Archive for January 31, 2022

Page Seventeen III: Rise of the Machines

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2022 by dcairns

Before I proceed with the account of how, owing to my illness, I entered into peculiar relations with God–which I hasten to add were themselves contrary to the Order of the World–I must begun with a few remarks about the nature of God and of the human soul; these can for the time being only be put up as axioms–tenets not requiring proof–and their proof as far as is at all possible can only be attempted later in the book.

Back in the beginning, perhaps, she had had some kind of conscience-impelled notion of reforming Doc. But she could not think of that now without a downward quirk of her small mouth, a wince born more of bewilderment than embarrassment at at the preposterousness of her onetime viewpoint.

At the hospital, the urgency of making a statement got through to her, briefly, before the drugs sucked her into an artificially deep and dreamless sleep. She told the police what had happened in more detail, in a dead voice that might have come from a machine. And in the same dead voice, she answered all their questions. She was the only remaining witness to the event. The family who found her, screaming, in the road, arrived ten minutes after Louis’ fatal plunge down towards the ravine and his father’s subsequent disappearance. It was they who had rung the police.

Over the next two days, three brain specialists examined Jimmy, and they were perplexed and frustrated. His symptoms resembled a stroke in some ways; in others, profound amnesia from head trauma, for which there was no physical evidence. There might be a tumour involved, but the parents wouldn’t give permission for X rays. This was fortunate for the changeling, because the thing in its skull was as much a porpoise brain as it was a human’s, and various parts of it were nonhuman crystal and metal.

Dr Tanner confirmed that the man was wearing a light blue jacket. He could not say whether he limped, as he had not seen him walking. When shown a photograph of Mr Mack, Mr Dobie and Miss Annand had been unable to say with any certainty whether he was the man they had seen: his back had been to them and they had never got right up close to him. Dr Tanner, on the other hand, stated that the man he saw sitting on a rock was an exact likeness of Mr Mack. On both occasions, the police asked, was Mr Mack alone? Yes, said Mr Dobie and Miss Annand, the man they saw was quite alone. Dr Tanner said that had there been anyone else with him he would not have been concerned.

It was Saturday, and — providing there were not last-minute complications in the case of the woman with the triplets — he would not be obliged to go to the clinic and could devote the morning to working out at the gym and taking a sauna before Elianita’s wedding. His wife and daughter were in Europe, cultivating their minds and replenishing their wardrobes, and would not be back for a month. Any other man with his considerable fortune and his looks — his hair that had turned to silver at the temples and his distinguished bearing, along with his elegant manners, awakened a gleam of desire even in the eyes of incorruptible married women — might have taken advantage of his temporary bachelorhood to have himself a little fun. But Alberto de Quinteros was a man not unduly attracted to gambling, skirt chasing, or drinking, and among his friends — who were legion — it was commonly said that ‘his vices are science, his family, and the gymnasium.’

“Ah, there she is,” said Molnár. “My precious one. Hello, darling.” Nathan took a step backward in his slippery paper booties in order not to impede the strange, intimate flow between patient and doctor. Could she and her surgeon be having an affair? Could this really be written off as Hungarian bedside manner? Molnár touched his latex-bound fingertips to his masked mouth, then pressed the filtered kiss to Dunja’s lips. She giggled, then slipped away dreamily, then came back. “Talk to Nathan,” said Molnár, withdrawing with a bow. He had things to do.

Seven passages on medical matters, possibly, from seven passages on seven pages seventeens in seven books towering by my armchair, to which I am pinned by a warm, heavy, slumbering Tonkinese cat called Momo.

Memoirs of My Nervous Illness by Daniel Paul Schreiber; The Getaway by Jim Thompson; The Ninth Life of Louis Drax by Liz Jensen; Camouflage by Joe Haldeman; The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson; Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Mario Vargas Llosa; Consumed by David Cronenberg.