Utter nonsense. How to construct your perfect wish if a genie comes along and offers you one wish.
Obviously, the genie will feel that he’s been locked up tight, for a century of lonely nights, but after you release him, and he grants you one wish, take care. I advise you not to lick your lips and blow kisses his way, because that don’t mean he’s going to give it away. Baby, Baby, baby.
Your obvious starting point will be a cheat. Genies cannot grant wishes about wishes. So you may think you are smart and beating the system by “I wish for ten more wishes” or “I wish for infinite wishes” or “I wish that all my wishes came true”
But those are all meta-wishes and cannot be granted. You will just irritate the genie, who finds this sort of thing tiresome in the extreme.
So, one wish, not allowed to be about wishes.
Now, take care. A detailed study of genies has shown that they will attempt to construe your wish in a way that you didn’t intend, being obtuse and/or ludicrously literal, and a way which candidly, and to put it bluntly “f**ks you over”
You can see this in King Midas (I wish for everything I touch to turn to gold. But he didn’t intend that to include food and people – although technically, air touches his mouth on the way to his lungs, so he is lucky he didn’t asphyxiate fairly instantly. Yes, this is going to be THAT geeky, bail now if it is already too much), the Five Children and It, or even more vividly and scarily, “The Monkey’s Paw”
[If you haven’t read “The Monkey’s Paw”, I really would remedy that. It’s really short, you can probably read it online for free, and it will give you the proper Fear. In fact, here it is :- http://gaslight.mtroyal.ca/mnkyspaw.htm. It’s okay, I’ll wait. Taps foot… looks at watch.. ah, you’re back]
We were talking about how genies are legitimately allowed, whilst granting your wish, to interpret it in a way that makes you utterly miserable.
Let me give you an illustration.
“I wish to be incredibly attractive to women”
(The genie is immediately thinking, “I can turn him into a diamond necklace, or a cute kitten, or I can make him a walking magnet, or I can make him genuinely irresistible to women but to all women including pensioners and women he wouldn’t find desirable and that they won’t take no for an answer” and all of those options are available to the genie, who HAS to grant your wish, but has leeway to mess with you within the ambit of what you asked for, or omissions you made in being specific)
“I wish I had a billion pounds”
(The genie is immediately thinking along these lines – A billion pounds of.. what, exactly? Or that you didn’t specify when, so can get it on your deathbed. You didn’t specify that it was legitimately yours, so you can have it and immediately get arrested for stealing it. Or the monkey paw route where you get the money, but by inheriting it from the savings and life insurance policies of everyone you know and love, all on the same day. I told you to go and read it, at the top of the page, don’t complain about spoilers now.)
Or to take the Beach Boys lyric – of course any girl could be a California girl, simply by moving to California, so the genie can fulfil that without doing anything; OR he could imbue on every female in the country, nay the world,, a desire to move to California and become a “California girl”, probably wrecking the local infrastructure and irretrievably breaking the San Andreas fault, and sending their beloved State into the ocean. [Note, my scientific underpinning of this is based entirely on Gene Hackman’s evil plot in the film Superman, and may not withstand any proper scientific rigorous testing]
There are now no girls in China, India, or Brazil, or anywhere else. This leaves the population of those places to riot, cease work and eventually die out, and there’s no production of any of the world’s vital resources, because every female living on the planet is in California, who will now have no chocolate, or coffee, or alcohol, or rice, or meat. Life in California will be crowded, and bereft of life’s essentials. Everywhere else will be half-empty and bereft of life’s essentials. Let us hope that none of the Beach Boys ever come across a genie in a bottle.
So, how can you construct your one and only wish in such a way that you (a) get what you want, and (b) don’t get screwed by the genie being incredibly literal, or seeking a loophole or deliberately misconstruing your intention?
If a genie comes along and you get your once in a lifetime chance of a wish, you don’t want to blow it by wishing for something that will backfire on you or not deliver what you want, or end up being something really wimpy just so that you know it will happen without ill-consequence (like “I wish I had a really cold bottle of beer in my hands right now”)
Well, if you want to construct a binding clause with no way to weasel out of it, a lawyer is just the sort of person you want to talk to about it. Looking for loopholes and absurdly literal interpretation of what a sentence could mean are the sort of thing that really float my boat. I could probably go into the genie business. I wish (!) that there were genies granting wishes and that I had invented the Safe Wish Drafting business, as it is the sort of thing I could cheerfully do all day.
Sadly for me, someone has already come up with the concept of Open Source Wishing, where a bunch of like-minded people polish and hone wishes and look for loopholes that an evil genie (who is duty bound to grant wishes) would misuse, with a view to producing your perfect (and safe) wish, just in case. Really, I’m not kidding.
They are interesting, in a weird sort of way, to just look at how detailed you would have to construct a Wish to make it work, but also you get into some really unusual tangents. The generic ‘nice’ wish of world peace, gets you into some pretty dark areas about freedom of choice and Ludovico Technique about what sort of world we live in if people don’t have the ability to make horrible choices.
And the ‘wish for happiness’ one prompts all sorts of debates about what makes people happy, whether happiness can ever be achieved (when it is part of our nature to dream and desire and strive for the unattainable)
Anyway, here is the draft wish for finding the person of your dreams:-
”I wish to meet the person who will give me the most fulfilling, satisfying, and happiest sexual relationship in my life in a fashion that would be conducive to us having that relationship as soon as possible – someone who is:
a) Living and will not die until at least the moment of my own death,
b) Currently available to commit to a sexual and emotional relationship with me,
c) Physically attractive to me in this state and time,
d) Someone who would find me more physically and mentally attractive than either anyone else she currently knows or anyone else she would meet in the course of a relationship with me,
e) Someone who my friends and immediate family (or, alternatively, you could list a bunch of people whose judgement you trust) would currently deem acceptable for me to date once they knew the true history and background of that person,
f) Currently not suffering from any long- or short-term diseases or handicaps that would significantly disrupt our relationship,
g) Located in a place that I could move to.”
Have fun finding the loopholes. There are still plenty. My immediate one is that without any of the stomach lurch of whether a person will love you back or whether they will keep loving you, or how you could make them happy – without their freedom of choice to stop loving you at any moment, is what you have here love, or is it slavery? I think that would nag away at you and corrupt the whole thing. I would much rather that the woman of my dreams had a headache, than was compelled to frolic as a result of forces beyond their control.
Mine would be, by the way :-
I wish that I, at time of my choosing and for the duration of my choosing, could have the super powers and abilities of any fictional superhero I intentionally select, those powers manifesting themselves in the real world and under my full control, without my ever coming to any personal harm (physical, mental or emotional), deprivation of liberty or inconvenience as a result, and for that to begin NOW and continue for as long as I desire it to continue.
Some annoying people are going to want to give me a wide-berth when I am Superman, Spiderman and Wolverine all rolled into one. Snikt.
[I’m sure this ends with me heat-visioning my own foot off, somehow]
And let’s end with a lovely bit of Steve Martin, back when he was funny.
Steve Martin: If I had one wish that I could wish this holiday season, it would be that all the children to join hands and sing together in the spirit of harmony and peace.
If I had two wishes I could make this holiday season, the first would be for all the children of the world to join hands and sing in the spirit of harmony and peace. And the second would be for 30 million dollars a month to be given to me, tax-free in a Swiss bank account.
You know, if I had three wishes I could make this holiday season, the first, of course, would be for all the children of the world to get together and sing, the second would be for the 30 million dollars every month to me, and the third would be for encompassing power over every living being in the entire universe.
And if I had four wishes that I could make this holiday season, the first would be the crap about the kids definitely, the second would be for the 30 million, the third would be for all the power, and the fourth would be to set aside one month each year to have an extended 31-day orgasm, to be brought out slowly by Rosanna Arquette and that model Paulina-somebody, I can’t think of her name. Of course my lovely wife can come too and she’s behind me one hundred percent here, I guarantee it.
Wait a minute, maybe the sex thing should be the first wish, so if I made that the first wish, because it could all go boom tomorrow, then what do you got, y’know? No, no, the kids, the kids singing would be great, that would be nice. But wait a minute, who am I kidding? They’re not going to be able to get all those kids together. I mean, the logistics of the thing is impossible, more trouble than it’s worth!
So — we reorganize! Here we go. First, the sex thing. We go with that. Second, the money. No, we got with the power second, then the money. And then the kids. Oh wait, oh jeez, I forgot about revenge against my enemies! Okay, I need revenge against all my enemies, they should die like pigs in hell! That would be my fourth wish.
And, of course, my fifth wish would be for all the children of the world to join hands and sing together in the spirit of harmony and peace. Thank you everybody and Merry Christmas.