THE MARCHING MORONS
by Cyril M. Kornbluth
Some things had not changed. A potter's wheel was still a potter's wheel and clay
was still clay. Efim Hawkins had built his shop near Goose Lake, which had a narrow
band of good fat clay and a narrow beach of white sand. He fired three bottle-nosed
kilns with willow charcoal from the wood lot. The wood lot was also useful for long walks
while the kilns were cooling; if he let himself stay within sight of them, he would open
them prematurely, impatient to see how some new shape or glaze had come through
the fire, and-ping!-the new shape or glaze would be good for nothing but the shard pile
back of his slip tanks.
A business conference was in full swing in his shop, a modest cube of brick, tile-
roofed, as the Chicago-Los Angeles "rocket" thundered overhead-very noisy, very
swept back, very fiery jets, shaped as sleekly swift-looking as an airborne barracuda.
The buyer from Marshall Fields was turning over a black-glazed one-liter carafe,
nodding approval with his massive, handsome head. "This is real pretty," he told
Hawkins and his own secretary, Gomez-Laplace. "This has got lots of what ya call real
est'etic principles. Yeah, it is real pretty."
"How much?" the secretary asked the potter.
"Seven-fifty in dozen lots," said Hawkins. "I ran up fifteen dozen last month."
"They are real est'etic," repeated the buyer from Fields. "I will take them all."
"I don't think we can do that, doctor," said the secretary. "They'd cost us $1,350. That
would leave only $532 in our quarter's budget. And we still have to run down to East
Liverpool to pick up some cheap dinner sets."
"Dinner sets?" asked the buyer, his big face full of wonder.
"Dinner sets. The department's been out of them for two months now. Mr. Garvy-
Seabright got pretty nasty about it yesterday. Remember?"
"Garvy-Seabright, that meat-headed bluenose," the buyer said contemptuously.
"He don't know nothin' about est'etics. Why for don't he lemme run my own
department?" His eye fell on a stray copy of Whambozambo Comix and he sat down
with it. An occasional deep chuckle or grunt of surprise escaped him as he turned the
Uninterrupted, the potter and the buyer's secretary quickly closed a deal for two
dozen of the liter carafes. "I wish we could take more," said the secretary, "but you
heard what I told him. We've had to turn away customers for ordinary dinnerware
because he shot the last quarter's budget on some Mexican piggy banks some equally
enthusiastic importer stuck him with. The fifth floor is packed solid with them."
"I'll bet they look mighty est'etic."
"They're painted with purple cacti."
The potter shuddered and caressed the glaze of the sample carafe.
The buyer looked up and rumbled, "Ain't you dummies through yakkin' yet? What