The U-shaped courtyard of a majestic Phalanstery. The ground floor of the two wings reveals open colonnaded halls. The one on the right side contains workmen attending vast whirling machines. The one on the left is a museum filled with a remarkable number of scientific instruments associated with chemistry, physics, astronomy, and natural history. A SCIENTIST is working amongst them. Everything and everyone here is a part of the Phalanstery. All are dressed alike. ADAM and LUCIFER rise from the middle of the courtyard floor. It is day.

Where are we now? What land or nation is this?

Those old ideas have vanished. Don’t you think
That nationalism was a petty concept?
Prejudice gave it birth, and rivalry
And narrow-mindedness were its defence.
The whole world is a single nation now,
With all men working to a common purpose,
And above this tranquil stream that flows to order,
Revered by all, the scientist stands guard.

All that I dreamt of is fulfilled at last.
Now everything is as I wanted it.
I’ve one regret: the nationhood ideal,
Which could have survived and been adapted to
The scheme of things, even as they stand.
Our souls need limits, fear the infinite,
Scattered too wide they lose the power within;
They cling to everything, the past, the future;
I fear too big a world will not be loved
As much as the soil in which our parents lie.
A man who’d shed his blood to save his children
Will shed but tears at best for mere acquaintance.

You shun the objects you idealized
Even before they could be realized.

That is not true. But I am curious:
What ideal is this that welds together
The whole world; that shapes the everlasting
Fire of human souls - that enthusiasm
Fanned, corrupted, time and time again,
Diverted by imaginary struggles -
And drives it to some nobler end at last. -
But tell me first, where are we, in what place?
Then lead me on, and let my soul enjoy
The thought that after countless years of struggle
Man has finally gained his just reward.

This phalanstery is one of a great number,
A home for those imbued with new ideals. -

Then let us go.

      No, not so fast. Just wait.
Before we do, we have to change our form.
If we appeared as Lucifer and Adam
No man of science would believe in us,
They’d kill us or imprison us in test tubes.

What nonsense you do talk from time to time.

There’s no way but this in the spirit world.

Then go ahead, do what you want, but quickly.
LUCIFER alters their shapes so that they look like members of the Phalanstery

Here, put on this outfit. Off with your locks -
Now we are ready. -

      Let’s speak to this scientist.

Good afternoon, professor!

      Don’t disturb me
At my work. I’ve no time for mere chatter.

I do apologize. We’re delegates
From Phalanstery One Thousand, on observation,
It was your fame that brought us all this way.

Your energy does you credit, I admit.
Well, maybe I could leave my work a while;
Providing the alembics don’t cool down
The material remains quite tractable.

It’s as I thought, even you, who have filtered
Mankind and nature through your intellect
Have retained your residue of vanity.

So now we can relax a little while. -
What is your field of specialization?

We’re not attached to a particular one
But would prefer to take a general view.

You’re wrong - great things are hidden in small details
And life’s too short to tackle every subject.

That’s true - I fully understand we need
Both carriers of sand and hewers of stone:
One cannot build a house without their labour.
But these have only the foggiest idea
Of the grand design in which they play a part. -
Only the architect comprehends the whole,
And even if he cannot carve the stone
The work is his creation, he its god. -
The architect is great in science too.

And that, great man, is why we come to you.

You have done well, and I am very flattered.
Science has many fruitful branches, all
Different, yet it owes its charm to their
Organic unity.

      Like a pretty woman.

But having said that, it is Chemistry -

That lies at the centre, at its very heart.


      Though a mathematician once said
The same of mathematics.

Makes everyone the centre of their own
Field of vision.

      But you’ve done well to choose
Chemistry as your own special study.

Of that I have no doubt at all. - But come,
Let us take a look round the museum.
There’s not another like it in the world,
You will find every prehistoric creature
Displayed in here, all original samples,
And finely mounted. - Thousands of them dwelt
Among our ancestors in darker times,
Sharing dominion with them as it were. -
There are many fantastic stories about them,
Take this example, once used as a train.

That is a horse. Of a degenerate breed
The Arab steed was quite a different matter.

They say that man would keep these as a friend,
Without regard to profit nor expecting
Labour from them, and that through close attention
The creature could divine his master’s thoughts.
And what is more, they say that he adopted
Man’s own vices, the sense of property,
Would even sacrifice his life for it. -
I’m only telling you what’s written down,
I don’t accept it unconditionally.
They had illusions - many strange ideas,
And this is one that has come down to us.

This is a dog. - And all you’ve said is true.

Beware Adam, you might betray yourself.

This creature used to be the poor man’s slave.

And the poor were yoked like oxen to the rich.

And this ruled the savannah.

      It’s a lion.
And look, here is a tiger, and a deer.
What creatures are left living in the world?

What can you mean? Is it different where you are?
What lives is what is useful or what science
Has found no adequate substitute for yet
Like pigs and sheep, but not in the poor state
The nature so ineptly left them in.
One’s living fat, the other meat and wool,
They serve our needs, exactly like these test-tubes.
I see that you’re acquainted with all this,
Consider something else then. For example
Our minerals: this giant lump of coal.
There used to be whole mountains of the stuff
That man could gather up with his bare hands
And now we have to take great pains to filter
It from the air. This metal here is iron,
And while it lasted we did not have to search
For aluminium. This tiny chunk is gold.
It was highly valued and absolutely useless.
When man was blind and worshipped higher beings
Above even the reach of fate, he would
Attribute similar powers to this same gold,
And sacrifice his comforts and his rights
Upon its altar so as to obtain
Some tiny morsel of the magic substance,
In exchange for which he could get everything, -
Yes, even bread, amazingly enough.

Come, show me something else, I know all this.

You must be a most learned fellow, stranger.
All right then, let’s examine some old plants.
Now this rose was the very last to bloom
On earth. The thing had no discernible function,
One of a thousand that took the nourishment
Required by fields of corn; the favourite plaything
Of grown up children. It is indeed peculiar
That people should have cared for such a toy;
The very soul of man bore flowers of sorts
In images of poetry and faith.
And men would dissipate their energy,
Neglect the aim and purpose of their lives
To dally with such false and idle dreams.
We have preserved as representative
Two curious works. The first one is poem:
Its author, culpable of the desire
For individual fame, was known as Homer.
He describes in it a quite fantastic world
Which he calls Hades. We long ago disproved
His every line. The other document
Is Agricola, the author Tacitus.
It is a quaint and yet regrettable
Account of life in the barbaric world.

So there remain at least a few stray leaves
Of those great ages, like a testament,
And I suppose they are incapable
Of inciting their degenerate descendants
To rebel against this artificial world?

An acute remark. We have foreseen all this,
We know the hidden poison is most dangerous,
And that’s why men are not allowed to read it
Until they have passed sixty years of age
And pledged their lives to the strict pursuit of science.

But wouldn’t nursery songs and fairy tales
Infect an infant mind with fantasy?

Your observation is correct and so
Our nurses’ stories are about equations,
Diagrams and geometrical figures.

ADAM aside
You murderers, do you not go in fear
Of robbing the infant of his precious childhood!

Let us proceed. - These are the instruments.
The articles are most amazing shapes.
This is a cannon: it bears a cryptic motto:
Ultima ratio regum. - How it was used
Is a mystery. And this thing is a sword,
It can only have been used for homicide, -
And those who killed with it were not thought criminals.
This picture here was drawn by hand alone -
It might have taken half a lifetime’s work,
And note its subject, an eccentric story.
But nowadays the sunlight is enough
And captures not some false idealization
But images both true and functional.

ADAM aside
But all the art and spirit have departed:

These various objects - how gaudy they all are,
How infantile. This goblet with a flower,
This chairback with its fancy arabesques,
Are examples of their wasted manual work.
Is water more refreshing from that glass,
Or is the chair more comfortable to sit on?
Today machines can make these things for us
In their simplest and most economical forms
And so from such perfection it must follow
That the artisan who makes the nuts and bolts
Is bound to the machine throughout his life.

That’s why there is no life, no character,
No thought of excellence in anything. -
How then can strength and intellect discover
Occasions to prove their pedigree divine?
Should man desire to struggle and explore
This regulated, ordered universe,
He couldn’t even experience the joys
Of danger, since no predators remain.
I see that even science proves a cheat:
Instead of happiness I find a boring
Kindergarten. Not what I expected.

Is comradeship not an established fact?
What do men lack for their material welfare?
Really, these thoughts deserve strict punishment.

At least inform me what ideal it is
That breathes the unity into such people,
And rouses them to this communal effort.

The ideal that binds our people is subsistence.
When humankind first came upon the scene
It found a well-stocked larder at its disposal:
Man only needed to extend his hand
To gather all he needed, fit for use.
And so he squandered all, without a thought,
Like maggots in the cheese, and in his stupor
Found time to dabble in romantic theories
And seek out stimulants and poetry.
But we, who are left with the last crumbs of cheese,
We must be prudent, since we’ve known for years
That our supplies are low and we might starve.
The sun will cool down in four thousand years,
The earth will yield no vegetation then;
And so we have but these four thousand years
To find something to take the place of sunlight,
And I believe our scientists can do it.
For heat we could use water - oxidized,
It is the finest heat-retaining substance.
The very secrets of the organism
Are waiting, almost ready to be used. -
I’m glad our interview has led us here.
I had quite forgotten the state of my alembic,
Since I am working on this very problem.

Man has grown old indeed if he relies
On test-tubes for assistance in his business. -
But even if his work should prove successful
What monstrous life is this, no voice for thought,
Affections all unfocussed, without object.
An existence that is quite unnatural
Without antithesis, without connection,
In which the individual finds no scope.
Then what remains to mark its character,
Deprived of outside influence, of pain,
Its consciousness bred in a narrow glass?

Just look, look how it boils, look how it glows,
Ephemeral forms are jostling in the jar,
It’s warm for them in that tight-stoppered space,
Chemical affinities, reactions,
Will all combine together, and the matter
Submit to me, and do just as I say.

You do amaze me! One thing I can’t grasp:
That’s how you would prevent reactive matter
From reacting and the non-reactive kind
From not reacting.

      What nonsense you do speak;
That’s the eternal law of elements.

Ah, now I see, but tell me how you know this?

How? That is the law, that’s how it is.
Experience has clearly borne it out.

So you are only nature’s boilerman,
She can manage the rest all by herself. -

But I can shape her laws with my alembic,
And call them from their obscure hiding-places.

Well, I don’t see much sign of life in there.

It won’t be long now. I, who have observed
Every secret of the organism,
Dissected life a hundred times or more -

Have every time discovered it a corpse.
Science can only lamely hobble after
Experience which is forever young,
And like the king’s official laureate
Is happy enough to sing of what is passing
But is not in the business of telling people’s fortunes.

But why this sarcasm? Can’t you two see
It only needs a spark to spring to life.

A spark indeed, but where is it to come from?

It can only be a step away, no more.

But if a person fails to take that step
He has done nothing, and what he knows is nothing.
Everything else is there, out in the yard,
It needs but this to lead him to the sanctum. -
But when will anyone perform this feat?
While they speak the smoke from the alembic grows thicker and begins to rumble

No-one. Never. - This tube is both too spacious,
And too tight for me. You recognize me, Adam,
Do you not - though they will not suspect it.

Oh did you hear the voice of the great spirit?
Oh look, look there, you proud and feeble creature,
How could you cope with that which floats before you? -

The man has had a brainstorm. I fear for you!
The alembic cracks, the SPIRIT disappears
The glass has cracked. I’ll have to start again
From the beginning. While the goal still beckons
The tiniest thing, some particle, some chance,
Can ruin things.

      That used to be called Fate,
And it was considered less disgraceful then
To break beneath it than it is to yield
To accident now.
The sound of a bell
What does that bell mean?

A well-earned rest. It’s time to take a walk,
The workers leave their factories and fields,
Now those who have done something wrong are punished,
Women and children are distributed.
Let’s go there - I have business there myself.
Along queue of men appears, another of women, some of them with children. EVE is among them. They all form a circle in the courtyard and an ELDER takes his place before them. ADAM, LUCIFER and the SCIENTIST stand in the foreground next to the Museum

Number Thirty!

LUTHER stepping forward

      Once again
The furnace has been wildly overheated.
It seems to us that your enthusiasm
Is beginning to threaten the whole Phalanstery.

Who could resist temptation while that fierce
Element crackles, spits and bellows,
Encircling you with thousands of bright tongues
That leap towards you, hoping to destroy you:
To stand before it bravely, fanning it,
Knowing full well that you are in control -
You cannot know the magic power of fire
If you’ve only seen it warm a frying pan.

Vainglorious talk - no supper for you today.

LUTHER returning to the ranks
But I will fan the fire again tomorrow.

What’s this I see? I recognize the man.
That was Luther.

      Two hundred and nine!

CASSIUS stepping forward

      It is the third time we have spoken
About your fighting without provocation.

No provocation? Am I not provoked? -
Those fit enough to stand up for themselves
Are cowards if they squeal for help. Was he
So feeble then as not to stay and fight?

None of your cheek. Your noble skull has not
Prevented you from harbouring bad instincts.
Your blood is much too hot and turbulent!
Until you calm down we shall have to treat you.

Ah Cassius, if you could recognize me,
Your comrade at Philippi. Is this system
So corrupt, this theory so misguided
That a noble heart like yours is seen to be
Nothing but an undistinguished nuisance?

Four hundred! Step forward.

PLATO stepping forward
      Yes, I heard you.

You’re lost in dreams again, and so the cattle
You were supposed to tend have come to harm.
To wake you up we’ll make you kneel on grain.

PLATO returning to the ranks
My dreams are sweet, even on hard grains.

Ah Plato, what a role they’ve given you,
And this in the society you coveted.

Seventy-two, step forward!

MICHELANGELO stepping forward
      Here I am.

You’ve left your workplace in a dreadful mess.

Yes, because I’m always making chair legs,
And what is more, they are the ugliest shapes.
I’ve often enough begged to change the form,
To be allowed to carve some new design.
You wouldn’t let me. I asked, for a change,
To work on the chairback - that was all in vain.
And I was on the verge of madness when
I left that torture chamber called the workshop.
He returns to the ranks

This breach of order means you are confined
Within your room. You’ll do without your sunlight.

Ah, Michelangelo, what hell it is
For a demigod not to be creative. -
How many well-known faces everywhere,
How many souls, how many ancient powers.
One fought beside me, another died a martyr,
This one thought the whole wide world too narrow,
But how the state has ground down everyone
To dwarfish uniformity. Oh Lucifer,
Let’s go - my soul has had enough of this.

Today two children have outgrown the age
When they require a mother’s full attention,
They must be transferred to the nursery,
So come along now.
EVE and another woman step forward with their children

      What a glorious sight!
So even this cold world is not devoid
Of poetry!

Are we going or not?

No, there is no better place than this.

Doctor, examine the phrenology
Of these children.
The SCIENTIST examines their skull formation

      What will become of me.

That voice!

      A common woman. What is she
To you who’ve tasted Semiramis’ kisses?

But then I did not know her.

      Oh, I see!
That is the age old plaint of every lover;
Each of them maintains that he discovered
Passion, and that none before him knew
The true nature of love. So nothing changes.
The same old song persists a thousand years.

We’ll educate this infant as a doctor.
This one as a shepherd.

      Off they go then.
They want to take the children away. EVE opposes them

Don’t you dare touch them! This child belongs to me:
Who’d want to tear him from his mother’s breast! -

Take them away, what are you waiting for?

O my baby! Mine, since I nourished you
With the blood of my own heart. - What earthly power
Would dare to cut that sacramental cord?
Should I surrender you for ever then,
To lose you in the crowd and seek you vainly
With anxious glances, somewhere among a hundred
Anonymous and near-identical strangers?

If there is anything that you hold sacred
You must allow this woman to keep her child.

That’s right, that’s right, O you blessed stranger.

This is a very dangerous game, stranger;
If we allowed the prejudice for families
To survive, we’d sacrifice at once
The benefits of our beloved science.

But what is it to me, your frosty science!
Let science hold its peace when nature speaks.

May we proceed now?

      Lay no hand on her.
A sword lies there and I will teach you how
To use it.

Stay, you image from a dream!
He puts his hand on ADAM’s shoulder. ADAM freezes
Feel the decisive power of my hand.

Oh my child!
She collapses as her child is taken away

      These two young women here
Are partnerless. Apply now if you want them.

I’ll take this one.

      What do you say, doctor?

A fanatic man and an unstable woman
Will breed substandard children. It is wrong.

But I will not desert her if she wants me.

I will be yours, most generous of men.

I love you, lady, love you with all my heart.

I love you too. I feel I’ve always loved you.

This is madness - it’s really most disturbing
To see such spectres of the past in this
Enlightened age. Where can they have come from?

We are late beams of sunlight out of Eden.

That is regrettable. -

      Don’t pity us!
The madness is our own; we are not jealous
Of your sanity, since all outstanding
And noble things in this world have been madness,
And no amount of reason could control them. -
Spirit voices are drifting down to us
From nobler spheres with delicate vibrations,
To show us that our souls are kin to theirs,
So we despise the low dust of the earth
And seek out ways to reach those higher spheres.
He embraces EVE

Why should we listen to any more of this,
Take them away, down to the hospital.

You need help quickly, Adam. Let’s be going!
They sink into the ground