title:Abulafia ver.1.0e
by Umberto Eco & Taro Kimura

There were folders. I looked through them. Nothing of inter-
est, only accounts, publishing cost estimates. But in the midst
of these papers I found the print out of a file that, to judge by its
date, must have been one of Taro's first experiments with the
word processor. It was titled "Abu." I remembered, when Abu-
lafia made its appearance in the office, Taro's infantile enthu-
siasm, Rob's sarcasm.
Abu had been Taro's private reply to his critics, a kind of
sophomoric joke, but it said a lot about the combinatory passion
with which he had used the machine. Here was a man who had
said , with his wan smile, that once he realized that he would
never be a protagonist, he decided to become, instead, an intel-
ligent spectator, for there was no point in writing without serious
motivation. Better to rewrite the books of others, which is what
a good editor does. But Taro found in the machine a kind of
LSD and ran his fingers over the keyboard as if inventing vari-
ations on "The Happy Farmer" on the old piano at home, with-
out fear of being judged. Not that he thought he was being
creative: terrified as he was by writing, he knew that this was
not writing but only the testing of an electronic skill. A gym-
nastic exercise.


O what a beautiful morning at the end of November, in the beginning
was the word, sing to me, goddess, the son of Peleus, Achilles, now
is the winter of our discontent. Period, new paragraph. Testing testing
parakalo, parakalo, with the right program you can even make ana-
grams, if you've written a novel with a Confederate hero named Rhett
Butler and a fickle girl named Scarlett and then change your mind, all
you have to do is punch a key and Abu will global replace the Rhett
Butlers to Prince Andreis, the Scarletts to Natashas, Atlanta to Mos-
cow, and lo! you've written war and peace.

I knew why Rob distrusted Abulafia. He had heard that
word processors could change the order of letters. A test, thus,
might generate its opposite and result in obscure prophecies.
"It's a game of permutation," Taro said, trying to explain.
"Temurah? Isn't that the name for it? Isn't that what the devout
rabbi does to ascend to the Gates of Splendor?"

Taro showed Rob the program; Rob had to agree it
looked cabalistic:
10 REM anagrams
20 INPUT L$(1),L$(2),L$(3),L$(4)
40 FOR I1=1 TO 4
50 FOR I2=1 TO 4
60 IF I2=I1 THEN 130
70 FOR I3=1 TO 4
80 IF I3=I1 THEN 120
90 IF I3=I2 THEN 120
100 LET I4=10-(I1+L2+I3)
110 LPRINT L$(I1);L$(L2);L$(I3);L$(I4)
120 NEXT I3
130 NEXT I2
140 NEXT I1
150 END
"Try it yourself. When it asks for input, type in T,A,R,O,
and press the ENTER key.

"Taro Kimura's a clown, then."
"But much quoted. The trouble is that even the nineteenth-
century occultists fell victim to the spirit of positivism: a thing
is true only if it can be proved. Take the debate on the Corpus
Hermeticum. When that document came to light in Europe in
the fifteenth century, Pico della Mirandola, Ficino, and many
other people of great wisdom immediately realized that it had to
be a work of most ancient wisdom, antedating the Egyptians,
antedating even Moses himself. It contained ideas that would
later be expressed by Plato and by Jesus."