The houses in the Plague Quarter are peeling
and lifeless, but the windows are mostly intact,
only so dirty that they look opaque. Now at night
when you crawl by, you can see the glow inside,
as if alcohol were burning in bluish tongues.
On the very top of the jagged peak above them
stands the Observatory. Inside, scientists make
thousands of remarkable observations, smoke
thousands of cigarettes, and live alone with the stars.
In the middle of the floor a giant telescope revolves
slowly, keeping watch on the sky, and there is
the constant whirring sound of a machine.
There it is, their cable, hanging down almost
to the ground and covered with hair . . .
That’s how they always do it around here,
so that everyone can see: There they go, the heroes
of science, to lay themselves down on the altar
to mankind, knowledge, and the Holy Spirit, amen.
Jane Røken, 2014
Quote attributed to Robert Anton Wilson
Comet in Moominland, by Tove Jansson
Roadside Picnic, by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky