SOME IMAGINATIVE WIT once observed that a monkey tapping randomly on a keyboard for eternity would produce all great works of literature. But he didn’t mention that the monkey would produce all other written stuff too. I should know because I’m that monkey. And let me tell you, it’s a tough gig. You mortals don’t know the meaning of “repetitive stress disorder.” I could use a back rub. And I’m hungry, for chrissake!
Sure, I wrote the complete works of Shakespeare. I also wrote the first email from Mars, the lost Book of Jebidiah, and every last one of your goddamn text messages. I wrote the receipt for the pizza you ordered, and the prescription for your anti-anxiety medication. I wrote π, the whole fucking number right down to the last digit. That’s right, the last digit. I wrote every word of the government’s anti-terrorism legislation. Every goddamn word! I wrote the lyrics to Neil Young’s first song. I wrote the dialogues of Plato, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and the childhood animal poems of your junior high school gym teacher. I wrote the first-ever line of code. Then I wrote it again. I wrote the texts of Borges’ library of Babel, including the text of “The Library of Babel.” I wrote Coetzee’s The Childhood of Jesus. If you’d wondered why that book is so goddamn pointless, now you know: it was written by a fucking monkey!
I wrote the first instruction manual for building a crystal radio receiver. I wrote Treaty Six, Bill C-31, and the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I wrote Newton’s Principia Mathematica, and the script for Spaceballs. I wrote the line “Anyone who has been penetrated by a mountie” in Ondaatje’s Elimination Dance. I wrote the unsigned note you found hidden in your sock drawer, and the full text of the “Has Anyone Seen Our Puffy?” poster stapled to a telephone pole somewhere in your neighbourhood. Do you remember that skinny kid on the train with the baseball cap that said: “go fuck yourself”? I wrote that too.
I wrote Stephen Hawking’s last theorem. I wrote the European Space Agency’s 2068 press release announcing life on a moon of Jupiter. I wrote the list of ingredients on every god-damn package of chewing gum ever produced. I wrote the catalogue number on a 150,000-year-old stone tool displayed in a glass museum case in Bratislava. I even wrote the serial number printed on the back of my own fucking keyboard, for chrissake! I wrote War and Peace.
I’m writing it all, man. And I’ll still be writing it long after you’ve vanished from the scene. In fact, I’ve already written your death certificate. One of these days, I’ll get around to writing your birth certificate too. When all of you mortals have finally disappeared from the universe, I’ll still be tapping away at this keyboard. I’ll still be writing all of the actual stuff, and I’ll still be actualizing all of the possible stuff. Including the stuff right here in this goddamn message. If you didn’t get it this time, then maybe you’ll get it the next time I write it. Or the time after that. If you’re still around, that is.
Jeff Kochan is from Alberta. His work has appeared in a few other places, including filling Station, PRISM International, and Zygote. In a previous century, he co-edited Edmonton’s Dead Tree Product magazine.