A Piquant Trait of the Peculiar Psyche of Contemporary Man

“To be sure, it was only in childish naiveté that you called them so; but the three-brained beings of that peculiar planet, especially the contemporary ones, do not discriminate such fine points.

“Who called them, why, and in what circumstances—it’s all one. They have been called by a name they consider insulting—and that’s quite enough.

“Discrimination in such matters is, according to the understanding of most of them, simply, as they express it, ‘pouring from the empty into the void.’

“Be that as it may, you were in any case extremely rash to call the three-brained beings breeding on the planet Earth by such an offensive name; first, because you have made me anxious for you, and secondly, because you have laid up for yourself a menace for the future.

“The position is this: Though, as I have already said, you are a long way off, and they will be unable to get at you to punish you personally, yet nevertheless if they should somehow unexpectedly chance to learn even at twentieth hand how you insulted them, then you could at once be sure of their real ‘anathema,’ and the dimensions of this anathema would depend upon the interests with which they happened to be occupied at the given moment.

“Perhaps it is worth while describing to you how the beings of the Earth would behave if they should happen to learn that you had so insulted them. This description may serve as a very good example for the elucidation of the strangeness of the psyche of these three-brained beings who interest you.

“Provoked by such an incident as your thus insulting them, if everything was rather ‘dull’ with them at the given moment, owing to the absence of any other similar absurd interest, they would arrange somewhere in a previously chosen place, with previously invited people, all of
course dressed in costumes specially designed for such occasions, what is called a ‘solemn council.’