marseille-Lyons, the station-master in Marseille pushed me so hard to make me get on board that I gave him a clip on the ear in return.
- And what did he say, the station-master of Marseille ?, Monsieur Brun asks anxiuously.
- Well, nothing, it was the station-master of Lyons who got the clip.
Professor Ellipson, who always marvels, on the occasion of such excursions into the past perfect, how the memory can operate backwards, even after five hundred sun-rotations (while remembering the prophetic declarations of professor Horkings : “the best proof that a journey in time will never be possible is the fact that we have not been invaded by hords of tourists from the future”, admitting the supposition that a “future” in space-time would exist ?) and who knows well - since Penrose’s “singularities” deny all recourse to soul - that the Calibans and the Bonobos will never type the Sonnet XXXIX by the Factotum of the Globe or the Principia Matematica by Jean-Fesse Newton into their computers and who feels that the hour on his quartz-watch is turning, abruptly digs into his pockets in search of his canteen tickets, only to produce the survival cards of the MGEN, which remind him immediately that tomorrow he is due to do an oil-change in the garage on the corner and check in with his dentist (oh Pascal !) at eleven o’clock sharp (G.M.T.).
Claude d’Esplas (Les Merlufleaux)
All rights reserved
Translation : Dagmar Coward Kuschke (Tübingen)