Sunday, 20 October 2019

Not My Favourite Play



Like Gloucester at the end of his cliff, eh, Watson?



"The universe—the entire space-time continuum, from big bang to heat death, no less—was not a linear stream of events with beginning, middle, and end. That was only how it felt from the inside. In fact, the totality of existence looked more like a ball of sphincters, constantly moving through itself in a way that was hypnotic and awe inspiring to observe. There was Shakespeare scribbling King Lear on one wrinkled fold, and just around the corner from him, forever out of his line of sight, was the Cretaceous period and tyrannosaurs padding past his wife Anne Hathaway’s cottage.

And, as if to confirm that ours was not the only universe, it was explained to me that what I was seeing was a nursery of some kind. In order to grow their “offspring,” the chrome angels had to “make” time, because, as they pointed out reasonably, only in time were things able to grow as I understood it. Time was a kind of incubator, and all life on Earth was one thing, a single weird anemone-like mega-Hydra with its single-celled immortal root in the Precambrian tides and its billions of sensory branches, from ferns to people, with every single detail having its own part to play in the life cycle of a slowly complexifying, increasingly self-aware super-organism. It was as if I had been shown an infant god, attached to a placental support system called Earth, where it could grow bigger, more elaborate, more connected, and more intelligent. Growing at its tips were machine parts; cyborg tools made from the planet’s mineral resources. It seemed to be constructing around itself a part-mechanical shell, like armor or a spacesuit. “It” was us, all life seen as one from the perspective of a higher dimension.

I was told to return and take up my duties as a “midwife” to this gargantuan raw nervous system. It was important to ensure the proper growth and development of the larva and to make certain it didn’t panic or struggle too much when it woke up to its true nature as a singular life form. Incidentally, what we experienced as “evil” was simply the effects of inoculation against some cosmic disease, so I wasn’t to worry much.







Sigmund Freud: 
Who am I that your friends should wish us to meet? 

Sherlock Holmes: 
Beyond the fact that you are a brilliant Jewish physician who was born in Hungary and studied for a while in Paris, and that certain radical theories of yours have alienated the respectable medical community so that you have severed your connections with various hospitals and branches of the medical fraternity, beyond this I can deduce little. You're married, with a child of... five. You enjoy Shakespeare and possess a sense of honor.

Sherlock Holmes: 
I never guess: it is an appalling habit, destructive to the logical faculty. A private study is an ideal place for observing facets of a man's character. That the study belongs to you exclusively is evident from the dust: not even the maid is permitted here, else she would scarcely have ventured to let matters come to this pass. 

Sigmund Freud: 
Go on. 

Sherlock Holmes: 
Very well. Now, when a man collects books on a subject, they're usually grouped together, but notice, your King James Bible, your Book of Mormon, and Koran are separate, across the room in fact, from your Hebrew Bible and Talmud, which sit on your desk. Now these books have a special importance for you not connected with a general study of religion, obviously. The nine-branched candelabra on your desk confirms my suspicion that you are of the Jewish faith; it is called a menorah, is it not? 

Sigmund Freud: 
Yah. 

Sherlock Holmes: 
That you studied medicine in Paris is to be inferred from the great number of medical texts in that language. Where else should a German use French textbooks but in France, and who but a brilliant German could understand the complexities of medicine in a foreign tongue? That you're fond of Shakespeare is to be deduced from this book, which is lying face downwards. The fact that you have not adjusted the volume suggests to my mind that you no doubt intended referring to it again in the near future. (Hm, not my favorite play.) The absence of dust on the cover would tend to confirm this hypothesis. That you're a physician is evident when I observe you maintain a consulting room. Your separation from various societies is indicated by these blank spaces surrounding your diploma, clearly used at one time to display additional certificates. Now, what can it be that forces a man to remove these testimonials to his success? Why, only that he has ceased to affiliate himself with these various societies and hospitals and so forth, and why do this, having once troubled to join them all? It is possible that he became disenchanted with one or two of them, but NOT likely that his disillusionment extended to all. Rather, I postulate it is THEY who became disenchanted with YOU, doctor, and asked you to resign, from all of them. Why, I've no idea. But some position you have taken, evidently a medical one, has discredited you in their eyes. I take the liberty of inferring a theory of some sort, too radical or shocking to gain ready acceptance in current medical thinking. Your wedding ring tells me of your marriage, your Balkanized accent hints Hungary or Moravia, the toy soldier on the floor here ought, I think, to belong to a... small boy of five? Have I omitted anything of importance? 

Sigmund Freud: 
My sense of honour. 

Sherlock Holmes: 
Oh, it is implied by the fact that you have removed the plaques from the societies to which you no longer belong. 
In the privacy of your study, only you would know the difference.

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