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´╗┐Title: All The People
Author: Lafferty, R.A.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "All The People" ***

                            ALL THE PEOPLE

                           By R. A. LAFFERTY

                        Illustrated by GAUGHAN

           [Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from
                      Galaxy Magazine April 1961.
         Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
         the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

                  Tin Tony Trotz had only one job--to
                   watch out for something a little
                  odd--in a universe that was insane!

Anthony Trotz went first to the politician, Mike Delado. "How many
people do you know, Mr. Delado?"

"Why the question?"

"I am wondering just what amount of detail the mind can hold."

"To a degree I know many. Ten thousand well, thirty thousand by name,
probably a hundred thousand by face and to shake hands with."

"And what is the limit?" Anthony inquired.

"Possibly I am the limit." The politician smiled frostily. "The only
limit is time, speed of cognizance and retention. I am told that the
latter lessens with age. I am seventy, and it has not done so with me.
Whom I have known I do not forget."

"And with special training could one go beyond you?"

"I doubt if one could--much. For my own training has been quite
special. Nobody has been so entirely with the people as I have. I've
taken five memory courses in my time, but the tricks of all of them I
had already come to on my own. I am a great believer in the commonality
of mankind and of near equal inherent ability. Yet there are some, say
the one man in fifty, who in degree if not in kind do exceed their
fellows in scope and awareness and vitality. I am that one man in
fifty, and knowing people is my specialty."

"Could a man who specialized still more--and to the exclusion of other
things--know a hundred thousand men well."

"It is possible. Dimly."

"A quarter of a million?"

"I think not. He might learn that many faces and names, but he would
not know the men."

Anthony went next to the philosopher, Gabriel Mindel.

"Mr. Mindel, how many people do you know?"

"How know? _Per se?_ _A se?_ Or _In Se_? _Per suam essentiam_, perhaps?
Or do you mean _Ab alio_? Or to know as _Hoc aliquid_? There is a
fine difference there. Or do you possibly mean to know in _Substantia
prima_, or in the sense of comprehensive _noumena_?"

"Somewhere between the latter two. How many persons do you know by
name, face, and with a degree of intimacy?"

"I have learned over the years the names of some of my colleagues,
possibly a dozen of them. I am now sound on my wife's name, and
I seldom stumble over the names of my offspring--never more than
momentarily. But you may have come to the wrong man for--whatever you
have come for. I am notoriously poor at names, faces, and persons. I
have even been described (_vox faucibus haesit_) as absent-minded."

"Yes, you do have the reputation. But perhaps I have not come to the
wrong man in seeking the theory of the thing. What is it that limits
the comprehensive capacity of the mind of man? What will it hold? What

"The body."

"How is that?"

"The brain, I should say, the material tie. The mind is limited by the
brain. It is skull-bound. It can accumulate no more than its cranial
capacity, though not one tenth of that is ordinarily used. An unbodied
mind would (in esoteric theory) be unlimited."

"And how in practical theory?"

"If it is practical, a _pragma_, it is a thing and not a theory."

"Then we can have no experience with the unbodied mind, or the
possibility of it?"

"We have not discovered any area of contact, but we may entertain
the possibility of it. There is no paradox there. One may rationally
consider the irrational."

       *       *       *       *       *

Anthony went next to see the priest.

"How many people do you know?"

"I know all of them."

"That has to be doubted," said Anthony after a moment.

"I've had twenty different stations. And when you hear five thousand
confessions a year for forty years, you by no means know all about
people, but you do know all people."

"I do not mean types. I mean persons."

"Oh, I know a dozen or so well, a few thousands somewhat less."

"Would it be possible to know a hundred thousand people, a half

"A mentalist might know that many to recognize; I don't know the limit.
But darkened man has a limit set on everything."

"Could a somehow emancipated man know more?"

"The only emancipated man is the corporally dead man. And the dead man,
if he attains the beatific vision, knows all other persons who have
ever been since time began."

"All the billions?"


"With the same brain?"

"No. But with the same mind."

"Then wouldn't even a believer have to admit that the mind which we
have now is only a token mind? Would not any connection it would have
with a completely comprehensive mind be very tenuous? Would we really
be the same person if so changed? It is like saying a bucket would hold
the ocean if it were fulfilled, which only means filled full. How could
it be the same mind?"

"I don't know."

Anthony went to see a psychologist.

"How many people do you know, Dr. Shirm?"

"I could be crabby and say that I know as many as I want to; but
it wouldn't be the truth. I rather like people, which is odd in my
profession. What is it that you really want to know?"

"How many people can one man know?"

"It doesn't matter very much. People mostly overestimate the number of
their acquaintances. What is it that you are trying to ask me?"

"Could one man know everyone?"

"Naturally not. But unnaturally he might seem to. There is a delusion
to this effect accompanied by an euphoria, and it is called--"

"I don't want to know what it is called. Why do specialists use Latin
and Greek?"

"One part hokum, and two parts need; there simply not being enough
letters in the alphabet of exposition without them. It is as difficult
to name concepts as children, and we search our brains as a new mother
does. It will not do to call two children or two concepts by one name."

"Thank you. I doubt that this is delusion, and it is not accompanied by

       *       *       *       *       *

Anthony had a reason for questioning the four men since (as a new thing
that had come to him) he knew everybody. He knew everyone in Salt Lake
City, where he had never been. He knew everybody in Jebel Shah where
the town is a little amphitheater around the harbor, and in Batangas
and Weihai. He knew the loungers around the end of the Galata bridge in
Istambul, and the porters in Kuala Lumpur. He knew the tobacco traders
in Plovdiv, and the cork-cutters of Portugal. He knew the dock workers
in Djibouti, and the glove-makers in Prague. He knew the vegetable
farmers around El Centro, and the muskrat trappers of Barrataria Bay.
He knew the three billion people of the world by name and face, and
with a fair degree of intimacy.

"Yet I'm not a very intelligent man. I've been called a bungler. And
they've had to reassign me three different times at the filter center.
I've seen only a few thousands of these billions of people, and it
seems unusual that I should know them all. It may be a delusion as
Dr. Shirm says, but it is a heavily detailed delusion, and it is not
accompanied by euphoria. I feel like green hell just thinking of it."

He knew the cattle traders in Letterkenny Donegal; he knew the cane
cutters of Oriente, and the tree climbers of Milne Bay. He knew the
people who died every minute, and those who were born.

"There is no way out of it. I know everybody in the world. It is
impossible, but it is so. And to what purpose? There aren't a handful
of them I could borrow a dollar from, and I haven't a real friend in
the lot. I don't know whether it came to me suddenly, but I realized it
suddenly. My father was a junk dealer in Wichita, and my education is
spotty. I am maladjusted, introverted, incompetent and unhappy, and I
also have weak kidneys. Why would a power like this come to a man like

The children in the streets hooted at him. Anthony had always had
a healthy hatred for children and dogs, those twin harassers of the
unfortunate and the maladjusted. Both run in packs, and both are
cowardly attackers. And if either of them spots a weakness he will
never let it go. That his father had been a junk dealer was not reason
to hoot at him. But how did the children even know about that? Did they
possess some fraction of the power that had come to him lately?

       *       *       *       *       *

But he had strolled about the town for too long. He should have been at
work at the filter center. Often they were impatient with him when he
wandered off from his work, and Colonel Peter Cooper was waiting for
him when he came in now.

"Where have you been, Anthony?"

"Walking. I talked to four men. I mentioned no subject in the province
of the filter center."

"Every subject is in the province of the filter center. And you know
that our work here is confidential."

"Yes, sir, but I do not understand the import of my work here. I would
not be able to give out information that I do not have."

"A popular misconception. There are others who might understand the
import of it, and be able to reconstruct it from what you tell them.
How do you feel?"

"Nervous, unwell, my tongue is furred, my kidneys--"

"Ah yes, there will be someone here this afternoon to fix your kidneys.
I had not forgotten. Is there anything that you want to tell me?"

"No, sir."

Colonel Cooper had the habit of asking that of his workers in the
manner of a mother asking a child if he wants to go to the bathroom.
There was something embarrassing in his intonation.

Well, he did want to tell him something, but he didn't know how to
phrase it. He wanted to tell the colonel that he had newly acquired
the power of knowing everyone in the world, that he was worried how
he could hold so much in his head that was not noteworthy for its
capacity. But he feared ridicule more than he feared anything else and
he was a tangle of fears.

But he thought he would try it a little bit on his co-workers.

"I know a man named Walter Walloroy in Galveston," he said to Adrian.
"He drinks beer at the Gizmo bar, and is retired."

"What is the superlative of _so what_?"

"But I have never been there," said Anthony.

"And I have never been in Kalamazoo."

"I know a girl in Kalamazoo. Her name is Greta Harandash. She is home
today with a cold. She is prone to colds."

But Adrian was a creature both uninterested and uninteresting. It is
very hard to confide in one who is uninterested.

"Well, I will live with it a little while," said Anthony. "Or I may
have to go to a doctor and see if he can give me something to make all
these people go away. But if he thinks my story is a queer one, he may
report me back to the center, and I might be reclassified again. It
makes me nervous to be reclassified."

So he lived with it a while, the rest of the day and the night. He
should have felt better. A man had come that afternoon and fixed his
kidneys; but there was nobody to fix his nervousness and apprehensions.
And his skittishness was increased when the children hooted at him as
he walked in the morning. That hated epithet! But how could they know
that his father had been a dealer in used metals in a town far away?

       *       *       *       *       *

He had to confide in someone.

He spoke to Wellington who also worked in his room. "I know a girl in
Beirut who is just going to bed. It is evening there now, you know."

"That so? Why don't they get their time straightened out? I met a girl
last night that's cute as a correlator key, and kind of shaped like
one. She doesn't know yet that I work in the center and am a restricted
person. I'm not going to tell her. Let her find out for herself."

It was no good trying to tell things to Wellington. Wellington never
listened. And then Anthony got a summons to Colonel Peter Cooper, which
always increased his apprehension.

"Anthony," said the colonel, "I want you to tell me if you discern
anything unusual. That is really your job, to report anything unusual.
The other, the paper shuffling, is just something to keep your idle
hands busy. Now tell me clearly if anything unusual has come to your

"Sir, it has." And then he blurted it all out. "I know everybody! I
know everybody in the world. I know them all in their billions, every
person. It has me worried sick."

"Yes, yes, Anthony. But tell me, have you noticed anything _odd_? It is
your duty to tell me if you have."

"But I have just told you! In some manner I know every person in
the world. I know the people in Transvaal, I know the people in
Guatemala. I know _everybody_."

"Yes, Anthony, we realize that. And it may take a little getting used
to. But that isn't what I mean. Have you (besides that thing that seems
out of the way to you) noticed anything unusual, anything that seems
out of place, a little bit wrong?"

"Ah--besides that and your reaction to it, no, sir. Nothing else odd.
I might ask, though, how odd can a thing get? But other than that--no,

"Good, Anthony. Now remember, if you sense anything odd about anything
at all, come and tell me. No matter how trivial it is, if you feel that
something is just a little bit out of place, then report it at once. Do
you understand that?"

"Yes, sir."

But he couldn't help wondering what it might be that the colonel would
consider a little bit odd.

Anthony left the center and walked. He shouldn't have. He knew that
they became impatient with him when he wandered off from his work.

"But I have to think. I have all the people in the world in my brain,
and still I am not able to think. This power should have come to
someone able to take advantage of it."

He went into the Plugged Nickel Bar, but the man on duty knew him for
a restricted person from the filter center, and would not serve him.

He wandered disconsolately about the city. "I know the people in Omaha
and those in Omsk. What queer names have the towns of the earth! I know
everyone in the world, and when anyone is born or dies. And Colonel
Cooper did not find it unusual. Yet I am to be on the lookout for
things unusual. The question rises, would I know an odd thing if I met

       *       *       *       *       *

And then it was that something just a little bit unusual did happen,
something not quite right. A small thing. But the colonel had told him
to report anything about anything, no matter how insignificant, that
struck him as a little queer.

It was just that with all the people in his head, and the arrivals and
departures, there was a small group that was not of the pattern.

Every minute hundreds left by death and arrived by birth. And now there
was a small group, seven persons; they arrived into the world, but they
were not born into the world.

So Anthony went to tell Colonel Cooper that something had occurred to
his mind that was a little bit odd.

But damn-the-dander-headed-two-and-four-legged-devils, there were the
kids and the dogs in the street again, yipping and hooting and chanting:

"Tony the tin man. Tony the tin man."

He longed for the day when he would see them fall like leaves out of
his mind, and death take them.

"Tony the tin man. Tony the tin man."

How had they known that his father was a used metal dealer?

Colonel Peter Cooper was waiting for him.

"You surely took your time, Anthony. The reaction was registered, but
it would take us hours to pin-point its source without your help. Now
then, explain as calmly as you can what you have felt or experienced.
Or, more to the point, where are they?"

"No. You will have to answer me certain questions first."

"I haven't the time to waste, Anthony. Tell me at once what it is and

"No. There is no other way. You have to bargain with me."

"One does not bargain with restricted persons."

"Well, I will bargain till I find out just what it means that I am a
restricted person."

"You really don't know? Well, we haven't time to fix that stubborn
streak in you. Quickly, just what is it that you have to know?"

"I have to know what a restricted person is. I have to know why the
children hoot 'Tony the tin man' at me. How can they know that my
father was a junk dealer?"

       *       *       *       *       *

"You had no father. We give to each of you a sufficient store of
memories and a background of a distant town. That happened to be yours,
but there is no connection here. The children call you Tony the Tin Man
because (like all really cruel creatures) they have an instinct for the
truth that can hurt; and they will never forget it."

"Then I am a tin man?"

"Well, no. Actually only seventeen percent metal. And less than a
third of one percent tin. You are compounded of animal, vegetable, and
mineral fiber, and there was much effort given to your manufacture and
programming. Yet the taunt of the children is essentially true."

"Then, if I am only Tony the Tin Man, how can I know all the people in
the world in my mind?"

"You have no mind."

"In my brain then. How can all that be in one small brain?"

"Because your brain is not in your head, and it is not small. Come, I
may as well show it to you; I've told you enough that it won't matter
if you know a little more. There are few who are taken on personally
conducted sight-seeing tours of their own brains. You should be

"Gratitude seems a little tardy."

They went into the barred area, down into the bowels of the main
building of the center. And they looked at the brain of Anthony Trotz,
a restricted person in its special meaning.

"It is the largest in the world," said Colonel Cooper.

"How large?"

"A little over twelve hundred cubic meters."

"What a brain! And it is mine?"

"You are an adjunct to it, a runner for it, an appendage, inasmuch as
you are anything at all."

"Colonel Cooper, how long have I been alive?"

"You are not."

"How long have I been as I am now?"

"It is three days since you were last reassigned, since you were
assigned to this. At that time your nervousness and apprehensions
were introduced. An apprehensive unit will be more inclined to notice
details just a little out of the ordinary."

"And what is my purpose?"

They were walking now back to the office work area, and Anthony had a
sad feeling at leaving his brain behind him.

"This is a filter center, and your purpose is to serve as a filter,
of a sort. Every person has a slight aura around him. It is a
characteristic of his, and is part of his personality and purpose.
And it can be detected, electrically, magnetically, even visually
under special conditions. The accumulator at which we were looking
(your brain) is designed to maintain contact with all the auras in the
world, and to keep a running and complete data on them all. It contains
a multiplicity of circuits for each of its three billion and some
subjects. However, as aid to its operation, it was necessary to assign
several artificial consciousnesses to it. You are one of these."

       *       *       *       *       *

The dogs and the children had found a new victim in the streets below.
Anthony's heart went out to him.

"The purpose," continued Colonel Cooper, "was to notice anything just
a little bit peculiar in the auras and the persons they represent,
anything at all odd in their comings and goings. Anything like what you
have come here to report to me."

"Like the seven persons who recently arrived in the world, and not by
way of birth?"

"Yes. We have been expecting the first of the aliens for months. We
must know their area, and at once. Now tell me."

"What if they are not aliens at all. What if they are restricted
persons like myself?"

"Restricted persons have no aura, are not persons, are not alive. And
you would not receive knowledge of them."

"Then how do I know the other restricted persons here, Adrian and
Wellington, and such?"

"You know them at first hand. You do not know them through the machine.
Now tell me the area quickly. The center may be a primary target. It
will take the machine hours to ravel it out. Your only purpose is to
serve as an intuitive short-cut."

But Tin Man Tony did not speak. He only thought in his mind--more
accurately, in his brain, a hundred yards away. He thought in his
fabricated consciousness:

"The area is quite near. If the colonel were not burdened with a mind,
he would be able to think more clearly. He would know that cruel
children and dogs love to worry what is not human, and that all of the
restricted persons are accounted for in this area. He would know that
they are worrying one of the aliens in the street below, and that is
the area that is right in my consciousness.

"I wonder if they will be better masters? He is an imposing figure,
and he would be able to pass for a man. And the colonel is right: The
Center is a primary target.

"Why! I never knew you could kill a child just by pointing a finger at
him like that! What opportunities I have missed! Enemy of my enemy, you
are my friend."

And aloud he said to the colonel:

"I will not tell you."

"Then we'll have you apart and get it out of you mighty quick."

"How quick?"

"Ten minutes."

"Time enough," said Tony, for he knew them now, coming in like snow.
They were arriving in the world by the hundreds, and not arriving by

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "All The People" ***

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