Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"Proof of God": Excerpts from the novel A CORNER OF THE VEIL by Laurence Cosse


"The government is terribly upset to learn that the proof [of God's existence] is established. And still more to imagine it broadcast. It has put its experts to work to get an idea of what could become of our societies once they're informed of the matter. The predictions are alarming. The first effect would obviously be chaos.

"Our complex, fragile economies will be turned upside down. Dazzled by God, men will have no further reason to keep working to make the machine turn the way it used to. The primacy of economic matters will crumble. Ninety percent of human undertakings will look foolish, meaningless, pathetic. The ad man, the beautician, all the merchants of dreams and escape, will close up shop. The arms merchant all the more so. The only tenable behavior will be more or less what contemplatives do: prayer and frugality. I don't see research in general, and theology in particular, retaining the slightest importance any longer, my dear colleagues. An archaic economy will develop. Suddenly money changers will close down, and stock exchanges throughout the world, and university chairs in international finance, and business schools. Frugality and prayer.

"We've had a hard enough time putting a little order on earth over twenty centuries. And that order will be undermined at the roots! The order of priorities, the scale of importance, the distinction between essential and incidental...The basic values of the model societies here below will come unbolted: values of work, of enrichment/development, of social organization...

"In the longer run, a world dedicated to the good is not a reassuring one. I can understand that the paradox would shock you. But do you really believe that a world of praying people would be liveable?...Mankind hasn't done so badly, with electricity, vaccines, nuclear science--let's admit it, even the atomic bomb. Some rye seed always gets in with the good grain, inextricably, and overall we've come pretty close to a balance. It worked. Why try to unbalance everything?

"The good, the pure good--we know where that leads...The rejection of life and its ambiguity, all its fecund ambiguity...Believe me, this proof is loaded with danger."


"...Within six months, within a year, we have to imagine France as one huge monastery. Everything that today is the motivating force of the advanced liberal societies--the spirit of enterprise, the quest for wealth, the concern for efficiency, the work ethic...briefly, what others might call the every-man-for-himself, the activism, the copycat greed, money as guiding light--at the annoucement that God exists, all of that will no longer seem important to our fellow citizens. God becomes a certainty in our midst. How do we react? We spend all our time on Him. We just about cease to work. We earn much less money, but what does it matter? We no longer yearn to change apartments, go off on vacation, send our children to American business schools. We no longer chase after money. If we do work, it's just enough for what we need to eat and be clothed, to have a roof over our heads. Most of our time we spend meditating, praying. We study Scripture. We succor the poor, we comfort the lonely. We gaze on nature. We feel we're opening our eyes for the first time. We breathe."

...What about me, Marasquin was thinking, what becomes of me in this whole thing?

What will I have left in the scuffle? Torin wondered.

I go under in this shitheap, Dupont had already decided....

...Beloeil went on..."We can predict that the effect will be inversely proportional to the social weight of the individual. And for this paradoxical reason that in our society, the indispensable tasks are the ones least respected these days, while prestige attaches to all sorts of useless activities.

"I'll explain myself. The garbage collector, the shoemaker, the truck farmer, all the little people we can't do without, will lead more or less the same lives as before. Like everyone else, they will render unto the Creator the best portion, but their social positions won't suffer; on the contrary. Their work will be more necessary than ever. They always earned three cents, they'll still be earning three cents, but now nobody will expect to earn any more than that.

"The same cannot be said of the big shots of the world. What will become of the sports gods when the spirit of competition has disappeared? The automobile racers? The fashion models? The champagne heirs? The hosts of television shows that nobody will be watching?...The tranquilizer manufacturers? The directors of marketing...?

..."Everything in our lives that was not in the service of God and His splendor will fall away like dead skin...After which we shall disappear into the anonymity of the Good..."


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