We are all stupendous badasses

I’m reading Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson’s 1999 book that’s been described as the “ultimate geek novel.” Apropos of nothing, Stephenson begins a chapter with a surprisingly funny and concise summary of evolution. Enjoy:

“Let’s set the existence-of-God issue aside for a later volume, and just stipulate that in some way, self-replicating organisms came into existence on this planet and immediately began trying to get rid of each other, either by spamming their environments with rough copies of themselves, or by more direct means which hardly need to be belabored. Most of them failed, and their genetic legacy was erased from the universe forever, but a few found some way to survive and to propagate. After about three billion years of this sometimes zany, frequently tedious fugue of carnality and carnage, Godfrey Waterhouse IV was born, in Murdo, South Dakota, to Blanche, the wife of a Congregational preacher named Bunyan Waterhouse. Like every other creature on the face of the earth, Godfrey was, by birthright, a stupendous badass, albeit in the somewhat narrow technical sense that he could trace his ancestry back up a long line of slightly less highly evolved stupendous badasses to that first self-replicating gizmo–which, given the number and variety of its descendants, might justifiably be described as the most stupendous badass of all time. Everyone and everything that wasn’t a stupendous badass was dead.”

Stephenson goes on to describe the Rev. and Mrs. Waterhouse as follows:

“As nightmarishly lethal, memetically programmed death-machines went, these were the nicest you could ever hope to meet….”

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2 thoughts on “We are all stupendous badasses

  1. Brilliant.

    Realizing how much of a badass I am only makes me appreciate how amazing/scary/spectacular other people are.

    Viva-la-badass! perhaps is a redundant expression

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