A Conversation on Deiculture
Posted by Jason on April 26, 2012
“So this is where you, er,” I began, “this is where you grow… gods?”
The old man scratched absently at the stubble on his chin and leaned on his hoe. “Yep, this is where we grow ’em, all right. These here cosmoi been in my family, oh, ten, twelve generations. Been a god-farming family since long afore the rest o’ the town sprang up these parts.” He fell silent in contemplation for a moment, taking his straw hat off and fanning himself with it.
I blinked, not entirely sure what to say to that. “I had no idea the… industry went back that far.”
“Oh sure!” He brightened. “Deiculture goes way back. Weren’t no civilization afore it started. ‘Course, it weren’t like this back then.” He gestured toward the finely delineated cosmoi, each neatly squared off from the others and surrounded by split-rail wooden fences. “Was mostly as folk’d drop a wild idea or two into whatever cosmos they’d happen to be passing, come back later and find a god or two’d sprung up in the meanwhile.” He chuckled. “Weren’t much to speak of, them gods. All wild ‘n’ animalistic. You’d barely even call ’em anthropomorphic! But we’re smart critters. We figgered it out right quick.”
“So, uh, there’s a lot to it, then? To growing… gods?” I resisted the urge to shake my head. Or maybe pinch myself, I wasn’t sure.
“There’s a thing or two to know, yep.” He nodded and placed his hat back on his head, pulling the brim low against the glare. He walked over, leaned against the nearest fence, and pointed down into the cosmos inside. “Take the size of yer cosmos, f’rinstance.”
“What about it?” I said, craning my neck to peer down into the dizzying swirl of galaxies without getting too close.
“Well, it’s really important that you get the size just right.”
“The size of the cosmos?”
“Sure, sure.” He poked down into it absently with the handle of his hoe, shifting a few galaxies around without paying much attention. “Y’see, too big a cosmos, and all the little godlings never manage to meet up with each other. Soon each of ’em gets t’ thinking he’s the only one there is. Once they get that idea in their divine little heads, there’s no use to ’em. Always on about wipin’ out the heathens, never want to play nice with anyone.”
“I can see where that would be a problem…”
“Oh yeah, not much market for a god like that. Usually have to toss ’em out, though occasionally you can drop ’em into another cosmos what’s gettin’ overgrown. To control the weeds.”
“Uh…” I started, not having any idea how to respond to that one.
“Oh, but you don’t want to make your cosmos too small, neither!” Fortunately, he had warmed to the topic and didn’t seem to notice my bewilderment. “See, too small and all your gods are always bumpin’ up next to each other. No room for proper breedin’. You end up with all these twisty little incestuous theogonies. Gets to be a devil of a time keepin’ ’em straight, if you’ll pardon the pun.” He grinned.
“Er, no problem.” I tried to smile, but I think it as more of a confused grimace.
“Heh. And that’s not even counting any inbreeding problems what pops up. But usually they don’t show up till the gods gets t’ shacking up with mortals. Demigods, and whatnot.” He shakes his head. “The mythographers love it somethin’ fierce, though. Makes for good stories, I s’pose. Hell, I still catch a rerun of As Olympos Turns every now ‘n’ again.”
I think I just stared. Somewhere, a cow mooed.
He laughed and waved his hand, as if swatting away something invisible. “Aw hell, son, a young feller like you ain’t interested in all this farmer talk, though! Where’d you say you was from, anyway?”
“Um, Earth,” I said. This was one thing I could be sure of, at least.
“Well boy howdy!” he exclaimed. He actually dropped his hoe in his rush to grab my hand and pump it so vigorously that I felt my teeth rattle. “I ain’t never met nobody from Earth before! Y’all are our best customers!”
“Er… thanks?” I managed to extract my hand. At least now I had a real reason for feeling so dizzy.
“Naw, thank you! I ain’t never seen a place what needed so many gods. What do y’all do with all them gods anyway?”
“Well, mostly we worship them, I guess.”
He stared at me blankly for a moment before erupting into a full-on belly laugh that left him doubled over and wiping tears from his eyes. “You… you… worship… the gods!” he managed between gasps. “Damn but that’s a good one. Ain’t laughed like that in years.”
“Hey!” No matter how confused I was, I hated being laughed at. “What’s wrong with worshipping gods? What else would you worship?”
The old man looked like he as about to burst into fits again, then suddenly his face turned very sober. “Wait, you’re serious?” He stared at me like I was an alien, which I suppose I was from his point of view, but that wasn’t the issue. “Oh boy, I gotta tell Mabel about this. She ain’t never gonna believe it! Hey, Mabel!” He shouted, turning and jogging off toward a farmhouse on the other side of the cosmoi.
I sighed, closed my eyes, and said a silent prayer for something to just make sense already. When I opened my eyes, I tried very hard not to notice the tiny choir of angels that had appeared on the other side of the fence.