Chapter 47 Imagination

“What…What is this…” Qing Shui was appalled by the contents of the resin ellipsoid. He carefully distinguished the gyri and sulci of the brain, then suddenly, his eyes widely opened, and he seemed to be afraid to believe what he saw.

“This is a human brain” Although Qing Shui had saw it closely, he still refused to accept this fact. The physiological structure of this tree had destroyed his previous knowledge of biology, “The brain, is it still alive?”

“Yes, it is alive, and it functions perfectly. The ability of keeping the brain alive is the ability that I am proudest of since I mutated.” As the Willow said so, it withdrew that sophisticated twig combination into the air, and it body emerged in the fog again.

“Now, I am sure you have understood why I can speak human language.”

“I understand.” Qing Shui nodded. “The real is the rational and the rational is the real.” He murmured to himself and took a few deep breaths, he asked “But how many brains can you control?”

“So far there is not many, only seven.” The Willow said with a tone of pity, “The amount of information in the human brain is massive; not only the capacity had troubled me, but also the complexity. When I was acquiring and controlling the sixth brain, I felt like all the information collided with each other. It produced a lot of conflicts as if they became a twisted twine, it really gave me a hard time. Therefore, after acquiring the seventh, I decided to stop temporarily so that they won’t ‘short-circuit’.”

“I see, but what is your intention after catching us?” Qing Shui looked up to the towering shadow and asked “As a producer in the food chain, you should not be lacking organic matter; instead, you can absorb as much as you want to from the soil. Therefore, it won’t be very useful for you to swallow me. Plus, you had just said roots are useless to you now, that means you had evolved to gain nutrients through other channels. If you really have two channels of gaining organic matters, your body will not lack nutrition.”

“And if my body is useless to you, then your goal is my brain. But you just have said, you don’t have room for more information. That’s why I was asking, what do you want from us?”

“You are smart… and I bet you must be extremely knowledgeable; I wish I could substitute it with you.” As the Willow said, it dropped down another fine twig combination, “This brain is totally worthless; it is all about sex, violence and bargaining, I wish I could empty this spot for you. Unfortunately, if I chopped off this branch, I’ll lose the spot too.”

“So…so I am lucky in this sense.” Qing Shui smiled wryly then continued to asked “You haven’t told me why you caught us.”

“Questions.” The old and hollow sound echoed around Qing Shui and Jing again. “I have questions in my mind, and they have to be untied. Although I cannot hold more massive flow of information now, I can still handle one or two questions. Therefore, I just want to ask you a few questions.”

“And why should I answer you?”

“If I am satisfied with the answer, I can let go of you guys; but if not, you will exist as my nourishment.” As it talked, another stout twig stretched over; this twig looked ferocious and it was completely different from the sophisticated twig combination from earlier. It was not only thick but also had sharp barbs. The barbs evenly spread around the twig and dozens of dry hollow human skins were hung on it “If you can’t answer my questions, you’ll be one of them.”

“Why should I believe in you?” Qing Shui stared at these hollow human skin desperately.

“Because you have no choice.” The Willow retracted the skin pendants and said “I can find someone else if you don’t want to speak, my life is very long and I am patient. I am not rushing to know the answer, and I think there are plenty of people that know the answer on this planet. You can choose not to believe in me and become my fertilizer immediately, or, you can bet on me. But I can tell you that it is not necessary for me to lie to you.”

“Well …. I have to admit I really don’t have any other choices. And the way you speak is persuasive, I bet one of the seven must came from a lawyer.” Qing Shui was compelled to reply “Tell me, what do you want to know?”

“What is intelligence? This is my question.” The hollow voice had a trace of trembling.

“Humans have defined intelligence in various perspectives; creative ability, curiosity, logical thinking, organizing and categorizing ability, etc. but I think what makes human intelligence unique is imagination.”

“How?”

“If you had learned from the brain you acquired, you should understand many other animals have curiosity, organizing abilities, even logical thinking; these are not something exclusive to human.”

“Indeed, the rats know how to clean and organize their own nest, lions and tigers know where to find their prey, monkeys and apes know they could move wooden box under the banana tree so that they could step on it to reach the bananas. Therefore, these are not making human intelligent unique because the species I have mentioned don’t seem intelligent. So if you are right, the difference between humans and the other species is…”

“Yes, imagination, it is what makes the real difference.” Qing Shui explained “Including reasoning, manufacturing, designing, even literature, opera and civilization. They are products of imagination.”

“I see; I am happy with your answer.” After the Willow dropped down its response, it retreated into a deep silence. It seemed to be trying to understand what was imagination and Qing Shui patiently waited.

Moments after, the Willow spoke again “The second question… How did human obtain imagination?”

“No one has a true answer to this question, but one of the arguments I believe was the fear of natural disasters driving the evolution of imagination today.” Qing Shui spoke slowly “I heard the first generation of humans who gained imagination was through observing the alternation of seasons. During the wet season, humans could produce crops and had a sufficient water supply. However, during the dry season, a large amount of human died due to lack of water. And this went through countless generations of evolution, when one of these generations began to imagine what would happen in the dry season, they would begin to store water and crops with containers they made. And this may be, the first generation of humans who gained the ability of imagination.”

“Imagination of crisis? I see.” The Willow again sunk into silence.

But Qing Shui didn’t need to wait for long this time, he suddenly felt the branches around his waist begin to move, and then he looked down, he found the twigs were retracting, from the waist to the legs, and from the legs to the ankle, they eventually withdrew back into the ground completely.

“I am satisfied with your answer; you may leave now.” The Willow said.

“Before I go, can I ask you something?” Knowing that he was free now, Qing Shui’s face was lit up with ecstasy. He didn’t leave immediately but remained at where he was.

“Sure, I am listening.”

“Why? Why you have already acquired human brains but still need to ask me what is intelligence?”

“Because I am not intelligent.”

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