In high school I read a small novel by a (then unknown to me) Scottish author, Iain Banks, called “The Wasp Factory.” It was… deliciously grotesque. I would later learn that Banks, under the name “Iain M. Banks,” also wrote science fiction. His science fiction works were set in the universe of the Culture: “a fictional interstellar anarchist Utopian society.” It sounds awesome because it is awesome. His Culture novel “Use of Weapons” is one of the coolest science fiction books I’ve ever read. I was and still am hooked.
Banks died last year of terminal cancer. I happened to be in Scotland two weeks before he passed away, not knowing how close he was to death. When I got home & heard that he had passed, I immediately reached for my copy of his novel, “The Crow Road.”
In it, one of my favorite passages (one that I often recall): Rory’s mantra.
All your nonsense and truths,
your finery and squalid options,
combine and coalesce, to one noise
including laugh and whimper, scream and sigh,
forever and forever repeating,
in any tongue we care to choose,
whatever lessened, separated message
we want to hear.
It all boils down to nothing,
and where we have the means and will to fix
our reference within that flux;
there we are.
If it has any final signal,
The universe says simply,
but with every possible complication,
and it neither pressures us, nor draws us out,
except as we allow.
Let me be part of that outrageous chaos …
And I am.
Allow me to repeat:
LET ME BE PART OF THAT OUTRAGEOUS CHAOS… AND I AM
Shortly after his death, asteroid 5099 was renamed IAINBANKS in his honor.