Not if you’ve been where we have. Forty years ago, in Südwest, we were nearly exterminated. There was no reason. Can you understand that? No reason. We couldn’t even find comfort in the Will of God Theory. These were Germans with names and service records, men in blue uniforms who killed clumsily and not without guilt. Search-and-destroy missions, every day. It went on for two years. The orders came down from a human being, a scrupulous butcher named von Trotha. The thumb of mercy never touched his scales.”
“We have a word that we whisper, a mantra for times that threaten to be bad. Mba-kayere. You may find it will work for you. Mba-kayere. It means ‘I am passed over.’ To those of us who survived von Trotha, it also means that we have learned to stand outside our history and watch it, without feeling too much. A little schizoid. A sense for the statistics of our being. One reason we grew so close to the Rocket, I think, was this sharp awareness of how contingent, like ourselves, the Aggregat 4 could be—how at the mercy of small things…dust that gets in a timer and breaks electrical contact…a film of grease you can’t even see, oil from the touch of human fingers, left inside a liquid-oxygen valve, flaring up soon as the stuff hits and setting the whole thing off—I’ve seen that happen…rain that swells the bushings in the servos or leaks into a switch: corrosion, a short, a signal grounded out, Brennschluss too soon, and what was alive is only an Aggregat again, an Aggregat of pieces of dead matter, no longer anything that can move, or that has a Destiny with a shape—stop doing that with your eyebrows, Scuffling. I may have gone a bit native out here, that’s all. Stay in the Zone long enough and you’ll start getting ideas about Destiny yourself.