Penguin books - səhifə 9
Snowlight comes in through tall, many-paned windows, a dark day, a light burning only here and there among the brown offices. Subalterns encrypt, blindfolded subjects call Zener-deck guesses to hidden microphones: "Waves . . . Waves . . . Cross . . . Star . . ." While someone from Psi Section records them from a speaker down in the cold basement. Secretaries in woolen shawls and rubber galoshes shiver with the winter cold being inhaled through the madhouse's many crevices, their typewriter keys chattery as their pearlies. Maud Chilkes, who looks from the rear rather like Cecil Beaton's photograph of Mar-got Asquith, sits dreaming of a bun and a cup of tea.
In the ARF wing, the stolen dogs sleep, scratch, recall shadowy smells of humans who may have loved them, listen undrooling to Ned Pointsman's oscillators and metronomes. The drawn shades allow only mild passages of light from outdoors. Technicians are moving behind the thick observation window, but their robes, greenish and submarine through the glass, nutter more slowly, less brightly. ... A numbness has taken over, or a felt darkening. The metronome at 80 per second
breaks out in wooden echoes, and Dog Vanya, bound atop the test stand, begins to salivate. All other sounds are damped severely: the beams underpinning the lab smothered in sand-filled rooms, sandbags, straw, uniforms of dead men occupying the spaces between the win-dowless walls . . . where the country bedlamites sat around, scowling, sniffing nitrous oxide, giggling, weeping at an E-major chord modulating to a G-sharp minor, now are cubical deserts, sand-rooms, keeping the metronome sovereign here in the lab, behind the iron doors, closed hermetically.
The duct of Dog Vanya's submaxillary gland was long ago carried out the bottom of his chin through an incision and sutured in place, leading saliva outside to the collecting funnel, fixed there with the traditional orange Pavlovian Cement of rosin, iron oxide and beeswax. Vacuum brings the secretion along through shining tubework to displace a column of light red oil, moving to the right along a scale marked off in "drops"—an arbitrary unit, probably not the same as the actually fallen drops of 1905, of St. Petersburg. But the number of drops, for this lab and Dog Vanya and the metronome at 80, is each time predictable.
Now that he has moved into "equivalent" phase, the first of the transmarginal phases, a membrane, hardly noticeable, stretches between Dog Vanya and the outside. Inside and outside remain just as they were, but the interface—the cortex of Dog Vanya's brain—is changing, in any number of ways, and that is the really peculiar thing about these transmarginal events. It no longer matters now how loudly the metronome ticks. A stronger stimulus no longer gets a stronger response. The same number of drops flow or fall. The man comes and removes the metronome to the farthest corner of this muffled room. It is placed inside a box, beneath a pillow with the machine-sewn legend Memories of Brighton, but the drops do not fall off. . . then played into a microphone and amplifier so that each tick fills the room up like a shout, but the drops do not increase. Every time, the clear saliva pushes the red line over only to the same mark, the same number of drops. . . .
Webley Silvernail and Rollo Groast go sneaky-Peteing away down the corridors, nipping into people's offices to see if there are any smokable fag-ends to be looted. Most offices right now are empty: all personnel with the patience or masochism for it are going through a bit of ritual with the doddering Brigadier.
"That old-man has, no-shame," Géza Rözsavölgyi, another refugee (and violently anti-Soviet, which creates a certain strain with ARF)
flicking his hands up Brigadier Puddingward in gay despair, the lilting Hungarian gypsy-whisper bashing like tambourines all around the room, provoking, in one way or another, everyone here except for the aged Brigadier himself, who just goes rambling on from the pulpit of what was a private chapel once, back there on the maniac side of the 18th century, and is now a launching platform for "The Weekly Briefings," a most amazing volley of senile observations, office paranoia, gossip about the War which might or might not include violations of security, reminiscences of Flanders . . . the coal boxes in the sky coming straight down on you with a roar . . . the drumfire so milky and luminous on his birthday night . . . the wet surfaces in the shell craters for miles giving back one bleak autumn sky . . . what Haig, in the richness of his wit, once said at mess about Lieutenant Sassoon's refusal to fight . . . the gunners in springtime, in their flowing green robes . . . roadsides of poor rotting horses just before apricot sunrise . . . the twelve spokes of a stranded artillery piece—a mud clock, a mud zodiac, clogged and crusted as it stood in the sun its many shades of brown. The mud of Flanders gathered into the curd-clumped, mildly jellied textures of human shit, piled, duckboarded, trenched and shell-pocked leagues of shit in all directions, not even the poor blackened stump of a tree—and the old blithering gab-artist tries to shake the cherrywood pulpit here, as if that had been the worst part of the whole Passchendaele horror, that absence of vertical interest. . . . On he goes, gabbing, gabbing, recipes for preparing beets in a hundred tasty ways, or such cucurbitaceous improbabilities as Ernest Pudding's Gourd Surprise—yes, there is something sadistic about recipes with "Surprise" in the title, chap who's hungry wants to just eat you know, not be Surprised really, just wants to bite into the (sigh) the old potato, and be reasonably sure there's nothing inside but potato you see, certainly not some clever nutmeg "Surprise!", some mashed pulp all magenta with pomegranates or something . . . well but this is just the doubtful sort of joke that Brigadier Pudding loves to play: how he's chuckled, as unsuspecting dinner-guests go knifing into his notorious Toad-in-the-Hole, through the honest Yorkshire batter into—ugh! what is it? a beet rissolé? a stuffed beet rissolé? or perhaps today some lovely pureed samphire, reeking of the sea (which he obtains once a week from the same fat fishmonger's son wheeling his bicycle, puffing, up the chalkwhite cliff)—none of these odd, odd vegetable rissoles do resemble any ordinary "Toad," but rather the depraved, half-sentient creatures that Young Chaps from Kings Road have Affairs With in limericks—Pudding has thousands of these recipes and no shame about
sharing any of them with the lot at PISCES, along with, later in the weekly soliloquy, a line or two, eight bars, from "Would You Rather Be a Colonel with an Eagle on Your Shoulder, or a Private with a Chicken on Your Knee?" then perhaps a lengthy recitation of all his funding difficulties, all, dating back to long before the emergence of even the Electra House group . . . letter-feuds he has carried on in the Times with critics of Haig. . . .
And they all sit there, in front of the very high, blacked, lead-crossed windows, allowing him his folly, the dog people skulking over in one corner, passing notes and leaning to whisper (they plot, they plot, sleeping or afoot they never let up), the Psi Section lot clear over the other side of the room—as if we have a parliament of some kind here . . . everyone for years has occupied his own unique pew-seat and angle in to the ravings of reddish and liver-spotted Brigadier Pudding—with the other persuasions-in-exile spread between these two wings: the balance of power, if any power existed at "The White Visitation."
Dr. Rozsavölgyi feels that there well might, if the fellows "play their cards right." The only issue now is survival—on through the awful interface of V-E Day, on into the bright new Postwar with senses and memories intact. PISCES must not be allowed to go down under the hammer with the rest of the bawling herd. There must arise, and damned soon, able to draw them into a phalanx, a concentrated point of light, some leader or program powerful enough to last them across who knows how many years of Postwar. Dr. Rozsavölgyi tends to favor a powerful program over a powerful leader. Maybe because this is 1945. It was widely believed in those days that behind the War—all the death, savagery, and destruction—lay the Führer-principle. But if personalities could be replaced by abstractions of power, if techniques developed by the corporations could be brought to bear, might not nations live rationally? One of the dearest Postwar hopes: that there should be no room for a terrible disease like charisma . . . that its rationalization should proceed while we had the time and resources. . . .
Isn't that what's really at stake for Dr. Rozsavölgyi here in this latest scheme, centered on the figure of Lieutenant Slothrop? All the psychological tests in the subject's dossier, clear back to his college days, indicate a diseased personality. "Rosie" slaps the file with his hand for emphasis. The staff table shudders. "For exam-ple: his Minneso-ta, Mul-tipha-sic Personality Inventory is tremen-dously lopsided, always fa-vor of, the psycho-pathic, and, the unwbole-some."
But the Reverend Dr. Paul de la Nuit is not fond of the MMPI.
"Rosie, are there scales for measuring interpersonal traits?" Hawk's nose probing, probing, eyes lowered in politic meekness, "Human values? Trust, honesty, love? Is there—forgive me the special pleading— a religious scale, by any chance?"
No way, padre: the MMPI was developed about 1943. In the very heart of the War. Allport and Vernon's Study of Values, the Bernreuter Inventory as revised by Flanagan in '35—tests from before the War— seem to Paul de la Nuit more humane. All the MMPI appears to test for is whether a man will be a good or bad soldier.
"Soldiers are much in demand these days, Reverend Doctor," murmurs Mr. Pointsman.
"I only hope that we won't put too much emphasis on his MMPI scores. It seems to me very narrow. It omits large areas of the human personality."
"Precise-ly why," leaps Rozsavolgyi, "we are now proposing, to give, Sloth-rop a complete-ly dif-ferent sort, of test. We are now design-ing for him, a so-called, 'projec-tive' test. The most famil-iar exam-ple of the type, is the Rorschach ink-blot. The ba-sic theory, is that when given an unstruc-tured stimulus, some shape-less blob of exper-ience, the subject, will seek to impose, struc-ture on it. How, he goes a-bout struc-turing this blob, will reflect his needs, his hopes—will provide, us with clues, to his dreams, fan-tasies, the deepest re-gions of his mind." Eyebrows going a mile a minute, extraordinarily fluid and graceful hand gestures, resembling—most likely it is deliberate, and who can blame Rosie for trying to cash in—those of his most famous compatriot, though there're the inevitable bad side-effects: staff who swear they've seen him crawling headfirst down the north facade of "The White Visitation," for example. "So we are re-ally, quite, in agreement, Reverend Doctor. A test, like the MMPI, is, in this respect, not adequate. It is, a struc-tured stimulus. The sub-ject can fal-sify, consciously, or repress, un-consciously. But with the projec-tive technique, nothing he can do, con-scious or otherwise, can pre-vent us, from finding what we wish, to know. We, are in control. He, cannot help, himself."
"Must say it doesn't sound like your cup of tea, Pointsman," smiles Dr. Aaron Throwster. "Your stimuli are more the structured sort, aren't they?"
"Let's say I find a certain shameful fascination."
"Let's not. Don't tell me you're going to keep your fine Pavlovian hand completely out of this."
"Well, not completely, Throwster, no. Since you've brought it up.
We also happen to have in mind a very structured stimulus. Same one, in fact, that got us interested to begin with. We want to expose Slothrop to the German rocket. ..."
Overhead, on the molded plaster ceiling, Methodist versions of Christ's kingdom swarm: lions cuddle with lambs, fruit spills lushly and without pause into the arms and about the feet of gentlemen and ladies, swains and milkmaids. No one's expression is quite right. The wee creatures leer, the fiercer beasts have a drugged or sedated look, and none of the humans have any eye-contact at all. The ceilings of "The White Visitation" aren't the only erratic thing about the place, either. It is a classic "folly," all right. The buttery was designed as an Arabian harem in miniature, for reasons we can only guess at today, full of silks, fretwork and peepholes. One of the libraries served, for a time, as a wallow, the floor dropped three feet and replaced with mud up to the thresholds for giant Gloucestershire Old Spots to frolic, oink, and cool their summers in, to stare at the shelves of buckram books and wonder if they'd be good eating. Whig eccentricity is carried in this house to most unhealthy extremes. The rooms are triangular, spherical, walled up into mazes. Portraits, studies in genetic curiosity, gape and smirk at you from every vantage. The W.C.s contain frescoes of Clive and his elephants stomping the French at Plassy, fountains that depict Salome with the head of John (water gushing out ears, nose, and mouth), floor mosaics in which are tessellated together different versions of Homo Monstrosus, an interesting preoccupation of the time—cyclops, humanoid giraffe, centaur repeated in all directions. Everywhere are archways, grottoes, plaster floral arrangements, walls hung in threadbare velvet or brocade. Balconies give out at unlikely places, overhung with gargoyles whose fangs have fetched not a few newcomers nasty cuts on the head. Even in the worst rains, the monsters only just manage to drool—the rainpipes feeding them are centuries out of repair, running crazed over slates and beneath eaves, past cracked pilasters, dangling Cupids, terra-cotta facing on every floor, along with belvederes, rusticated joints, pseudo-Italian columns, looming minarets, leaning crooked chimneys—from a distance no two observers, no matter how close they stand, see quite the same building in that orgy of self-expression, added to by each succeeding owner, until the present War's requisitioning. Topiary trees line the drive for a distance before giving way to larch and elm: ducks, bottles, snails, angels, and steeplechase riders they dwindle down the metaled road into their fallow silence, into the shadows under the tunnel of sighing trees. The sentry, a dark figure in white webbing, stands port-arms in
your masked headlamps, and you must halt for him. The dogs, engineered and lethal, are watching you from the woods. Presently, as evening comes on, a few bitter flakes of snow begin to fall.
D D D D D D D
Better behave yourself or we'll send you back to Dr. Jamf !
When Jamf conditioned him, he threw away the stimulus.
Looks like Dr. Jamf's been by to set your little thing today, hasn't he?
—Neil Nosepicker's Book of 50,000 Insults,
§6.72, "Awful Offspring,"
The Nayland Smith Press,
Cambridge (Mass.), 1933 pudding.-But isn't this— pointsman: Sir? pudding: Isn't it all rather shabby, Pointsman? Meddling with another man's mind this way?
POINTSMAN: Brigadier, we're only following in a long line of experiment and questioning. Harvard University, the U.S. Army? Hardly shabby institutions.
PUDDING: We can't, Pointsman, it's beastly.
POINTSMAN: But the Americans have already been at him! don't you see? It's not as if we're corrupting a virgin or something—pudding: Do we have to do it because the Americans do it? Must we allow them to corrupt us?
Back around 1920, Dr. Laszlo Jamf opined that if Watson and Rayner could successfully condition their "Infant Albert" into a reflex horror of everything furry, even of his own Mother in a fur boa, then Jamf could certainly do the same thing for his Infant Tyrone, and the baby's sexual reflex. Jamf was at Harvard that year, visiting from Darmstadt. It was in the early part of his career, before he phased into organic chemistry (to be as fateful a change of field as Kekulé's own famous switch into chemistry from architecture, a century before). For the experiment he had a slender grant from the National Research Council (under a continuing NRC program of psychological study which had begun during the World War, when methods were needed for selecting officers and classifying draftees). Shoestring funding may have been why Jamf, for his target reflex, chose an infant hardon.
Measuring secretions, as Pavlov did, would have meant surgery. Measuring "fear," the reflex Watson chose, would have brought in too much subjectivity (what's fear? How much is "a lot"? Who decides, when it's on-the-spot-in-the-field, and there isn't time to go through the long slow process of referring it up to the Fear Board?). Instrumentation just wasn't available in those days. The best he might've done was the Larson-Keeler three-variable "lie detector," but at the time it was still only experimental.
But a harden, that's either there, or it isn't. Binary, elegant. The job of observing it can even be done by a student.
Unconditioned stimulus = stroking penis with antiseptic cotton swab.
Unconditioned response = hardon.
Conditioned stimulus = x.
Conditioned response = hardon whenever x is present, stroking is no longer necessary, all you need is that x.
Uh, x? well, what's x? Why, it's the famous "Mystery Stimulus" that's fascinated generations of behavioral-psychology students, is what it is. The average campus humor magazine carries 1.05 column inches per year on the subject, which ironically is the exact mean length Jamf reported for Infant T.'s erection.
Now ordinarily, according to tradition in these matters, the little sucker would have been de-conditioned. Jamf would have, in Pavlov-ian terms, "extinguished" the hardon reflex he'd built up, before he let the baby go. Most likely he did. But as Ivan Petrovich himself said, "Not only must we speak of partial or of complete extinction of a conditioned reflex, but we must also realize that extinction can proceed beyond the point of reducing a reflex to zero. We cannot therefore judge the degree of extinction only by the magnitude of the reflex or its absence, since there can still be a silent extinction beyond the zero.'1'' Italics are Mr. Pointsman's.
Can a conditioned reflex survive in a man, dormant, over 20 or 30 years? Did Dr. Jamf extinguish only to zero—wait till the infant showed zero hardons in the presence of stimulus x, and then stop? Did he forget—or ignore—the "silent extinction beyond the zero"? If he ignored it, why? Did the National Research Council have anything to say about that?
When Slothrop was discovered, late in 1944, by "The White Visitation"—though many there have always known him as the famous Infant Tyrone—like the New World, different people thought they'd discovered different things.
Roger Mexico thinks it's a statistical oddity. But he feels the foundations of that discipline trembling a bit now, deeper than oddity ought to drive. Odd, odd, odd—think of the word: such white finality in its closing clap of tongue. It implies moving past the tongue-stop — beyond the zero—and into the other realm. Of course you don't move past. But you do realize, intellectually, that's how you ought to be moving.
Rollo Groast thinks it's precognition. "Slothrop is able to predict when a rocket will fall at a particular place. His survival to date is evidence he's acted on advance information, and avoided the area at the time the rocket was supposed to fall." Dr. Groast is not sure how, or even if, sex comes into it.
But Edwin Treacle, that most Freudian of psychical researchers, thinks Slothrop's gift is psychokinesis. Slothrop is, with the force of his mind, causing the rockets to drop where they do. He may not be physically highballing them about the sky: but maybe he is fooling with the electrical signals inside the rocket's guidance system. However he's doing it, sex does come into Dr. Treacle's theory. "He subconsciously needs to abolish all trace of the sexual Other, whom he symbolizes on his map, most significantly, as a star, that anal-sadistic emblem of classroom success which so permeates elementary education in America...."
It's the map that spooks them all, the map Slothrop's been keeping on his girls. The stars fall in a Poisson distribution, just like the rocket strikes on Roger Mexico's map of the Robot Blitz.
But, well, it's a bit more than the distribution. The two patterns also happen to be identical. They match up square for square. The slides that Teddy Bloat's been taking of Slothrop's map have been projected onto Roger's, and the two images, girl-stars and rocket-strike circles, demonstrated to coincide.
Helpfully, Slothrop has dated most of his stars. A star always comes before its corresponding rocket strike. The strike can come as quickly as two days, or as slowly as ten. The mean lag is about 4'/2 days.
Suppose, Pointsman argues, that Jamf's stimulus x was some loud noise, as it was in the Watson-Rayner experiment. Suppose that, in Slothrop's case, the hardon reflex wasn't completely extinguished. In that case he ought to be getting one on at any loud noise that's preceded by the same kind of ominous buildup he would've found in Jamf's lab—as dogs to this day find in Pointsman's own lab. That points to the V-1 : any doodle close enough to make him jump ought to be giving him an erection: the sound of the motor razzing louder and louder, then the cutoff and silence, suspense building up—then the explosion. Boing, a hardon. But oh, no. Slothrop instead only gets erections when this sequence happens in reverse. Explosion first, then the sound of approach: the V-2.
But the stimulus, somehow, must be the rocket, some precursor wraith, some rocket's double present for Slothrop in the percentage of smiles on a bus, menstrual cycles being operated upon in some mysterious way—what does make the little doxies do it for free? Are there fluctuations in the sexual market, in pornography or prostitutes, perhaps tying in to prices on the Stock Exchange itself, that we clean-living lot know nothing about? Does news from the front affect the itch between their pretty thighs, does desire grow directly or inversely as the real chance of sudden death—damn it, what cue, right in front of our eyes, that we haven't the subtlety of heart to see? . . .
But if it's in the air, right here, right now, then the rockets follow from it, 100% of the time. No exceptions. When we find it, we'll have shown again the stone determinacy of everything, of every soul. There will be precious little room for any hope at all. You can see how important a discovery like that would be.
They walk down past the snow-drifted kennel runs, Pointsman in Glastonburys and fawn-colored British warm, Mexico wearing a scarf Jessica's lately knitted him whipping landward a scarlet dragon's tongue—this day the coldest so far of the winter, 3 9 degrees of frost. Down to the cliffs, faces freezing, down to the deserted beach. Waves run up, slide away to leave great crescents of ice fine as skin and dazzling in the weak sunlight. The boots of the two men crunch through to sand or shingle. The very bottom of the year. They can hear the guns in Flanders today, all the way across the Channel on the wind. The Abbey's ruin stands gray and crystal up on the cliff.
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