Sales Order Processing; my body is trapped, and so is my mind, yet there is much to be said for constraint

Hedgehogs are remarkably placid creatures, given their fierce appearance and arsenal of spiny barbs. Then again, this placidity is less surprising when one considers that these spikes are defensive in nature. Unlike the fox, the squirrel or the French foreign exchange student, the hedgehog has grown to take its defences for granted. It does not have to struggle or fight in order to survive, it merely curls up into a ball. Thus, stripped of its spines, the hedgehog is revealed for what it is; a pathetic creature, a fattened, bloated parody of a badger, naked to the world in front of every kind of girl and shivering, shivering in the cold and in the shame of its uncovering. Yes, I mock the hedgehog. What of it? I do not possess spines, yet I am weak also, for my spines are provided by society. Unlike the hedgehog, the spines are not solely for my benefit, indeed I believe the government would allow my death if it suited them. I am nothing to them. The spines are imaginary, psychological, conditioned into me. I do not have barbs of my own.

This is why I respect the American. The American is not a hedgehog - the American is instead a peacock, being brightly-coloured, bulbous and extremely visible, but possessed of sharp claws in the form of handguns and small arms of the type he is constitutionally bound to own and maintain. I do not care for the moral arguments as to the ownership of such weapons. Weak men argue, weak men complain. The strong man acts, and I am not strong, and this shames me. 50 Cent does not debate the pros and cons of his actions. He does, and he is respected for it. Neither the law nor society constrains him. There is no God keeping score, no-one is punished or rewarded after they die, and society is weak. There is nothing to prevent any man from acting according to his impulses, provided that man accepts that his active life will be short.

But one can act with one's mind. Einstein did not have a posse and was never involved in a nightclub shooting incident, at least not as far as I know. But he acted, he acted with his mind. And with his pencils. And his typewriter. And perhaps also his secretary acted as well, in those cases where he dictated notes. Also, he might well have used chalk. And a blackboard. Einstein was a strong man because he acted, he acted according to his mental impulses. He rode the wave of thought and today we have nuclear weapons. But I do not act with my mind. I do not act at all. Perhaps Einstein could have stabbed people with his pencils, or dropped his typewriter on their head. If he had done so, would we remember him today?

But we don't really remember Einstein at all. Most people 'remember' an image of Einstein, either the photograph of him poking out his tongue or other photographs of a small man with a big moustache and casual clothes. Only a small percentage of the human population stood within the same airspace as Einstein during his life, perhaps only a handful of people truly knew the man, insofar as a man can be known. The things which make a man are trapped forever in that man's skull, and can neither be preserved after death nor transferred to another man. Only the simplest of men can be understood, which explains the continuingly popularity of soap operas, for they contain simple men and simple women, albeit with complex life stories. The inhabitants of television are defined by a handful of attributes - Spock was logical, The Prisoner was terse and contrary, Sergeant Bilko was smart but lazy, KITT had super pursuit mode whilst Michael Knight himself was not defined at all, he literally was his car and his clothes. Real people are complex, which is why so many of us prefer television to reality, because it is easier to understand and easier to like. How does one describe a man? I have read books about George Harrison, the guitarist, even a book written by George Harrison, yet I do not know the man. If I had met him at a social event I would have had to learn him from stratch.

I often wonder how different life would be on Earth if Earth had been slightly closer to the sun, and Mars had also been slightly closer to the sun and larger, so that both Earth and Mars supported life, and that the people of this other Earth could look through telescopes to see another world floating next to them in space, another world like their own, with oceans and clouds. Perhaps the astronomers on this other Earth might notice night fires in the deserts of the other Mars. How different would Earth's history have been? For a long time the other Mars would merely be a bright star in the sky. In our society the discovery that Earth was not the centre of the universe was jarring. If we had also discovered that Earth had a twin - and we would surmise that this other world of cloud and oceans was like our own, notwithstanding that we would not have yet seen Earth from a distance - what effect would that have had?

When would we have got there, and how?