Monday, August 17, 2009
Quaeries #4: The Search-Engine
Justin E. H. Smith
Do you realise what this means? Do you? Don't just stand there and stare at me with your servile grin. Tell me what it means! That's right, Isaac, that's right. This is the dawn of a new Age for our Quaeries. We shall no longer have to entrust them to scorbitical Sea-farers and Rye-soak'd country Doctors.
No, now we need simply enter our Quaeries into the trusty "Search-Engine," and we shall have the answer to every matter ever dreamt of by Natural Philosophy, faster than you can suffocate a Sparrow in a Vacuum Chamber!
Let us give it a try. Think of a Quaery, Isaac. Anything. O never-mind, you Sugar-Loaf. I've got one:
"Whether the Engine doth know anything of 'Sexting'? Some members of our Society are keen to learn this art, but we lack so much as a single working Sextant. We used to have a fine one, until Geech the Astronomer, by some tragic mis-understanding, got it into his senescent Head that it was an Instrument for taking measure of..."
What's this Isaac? The blasted Engine has cut me off in mid-Quaery. What, then? You say I must needs be more concise? Alright then, I've another Quaery, altogether different:
"Whether Chicken-Soup be good for the Soul, and, if so, whether for the Souls of Moms, Dog-Lovers, Christian Teens, or indeed for Souls simpliciter."
Why, behold Isaac! Now we've done it! Look at this trove of Learning! There is not only Chicken-Soup for the Souls of Moms and Teens, nay, but for pre-Teens, Divorcees, Empty-Nesters, Couples, Latinos, Scrap-Bookers, and Golfers! What's that, then? No, I do not know what an Empty-Nester is, Isaac. But for every new matter unknown, I shall simply issue another Quaery! Not now, though. There are more pressing issues than your common Bird-watching. Consider for example:
"How cometh it that a Soul should be nourish'd by a Broth, and whether it be not the Soul that is nourish'd, but rather the finer Spirits of a Man's body, having some hidden Sympathy with the rarefied essence of Chicken."
Well, hmm, Isaac. This Quaery yields nothing more than if I had sent it straight to the Learnèd Society of Heligoland. Perhaps the Engine is exhausted from over-work. I shall issue it the very simplest of Quaeries:
"Whither goeth that French-Man, who seeketh ye delectationes Veneris?"
Hmm, again nothing but Rubbish, Isaac. What's that? You say I am not entering my Quaery as I should? You say the Latin I use to conceal my intentions from the common rabble of men in fact conceals them from the Search-Engine as well? You say I must needs enter it in the Vulgate of English, and that within this Vulgate there is a sort of Artificial Characteristic or Code for the entering of it? Very well then, you go ahead:
"Where to get laid in Paris."
Eureka, I say. Eureka! I've no Idea what you've just written, but my, what a Wealth of Answers. He-he, pack my satchel for Paris, Isaac! I've some, eh, Weights and Measures to adjudge there.
Oh, but Isaac, I hear told that the Search-Engine yields up not only Answers, but even Likenesses unto the things Quaeried about. Thus if you ask, "What is the aspect of Iceland Spar?", you shall have an Image of Iceland Spar, as clear and verisimilar as though t'were Spar it-self. This gives me an idea, Isaac. Now look here:
"Regina Suedorum Cristina denudata."
Nothing, Isaac. Is it the Latin again? Do you wish to give it a try in your vulgar Code? Very well then, go ahead:
"Queen Christina Sweden nude pix."
yes... well, Isaac... I don't know that it quite got the 'Queen
Christina' part right. But my, yes, with 'Sweden' and 'nude' the Engine
is as sharp as an Oracle. Behold these marvelous pix, as you call them!
I see now why Des Cartes hurried off to Stockholm. Forget Paris, Isaac.
Pack my muffs.
What's that? No, of course not yet. Not until we've issued as many Quaeries as our Engine has Power to answer. Here is another:
"There is a creature of great interest in the orbis blogorum that is call'd 'Brangelina'. We should like to inquire whether this is such a Marvel of Nature as those twins born at Würzburg, who were thoroughly conjoin'd at the Midriff, and if so whether these two twins do nonetheless live, as is reported, in the manner of a Man with his Wife. Whether also it is this unnatural Union that hath produc'd a whole Crop of babes blacker than any Aethiop."
Hmm, again nothing. I am beginning to doubt the usefulness of this new Engine for the Advancement of Science, Isaac. What then? You say I am misusing the Engine? You say my Quaeries are of no Importance to Science, but are of value only in view of their Curiosity? Are you, then, a newly elected member of our Learnèd Society, Isaac? Or are you only my Amanuensis, rais'd up out of destitution thanks only to the grace of God and to my good Judgment? I know a loyal Secretary when I see one, Isaac, but I will not have you overstepping the bounds of your Post.
Oh my yes, Isaac. You were right. What a powerful Engine this is indeed. What great Leaps the Medical Art will make now! Try another one:
"Cats wearing sunglasses."
My word, Isaac! Look at them! Brute animals enhancing their own vision by use of optical Lenses! I never would have dreamt it possible. Look at that one there! What, now? Why yes, I suppose she is 'one cool kitty'. If you say so, Isaac. Alright then, give me another. Just one more:
What's this then? Wikipedia? Wait, is that not a Likeness of you, there in the upper right corner? What now? It says you are a great Inventor and English Natural Philosopher of the 17th century? It says you are among the most prominent members of our Learnèd Society?
What Bilge! Isaac, let us break off this Child's-Play at once and get
to work. I've some Quaeries to dictate to you, and I want them sent out
on the first ship setting sail for Nova Zembla. What, then? Well find your
Quill, you Donkey! I'll wait 'til the count of three...
Now then, Quaery the First: "Whether it be true what they say, that
great Hairy Elephants do roam the Northern Expanses of frightful
Did you get that? Isaac?
For an extensive archive of Justin Smith's writing, please visit www.jehsmith.com.
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