After the success of the series “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”, there was “What to Expect in The First Year”, followed by “What to Expect in the Toddler Years”. It became generally accepted that nutrition in the womb made for smarter babies, on a level with piping in Tchaikovsky and Elgar and Saint-Saens via iPod nubs fastened to strategic places of the belly aided by ultrasound positioning.
Foreign languages – Spanish and Chinese mainly, because then the child will be able to converse with 95% of the world’s population – were babbled towards the infant in the cot, and more Tchaikovsky, Elgar and Saint-Saens were piped in.
Also, art and drama and ballet and tap dancing and hip hop and baby yoga and the greatest speeches of the world’s foremost politicians and the suicide theories of Durkheim and the current cosmological state of superstring M-theories. These were all important too.
A whole class of child prodigies was bred, and child prodigies at five could read Italo Calvino and do trigonometry. At six they digested Heidegger and performed multivariable calculus. Then, at seven, some would migrate to the science branch, where they would explore astrophysics, functional analysis and number theorems, while others would write Godot-like plays, draw evolutions of Picasso and sculpt revolutions of Giacomettis (because art, unlike science, is more cyclical).
At seven years old, they wrote bildungsromans of their own childhoods and prepared themselves for marriage. By the time they reached puberty they would have spent the requisite amount of time getting to know their spouses and be able to spend the rest of their life in a healthy marital equilibrium.
They were Italo Calvino babies, so called not because they were the embodiment of magical realism, but because they were an experiment – in the spirit of Italo Calvino experimentation – riddled with hopeful optimism camouflaging a deep misanthropic belief that humans were flawed and needed to be perfected. And because they could read Italo Calvino at five.
Italo Calvino people were special. They were never lonely because the answer to any question was already embryonic in the question. They ate only organic and understood the principles of molecular gastronomy.
They were not troubled by the absence of God because they did not wonder where the soul went after death. They already knew the answer and had sensed it intuitively since their capsuled journey through the birth canal.
Italo Calvino people were able to discern relationships between seemingly random events and connections among random spatial objects, and these inevitably produced insights that astonished others and invoked awe. Their insights into physical truths did not make them less or more happy; like blowing on very hot soup, Italo Calvino people understood that eventually an equilibrium between happiness and unhappiness would be struck.
They reproduced happily and, without exception, couples bore one child each, because the Earth’s resources were dwindling and a Malthusian calculation of the rest of the world’s unthinking breeding allowed them to have the optimal offspring of one.
Without unhappiness, however, there was also no reason to live longer than the lifespan needed to achieve an Italo Calvino baby’s full potential. Suicide became uncoupled from its moral underpinnings, and once they’d lived to their full potential and raised their child to self-sufficiency, there was no further reason to prolong life. This, in fact, is more Darwinian and in accordance with the predominant calculation in nature, from male honeybees to spiders to scorpionflies to mites and midges. Humans that want to continue living for as long as they can without reproducing are more an aberration. Italo Calvino people experienced this realization as a surface vibration on their skin; the realization itself breaking into a quantum string subatomic particles that are attracted by the monopole force of Italo Calvino people. But this, of course, spun many philosophers and biologists and ethicists on their heads.
After raising their only child to be self-sufficient, Italo Calvino people self-destructed by committing suicide in the most expedient ways. They carried themselves to the nearest oven, rooftop, bathtub, highway, pharmacy or gun store.
And then, it was discovered that because all Italo Calvino people ended their lives voluntarily, and this turned out to be much younger than the average population, the effect was an exponential expiration of Italo Calvino people and the numbers began to drop like the downward curve of a binomial distribution.
The government acted swiftly. It decreed that henceforth Italo Calvino people would no longer be buried or cremated, but preserved in cryogenic aspic for the future. Counseling outfits were set up to specifically psychoanalyze Italo Calvino people and dissuade them from self-destruction. But the psychoanalysis did not work, because the layer of unconscious id in Italo Calvino people was very thin.
A very clever scientist theorized that over centuries of evolution, self-selection favored the coding of superior Italo Calvino genes. We just had to keep Italo Calvino babies around long enough for this to happen. With quantum science, we sped this up. We could inject people with a serum that contained an encoding of the DNA of Italo Calvino people and so their genetic information would pass on. People relaxed and stopped worrying.
And thus, only centuries later, Italo Calvino people faded into history as if they were a passing display of weather. As did the practice of piping in to the embryo all the knowledge of the world. It had been successfully encoded into our genes. There were certain things we knew about nuclear fusion or the novel arrangement of musical notes that were genetic. Talent was more egalitarian than ever.
But there was one aspect of surpassing grace. Italo Calvino people who did not believe in gods in their lifetimes now supplanted Greek myths and Norse legends, and we worshipped them as supernaturals. We pursued advancements in cryogenics towards other ends.
And one bright morning, millions of centuries later, an intrepid explorer would discover all these millions of jellied brains, lined up side by side underneath the hard-packed soil like a holocaust.