적과 백의 천사
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The coldest I have ever been was the day I was born.
살면서 내가 가장 추웠던 날은 태어나던 날이었다.

Alaska, of course, is a very cold state to begin with, even in the middle of summer. I was born in the winter. It was on New Year’s Day, twenty nine years ago, that I was unceremoniously thrust from my mothers’ loins in the back of a second hand pickup truck. My parents realised they would not make it to the hospital in time. My mother, for her part, was calm. There was no room inside the vehicle, and so my father lifted her out, then rested her on the snow covered truck bed. The cold did its part to dull the pain. Twenty minutes later, I slipped out into my father’s chilly gloves. As I cried, my tears began to freeze.
물론 알래스카는 말할 것 없이 가장 추운 주이다. 심지어 한여름에도. 난 겨울에 태어났다. 29년 전의 새해였고, 중고 픽업 트럭 뒤쪽에서 어머니의 둔부로부터 인정사정없이 밀려 나왔다. 부모님은 제시간에 병원에 도착하지 못하리란 것을 알고 계셨다. 어머니는 침착하셨다. 트럭 안에는 자리가 없었기에, 아버지는 어머니를 안아 들고는 눈 쌓인 트럭용 침대에 눕히셨다. 차가움 덕분에 고통이 무뎌졌다. 20분 뒤, 난 내 아버지의 차가운 장갑 위로 미끄러져 나왔다. 내가 울자 눈물이 얼어붙었다.

Every birthday, my parents would share this image with me. I was a baby still dripping with blood, with snowflakes sticking to my body. Their tiny little angel of red and white.
생일마다 부모님은 그때의 사진을 보여주셨다. 아기였던 나는 아직 피에 젖어있었고, 눈송이가 몸에 내려앉아 있었다. 부모님의 작은 적과 백의 천사였다.

Then we'd go outside and let off the fireworks.
그러고는 밖에 나가 불꽃놀이를 하곤 했다.

Happy New Year.
새해 복 많이 받으세요.


The first few years of my life were uneventful. I crawled and mewled and burped and pooped and did what a baby is supposed to do. Tufts of red hair popped from my head, and Alaska's endlessly cold weather resulted in a lot of playing indoors. I aged some more and learned to talk, but had very few people to talk to. My father worked all day and I slept all night, so we saw very little of each other. My mother ran me through my homeschooling course modules; neat, compact little packages of worked examples.
내 삶의 첫 몇 년 동안은 별 일이 없었다. 갓난아기가 으레 그러하듯 기어다니고 울고 트름하고 똥을 쌌다. 붉은 머리카락 다발이 머리에서 자라나기 시작했고, 알래스카의 끝없는 추운 날 때문에 실내에서 많이 놀았다. 나이를 조금 더 먹고는 말을 배웠지만, 말을 할 사람은 그닥 없었다. 아버지는 하루종일 일하시고 난 밤새도록 잠을 잤기에 우리 둘은 서로를 거의 보지 못하였다. 어머니는 내게 재택학습용 모듈 교재로 공부하게 하셨다. 예제가 깔끔하고 알차게 들어차 있었다.

Those course books were the best games I had. My parents would never let me buy computer games, of course. They rot your brain, they'd say. I had no friends to play with. We lived in the middle of nowhere. As a child, the only things I had to occupy my time were those worksheets.
그 교재는 내가 가진 최고의 놀잇감이었다. 부모님은 당연하게도 내게 컴퓨터 게임을 사주시지 않으셨다. 뇌를 썩힌다고 하셨다. 같이 놀 친구도 없었다. 인적 하나 없는 곳에 살았으니까. 어린아이였던 내가 시간을 보낼 유일한 방법이 그 학습지들이었다.

When I was seven years old, my mother had to go to the hospital for a week. While she was there, my father looked after me at home, taking a break from his work. He didn't know how the homeschooling program was supposed to work, and he wasn't a good teacher. We never really had a great rapport. So he left me to my own devices in the room with all the instruction booklets, Kindergarten and up, all sorted neatly into their nice little boxes.
내가 7살이었을 때 어머니는 한 주 동안 병원에 가있으셔야 핬다. 어머니가 병원에 계실 동안, 아버지는 직장에 휴가를 내고 집에서 나를 돌보셨다. 아버지는 재택교육 프로그램이 어떻게 굴러가는 지 모르셨고, 그닥 훌륭한 선생님도 아니셨다. 우린 별로 좋은 관계를 가진 적이 없었다. 그래서 아버지는 유치원 이상까지 모든 과정의 안내 책자 같은 교재들을 작은 교재용 상자에 깔끔히 정리하여 내 방에 넣고는 전적으로 내게 맡기셨다.

When my mother returned home, I had finished two years of schooling in her absence.
어머니가 집에 돌아오셨을 때, 그동안 난 2년 어치의 학교 교육을 끝마친 상태였다.

This was, perhaps, the most pivotal educational event of my life. Rather than guiding me through slowly, my mother allowed me to progress at my own pace. She'd lie upstairs in her bed all day, coming out to make quick meals. I would sit downstairs and devour educational materials. After junior school level, the content ramped up in difficulty, and so my progress slowed. I'd go upstairs to visit my mother, proudly showing off my completed worksheets. The things I said to her still incite guilt after all these years.
어쩌면 이것이 내 삶에서 가장 주된 교육적인 사건이었던 것 같다. 어머니는 날 천천히 인도하시기보다는 내 맘대로 진행하도록 두셨다. 어머니는 항상 위층 침대에 누워계시다가 나와서 빠르게 식사를 준비하시곤 하셨다. 난 아래층에 앉아서 학습 자료를 해치웠다. 초등학교 단계가 끝나고, 난이도가 높아질 즈음에 내 진행 속도도 더뎌졌다. 난 위층으로 올라가 어머니께 다 끝낸 학습지를 자랑스레 내보이곤 했다. 어머니께 했던 말들은 지금까지도 죄책감을 불러일으킨다.

"Look how well I'm doing without you!"
"엄마 없이도 이렇게 잘 할 수 있어요!"

I was a child. I didn't understand the sort of pain that comes from not being needed in your own house. In retrospect, I'm sure my words were tormenting. A grinning, red-haired little kid, telling his mother that he's glad that she's not slowing him down any more. That she isn't getting in the way. That he's glad she's spending all day in bed now. Now she gets to relax.
난 어린아이였다. 자기 집에서 자신이 필요없는 존재라는 데에서 오는 고통을 이해하지 못항 나이였다. 돌이켜보면 내가 내뱉은 말들은 아주 고통스러운 것들이었다. 미소짓고있는 빨간머리 꼬맹이가, 제 엄마한테 엄마가 더 이상 그를 느리게 만들지 않아 기쁘다고 말하고 있다. 엄마가 발목을 잡지 않는다고 말하고 있다. 엄마가 이제 하루종일 침대에만 누워있어 기쁘다 말하고 있다. 이제 어머니는 쉴 수 있게 되었다.

The next year she died, and I grew up fast.
이듬해 어머니는 돌아가셨고, 나는 빠르게 자랐다.


My father looked after me after my mother's death. Still, I saw little of him. Some mornings I'd wake up and he'd already have gone to work in the ancient pick-up truck. I worked through my course books, occasionally ordering new ones to fill gaps in my knowledge. When I was thirteen, my father bought me a computer, and I discovered the internet. The net was still in its infancy, then; better in some ways, but worse in others. At the time, it never really occurred to me to use it for anything other than education. Learning was fun, and so I would read. When I was fourteen, I discovered… other things on the internet. There were no sexual education pamphlets in my course work, barring clinically dry biology textbooks. The burgeoning net was the next step in my educational pathway.
어머니가 돌아가신 뒤에는 아버지가 날 돌보셨다. 여전히 난 아버지를 거의 보지 못하였다. 이따금 아침에 일어나보면 아버지는 이미 그 오래된 픽업 트럭을 타고 일하러 가신 뒤였다. 난 내 교재를 풀어나갔고, 때때로 지식의 간극을 채우기 위해 새 교재를 주문했다. 13살이 되었을 때 아버지는 컴퓨터를 사주셨고, 난 인터넷을 접하였다. 당시의 넷은 막 태아난 상태였다. 어떤 면에서는 지금보다 나았지만 다른 면에서는 지금이 훨씬 낫다. 그때 난 컴퓨터를 학습용 이외로 사용할 여지가 있단 생각을 하지 못했다. 배우는 건 재밌었기에 난 계속 읽었다. 내가 14살에 난 인터넷에서…다른 것들을 찾아냈다. 내 학습 내용 안에 성교육은 냉담하고 건조한 생물학 교과서뿐이었다. 급성장하는 넷은 내 교육 진로의 다음 단계였다.

When I was fifteen and a half years old, I finished the last of my schooling pamphlets. I remember turning over that final sheet, to look at the aged piece of paper reading "CONGRATULATIONS!" in a childlike font. My mother and father had written on it back when I first started the courses. I felt tears well up in my eyes as I recognised my mother's handwriting.
내가 태어난 지 15년하고도 반 년이 지났을 때, 난 마지막 학습지를 끝마쳤다. 마지막 장을 넘겼을 때를 기억한다. 낡은 종이에 애같은 서체로 "축하합니다!"가 쓰여있었다. 내가 처음 학습지를 시작했을 때 부모님이 글을 써놓았다. 어머니의 필체를 알아보고는 눈물이 흐르는 것을 느꼈다.

"We are so proud of you."
"네가 정말 자랑스럽단다."


I started college when I was sixteen.
16살에 대학에 들어갔다.

I still didn't really know what I wanted to do. Mathematics and the sciences were always a decent option, and admittedly what I'd always found the easiest, but I never really had any great passion for them. I never had any great passion for anything, though, so taking what I was good at made sense. Physics was my choice.
뭘 하고 싶은지 아직 잘 알지 못했다. 수학과 과학은 언제나 괜찮은 선택이었고, 분명 언제나 쉽게 느낀 것이었지만, 그닥 열정이 있진 않았다. 그렇지만 난 모든 것에 큰 열정을 느끼지 못했기에, 잘 하는 것을 고르는 게 합당해보였다. 내 선택은 물리였다.

I had to live on my own in Anchorage. Not that I minded; since my mother died, most days I had the house to myself. I was very much used to being alone. What I was very much unused to was not being alone; having to leave the house every day, having to walk to classes taught by Real People, in lecture halls filled with other Real People. I wasn't used to having to take notes; I tried for a week, then realised what I was transcribing ended up mostly useless. Instead, I just remembered the course content the first time. It was easier to understand what was being taught when instead of assigning it to paper, I spent that time assigning it to my mind.
앵커리지Anchorage에서 혼자 살아야 했다. 별 문제는 없었다. 어머니가 돌아가신 이후 거의 항상 집에 혼자 있었으니까. 혼자 있는 일에는 익숙했다. 익숙치 않은 건 혼자 있지 않는 거였다. 매일마다 집을 나와, 진짜 사람들이 가득 들어찬 강의실에서 진짜 사람이 가르치는 강의를 듣는 일까지도. 필기하는 것 또한 익숙치 않았다. 한 일주일 정도 해봤지만, 곧 필기한 내용이 거의 무용지물이란 걸 깨달았다. 그 대신 처음부터 수업 내용을 암기했다. 종이에 기록한 것을 보고 이해하는 것보다는 당장 수업하는 내용을 듣고 이해하는 게 더 쉬웠기에 난 머릿속에다가 수업을 기록하며 시간을 보냈다.

I topped the class in every course for my first semester.
첫 학기에 모든 수업에서 수석을 차지했다.

This gathered a lot of attention. Sure, some people had noticed I was shorter than other students, that I didn't talk to many people or join any clubs, and that I never entered into the on-campus bar. They mostly kept their distance. Course results came out, and I made the mistake of letting my name go out on print. Not long after, I gathered a reputation among my peers for being "the short nerd". Then everyone kept coming to me for course help.
그러자 많은 이목을 끌었다. 어떤 이들은 내가 다른 학생보다 키가 작고, 많은 사람들과 대화하지도 않으며, 동아리에 들거나 캠퍼스 내 바에 들어가지도 않는다는 걸 알아챘었다. 그들은 보통 나와의 거리를 유지했다. 성적이 나왔고, 난 내 이름이 찍혀나오도록 내버려두는 실수를 범했다. 얼마 안가 동기들 사이에서 "키작은 샌님"이라는 명성을 얻었다. 그러자 모두가 내게 공부를 물으러 왔다.

I hated it. I wasn't an anti-social person, but having to slow down my mind to explain things to people was frustrating. Never before did I have to transfer ideas in my head into other people's. Trying to do so made me extremely uncomfortable. I hadn't met this problem before. The second semester finished, and with one exception, I topped all of my courses again. Then I took to solving the problem of dealing with Real People.
난 그게 너무 싫었다. 난 반사회적인 인물은 아니지만, 타인에게 설명하느라 사고를 느리게 하는 건 짜증나는 일이었다. 그전까지는 타인의 머릿속에 내 생각을 집어넣을 일이 없었다. 그래야 한다는 것이 엄청나게 불편했다. 이런 문제와 마주한 적이 없었다. 2학기가 끝나고, 한 과목을 제외하면 또 전부 수석이었다. 그러곤 진짜 사람을 대한다는 문제를 풀어보았다.

I found it surprisingly simple.
답은 예상 외로 간단했다.

Sociology, body language, some study of linguistics. I spent three days reading the dictionary from cover to cover. I'd never thought to do so before, nor really needed to; even if I didn't have the right words in my mind, there was no need to limit my thinking to the constraints of language. I saw it as a mesh, a grid with which one could transfer information, and with that attitude I turned my mesh into the finest one I could.
사회학과 몸짓 언어, 언어학에 관한 몇 가지 연구. 사전을 통째로 읽는 데에 사흘을 썼다.전까지는 그럴 생각을 해본 적도 없었고, 그럴 필요도 없었다. 머릿 속으로 적절한 단어가 생각나지 않는다 해도 언어의 한계 때문에 사고를 제한할 필요는 없었다. 언어를 일종의 그물망으로 취급하기 시작했다. 정보를 전달할 수 있는 격자판으로 보았고, 그런 시각에서 내 그물망을 최대한 촘촘하게 만들었다.

I got along with my classmates far easier after that.
그러고나니 동급생들과 더 쉽게 어울릴 수 있게 되었다.


When I was eighteen, a Professor offered me a teaching job.
18살이 되자 한 교수님이 수업을 맡아보지 않겠냐고 제안하셨다.

I knew him quite well. He was a personable, if somewhat eccentric man; he'd taught three of the courses I'd topped. While not the best teacher, he was an excellent orator, and could easily hold the attention of his students for the marathon three-hour lectures for his more advanced classes. He needed someone to take a position teaching the first year courses' tutorial classes; I was glad to take the position, and the pay nicely supplemented my personal finances.
난 그를 꽤 잘 알고 있었다. 매력적이며, 약간은 괴짜같은 인물이었다. 내가 수석을 차지한 과목 중 세 개를 담당한 사람이었다. 최고의 선생은 아니어도 달변가였고, 더 상급반에서는 세 시간 연강 동안 학생들의 집중을 유지할 수 있을 정도였다. 1학년 수업의 지도 강의를 맡을 사람이 필요했다. 난 기쁘게 그 제안을 받아들였고, 거기서 나오는 보수로 톡톡히 재미도 보았다.

It took some time to review the material on the course. It had been some years, but refamiliarising myself with the content didn't take long. Each week, I'd spend some hours preparing notes and worksheets for the course. The physics was basic to me, and I enjoyed passing on the knowledge. Admittedly, I was younger than some of the students, but nobody made too big a deal of the matter.
수업 자료를 다시 훑어보는 데 시간이 조금 걸렸다. 몇 년이 지나긴 했지만 그 내용에 다시 익숙해지는 데에는 많은 시간이 필요하진 않았다. 매 주마다 몇 시간 동안 수업에 필요한 메모와 학습지를 준비했다. 내겐 아주 기초적인 내용이었고 그 지식을 전달하는 걸 즐기고 있었다. 학생 중 몇 보다 내가 어린 건 사실이지만, 아무도 신경쓰지 않았다.

At the end of the semester, only 3 in the class of 78 students failed, and they were the ones who hadn't attended my tutorials. The Professor was exceptionally pleased, and offered me a similar job in the second semester.
학기 말에 학생 78명 중 단 3명만이 낙제했으며, 그들은 내 지도 강의에 참석하지 않은 이들이었다. 교수님은 아주 기뻐하며 2학기에도 내게 비슷한 일을 제안했다.

At the end of the second semester, just before my nineteenth birthday and going into the final year of my Undergraduate degree, he offered me a research job.
2학기 말에, 내 열아홉 번째 생일 직전이자 학부생으로써의 마지막 해 직전에 교수님은 연구 일을 제안하셨다.


The research replaced most of what my final year of tuition would have been. For the first half of the year, I mostly covered theoretical Quantum Mechanics concepts. It was, while groundbreaking, not especially interesting work for me. Most days were spent poring over scientific articles the library's archives, trying to piece together the way that the nanoscopic world worked. At the end of the first semester, I came across a paper that greatly altered the course of my research.
마지막 학년 때 들었어야 하는 수업 대부분이 연구로 대체되었다. 반년간 이론 양자역학의 대부분을 들었다. 획기적이기는 했어도 그다지 흥미롭지는 않았다. 거의 매일을 도서관 기록 보관소에서 과학 논문을 읽어보며 나노 범위의 세계가 돌아가는 방법을 이해하고자 했다. 1학기 말즈음 내 연구 방향을 크게 바꾼 논문을 발견하였다.

The article was written on a typewritter; not formatted, not in the library's database, and likely unpublished. Just some twelve dense pages of scientific prose on seemingly ancient paper, likely undecipherable to anyone who hadn't spent as much time as I had poring over the literature. There was no mention of the Author's name. It was woefully incomplete - likely an early draft, if it had ever been completed - but the concepts put forward were alien. Alien, and potentially revolutionary.
논문은 타자기로 쓰인 것이었다. 서식화된 것도 아니고, 도서관 데이터베이스에 있는 것도 아니며, 당연하게도 출판된 적 없는 것이었다. 난해한 열두 쪽짜리 과학 산문을 오래된 것 같은 종이에 친 것으로, 나만큼 자세하게 읽지 않는다면 결코 이해하지 못할 작품이었다. 저자의 이름은 없었다. 한심할 정도로 미완성이며, 설사 완성된 것이라도 초기 습작인 것이 분명한 글이나 제안된 개념은 아주 이질적이었다. 이질적이며, 혁명적이라고 할 만한 것이었다.

1. Introduction [TO WRITE]
1. 서문 [쓸 것]
2. Traditional Mathematical and Scientific Thought [TO WRITE]
2. 과거의 수학 및 과학적 사고 [쓸 것]
3. Modern Mathematical and Scientific Thought
3. 현대의 수학 및 과학적 사고
3.1. Modern Understanding of Reality [TO EDIT]
3.1. 현실에 대한 현대의 이해 [수정할 것]
3.2. Physically Empirical Non-Axiomatic Models of Mathematics
3.2. 물리학적으로 실증적인 비공리성 수학 모델
3.3. Non-Axiomatic Models of Physics
3.3. 비공리성 물리학 모델
4. The Interdependencies of Systems [TO WRITE]
4. 계 독립성 [쓸 것]
5. Philosophical Discussion
5. 철학적 논점
5.1. Bias Within Non-Axiomatic Biological Minds [TO EDIT]
5.1. 비공리성 생물학적 생각에 내재된 편견 [수정할 것]
5.2. Repercussions on Epistemology
5.2. 인식론에 미치는 영향
5.3. Analysis of the Modern Non-Axiomatic "Naïve Science"
5.3. 현대 비공리성 "순진한 과학"에 관한 분석
5.4. Accounting For And Removing Bias [TO WRITE]
5.4. 편견의 해명과 제거 [쓸 것]
5.5. Effects on Engineering Disciplines
5.5. 공학 분야에 미치는 영향
5.6. Morals in Memetic Engineering [TO EDIT, maybe cut]
5.6. 정신자 공학의 도덕률 [편집할 것. 쳐낼 수도 있음]
6. Conclusion [TO WRITE]
6. 결론 [쓸 것]

Empirical Mathematics. Non-Axiomatic Physical Systems. While the mathematical concepts violated fundamental assumptions, the tenuous structure that they still held appeared to stand on its own. The paper put forward what seemed to be physical impossibilities with casual simplicity. It made no intuitive sense, and yet, the few examples given seemed viable, if not trivial to construct.
실증적 수학. 비공리성 물리계. 수학적 개념이 기본 가정에 위배되기는 하나, 개념이 만드는 빈약한 구조가 여전히 홀로 설 수 있는 것 같았다. 논문은 물리학적으로 불가능해 보이는 것을 우연한 단순성을 통해 제기하고 있다. 직관적으로는 말이 안되는 것 같으나, 논문이 내보이는 몇 안되는 예시를 보면 간단한 구성은 아니어도 가능한 것이긴 한 것 같았다.

So I did.
그래서 해보았다.

It took me twelve days to build my first working perpetual motion machine. It was a brutal, makeshift thing, constructed from gears and pulleys. The action of the machine acted to pull further tension along an already-tense piece of rubber, which drove the machine even more. I analysed the construction, since I'd simply been building based on plans that were not my own. It took me a further four days to modify it to extract more energy than I put in. Admittedly, it then ended up breaking, spinning faster and faster until the rubber band snapped from the stress. But it worked. Despite traditional physical thinking, despite long years of being told otherwise, it was possible to construct a perpetual motion machine.
처음 실제로 작동하는 영구 기관을 만드는 데에는 열이틀이 걸렸다. 기어와 도르래를 가지고 만든 괴랄하면서 적당적당히 만들어진 기계였다. 기계의 동작이 이미 팽팽한 고무줄에 계속해서 장력을 주어, 기계는 계속해서 작동할 수 있다. 내가 한 거라고는 다른 누군가가 설계한 것을 가지고 만든 것에 불과하기에, 난 구조물을 분석하였다. 투입하는 에너지보다 더 많은 양의 에너지를 추출하도록 수정하기까지 나흘이 걸렸다. 점점 더 빠르게 돌다가 힘을 못이긴 고무줄이 결국에는 끊어져, 장치가 망가져버렸다는 것은 인정해야겠다. 하지만 작동하긴 작동했다. 고전 물리학적인 사고와 지난 몇 년간 이게 불가능하다는 말들과는 달리, 영구 기관을 제작하는 일은 가능한 일이었다.

A few weeks later, I could make one out of two pieces of paper and an elastic band.
몇 주가 지나자, 난 종이 두 장과 고무줄 하나로 영구 기관을 만들 수 있었다.


At the end of the second semester, I finished my degree, and submitted two completed academic papers. One was on my original research topic, and it was the capstone of my educational career. It went to the American Journal of Physics. The other was the side project I'd been working on without the department's knowledge, knowing I'd probably be berated for the project or seen as insane. It was wholly possible that I was, which was a concerning prospect. It was my paper based on The Paper; the nameless article that I couldn't help but make a proper noun in my mind. This one, I sent to Letters in Mathematical Physics - a more frequently published journal, and one with the objective of rapid dissemination of breaking research. The worst case scenario, I thought, was that my paper get discarded into a trash can thousands of miles away.
2학기 말에 난 학위를 마쳤고, 완성된 논문 두 부를 제출하였다. 하나는 내 원래 연구 주제에 대한 것으로, 내 학문 성취 중 최고의 업적이었다. 그 논문은 《아메리칸 저널 오브 피직스(American Journal of Physics)》에 올라갔다. 다른 논문은 내 학과 지식 없이 시작한 사이드 프로젝트로, 이 프로젝트 때문에 질타를 받거나 미친놈 취급을 받을 거라는 건 이미 알고 있다. 내가 진짜 미쳤다는 가능성도 온전히 존재하기에, 꽤나 걱정스러운 면이 없잖아 있었다. 내 논문은 '논문'을 기반으로 한 것이었다. 고유명사 취급하지 않고는 배길 수 없는 바로 그 이름없는 논문 말이다. 이 논문은 《레터스 인 매스매티컬 피직스(Letters in Mathematical Physics)》로 보냈다. 좀 더 자주 출판되는 저널이고, 파격적인 연구를 빠르게 보급한다는 목적을 가진 저널이기도 하다. 내 생각에 최악의 시나리오는 내 논문이 몇 천 마일 떨어진 쓰레기통에 버려지는 것이다.

Eighteen days later, a week before my twentieth birthday, the worst case scenario knocked at my door.
열여드레 후, 내 스무 번째 생일로부터 일주일 전에, 최악의 시나리오가 내 문을 두드렸다.

The knock was rapid, methodical, military. Five knocks, almost perfectly spaced from one another, then a break, then another five knocks. I got to the door and opened it a crack, the chain lock still in place. A man slightly taller than I stood outside the door, sporting a brown crew cut and a black suit. He looked at me through the crack in the door, smiled, then spoke.
빠르고, 체계적이며, 군사적인 두드림이었다. 딱 다섯 번의 노크가, 거의 완벽한 간격을 유지하며 두드려졌다가, 잠시 텀을 두고는 또 다섯 번의 노크가 울려퍼졌다. 난 문으로 향하여

"Mister Stanley Burden?"
"스탠리 버든Stanley Burden 씨?"

"That's me."
"전데요."

"Hi Stanley. My name's Max Green. I'm from Springer Media, I'd like to talk about the paper you submitted to Letters in Mathematical Physics. Can I come in?"
"안녕하십니까 스탠리. 제 이름은 맥스 그린Max Green입니다. 스프링거 미디어Springer Media에서 나왔는데, 레터스 인 매스매티컬 피직스에 투고하신 논문에 대해 이야기를 나누고 싶어서 왔습니다. 들어가도 될까요?"

"Uh, sure, yeah, hang on."
"어, 네, 물론이죠. 잠깐만요."

I closed the door, undid the chain lock, then re-opened it. Green smiled again, then held a small white rectangle out in his hand.
난 문을 닫고는, 체인록을 풀고 문을 열었다. 그린은 다시 미소를 짓더니, 작은 흰색 직사각형 물체를 손에 들고 있었다.

"Thanks, Stanley. Here's my card."
"고맙습니다, 스탠리. 여기 제 명함입니다."

I took it from him, looking at the plain black ink printed there.
난 그 종이를 가져와서는, 거기에 평범한 검은색 잉크로 인쇄된 내용을 들여다보았다.

Agent Maxwell CT-B05
요원 맥스웰 CT-B05
Green-type Anomaly Agent for Anchorage, Alaska
알래스카 앵커리지 지역 그린-타입 변칙존재 요원
Global Occult Coalition
세계 오컬트 연합

"You're not from Springer."
"당신 스프링거에서 온 게 아니잖아요."

I looked back up at him. He was smirking, holding up another one of the same business cards, then turned it around. The reverse side had a fractal image on it, similar to those I'd already seen in the Morals in Memetic Engineering section of The Paper. I felt my eyes unfocus and the sun started to go dark. I fell forwards, dizzy; Green caught me in his arms. He looked down at me with amusement in his eyes.

"Sorry, Stan. I lied."
"미안하군, 스탠. 거짓말을 한 거야."

Then the world felt like nothing.


I opened my eyes, my heart feeling like it was on fire. I jerked, trying to clutch at my chest; my arms, however, were bound to the chair I was seated in. I looked upwards and to the right with unfocused gaze, slowly resolving into view as "Max Green" as he continued to inject a concoction of chemicals into my arm. He looked down at me, his face severe. He emptied the syringe into me, then pulled it out roughly. My arm began to drip blood.

Green walked to the other side of the table, staring at my face while the liquid circulated around my body. My heart kept trying to escape my chest cavity. Every icy breath I pulled into my lungs stung and scraped at my insides, and every exhalation left me feeling less than empty. My brain felt like it was bunching up in the wrong places. I felt my neck spasm lightly, and with each twitch of my head the world kept spinning. Green stared until the protests of my body ceased, then started to talk.

"I have injected you with an inhibitor. Whatever unusual abilities you previously possessed are now under lock and key. Please understand that this is simply a precaution and is mandated by procedure."

"What?"

"Pay attention, Stan, because I'm only going to give this spiel once. You are currently two hundred feet underground in a holding cell of the Global Occult Coalition, an organisation dealing with threats of a metaphysical nature."

I felt my neck start to twitch again.

"Metaphysics, in this context, is not some odd and intangible realm of philosophy. It is a very real, very dangerous system acting to subvert the fundamental workings of our reality. It is, if you break down the term into its roots, quite literally beyond physics."

My neck stopped twitching.

"Physics is meant to work for a reason. The most dangerous thing that a human being can do, if they have to obey the laws of physics, is split an atom. Human beings who subvert those systems can do far more dangerous things, without need for a stockpile of radioactive materials or a particle accelerator."

Green pulled a cigarette case from inside his suit jacket, tapped one out into his hand, pulled a lighter from his other suit pocket and lit the cigarette's end. He took a deep draw of smoke-infused breath, then exhaled the putrid toxins into my face. I started to cough, and my lungs again felt stabbing pins.

"These people are known as Type Green threats. In the vernacular, 'Reality Benders'. If you are capable of performing the experiments detailed in your submitted article, then it is almost certain that you are one of them. Of course, you were 'exceptional' to begin with. There are patterns in the childhood of a Type Green, involuntary and unconscious alterations to the world around them. Loss of a parent at a young age, to serve as a tragic backstory. Eternally lamenting the constant pain of being 'better' than everyone else. Talents precipitating into some level of either arrogance, if they are to become 'mysterious loners', or modesty, if they want to play at normality. Your life story is so formulaic, so cliché, and so statistically improbable that it's as though an untalented author has been curating your entire life. You raised flags."

He paused to take another pull from his cigarette, then blew several rings of smoke up into the air.

"As the Green-type Agent for Anchorage, it was therefore my job to monitor you. A job I've been doing since the second your father drove you into city borders four years ago."

He stared at me, waiting for me to object. My lungs still felt like cold fire, my mind still foggy and slow. If I opened my mouth to talk, my stomach may well have clenched and emptied itself onto the table. Instead, I simply nodded, though it likely seemed like another spasm. Green continued.

"There are four phases in the development of a Type Green threat. Firstly, denial. A refusal or rationalisation of their metaphysical capabilities. In your case, until recently, you were thought to be at most in this stage. You did not have conscious awareness of your abilities, I believe, until some time this year."

"The Paper."

I spurted out the phrase reactively. Green frowned.

"We'll get to your paper in a moment."

Not my paper, The Paper. I opened my mouth to speak again, then heaved up the remains of a half-digested sandwich onto myself and the table. Green looked on with disgust, shook his head, and continued.

"The adverse physical effects of the inhibitor will wear off soon. You can give your part then. As I was saying, you were believed to be a Phase One. Phase One Type Green threats do not elicit a threat response from our organisation, simply occasional observation. We are quite happy to leave people alone, if they are no genuine threat. Phase Two is more dangerous. Phase Two typically involves experimentation, an exploration of your abilities. You're a Phase Two right now."

Green pulled out a copy of the paper I'd sent to Letters in Mathematical Physics and thumbed through it.

"What you put forward here is what we expect from Phase Two experimentation, just a bit more formalised. There is a very clear method to your metaphysical madness, where other Phase Two examples simply 'do' or 'feel' without any analysis of their metaphysical phenomena. You've put down what you perceive to be a new paradigm in mathematical and physical research. What you don't realise is that it's entirely incorrect for anyone who isn't you."

Green stood and walked to a corner of the room behind me. I tried to twist my head around to follow him, but the bindings prevented it. He walked back with a soft rag, wiped my vomit from the table, then returned beyond my view. I heard a tap running for a moment, then Green turned it off.

He walked back to the table and placed on it a glass of water, a small pile of paper, a box of elastic bands, and the copy of the paper that I'd sent to Springer. Green then stood next to me and untied the knots holding my arms to the chair. He returned to his seat on the other side of the table, then gestured to the pile of materials.

"You state in your article a very simple example of a perpetual motion machine, one which 'anyone' can construct over a few minutes with two pieces of paper and an elastic band. I'd like you to try and make one for me now, based on either your memory or the comprehensive instructions you've written down."

"And the water?"

"It's water. You just threw up. Drink it and try to keep it in."

I picked up the glass, pouring the liquid down my throat. My head felt a little better, and my heart had resumed its regular pace. I took two pieces of paper and an elastic band, looking back up at Green. He nodded and raised his eyebrows.

"Have at it, Stan."

I looked back to the pieces of paper. The first section, the stand, was the easier of the two to fold. I started to construct it, firstly by folding the paper up to a point. Then, around the base, I folded the sections on which the elastic band should catch, without any particular problem. Moving the completed base to one side, I took another piece of paper, and folded it to rest on top of the first piece. I tested placing the two together, and the rotor spun nicely on top of the base.

The next part was to fold the rotor piece so that the elastic band would pull on it, then as the piece spun, give way to the next jutting section, then catch on it. Similarly, it would realign the elastic band on the base, which would repeatedly fling the elastic band around the whole mechanism opposite to the rotor's movement.

The folds no longer worked.

I knew how the fold was supposed to happen. It should have been intuitive; I'd folded hundreds of the things. I moved the half-folded rotor to the side, then picked up a new piece of paper. I closed my eyes, deciding to rely on muscle memory. Fold, fold, fold, fold, fold… and then there was paper in the way where there shouldn't have been. I opened my eyes and looked at the folded rotor. It wasn't the right shape.

I picked up the copy of my article, flipping through to the relevant section.

Then, taking the outermost points of the star rotor, fold them into the opposite sides of the paper by twisting them through the clockwise-adjacent points.

I looked up at Green, looking at me sombrely from the other side of the table. I spoke.

"This doesn't make any sense. I know how it's supposed to fold, but there's paper in the way where there shouldn't be."

"Type Greens have an intuitive understanding of how to enact metaphysical effects. Whatever terminology that makes internal sense to you, however you're perceiving these changes to the world, is nonsensical to anyone who hasn't had your experiences. You can't communicate what you think to people because the ideas can't operate outside of your own head."

Green pulled out a completed paper perpetual motion machine, then plucked the elastic band into motion. The mechanism started to spin, propelled by its own momentum.

"We took this from your house. I'm sure, looking at it, you can tell the mechanism by which it operates. But nobody else can, other than you, or maybe another Type Green. It's built off your internal idealisation of reality."

Green pushed his lit cigarette against the central point of the still-spinning paper.

"Pay close attention."

The rotor caught fire, yet continued to spin; the flames spread to the base, and the whole structure started to collapse and curl in odd ways. The elastic band stopped moving as it should have, flinging itself to the ceiling, then falling to the ground.

Then there was a loud CRACK, and what remained of the structure exploded into a puff of ashes.

"That's the sound that space makes when it unfolds itself. That's what it sounds like when normal reality is reasserted."

Green swept the ash from the table, then took another deep draw from his cigarette. The room was filled with the scent of tobacco.

"There are two more phases after where you are. A Phase Three Type Green is at stability. They know their limits, and don't try to push beyond them. They're the ones that normally give us the least trouble, and that's where I want to get you to."

"And Phase Four?"

"The fourth phase is the Type Green finding that they have no limits, typically accompanied by delusions of godhood. I don't believe that you will reach this phase for two reasons. Firstly, you seem to operate under a very strict and self-consistent system of metaphysical comprehension. Your abilities, for example, will not let you levitate objects with your mind, or alter memories, or do any of the stranger things which we have to deal with for Type Greens. Even in your idealised reality, you have limits. Secondly, your personality doesn't match what we'd expect for ascension to Phase Four. You take your academic abilities for granted, admittedly, which led to a superiority complex - one you're disappointingly unaware of, or flippant about. But the fact remains that you can quite easily be reasoned with. You don't try to manipulate people, beyond maintaining an amicable outward mask; nor, frankly, do I think you're capable of it. You're far too naive to put yourselves in the shoes of a god. Which is good, since we've enough gods to deal with already."

There wasn't much I wanted to say in response that wouldn't make me look petulant, so I remained silent.

"I think, though, you can understand why this organisation exists. There are people out there who do consider themselves as gods. There are people who can grab other people's minds and twist them, reshape them, or snap them with trivial ease. These people are not reasonable in the way that you are. These people cannot be negotiated with. What they want to take, they take, what they want that is not there to take, they make. These are people that the world can't know exist, and these are people that we can't let exist."

Green tossed the stub of his cigarette to the ground, extinguishing it with his foot.

"My job is to kill those people, or stop them from getting to that point in the first place."

I kept quiet while Green lit another cigarette.

"In our organisation, Green operatives like me are normally accompanied by Orange operatives. They're the heavy artillery for when something goes wrong. They're either normal people wearing 'Orange Suits', huge armoured exoskeletons resistant to the sorts of things that Type Green threats can enact, or they're a Type Green themselves who can go head to head with the other reality benders. Which finally gets me to my point."

It was obvious what was coming.

"I want you as a reserve Orange operative."

I kept quiet.

"We have three Orange operatives in Anchorage already. Orange Suits are expensive, and impractical for urban environments, so all three are reliable Type Greens. Given the sparsity of threats, I'm the only Green operative in the region."

"I can't say I'm impressed by the whole Reservoir Dogs, colour-by-numbers shtick."

Green's face remained stern.

"I need a yes or no response."

"I'm a theoretical physicist. Also, you have kidnapped me and have held me against my will. No."

Green nodded.

"I think you understand the necessity of having done so, but fair enough. Then here's how this will work. Keep out of our way, keep to yourself, and we'll never see you again. No more attempting to describe or communicate metaphysical phenomena. No more perpetual motion machines. No more of any of it. Keep to yourself, continue on with your research at the college, go on as if nothing has happened. If you violate any of these, we will bring the full weight of the GOC down on you. If you make it necessary, we will end your life. Indicate to me that you understand and accept this."

"I understand."

"Good."

Green was quiet for a bit, then continued.

"That inhibitor's going to last the rest of the week. Get used to feeling like the rest of us."

Green took out his business card, flashed the fractal image at me, and the world felt like nothing again.


I woke up on the lounge chair in my apartment, a dull pain pervading my head. I opened my eyes slowly, then blinked; the room was dark. The LED clock across from me shone red numbers across the room at 23:37. I stood up, walking across to the light switch; flicked the lights on, then swore a bit and shielded my eyes with my left hand. My eyes adjusted, and I looked down at myself.

The blood from the injection still drew a coagulated tree down my arm.

I went to the kitchen, twisting the tap and wincing as cold water washed the pattern away, dissolving it into a red spiral that disappeared down the sink. I splashed some water in my face, trying to rouse myself further. I walked to the bathroom and took a shower, then switched into my winter sleepwear. Tired, I moved to my bedroom, previously filled with the pitter-patter of perpetually spiralling papers.

Now, there was silence.

I sat at my desk, then took out two stapled sheaves. The first, my thesis. I thumbed through it, looking at everything I'd written. It made sense to me, but seemed… hollow. I'd thought it some great work, a breakthrough, at least some kind of progress, but no, my mind was tricking me. There was nothing new here. Yet how the Professor had raved on it, called it astounding, lauded me with praises. Whose thoughts had I errantly twisted to see my way? How much of what I thought true was self-delusion, how much of my success was trickery? How much of my life, just some formulaic and predictable pattern, straight from the same cookie-cutter as every other 'Type Green' abnormality?

The second, my derivative article, a knockoff imitation of The Paper, filled with highly personalised theories I had thought universal. I knew what I meant, the ideas were in my mind, but the words didn't have the meaning they needed to. It was rambling. It was incomprehensible nonsense by an incoherent author, an author blind to the work's absence of communicable meaning. How much of what I had done really meant anything, when separated from my ambit? What of my life was taken the easy way, and what was earned? How could I be sure I deserved any of what I had?

Did I deserve anything at all?
애초에 내게 자격이란 게 존재했을까?

Probably not.
아마 아니겠지.

I jolted up and started racing to the kitchen.
난 정신을 차리고는 부엌으로 달려갔다

Your entire life's a play, and you turn people into actors.
네 삶 전체가 하나의 연극이야. 넌 사람들을 배우로 만들고.

I retched into my mouth.
난 헛구역질을 했다.

Your life's a play, and your mother died from the role you cast her in.
네 삶은 연극이야. 네 어머니는 네가 고른 배역에 따라 죽은 거고.

Dark yellow splattered across my kitchen sink. I heaved and heaved again; the stomach acid stung at my tongue and went up my nose. My eyes began to water as my heaving stopped. I panted, watching as my vomit dripped down the drain. My reflection in the metal base stared back through the pane of bile, ginger stubble peeking through my blanched chin. I wiped my mouth, rinsed my hands, cried, then returned to bed.
부엌 싱크대애 검누런 것이 잔뜩 쏟아졌다. 토하고 또 토했다. 위액 때문에 혀가 따끔거리고 곧 코까지 따끔거렸다. 구토를 멈출 즈음 눈물이 흘러내렸다. 토한 것이 하수구로 내려가는 걸 보며 헐떡였다. 금속 싱크대 표면에 비친 내 모습이

Get used to feeling like the rest of us.

My sleep was broken and full of nightmares.

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