99 Stories of God

Free 99 Stories of God by Joy Williams

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Authors: Joy Williams
    A noted humanist was invited to take part in a discussion about the dangers and opportunities which would arise if intelligent life forms on other planets were discovered. His remarks, though no one disagreed with them, became so heated that the producers later, in light of what had happened, decided to edit him out of the program.
    There was consensus that discovering intelligent life forms on other planets was probable and even essential to the human endeavor, but much of the conversation concerned whether any life form discovered would hold a candle to human intelligence and creativity.
    The humanist, who was also a noted scholar, argued that nothing could be discovered that could write a symphony, as so many of our brilliant composers had done, or be capable of appreciating the symphony. The ability to appreciate the symphony seemed to him quite as important as the actual composition of it.
    The humanist/scholar became quite emotional in conceiving of the world devoid of human beings, which was a possibility brought on by one disaster or another, due, it must be said, to our own actions. This would be the worst thing he could imagine—worlds devoid of human beings, even if these worlds were populated by other intelligent and enterprising life forms.
    After the taping, the humanist/scholar, whose name was Charles Thaxter Ormand, the acronym of which, in the ever-evolving and vibrant field of text messaging, would be check this out, retired for lunch to one of the city’s many small fine restaurants. He ordered that day’s special. When it was brought to him, whole and beautifully prepared and presented, he took a moment to study it before consuming it.
    To his discomfort, he detected from the plate the faint sound of the most beautiful music. It was exquisite, joyous yet heartbreaking, a delicate furling of gratitude and praise gradually diminishing, then gone.
    Horrified, he continued to look at the speckled trout that, according to the waiter, had been taken mere hours before from its mountain stream. Then, with a cry, he rushed into the kitchen, where he attacked both the waiter and the chef with a variety of heavy utensils before he was subdued and taken away for observation at the nearest psychiatric facility. His ravings about the trout being no more appreciated than the ravings of any of the other lunatics there.


    Passing Clouds was the brand of cigarette favored by the great English contralto Kathleen Ferrier. According to one of her early teachers, her magnificent voice was attributed to “a wonderful cavity at the back of her throat.” This was the only explanation given for the purity and power of her voice.
    Near the end of her brief life, Ferrier sang Mahler’s symphony “Song of the Earth.” We die, but life is fresh, eternally fresh, was Mahler’s ecstatic conviction. Nature renews herself year after year … for ever and ever.
    Ferrier was in tears when she concluded “Song of the Earth,” so distraught that she omitted the final ewig , the final ever.


    At some point, Kafka became a vegetarian.
    Afterwards, visiting an aquarium in Berlin, he spoke to the fish through the glass.
    “Now at last I can look at you in peace, I don’t eat you anymore.”


    You know that dream of Tolstoy’s where he’s in some sort of bed contraption suspended between the abyss below and the abyss above? You know that one? Well, I gave it to him, the Lord said.

See That You Remember

    Franz Kafka once called his writing a form of prayer.
    He also reprimanded the long-suffering Felice Bauer in a letter: “I did not say that writing ought to make everything clearer, but instead makes everything worse; what I said was that writing makes everything clearer and worse.”
    He frequently fretted that he was not a human being and that what he bore on his body was not a human head. Once he dreamt that as he lay in bed, he began to jump out the

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