||“I’ll Get Rid of Your Discontent” (short story) by Mayumura Taku
First published in Uchujin (Cosmic Dust) 57 (July, 1962)
Currently available from Kurodahan Press’s Speculative Japan (2007)
|Original: Japanese, 1962
Translated by M. Hattori and Grania Davis, 2007
Synopsis: A curious shabby item at a curious shabby store draws one man’s attention yet he is unable to read the paper instructions of the object unless her purchases the hand-sized trinket. Inside, he discovers the welcome gift of three wishes that will appease his discontent. Amid an argument with his boss, he uses his first wish; while a train arrives late, he uses his second; the third placates a friendship. Regardless of the “fatal” consequence, he keeps it.
Analysis: Pain is an essential mammalian experience that requires all mammals to learn in order to avoid repeating the same mistake, the same pain. However, pain comes in many varieties: the physical pain of cold, heat and pressure; the mental pain of regret, sadness and anger. Each experience with these pains alters our approach to life—you get burned by a flame, you stay away from flames; you get burned by a blond, you stay away from blonds.
If this learning tool is avoided, the physical and mental scars will build up over time into a eviscerated mess of primality… but if this learning tool is replaced with one that changes the experience, what will the result be? Without the physical sense of pain, a man would become a human bulldozer, without emotional pain, a man would become, yet again, a human bulldozer. Therefore, pain is essential as a learning tool because it aligns our trust on painlessness as a pleasant experience.
Now, compare: a) to be without pain because of invulnerability and b) to be without pain because of contentment. Respectively, one is a Caterpillar bulldozer and the other is a Woomba vacuum; one is a wrecking ball and the other is an aggie marble. If a bulldozer had emotion, how would it feel if it suddenly became a vacuum? If a wrecking ball had emotion, how would it feel if it suddenly became a marble?