The Arch-preposterous

“Before beginning his explanations I think it not inadvisable to warn you once and for all that all my conversations with various three-centered beings arising and existing on various planets of that system where I was obliged to exist for the ‘Sins of my youth’—as for instance in the present case, the conversations with this Gornahoor Harharkh which I am now about to relate to you while we travel on the space-ship Karnak—all proceeded in dialects still quite unknown to you, and sometimes even, by the way, in such dialects the consonances of which were quite ‘indigestible’ for perception by normal being-functions assigned for this purpose.

“And so, my boy, in view of all this, I shall not repeat these conversations word for word but shall give you only their sense in our speech, continuing of course to employ those terms and ‘specific-names’ or rather those consonances produced by what are called ‘being-vocal-chords,’ which consonances are used by your favorites of the planet Earth and which have now become for you, owing to continued repetition during my tales about them, habitual and easily perceived.

“Yes . . . it must be noticed here that the word ‘Gornahoor’ is used by the three-brained beings on the planet Saturn in courtesy; they utter it before the name of one whom they are addressing.

“It is the same with your favorites on the planet Earth. They also have added to the name of every person the word ‘Mister’ or sometimes a whole meaningless phrase expressing the notion for which our honorable Mullah Nassr Eddin has the following sentence:

“And namely he says:

“ ‘Nevertheless, there’s more reality in it than in the wiseacrings of an “expert” in monkey-business.’

“Well, then, my boy . . .

“When this subsequent essence-friend of mine, Gornahoor Harharkh, was informed of what was required of him, he invited us by a sign to approach one of the special appliances which he had made and which, as it later turned out, was named by him ‘Hrhaharhtzaha.’