When all matter was concentrated in a single point, there were still immigrants

Italo Calvino’s tale All at One Point makes clear there were immigrants from the beginning. The story, included in Cosmicomics, starts with an invocation of Hubble: the idea that all matter was “concentrated in a single point, before it began to expand in space.”

Cosmicomics 01Time hadn’t yet begun, but just as you’d expect, there were conscious individuals, one being the tale’s narrator, old Qfwfq. “Nobody knew then that there could be space,” old Qfwfq says. In fact, to be perfectly explicit, he stipulates, “Every point of each of us coincided with every point of each of the others in a single point, which was where we all were.”

Among those he remembers best were a family of immigrants, the Z’zu family. The point was crowded with people and “all the material that was to serve afterwards to form the universe.” It was a real flea market, with the broken down components of nebulae, mountain ranges, and even isotopes composing much of the clutter.

“And on top of that, we were always bumping against the Z’zu family’s household goods: camp beds, mattresses, baskets; these Z’zus, if you weren’t careful, with the excuse that they were a large family, would begin to act as if they were the only ones in the world: they even wanted to hang lines across our point to dry their washing.”

The kooky thing, old Qfwfq explains, was in the attitude people took against the Z’zus. Why, they who’d been there first, the Boston Brahminsof the point, so to speak, called the Z’zus immigrants.

Old Qfwfq huffed, “This was mere unfounded prejudice–that seems obvious to me–because neither before nor after existed, nor any place to immigrate from, but there were those who insisted that the concept of ‘immigrant’ could be understood in the abstract, outside of space and time.”

No razor wire fences, no border checkpoints, no Trump could have kept them out.

Nor was old Qfwfq buying the idea that the universe would condense again.

Narrow-mindedness persisted, though, even in the 20th-century Pavia, Italy, when old Qfwfq went into a bar and found an old mate, Mr.Pbert Pberd, who longed to return to the point. He whispered, “When we go back there, the thing we have to make sure of, this time, certain people remain out… You know who I mean: those Z’zus.”

It was an attitude overcome by love.

The love was shown by Mrs. Ph(i)Nk0, a woman generous of body and spirit. “Oh, if I only had some room, how I’d like to make some noodles for you boys!” she said.

The mere thought of cluttered ingredients, her rolling pin, her “generous” arms, her bosom dangling above the dough: in this moment the universe started to expand, space was created, and time began.

Others, as mentioned, manifested physical being in specific eras and places. Mrs. Ph(i)Nk0, had a different fate. Old Qfwfq says she was “dissolved into I don’t know what kind of energy-light-heat.”

She may then have been an immigrant, but how much room for noodle-making.


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