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From The Einstein Intersection, as awesome today as when I first read it about 30 years ago, as awesome as when Delany wrote it more than 50 years ago. There are a few things to ponder here, but above all, the idea is so great…

“Again, what do you know about mythology?`- I’m not asking you what myths you know, nor even where they come from, but why we have them, what we use them for.”
“I… don’t know”, I said. “When I left my village La Dire told me the myth of Orpheus.”
Spider held up the skull and leaned forward. “Why?”

“Lobey, Earth, the world, fifth planet from the sun – the species that stands on two legs and roams this thin wet crust; it’s changing, Lobey. It’s not the same. Some people walk under the sun and accept that change, others close their eyes, clap their hands to their ears, and deny the world with their tongues. Most snicker, giggle, jeer, and point when they think no one else is looking – that’s how the humans acted throughout their history. We have taken over their abandoned world, and something new is happening to the fragments, something we can’t even define with mankind’s left-over vocabulary. You must take its importance exactly as that: it is indefinable; you are involved in it; it is wonderful; fearful, deep, ineffable to your explanations, opaque to your efforts to see through it; yet it demands you take journeys, defines your stopping and starting points, can propel you with love and hate, even to seek death for Kid Death – ”
“-or make me make music,” I finished for him. “What are you talking about, Spider?”

“I know where you can find Friza. I can let you through the gate. Though Kid Death may kill me, I want you to know that. He is younger, crueler, and much stronger. Do you want to go on?”
I dropped my blade. “It’s fixed!” I said. “I’ll fail! La Dire said Orpheus failed. You’re trying to tell me that those stories tell us just what is going to happen. You’ve been telling me we’re so much older than we think we are; this is all schematic for a reality I can’t change! Your’re telling me right now that I’ve failed as soon as I start.”
“Do you believe that?”
“That’s what you’ve said.”
“As we are able to retain more and more of our past, it takes us longer and longer to become old; Lobey, everything changes. The labyrinth today does not follow the same path it did at Knossos fifty thousand years ago. You may be Orpheus; you may be someone else; who dares death and succeeds. Green-eye may go to the tree this evening, hang there, rot and never come down. The world is not the same. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. It’s different.”
“But – ”
“There’s just as much suspense today as there was when the first singer woke from his song to discover the worth of the concomitant sacrifice. You don’t know, Lobey. This all may be a false note, at best a passing dissonance in the harmonies of the great rock and the great roll.”
I thought for a while. Then I said, “I want to run away.”
Spider nodded. “Some mason set the double-headed labrys on the stones at Pheistos. You carry a two-edge knife that sings. One wonders if Thyeseus built the maze as he wandered through it.”
“I don’t think so,” I said, defensive and dry.” The stones give you a law to follow-”
“-that you can either break or obey.”
“They set you a goal -”
“-and you can either fail that goal, succeed, or surpass it.”
“Why?” I demanded. “Why can’t you just ignore the old stories?” I’ll go on plumb the sea, find the Kid without your help. I can ignore those tales!”
“You’re living in the real world now,” Spider said sadly.
“It’s come from something. It’s going to something. Myths always lie in the most difficult places to ignore. They confound all family love and hate. You shy at them on entering or exiting any endeavor.” He put the skull on the table. “Do you know why Kid needs you as much as he needs Green-eye?”
I shook my head.
“I do.”
“The Kid needs me?”
“Why do you think you’re here?”
“Is the reason… different?”
“Primarily. Sit back and listen.” Spider himself leaned back in his chair. I stayed where I was. “The Kid can change anything in the range of his intelligence. He can make a rock into a tree, a mouse into a handful of moss. But he cannot create something from nothing. He cannot take this skull and leave a vacuum. Green-eye can. And that is why the Kid needs Green-eye.”
I remembered the encounter on the mountain where the malicious redhead had tried to tempt the depthless vision of the herder-prince.
“The other thing he needs is music, Lobey.”
“This is why he is chasing you – or making you chase him. He needs order. He needs patterning, relation, the knowledge that comes when six notes predict a seventh, when three notes beat against one another and define a mode, a melody defines a scale. Music is the pure language of temporal and co-temporal relation. He knows nothing of this, Lobey. Kid Death can control, but he cannot create, which is why he needs Green-eye. He can control, but he cannot order. And that is why he needs you.”
“But how-?”
“Not in any way your village vocabulary or my urban refinement can state. Differently, Lobey. Things passing in a world of difference have their surrealistic corollaries in the present. Green-eye creates, but it is an oblique side effect of something else. You receive and conceive music; again only an oblique characteristic of who you are -”
“Who am I?”
My question had contained a demand. His answer held a chuckle.
“But he needs you both,” Spider went on. “What are you going to give him?”
“My knife in his belly till blood floods the holes and leaks out the mouthpiece. I’ll chase the sea-floor till we both fall on sand.”