What to do if there are no more people left on Earth to write for?

Let's take an extreme case to illustrate this point. Say, there's a small evil group of people who lobotomized everyone's brains on the planet in very specific ways. (Not a single doctor who performed lobotomies was ever punished, by the way.) People can no longer reason and comprehend, cannot believe logical but unpopular views, are no longer driven by sound human psychology, people are indifferent about the most important things that matter to human beings. People don't care about their brains being hurt. Neither do they have a capacity to understand that this most extreme case already happened to them and they need to act now because this ultimate threat affects everyone already and their every offspring.

One person manages to survive this horror, the brain not entirely damaged, and wants to expose what has been done in exquisite detail. Even if a book with this ultimate plot can be written, who would read it? The only plots people consume are so removed from the terrifying reality of human condition at this point that it is unclear if anyone would even be not deficient enough mentally to even crave, be curious about a plot that would describe the ultimate evil on the planetary scale that's so evil it is hard for human psyche to even fathom, let at alone to believe. And the evil has no way but to continue on the path because they've crossed so many unthinkable lines that the only way for them to survive is to continue on the uphill path of more evil.

Do books even have a meaning in this case?

  • 1
    Is this a hypothetical scenario, or is this for a book you're writing?
    – F1Krazy
    Jun 21, 2023 at 15:43
  • Why write a book in such a hypothetical scenario?
    – user145453
    Jun 21, 2023 at 16:37

2 Answers 2


First off, great idea for a novel. Second off, this is a great hypothetical scenario to analyze why we humans need books. If you can answer this, it's a great start. Also, what happens to humans in remote locations that would probably not be easy to reach by those insane lobotomy doctors? Would those people survive the whole scenario to be able to write, and what would they write? This also leads to more questions on what they could do to save the human race. Could they or should they rather repopulate the world with new humans? Also, you mentioned that one human does survive and has to write something. What should one write to approach to the masses and educate them? Should it be strictly literal or should it rather be a digestible story that has underlying morals? There must be some form of communication that may work, or is there? Are the lobotomized/altered humans doomed to die? If they are not, what is there to do?

I hope that this is a good base set for the answer you are looking for. I think such an answer deserves a piece of fictional writing to explain. In the end of the day, I cannot offer a direct answer as it would be subjective, so I'd rather let you reach your own subjective answer for your own question. There is a quote that says:

"Understanding a question is half an answer" -Socrates

The other half is where the imagination begins.

  • Thanks for a great answer. Or, should I say, for many more questions. :)
    – user145453
    Jun 21, 2023 at 18:11
  • You are welcome! I think it's a very interesting idea. Jun 21, 2023 at 18:14
  • I can't even start scratching the complexity of everything, I just hoped to infuse a general feeling of terror that is so encompassing that it is hard to even wrap someone's head about it, let alone live it and fine hope where there's none? To answer some questions. Say, someone with unlimited resources wanted to create a technological matrix on the planet. They'd find a way to cover the entire human race with brain damage and implants. Repopulating in that context is a problem. Digestible story might not work as people's ability to imagine realities that unlikely but extant are compromised.
    – user145453
    Jun 21, 2023 at 18:16
  • That's a great start on answering the questions. Thanks for taking them into account. So, from here, what's the best one can do to inform the public? Is there a way to remove the matrix? What are some ways to fight the impossible? Jun 21, 2023 at 18:18
  • The hardest part would be the creative part, most certainly. To paint the true picture, show the true depth, by sketching something very nail biting, intriguing, and evocative. But to see the true depth people need to be educated and on a path to learn HOW to see 5D in a 2D text. Some people don't even know there's 4D in a good book.
    – user145453
    Jun 21, 2023 at 18:28


wo man Bücher verbrennt,

verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen.

-Almansor (1820), by Henirich Heine, as transcribed on The Empty Library memorial, Berlin, Germany

Roughly translated, the line translates: "It was but a prelude; Where they burn books, the will soon burn men."

One can ban a book, censor a voice, de-platform a speaker, cancel an opinion... but all one merely does is slow the ways for the idea to spread and grow... but that does not kill the idea. If you believe an idea is a weed, then you must kill it at the root... the place where the seed of an idea found fertile soil to grow. The very minds that let it take hold and spread out. The book merely carries the seeds of ideas to the soil where it will take hold.

Killing an idea is harder than it seems. Watch the film "V for Vendetta" in which Evey, the protagonist of the story encounters three people who brag about their defiant rejection of the government line that ideas are wrong. While only the titular V calls his by the name, but the characters of V, Gordon, and Valerie all share with Evey their "Shadow Gallary"... a hidden collection of art that the government tried to censor... Art that Evey understands the meaning and either already appreciates OR is taught to appreciate and through which she learns to appreciate the person who keep it or made it. And more importantly that to those who keep the art, the reasons they keep it are not for the reasons the government is dangerous. V keeps his Shadow Gallary because he believes that he is reclaiming that which had been censored... that by keeping it in a place of appreciation, it preserves it for those who will survive him, no matter how small. For him, he appreciates the works because, as he says "Individuals make art" and he asserts that there are no individuals when one is told what to think. Thus, art for him proves that the value of an individual is worth the fight.

The lesson is summed up when Gordon shows Evey his "shadow gallary"

Gordon: Cost me more than this house, but no matter how bad I feel it always cheers me up.

Evey: What is that?

Gordon: It's a copy of the Koran, 14th century.

Evey: Are you a Muslim?

Gordon: No, I'm in television.

Evey: But why would you keep it?

Gordon: I don't have to be Muslim to find the images beautiful, it's poetry moving.

Here, Gordon sees a value in a holy scripture that was placed on the ban list... But for religious reasons. He appreciates the effort of someone who he does not know, who was so moved by the importance of the ideas, that he spent countless years of his life to hand write a copy of the text, each character a painstaking work of art in and of itself so that the knowledge could find it's way to a man who 700 years in the future, who would spend more money to possess it than he did on the building to house it, and as Evey sees forbidden art that speaks to Gordon's more carnal desires it becomes apperent that the man who now owns a book that expressly forbids his sexual preference for other men, that the Koran, for Gordon, does not have a religious importance, but an artistic one. He might not value everything the words say, but he values the way they are said... The art is apparent, even if it's message may not always be agreeable. For Gordon, his Shadow Gallery is the one place were he is free to be himself and express his interests that society may not enjoy. As a television personality, he is forced to keep up certain appearences. He makes passes at the young girls on his show's cast and crew so that nobody will suspect that he is gay... an offense for which we learn is punishable by death.

Our final Shadow Gallery is presented to us by Valerie. And it's the only one that Evey observes without it's owner present... and it's the smallest by far, occupying the space of a mouse hole in a wall of a prison cell, hidden to the guards, but visible for an inmate fresh from a brutal intterogation, tortured, and tossed into the cell as if no more than trash... and in too much pain to climb onto their cot... and audience that Valerie wants to see the small piece of art.

I know there's no way I can convince you this is not one of their tricks, but I don't care, I am me. My name is Valerie, I don't think I'll live much longer and I wanted to tell someone about my life. This is the only autobiography I'll ever write, and god, I'm writing it on toilet paper.

Valerie tells her story, about how she came to be an inmate in the prison and the "crime" for which she was arrested for her in hand written script on a dirty piece of dirty toilet people and concludes this might be the last thing she ever does, but the most important. She doesn't know if it will ever be found... let alone by someone who will appreciate it, but she refuses to let the government totally kill her in a cell. To whit of her conclusion:

It wasn't long till they came for me. It seems strange that my life should end in such a terrible place, but for three years, I had roses, and apologized to no one. I shall die here. Every inch of me shall perish. Every inch, but one. An Inch, it is small and it is fragile, but it is the only thing the world worth having. We must never lose it or give it away. We must never let them take it from us.

Evey read the words during her stay many times as it was the only thing she had to keep her from the torture of the cells... and when she was finally given the chance to die by firing squad or save herself and give up V, she chose to not give the guard the single inch of her she had left.

As the film soon after reveals, Evey was never in threat or danger of her life. The prison was staged, by V, to test her... to see if she would break. Evey was in V's Shadow Gallary the entire time. As she was rightfully upset, she decides to leave and sets out on her own. But, later into the film, Evey returns just before the final conflict. She gives the piece of toilet paper back to V... she explains that in her reflection, the most real and convincing thing that V did that made her believe the experience. It's then when V drops the bomb shell: He didn't write the note. And he leads Evey to a secret room... His real shadow gallery, in which there hangs movie posters and promotional material for films all of which included the actress Valarie Page in the cast list. V explains that Evey believed the letter was real because Valarie Page was real... and she did write the letter... and with her last act, she gave it to the inmate in the next cell over... who did read it and did escape... the toilet paper that gave Evey the strength to choose to die defying the government's lies, knowing that no one would know she chose to save herself and turn V over was the same letter that inspire V to begin his defiance of the government. He lived through his prison sentence because of the words and ideas that the government believed they had destroyed... they lived on... and even if V dies in his attempt... he had already won... because the idea now lived on through Evey.

It is here where books are important. Ideas are planted in the minds where they bloom... but their true power is that the don't live soley where the spring forth... one may kill a man for his ideals... but books ensure that the man still lives... you can only kill an idea with a better idea.

  • Oh, I speak that language of people who know books are in fact very util and fair burning fuel which might supersede other uses in dire times when resources are scarce and survival is at stake. To your point that they can slow ideas down. Time is the main resource. They steal time. That's how it all came to be. Theft of time. That's all they needed to get ahead with their evil ways. If you think about it, time theft is ubiquitous now, it's literally modus operandi. And it compounds exponentially. I must state that the government is not necessarily at the crux...they didn't hold the scalpel.
    – user145453
    Jun 21, 2023 at 20:34

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.