Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Wheels a Turning

“A microcosm is no different than a macrocosm. To speak of the human body and its faculties is tantamount to speaking of the cosmic body and its faculties, and to aver human qualities to the Brobdingnagian universe is tantamount to revealing the cosmic functions within the small-scale human body. Darwin’s theory on the origin of species is not radical but rational and too soil-centric. Proof abounds above our heads as well as below our feet that everything is interconnected.”                                                                                                                       
That is how the fiction writer, Apa, spoke.  In truth he spoke better than he wrote, and the poetic and philosophically inclined narrator, couldn’t escape the need to explain everything in writing, so much so that his fiction contained rational and verbose headers to every chapter, didactic precursors, quarterbacking the reader to begin with axiomatic bias, moralized bigotry, grounding the fiction to read as something other than fiction, allowing for no fruition of ideas as art or playthings in the reader’s mind, deciphering the meaning for the reader and coffining the fiction before the breath of imaginary life ever entered it. Others had the same tendency to domineer design. It had been said before that William James, albeit he wrote philosophy and elucidated theological themes, camouflaged himself in the process much better than his brother, Henry James, a writer of fiction, revealed his perfunctory use of characters and plots, plots laudatory to a Victorian reader, as the means to grandstand his own moral and philosophical bent. Whereas William James remains mysterious and veiled with mysticism, and above all else is still readable and timelessly relevant, Henry James’ books remain birth-naked but aged, and his intentions are birth-naked but aged in every paragraph, sentence, punctuation mark put to page, put to the finality of the printing press death nail. His is the perpetual problem of an American-turned-European in thought. Continental myopia and negligible historical age parading around in the fossilized vestment of the Roman Catholic stole.

“What is a black hole but an asshole in reverse?  You gormandizers who wake up to energy drinks before the brushing of teeth, who sip coffee after coffee better than Sisyphus rolls his rock, who chow down junk food every second of the day with the zeal of a last-meal rite, did you think that gaping hole of yours, and its need to crush everything into miniscule particles, is different than an empyrean black hole devouring matter?”                                                                                                                                         
The honors English class at the small university still chuckled at Apa’s swearing. He had a knack for causing a large crowd to laugh. He joked only during lectures and never in his writing. His writing exhibited the sheer seriousness of a funeral procession. His mistake, at least to the honor’s class, rested in the hypocritical fact that he didn’t take himself too seriously in life, but he regarded his fiction as possessing a law-abiding raison d'être, of which without, he saw no need to put the pencil to the paper. His genius, unable to laugh and leave questions open ended in his writings, remained canary-caged behind the very inviolable prohibitions he never exhibited in actual life. In truth he lived better fiction than he wrote. In life his macro-microcosmic world offered accommodations as in depth and apocryphal as Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County. In writing his micro-macrocosmic sphere or spherelessness consisted of a stale, authentic plane where characters mimicked the rules of the one-dimensional landscape, which in turn mimicked the authentic rules of a mathematical equation where 1 plus 1 always equaled 2, and each effect had its authentic cause mapped out with one-dimensional lines to represent topography, and all of it originated from a principal meridian. Necessity spawned everything.
“The great artist, Picasso, is quoted as saying, ‘Everything you can imagine is real.’ And the scientific genius, Albert Einstein, said, ‘Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.’ To be fair, they did not write fiction. Had they, their notion of imagination would have varied. For in painting, as in science, as in great fiction, sequence and proof are basic and unavoidable maxims. We only reach Z by starting with A and then cautiously and sluggishly moving to B.”                         
Ah, the starched-shirt uprightness of an ideologue, no wrinkled trace of his own irrationality, and on the hinterlands, the B to Y of the fiction, away from the A and Z of the shores, lay the true battlegrounds of ideas, laughter, exploited irrationality, questioned rationality, immaculate conception, casual and non-casual stories, atemporal events, ambiguous beginnings, brusque endings, all this, he preached against, without ever saying it per se, through demanding rigorous chronological order. His philosophies were less concise than even his fiction.                                                                                                                                      The class never questioned after that one incident. Apa told his students that only one correct answer existed. Albeit two or more seemed reasonable, one answer always outshined the alternatives, and this was B. They were speaking about Abraham and the sacrifice of his son, Isaac. The class believed that God had given Abraham contrary commandments seeing that the promise of progeny as numerous as the stars and sands would come from Isaac’s sperm. They had termed the entire episode of The Bible as a paradox. They had defined a paradox as: God’s double nature. Apa argued that if the commandments, promises of progeny and the sacrifice were chronologically followed, one could see no paradox existed. The Lord simply tested Abraham, and had Abraham been a student of chronology, something Apa believed of Abraham, he would have known the outcome of the sacrifice, that the Lord would not have him go through with it because it would have been contradictory to what the Lord had already promised. Apa told the class that Abraham already knew that he didn’t really have to sacrifice Isaac, probably had already spotted the spotless ram in the thicket. The class laughed, and a spokesman explained that if Abraham knew the outcome through chronological inevitability then no paradox or test existed, and why did Abraham dramatize the scene? “For effect,” said Apa. “Abraham could not let the nonbelievers know that he already knew God’s will due to an earlier promise of progeny. God cannot be paradoxical and still be the God of truth.” Arguments went on for the entire hour, and Apa dismissed Kierkegaard’s incompatible alternatives, his Either/Or theories as indecisiveness. He dismissed Christ’s perplexity on the cross and of his Father’s forsaking him. “All these dramas unfold in a rational and inevitable manner. Christ said what He had to say on the cross, not for His sake, but for the sake of His followers. Nothing irrational occurred to Christ on the cross; nothing occurred that had not already been prophesied, and nothing is prophesied but that it doesn’t come to pass in the allotted, chronological time.” The class agreed that to study the Book of Job with Apa would be a lost cause. In truth Apa remembered the stories in The Bible better than he understood them.
“The Hindu explains that life is a regrettable wheel. In order to stop the wheel one must recognize Brahma, and through such realization of self, the one can escape the wheel of change, sorrow, death and ultimately rebirth. But even in such an escape there is a chronological order. It is thus: ‘The senses derive physical objects, physical objects contrive from mind, mind is realized form intellect, intellect contrived from ego, ego derived from the unmanifested seed, unmanifested seed contrived from Brahman—realized as the uncaused caused.’ Even if the goal is to point to something beyond metaphor, beyond comprehension, a chronological order is used to arrive at the unknown.”
In fancy flourishes of alliteration and rhyme Apa’s speech seemed doctored with doggerel.  Besides, Apa never cared to arrive at the uncaused cause. He loved the order that could lead to it. In truth his fiction never attempted to explain anything irrational or unexplainable. His pretext for his latest point of discussion had been to trap his students and prove their inferiority and his superiority with an exercise in fiction writing 101. “Your assignment as well as mine over the next two days is to write a piece of fiction keeping this Hindu belief in mind—the wheel represents life, death, sorrow, rebirth, and, if you must go there, Brahman escape when the wheel is stopped or one escapes its revolution. The scene: A Ferris wheel and a county fair with all the usual accoutrements. The landscape shall be yours to decide. The characters shall be yours to decide as well. The goal is simply to write about something pedestrian and plausible in order to describe a phenomenon that is beyond prosaic and real—double entendre hidden from all but the studious bookworm. Try to remember chronological order. Try to remember imagination is vain if it serves no purpose but to be imaginative. We shall compare our writing in two days time. I hope to be enlightened.” With the assignment assigned, Apa dismissed his pupils with pleasure, assuming his undisciplined disciples would err in some chronological way, and he would have a starting point to show them such error. In a lapse of good judgment Apa committed the cardinal sin of employing his own writing as an example.
The Ferris Wheel
An allegory to explore the Hindu expression that life is a wheel of sorrow, life, death, rebirth and escape. One comes to realize these meanings first through senses then mind, intellect, ego, and finally, a belief in something beyond these human-caused chemisms.
It took the conductor over an half an hour to load the Ferris wheel. Some of the passengers, those that showed the greatest anxiety while standing in line, demonstrated outright reluctance once the wheel carried them to the top of its rotation and paused there while the other passengers entered the cars and locked themselves in. These anxious ones sensed just how high they were, how precariously they dangled, like a hanging participle, and expressed true sorrow for having thought the ride might be fun, that a view of the entire city might be beautiful.                          Such anxious people did not correspond nor commensurate among age. Both, the old veteran of life as well as the young neophyte, sensed fear when they dangled high above the little ants of humanity. Their hysterics may have arisen from the eye, but it soon furrowed its way into their minds. The realization that they were higher than they wished, and the realization that they held no control over how long the ride would last, how many times the conductor might stop the wheel when they were at the top of the rotation, how harsh the stop might be, how unendurable the butterflies in their stomach would flutter when the car careened, and on and on their mind took their anxiety, rolled it in the batter of fear and fried it over the furnace of the unknown.    The ride began smooth enough, with the orbit of the Ferris wheel taking them to the top and depositing them at the bottom in equal turn. Those anxious souls controlled their breathing at the top and exhaled with little effort as the wheel transported them toward the bottom. Some even regretted the fuss of their sorrow, and soothed themselves with the knowledge that the conductor knew what he was doing, and death would not occur, as silly as that thought might be. They lost such ego friendly thoughts when the wheel sped up. The conductor has gone mad some exclaimed. The wheel might unhinge itself at any moment. All sense of ego and self preservation sullied itself with one young chap. The conductor jerked the wheel to a stop and the chap, along with his girlfriend, swung back and forth at the acme or semi-acme of the wheel. “Oh God! We are going to die!” he yelled at the top of his lungs. “I don’t want to die!” the boy cried.                   “Get a hold of yourself!” the girlfriend yelled back at his sorry invocation. She reminded him, “You are a man after all, aren’t you?” This reminder of who he was, of how strong he needed to behave out of necessity, jarred him back into himself. The chap immediately straightened his posture, let go of the railing and exclaimed, “I am in control of myself. I am in control of myself.” He hardly felt like he controlled the situation.                                                   Another, an older man, didn’t fare as well. When the Ferris wheel stopped, and his car swung back and forth from the top, he threw up large chunks of roast beef and partially digested balls of bread. The conductor called out to me, as I had stopped on the bottom, and told me to take cover, remove my arms from the sides. I heard some of the splatter hit my car, but most of it landed a few feet away, a strange trajectory. “I knew it would work,” the conductor confided in me. “I can see it in their faces. They really do turn green.”                                                        “Why do they do it?” I asked of the conductor, meaning ride a ride that caused them such trauma. He said he didn’t know for sure, but that some people really thought they were going to die, and the only way to rid them of such delusions was to stop the wheel with them at the top. Most puked the fear of death out of their system.                                                                           After the old man puked, he felt great. He had feared he would die, that he had voluntarily entered his farewell ride. His eyes filled with lachrymal discharge from the effort involved in puking. Once the wheel began again, he lost all normal sensation and experienced an ephemeral exultation. He knew he still rode the ride, but he couldn’t, for the life of him, describe it. He saw the mirage of the city from his teary eyes. He felt the going up and coming down, but his body had become so lightweight that to him it was the angels coming and going on Jacob’s ladder. What did it matter? He couldn’t even tell when the ride stopped. He had to be helped off the ride and escorted away from the Ferris wheel. “Is it over?” I actually heard him say as I tipped my cap to the conductor and we shared a laugh. I couldn’t wait to ride the flying carpet.
The End
“I had thought of ending the story with the greater part of the riders getting back in line to ride again, but it seemed superfluous. As you can see in my writing, I have stretched myself. I rarely use metaphors or allegory to write fiction to get at some larger truth. But, and I stress this, my clear fiction illustrates the inexorable maxim that to reach the needed outcome and effect, chronological order is necessary.”                                                                                                    The class would have argued had they deemed it worthwhile. They saw in Apa’s fiction many shortcomings and an acute desire to disembowel imagination and beauty. It read more like a truncated treatise, and due to the aforementioned didactic header’s of Apa, the outcome could already be guessed. “Knowing the outcome, but still creating a great story is the task of the fiction writer,” Apa said, almost guessing the students’ criticism. Apa gloated over the class at his booming success for only a brief chronological moment of victory. “There is a point when a young writer tries so hard to break with tradition and create art that the outcome falls diametrically into the realm of un-art. I have one example to read for you. The author’s name will remain anonymous, the style will remain too pregnant with nonsense and lacking in verisimilitude, and to be sure, the order is orderless and nowhere to be found, and the meaning is too fraught with non-meaning altogether, but most detrimental to the design is the laughter, the incessant joke of the entire assignment.” In a greater lapse of good judgment Apa began reading one of his students’ fictions to prove that the written word belonged to no one.
Steering the Wheel—the Ape, Harlequins, and Motley Crowd among so many others
There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes his whole universe for a vast practical joke.
Herman Melville
They had asked me to take the monkey’s place as the conductor of the Ferris wheel. I don’t think they knew that my friends and I had taken a pill form of phenethylamine to enhance the funhouse mirrors. I followed the bended light which led me to the podium where the monkey happened to be stepping down. They adorned me with a square rig and honored me with genuine salutes followed by a salvo of farewells. The monkey bowed. I took the wooden helm and called out “starboard.” The cosmos moved port-wise and a seat appeared in front of me. Two harlequins, patchworked and diamonized in multi-colored garb, set an old man down then took their place like argyle socks on either side of him. They were women, and I may have mistaken the word harlequin with harlot. “Do not rib-tickle us,” they yelled at me in unison. Their breasts were bursting from their bodices. Did I speak out loud to these women? Did they know I stared at their breasts the way a stargazer gropes for galaxies? My eyes had an insatiable appetite. “You clown with us, pervert. This ride,” they pointed to their bulging breasts, “would cost all your tickets and an IOU.” I found it odd that they refused to use the word jest. “Starboard,” I called again to let the cosmos carry them away.                                                                                                                     I was unsure whether the wheel moved clockwise or counter-clockwise and concluded that I would just yell “Next,” once the current passenger car had been loaded. I may have seen the upside down, inverted images correctly for the first time, and my eye might have been ahead of my occipital lobe. Or the ape, yes the ape walked on his head, feet akimbo in the air, clusters of bananas held by toes, arms raising him from the ground to move then rest on his head again, and his small penis singling him out as a gorilla, chimpanzee-envy written all over his face. His laughter sounded androgynous but human and exposed his graphic canine teeth. He dropped to all fours, threw the two clumps of five and six green bananas against the back of the seat then laughed again, more loudly. The green Cavendish bananas had been tree ripened rather than ethylene induced. What gorilla would have it any other way, I thought. He laughed like a ticklish one being titillated by a seagull feather. “What’s so damn funny?” I asked the ape.                 “Just came from the freak show,” he said in a Chicago accent. “Animals were watching humans. How good is that? The humans were the freaks.” The ape laughed until he had to hold his sides from what appeared to be physical pain.                                                                            “Next,” I yelled and cranked the wheel some strange direction, moving the ape up but still in earshot of his incessant laughter. People after people strapped themselves into the ride. I lost interest for an indeterminate amount of time. I kept thinking how the words indeterminate, amount, and time, all used in the same sentence didn’t really make sense. I tried out other oxymoronic sentences, but mine weren’t very good:
The exact time of the big bang can only be estimated, approximated.
“We rarely see the most common spiders,” the Army intelligence wrote down in the report (Army intelligence being the more jocose oxymoron).
            “Try this one,” a man in a toga yelled down to me. “The god-fearing atheist prayed to his projection of nothingness as a being for the first time in a long time.” It wasn’t bad I concluded.
“And who might you be?” I didn’t like my question. I wanted to ask him if his history had been written down, if he was famous. He seemed like he might be, and even in my lost interest from a time ago, I still recognized a lot of historical figures standing in line or strapping themselves in the cars of my Ferris wheel. “Third to last letter in the alphabet, but I am the first letter when it comes to clever skepticism of religion.” I had him tagged. I turned the wheel and moved him away from me.                                                                                                                            I noticed that the lotus of my heart did not pound but moved out from my body like a translucent slug. All faculties of sense, the husk and sheath of intellect and ego concentrated within that three-foot, heart-boner, and I kept waiting for a Donnie Darko moment where the translucent slug moves kind of like a Slinky to a gun in a closet or a revelation waiting in the open, but nothing came of it except for it bumped up against the wheel every once in a while. The ape laughed while he waited in front of me. He had gone through one clump of bananas and began on his second. He had been my cue that the ride was full, and no one else needed to be permitted. I had two men in black suits cordon off the area beneath the Ferris wheel by locking the velvet rope to the golden banisters and put up a sign that read, “You must be this tall to ride the Ferris wheel.” The sign stood 13 feet high. A 14 foot man started yelling at me, but I pointed to my men in black suits and they quieted him down with some judo chops to shinbones. The red carpet minstrels acted as paparazzi, reciting a Miley Cyrus song in French while Elvis Costello accompanied them with an accordion. This hushed the crowd but could not drown out the ape’s laughing and pointing at the starved faces of the well-dressed women. “Quit looking up at our breasts” the harlequin strumpets demanded of me.
“I wasn’t looking,” I demanded, but the appetite of my eye’s had in fact been slavering in their direction.                                                                                                                                                 I pushed the button in the center of the wheel with my heart-boner, and the ride began. At the hub of the wheel I noticed the polished emblem of the Chevy bowtie, mesmerizing in its slow spin. Two chrome aedicules, hardly visible in their shining, had been cut out on the left and right side of the bowtie, and a man on each side of the emblem, continued, through the spinning, to clean the emblem with a long-poled squeegee. It was as if they were in their own wheel or globe, half filled with water, and the water always kept them at stasis, but in actuality they had on anti-gravity suits. The felly of the wheel, appeared to be made out of lodgepole pine, Pinus contorta in Latin, and I laughed, and the ape laughed, though he sounded like the soughing of a forest, because we thought the word contorta: to twist, seemed illogical for the straightest of trees. We also shared a good guffaw because we knew that amongst all that metal and technology, the felling of the wheel still seemed very plausible with wooden spokes. The ape had a great sense of humor I decided. I liked that ape.                                                                                                         I tested out a theory developing in my head by telling the wheel to stop when the harlequins were way at the top. The wheel stopped abruptly and the cars tottered back and forth. High above the carnival, bleating out the accordion and Cyrus song, the laughing wail of the ape in obvious delectation, laughed and laughed and laughed to such a magnitude that it reminded me of an alarm clock that goes off while sleeping and as cognizance advances until I wake, the sound effaces the dream more and more, until upright in bed, the beep, beep, beep of the alarm clock feels like the only damn thing that exists. To be sure, the embryo of sleep should unfurl to consciousness as slow as the petals of a flower open to the sun.                                                  They had told me that I stopped the wheel superbly, and I enjoyed their confidence in me as the conductor. I had never conducted anything before. 

“Don’t listen to what they say. They did not descend from reptiles.” I knew they didn’t and that didn’t bother me as it seemed to bother this passenger. He dressed in leather and wore cowboy boots. His collarless button up shirt was unbuttoned and acted as a gateway to his hairy chest. No one shared the seat with him but he preferred to seize the left side of the car, causing it to settle at an acute angle. “Wait,” I said because I had heard sermons by this man. “I thought they did descend from Babylonian reptiles?”                                                                                                                                “You mistake me for another. Reptiles are gods in waiting. Just as the snake sloughs its skin, so shall the reptiles remove the scales of disbelief from the eyes of humanity. And when they do, on that great day of reckoning, all will bow down to the Crocodilian King, and his slave woman will place a crown of Gold, with a bezel inlay of turquoise stones, upon his head. The men, of course, will be killed because they won’t be needed.”                                                                                “I’m pretty sure you are who I think you are, aren’t you? Unless, of course you are Jonathan Swift, then I am mistaken”                                                                                                                       The man continued without hearing me or choosing to ignore my remarks. “The flood will kill most of you. The ones who live will be sacrificed, except as I said, we will keep the most beautiful women alive as ornaments, trophy wives, I think you call them, and we will perform crude sexual acts with them until we have birth-egged the resplendent race of reptilian humanoids.”                                                                                                                                   “How many drugs did you do as a kid?” I asked him.                                                                “Hey pot, quit calling the kettle black,” he replied. “Besides, I don’t expect your skull has been opened up enough, you fringe-medicine user. You are in an intermediate state, neither sleeping nor dreaming, but you aren’t awake either. Wrap your head around that somnambulistic state. The intermediate state is good. I’ll give you that, but the next state is better.” He opened his mouth wide and flicked out his forked tongue; it sprung up and down menacingly. I pushed the button to remove this rather bellicose figure from my view.                                                                         The ride proceeded without much interruption. I enjoyed the Doppler effect of the ape’s laughter. One of his discarded banana peels landed on a woman waiting in line. She started to scream at the injustice done to her. I told her if she couldn’t stand a little ignominy while waiting in line then the Ferris wheel wasn’t for her. “Maybe try the kiddie rides?” I suggested. Her entourage of swain men began accusing me of being numb to actual insult. I pushed the button on the wheel and stopped the ride. The ape, near the very top, could be seen flipping off the woman and her men, while he laughed and laughed. The car nearest me came to my aid without my asking. Three women, all with very short hair and gray blouses began berating the woman. “Get off his back,” said one woman and continued, “If you can’t defend yourself, what do you think these false altruistic beaus with no balls will do for you?” The ape and I laughed, while the men surrounding this woman tried to puff out their chests. “How gay is this?” one woman confided to her lover.                                                                                                                “When did a woman become so incapable of defending herself?” she yelled at the men, while her lover screamed out an enthusiastic, “Yeah. Take the peel off your head, you dumb bitch. You look like a yellow octopus missing arms.” The ape and I laughed again, noticing that other passengers also enjoyed the insults from these three women. They successfully removed the woman and her emasculated entourage from the line by employing nothing but acerbic speech. Leaving, the men dared say nothing but under-the-breath statements. “Thank you,” I said to these modern day Joan of Arcs, but they would not accept my thanks and asked me to continue with the ride.                                                                                                                                            I sped up the ride and felt it coming to an end when through the laughter of the ape I heard the grumbling of the Ferris wheel. The spokes were cracking or coming apart under the weight or from the velocity of the spin. I thought I should slow the ride down, but I heard more than most of the passengers screaming and telling me to speed the ride up. “Faster,” said one thrill seeker. The ape’s laughter sounded like a siren. I sped the ride up by commanding the wheel to rotate faster. One of the spokes cracked and fell off with a thunderous crash. No one seemed to notice or care but me. “Faster. Faster,” more than most screamed. I did hear one person demand to be let off, but I let the tragedy of the commons prevail. I told the wheel to spin at maximum velocity. “That’s the spirit,” they had told me with enthusiasm. More spokes gave way and fell, and the wheel started to gyrate left and right as it achieved its ultimate speed.              It is strange that none of the passengers noticed or cared that the entire ride seemed pre-destined to dislodge from its support beams at such speeds. “Caught up in the excitement of the ride,” I thought to myself. A metallic creaking could now be heard as the wheel spun out of control. Still no screams of despair could be heard from the passengers. The wheel lost its support beams, and I could hear the crowded line gape in mesmerizing awe at the inevitable. Simultaneously, the two metal support beams fell, each in its own direction, and the wheel dropped to the ground. At such a speed, the wheel maintained its upright position and rolled at a rapid speed, crushing the red and white circus tent where the trapeze artist would have been performing their final and most fantastic act. The wheel rolled through the fence and continued to roll until it descended a large hill blocking the spectators’ view. The final thing heard, before the wheel disappeared, was the howling laughter of the ape.                                                                   I walked away from the platform holding the wooden wheel. The crowd cheered loudly. I handed the wheel to a perplexed man in his fifties, and told him he could take charge if he liked. They congratulated me on an outstanding performance. I had to laugh it off as I walked away; if they only knew what I had done. I met up with my friends at a small tavern three blocks away from the amusement park. I no longer felt the translucent slug in my heart, or a connection to the motley crowd that rode the Ferris wheel. I wanted to tell my friends what had happened but figured they wouldn’t believe me if I did, what with all the drugs we had taken.
The End
            Apa paused for dramatic effect after he finished reading. In truth he read fiction like a great orator. The class enjoyed the last piece and waited with bated breath for Apa to begin his unwelcomed diatribe against some poor student. Any one of the students would have been proud to claim the piece as his or her own writing, even if it came at the cost of Apa’s harsh criticism. “Well?” said Apa. He waited for a moment then began his lecture. “I think it is obvious that my own piece far exceeds this drivel, does it not?” The class couldn’t let Apa continue. Fresh in their memory was the botched attempt to persuade Apa about the stumbling block of chronology, even so, they spoke out. Apa stood with his rear resting on the desk as the entire class attempted to sell him on the many reasons the student’s piece far excelled his own. Apa listened to each and every argument then burst out laughing. “I can’t do it anymore. I just can’t.” The class feared they were watching Apa unravel due to their censure and criticism, but they were wrong. “I’m sorry,” Apa continued while laughing. “I truly am sorry, but this was an experiment.”                               “What experiment?” the students asked, perplexed.                                                                             “The entire semester, the basis of chronological inevitability, the lectures, this assignment, all of it was a sham-reality I created for you. You don’t think I believe any of that do you? You couldn’t possibly think I thought Abraham knew the outcome, could you? I have to admit, I almost gave up on the experiment at that point. I could barely keep a straight face.”                     Apa then related to the class that he simply was helping his psychiatrist wife with an experiment. “She wanted to see what a conditioned audience would create if the limits set for them had been outlandish, and I volunteered to teach you with sternness just about every rule that a fiction writer has to break in order to write fiction. My wife wrote that first story about the Ferris wheel. Doesn’t it read the way a psychiatrist might try to write fiction about phenomenology?”                                                                                                                              “But the explanatory header, and your published works,” the class argued, “they all read like the story you claim your wife wrote.” Apa agreed that his published works did read just as the first Ferris wheel story read, but he said he had to let them in on a little secret. “My wife has written under my name for the past eight years. Sure, it would harm me if I ever attempted to use that name and write my own fiction, but I have used the pen name Grant B. Backer, with an umlaut over the “A” in Backer for some time now. My last book was published two years ago last month.” Some of the class had heard of this writer, a few had even read a book or two by Grant B. Backer, and they concluded that his fiction read much more like the second Ferris wheel story. “That is because I wrote that second story. My wife finds it horrible, and did argue all those points I brought up about it before I read it to you. On one thing we do agree: her headers and my quote from Melville do serve the same function.”                                                                 The class didn’t laugh immediately. They weren’t persuaded immediately, but after thinking about how Apa lived and loved to joke, such an outcome seemed plausible. Apa apologized for taking an experiment too far, but agreed that it had been very instrumental in helping the class break with bias. “By arguing so vehemently against me, you were like old students of Athens, arguing with a learned one about the validity of what you do. None of this should be lost on you.” Apa had to plead with the class not to be angry. In truth it only took a little while. Apa, they agreed, loved to joke, even if it was at their expense this time.

1 comment:

  1. Images taken from #1 Mind Freak Circus
    by OrmHuz
    Digital Art / Photomanipulation / Surreal©2008-2015 OrmHuz

    #2 Barack Image / ATLANTIC WIRE