Why does the English language still not contain a word meaning "to have sex with an earlier or later version of yourself, using a time machine"? I'm bWhy does the English language still not contain a word meaning "to have sex with an earlier or later version of yourself, using a time machine"? I'm baffled.
In this obscure science-fiction novel, written at about the same time as Dune, Frank Herbert asks a question which has occupied surprisingly few SF wrIn this obscure science-fiction novel, written at about the same time as Dune, Frank Herbert asks a question which has occupied surprisingly few SF writers: if you were immortal, what would you actually do? His answer, which will appeal to many people on this site, is more or less that you would catch up on your reading.
As things are, we're so limited by our puny lifespans. Usually we just read a book once and then move on to the next one. If we liked it, we might read it a second or even a third time. If we really liked it, we may occasionally go further: read books that it refers to or that influenced it, check out a biography of the author, perhaps find a doctoral dissertation that provides further details.
Even though we know we could do a whole lot more, we don't have time. But suppose we could count on living to two hundred thousand. If we thought a book was interesting, we could spend a century reading it properly. We could become fluent in Polish or classical Japanese to get all the nuances of the original, visit the places it mentions, check out every single book that the author might have read, learn to imitate their style and try rewriting the story in different ways to explore the artistic choices they had available, and finally publish our conclusions in thirty leisurely volumes. A few thousand years later, when we were busy with another author of the same period, we'd be able to reread our previous work, see how our ideas had changed and revise a few things. Maybe we'd suddenly notice an angle we'd missed first time round.
Well, that's roughly how the immortals here spend their time. Of course, the underground wants to get rid of these spoiled, decadent aristocrats, and you're encouraged to sympathize with their revolutionary ideals. But I wasn't sure I agreed. I quite liked the immortals and felt sorry that they couldn't go on with their cultural studies for another few million years.
**spoiler alert** I read this SF book when I was about 9, and I forgot most of it pretty quickly, but there was one subplot I've often wondered about.**spoiler alert** I read this SF book when I was about 9, and I forgot most of it pretty quickly, but there was one subplot I've often wondered about. The heroes are space doctors who go around the galaxy doing heroic medical stuff (the author was himself a medical doctor). They land on a planet where the monkey-like inhabitants are suffering from a weird virus infection, and they do their best to cure them. It doesn't work: every time a native looks like he's virus-free, he turns into a babbling idiot. In the end, the hero has an epiphany. They've got the wrong patient! The intelligent species isn't the monkeys, it's the viruses. They've been doing their best to kill the people who needed their help.
It works okay as a metaphor for various kinds of misguided interventionist foreign policy, which of course I completely missed as a 9-year-old. But that isn't the thing I wondered about; I was more curious to know whether it was in principle possible to have an intelligent virus. In the book, they were supposed to have some kind of hive mind, but this struck me even then as nonsense and still does. I couldn't really have said why at the time, but now I think I can voice my objections coherently: a virus contains too little information to encode any kind of intelligent behavior. It doesn't matter how many bodies you spread it over.
Or is it so obvious? Maybe there's a flaw in my reasoning... what do other people think? ...more
It's terrible, I've opened up some kind of Pandora's Box here. No sooner have I revised the story of one Ainsi va la vie book than I feel have to do tIt's terrible, I've opened up some kind of Pandora's Box here. No sooner have I revised the story of one Ainsi va la vie book than I feel have to do the same with another. Alas, Not's arguments seem irrefutable... but I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me give you the facts and you can form your own opinion. To start, here's Take 1, the original story from the book:
Coming out of school one day, Max rushes across the road without looking and is hit by a car. He's taken to hospital, where the nice doctor tells him that he's broken his leg in two places. "Am I going to die?" asks Max. "Course not!" says the doctor. "We're going to do a little operation, then you'll be fine. You'll just have to wear a cast for six weeks." Pretty soon, Mom has turned up and is being her usual kind, supportive self. The operation proceeds as expected (the book gives interesting details about how a general anaesthetic is administered, and that it's no big deal). Max is anxious at first about having to spend several more nights in hospital. But it soon becomes clear that the cute girl in the next bed over is kind of sweet on him, and in the end he's sorry to have to go home. She draws a big red heart on his cast as a farewell gift. When the day comes to remove the plaster, he asks the doctor if he can keep it.
Awwww! But Not's right: this could give kids the idea that getting run over is a fun and life-enhancing experience. Here's Take 2, written more in accordance with traditional Brothers Grimm values:
Max dashes across the road without looking and is hit by a car. He's taken to hospital and put into intensive care. "Will he be okay?" asks his mother tearfully when she arrives. The doctor tells her to sit down, then gives her the news. Max will probably survive, but they'll have to amputate both legs. There is also brain damage. There is no chance he'll have a normal life.
Max spends several months at the hospital before finally being allowed to come home. He is no longer the same boy. He suffers constant, excruciating pain and has wild mood swings, screaming every night until the small hours. The strain on his parents is intolerable. Barbara starts drinking heavily, then begins an affair with Paul's brother. When Paul finds out, he files for divorce and says he never wants to see her again. He starts to drink too.
One night, when surfing the web, Paul suddenly decides he wants to get married again. He selects a mail-order bride, a platinum blonde 22-year-old from Kirgyzstan. As soon as Olga turns up, it's clear that she and Lili can't stand each other. Things, already bad, start to spiral further downhill. It doesn't help that Olga is also an alcoholic.
A month later, Olga tells Paul that she's made arrangements for Lili to go to boarding school overseas; it's the best solution for everyone. Paul barely reacts, signing all the papers without even reading them. Lili is not going to boarding school. When she gets off the plane, she finds she's now working for a high-class brothel, in fact Olga's former employer. But she's reached bottom and finally gets a lucky break. One of her regular clients, a wealthy gangster, decides he likes her enough that he'll make her his mistress. Lili, smart as always, does everything in her power to please him. Vladimir is smitten with his young French girlfriend. A few months later, he asks her to marry him. In their remote corner of Kirgyzstan, it's perfectly legal despite the fact that she's still only 11.
"I have two conditions," says Lili. "I want you to bring Max and Dad here to live with us. And I want my stepmother killed. Slowly." Vladimir doesn't even hesitate. He makes arrangements for his right-hand man, an artist with the electric drill, to visit Olga the same week. She holds on for nearly six hours before passing out for the last time. Paul and Max arrive on the next flight.
And they all lived happily ever after. Nonetheless, the moral is clear: kids, road safety is important!
Okay, give me your honest opinion. Which version is more responsible? ______________________________
Update: Not disowns all responsibility for this review, and my attempts to get her to read the Brothers Grimm have also been uniformly unsuccessful. She says she'll just stick with nice, safe Jim Thompson, Georges Simenon, Ruth Rendell, etc etc... ...more
It is rare that I feel I want to rewrite any book in this excellent series, but Max raconte des bobards is an exception. Here is the story, includingIt is rare that I feel I want to rewrite any book in this excellent series, but Max raconte des bobards is an exception. Here is the story, including my suggested amendations:
Max and Lili are on vacation at a Normandy beach town. None of the big kids will take Max seriously, so he starts making up more and more unlikely tales: he's allowed to ride on his cousin's scooter, he's an expert fisherman (just not today), he's beaten a boy several years older than himself at arm-wrestling, etc. Within a couple of days, he's become a pathological liar. He and a friend try to sneak into the beauty contest to look at the bikini babes, despite the sign at the entrance saying ADULTS: 10 FRANCS. "I'm ten," says Max with barefaced bravado. "Are you sure?" asks the ticket lady kindly. "Under tens are free." Max changes his mind without missing a beat. The bikini babes are very well done and come in all shapes and sizes.
But Max's lying has caught up with him - he'd told his parents a different story about how he was going to spend the afternoon. Suddenly he's been outed and no one will believe a word he says! So when he runs over to his friends to tell them that a girl has been cut off by the incoming tide on a little rock and is yelling for help, they laugh in his face. Nothing deterred, Max grabs a surfboard, paddles out and rescues her all on his own. He returns in triumph pushing the distressed damsel on the board, while he swims along behind it. "Gotta believe in yourself," he murmurs as he accepts congratulations on his heroism. The girl drowns, and her shocked mother screams hysterically that if only he hadn't told so many lies her daughter would still be alive. Max has a nervous breakdown and is clearly going to spend the rest of his life seeing psychiatrists.
Ah, sorry. After-effects of reading the Brothers Grimm last week... ...more
Excuse me for sounding smug, but I have managed to read a book in German. A real book, 250 pages long with no pictures. And, unlike earlier attempts,Excuse me for sounding smug, but I have managed to read a book in German. A real book, 250 pages long with no pictures. And, unlike earlier attempts, I did not cheat in any way: there was no accompanying parallel text, I didn't look anything up in a dictionary and I hadn't previously read it in another language. There is, to say the least, ample room left for improvement; but based on previous experience with learning languages, I think I've now reached the point where I can continue to progress by just reading more books.
I have been using my habitual method of exploiting the closest language I already know as a stepping stone. In this case it's Swedish, but it's taken a bit of work; even though Swedish and German are very similar once you know enough about both of them, it takes a while to work out the connections. I finally seem to have got enough of the key though that I can most of the time read the German as though it were sorta-Swedish. Here's an example of what it looks like in practice:
Er weiß, dass es högste Zeit ist, an Feuer Han vet, att det högsta tid är, till fyr
zurückzukehren. Aber die Augen des Mädchens, tillbaka-att-åka. Men de ögon av flickan,
die heller Augen im Kranz der Wimpern de blanka ögon i-den krans av ?
halten ihn fest, er kommt nicht mehr håller honom fast, han kommer inte mer
los davon. loss därifrån.
As you can see, many of the words are similar. But some are only a bit similar, and I've had to learn to recognize various common correspondences, e.g. z/t as in Zeit/tid or au/ö as in Augen/ögon. The thing that's taken most time is the particles, many of which are quite different: davon and därifrån are really the same word ("there-from", i.e. "from there"), but they don't immediately look the same! Once you've got the particles, though, you can pick apart verbs like zurückzukehren ("back-to-go"), which at first look weird and difficult. I hope this is encouraging German-speakers to try their hand at the reverse process: I'm pretty sure it should be easier, since Swedish grammar is rather less complicated than German. Also, once you've got Swedish you've almost got Norwegian too.
An essential part of the process is having a book that you really want to continue reading despite the fact that it's challenging and painful at the beginning. Thank you Kerstin for lending me this wonderful classic children's novel! It is one of the best examples of the young-magician genre I have ever come across, and the frequent comparisons with J.K. Rowling are downright insulting; even with my very limited German, it is obvious that Preußler is a far better writer. I would in fact rank Krabat as only slightly inferior to A Wizard of Earthsea.
And now, I must make sure I keep on consolidating my gains. My next adventure will be Emil und die Detektive. ...more
USE AT OWN RISK. BE PARTICULARLY CAREFUL WHEN ADMINISTERING TO YOUNG CHILDREN. THE MANUFACTURERS EXPLICITLY DISCLAIM ALL RESPONSIBILITY FOR ADVERSE SIUSE AT OWN RISK. BE PARTICULARLY CAREFUL WHEN ADMINISTERING TO YOUNG CHILDREN. THE MANUFACTURERS EXPLICITLY DISCLAIM ALL RESPONSIBILITY FOR ADVERSE SIDE-EFFECTS INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO DISTURBED SLEEP PATTERNS, NAUSEA, BLEEDING, VIOLENT BEHAVIOR, HALLUCINATIONS, POLTERGEIST ATTACKS, PSYCHOTIC EPISODES AND DEATH. ...more
I had reason today to quote Leigh Hunt's poem "Abou Ben Adhem", which children of my generation were often forced to read in class. I believe this isI had reason today to quote Leigh Hunt's poem "Abou Ben Adhem", which children of my generation were often forced to read in class. I believe this is no longer a requirement, so for the benefit of people who've missed it I will reproduce the text here:
Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!) Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace, And saw, within the moonlight in his room, Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom, An angel writing in a book of gold:— Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold, And to the presence in the room he said, "What writest thou?"—The vision raised its head, And with a look made of all sweet accord, Answered, "The names of those who love the Lord." "And is mine one?" said Abou. "Nay, not so," Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low, But cheerly still; and said, "I pray thee, then, Write me as one that loves his fellow men."
The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night It came again with a great wakening light, And showed the names whom love of God had blest, And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest.
You can kind of see why it's become less popular. Be that as it may, I thought I would share the following story about the late Isaac Asimov, who from an early age was a devout atheist. Young Asimov was also forced to read the poem in class, and when they were finished his teacher asked if anyone could say why Abou Ben Adhem's name headed the list. Asimov put his hand up.
"Yes?" said the teacher.
"Because A is the first letter of the alphabet," said Asimov. ...more
Evidently this is intended as an homage to Midnight Sun, which given the roots of the Fifty Shades series is entirely appropriate and thematic. What IEvidently this is intended as an homage to Midnight Sun, which given the roots of the Fifty Shades series is entirely appropriate and thematic. What I don't understand is why E.L. James didn't arrange for a crazed fan to hack into her computer, steal the draft and leak it over the web, causing her to abandon the project in disgust when it was still in an incomplete form. What's wrong with her? Doesn't she care? ________________________________
If you can't beat them, join them. No more carping and criticizing: clearly there is nothing much to it, and I have decided to become a world-famous erotic novelist as well. Here, rescued from its obscure position as message #43 in the comment thread, is the first page of my new bestseller, which I have provisionally entitled My Grey Life. Amazon will soon be accepting pre-orders.
After a tempestuous night with an A-list movie star I probably should not identify, I rise early; my companion, exhausted by our naughty games, is still asleep, and I decide to let her get some well-earned rest. I do my usual workout at my fully-equipped private gym - those six-pack abs don't maintain themselves, my trainer always reminds me! - and then retire to the study where I plan to spend half an hour improving my mind. But I have only read a couple of pages from my signed first edition of Weyl's Quantenmechanik und Gruppentheorie when the door opens, and the housekeeper, a former Miss Honduras, arrives carrying a breakfast tray. As she smiles and leans over to put it on my Louis XIV escritoire, I ask my cock what he thinks of the bountiful assets she is so generously displaying. Imagine my consternation when I receive no answer. The little bastard has escaped again! He evidently made off while I was trying to decipher Weyl's rather terse explanation of spherical harmonics. It is the second time this week.
My housekeeper notices my expression and asks me what's wrong; I shamefacedly confess my predicament, and together we search the room. We eventually run the miscreant to ground, hiding behind a massive armoire. Conchita, who seems to know what she is doing, goes down on her hands and knees and manages to coax him out, using a saucer of milk and an old copy of Hustler. I tuck him back into my underpants and resolve to double her salary with immediate effect.
As you see, it's not as simple as you might think being a hunky billionaire with a sentient penis. But I relish the challenge and wouldn't have it any other way.
My initial reason for reading this dual-language edition of the Brothers Grimm was to try and improve my German, and it certainly seems to have workedMy initial reason for reading this dual-language edition of the Brothers Grimm was to try and improve my German, and it certainly seems to have worked; when I started, I was peeking at the English shamefully often, but by the time I got to the end I was sometimes reading whole pages without a glance at the right-hand side. But never mind the pedagogical aspects: the book itself was so fascinating. As with Les trois mousquetaires and the Arabian Nights, I had somehow got the idea that it was a children's book. Was I ever wrong.
In the pre-Disneyfied version, the stories turn out to be most unsuitable for children. They are violent fantasies written in a clever faux-naive style, and it is easy to see why they have enjoyed their huge success. To give a couple of striking examples, in Allerleirauh the princess first has to escape from her home after her father announces that he is going to marry her (she reminds him too much of her dead mother); she takes refuge at another castle, where she is forced to work as a scullery maid and sleep, Harry Potter-style, in a cupboard under the stairs. Another remarkable story was Die Gänsemagd; this time, the princess is forced to change places with her evil maidservant, who marries the prince while her mistress is given a job herding geese. At the end, the maidservant's treachery is uncovered. The king describes to her what she has done, pretending that he is talking about someone else, and asks what a suitable punishment would be. The conclusion is as follows:
Da sprach die falsche Braut: "Die ist nichts Besseres wert, als daß sie splitternackt ausgezogen und in ein Faß gesteckt wird, das inwendig mit spitzen Nägeln beschlagen ist; und zwei weiße Pferde müssen vorgespannt werden, die sie Gasse auf Gasse ab zu Tode schleifen." - "Das bist du," sprach der alte König, "und hast dein eigen Urteil gefunden, und danach soll dir widerfahren." Und als das Urteil vollzogen war, vermählte sich der junge König mit seiner rechten Gemahlin, und beide beherrschten ihr Reich in Frieden und Seligkeit.
["No better than this," answered the false bride, "that she be stripped naked, put into a cask studded inside with sharp nails, and be dragged along in it by two white horses from street to street, until she be dead." - "Thou art that woman," said the old King, "Thou hast spoken thy own doom, and as thou hast said, so shall it be done." And when the sentence was fulfilled, the Prince married the true bride, and ever after they ruled over their kingdom in peace and blessedness.]
As already noted, most parents will not want to read this to their kids. The thing that will make the adult reader increasingly uneasy, however, is the contrast between the brilliant writing and the underlying message. The heroes and heroines are beautiful, almost always blonde, and justified in committing any kind of barbaric cruelty against their enemies; I lost count of the number of evil witches, stepmothers and stepsisters who were burned alive, eaten by wild animals, torn limb from limb or blinded. It is obvious why the book was popular with the Nazis - so popular, apparently, that it was banned for a while after the end of World War II. But it's a masterpiece, and I think it's entirely appropriate that it's been reinstated.
Karl Ove Knausgård is one of the most insightful modern commentators on the Nazi era, and he has had many interesting things to say about this subject. In an interview he gave a few years ago, he defended himself against the charge that he was trying to glorify Nazism. Of course Nazism was beautiful, he said scornfully. If it hadn't been, how could it have seduced so many people? When I read the Brother Grimm in the original German, I felt I understood better what he had meant. ...more
It is difficult to believe the author's claim that the Ask Burlefot novels are not based on real events. A largeAnswers to test from part #1
It is difficult to believe the author's claim that the Ask Burlefot novels are not based on real events. A large number of important plot points correspond well with facts readily available on the web; and of course, the author had to defend himself in two lengthy court cases against charges that he had infringed people's privacy by including them, in thinly disguised forms, in his two books. Interestingly, however, none of the individuals concerned were ex-lovers. They were apparently all highly-placed politicians who objected to the way in which their younger selves had been portrayed as members of the "Young Socialists Club".
I am very tempted to read Heger's 1999 biography, Mykle: Ett diktet liv, which looks like it should give clear answers.
Europe, as Doris Lessing memorably calls it in Shikasta, constitutes "the north-west fringes of the major landmass"; Norway is at the edge of Europe; Kirknes is at the far end of Norway. I think D is most appropriate.
The following map may be useful:
It is not at all easy to say which of the cited novels "Ask Burlefot" most closely resembles, and one can make a reasonable case for all four. I was initially most tempted to associate it with Fear of Flying. Mykle is as fascinated with cunts as Jong is with cocks, and even today one is startled by the detailed descriptions he provides; I'm almost having trouble remembering that I haven't in fact had sex with any of these women. The books sold well on their reputation as pornography, and the 1970 movie sounds as though it's been entirely reorganized along these lines.
But, as the story progressed, I began to feel that it was unfair to think of Mykle as a simple pornographer. Even though Ask spends a large part of his time seducing various women and the sex is described in great detail, the way in which it was presented increasingly reminded me of Updike's "Rabbit" books. Mykle wants to give you an unvarnished interior portrait of what an irresponsible sex addict is like, and, as with Rabbit, he is just as detailed in showing you the consequences of Ask's heartless behavior. At the beginning, you're probably identifying with him and enjoying his erotic adventures; by the end, you're identifying at least as much with the women and wanting to defend them. I'm sure this is intentional.
Comparing with the Kjærstad and Knausgård novels, both writers seem to have studied Mykle closely and developed his ideas in new and fruitful directions. Kjærstad has reworked the erotic themes in a more satisfying way, and created a book which is artistically and philosophically much deeper. He is rather touchingly explicit about his debt to Mykle, and in fact it was only because of his enthusiastic (though characteristically ambiguous) praise that I ever got around to reading him. But the most interesting comparison is Knausgård. Min kamp, in a way, starts where Mykle finishes, confronting the moral aspects head-on and making them the central theme. Throughout Mykle, you can never stop thinking that what he's doing is not right: the fact that he's going to use this as material for his novel surely doesn't permit him to behave so dreadfully to the various women in his life, and the passage in book #1 where he explicitly tries to excuse himelf in these terms is uncomfortable reading. Mykle's books take place in the late 1930s, with the Third Reich constantly in the background. Ask hates Hitler, but does nothing worth mentioning to oppose the many Nazi sympathizers he meets, and his own behavior is in a way just the same megalomaniac ruthlessness on a smaller scale. All of this is glossed over in Mykle, but Knausgård, to his credit, examines the questions with the seriousness they deserve.
Mykle's books have obvious flaws, but they are alive in a way few novels are. They have had a large influence, and it's odd that they've been forgotten outside Norway.
I found myself constantly changing my mind about the extent to which Mykle's books are misogynistic. Many passages, at least on the surface, are shockingly misogynistic, but one is never quite certain what is ironic and what is not. Some passages almost have to be ironic, but others come across as pretty much straight. In particular, he tells us many times how much he hates his mother, and as far as I can see the obvious interpretation is the correct one. There are other passages where he sexually exploits women, without it in any way being obvious that the author thinks there might be something wrong with what he's done.
I did not find Mykle as misogynistic as Strindberg, but he easily stands comparison with the other authors.
It's not a trick question: the imagery is to a large extent based on classical sagas of the Norse gods and business administration workbooks. Of these, the first works reasonably well, but I'm not too confident about the second. The author spent a lot of time working in business administration schools, and it is quite astonishing how often he makes detailed allusions to it. It's one of things that made me feel he really wasn't very sane.
i) "Gunnhild" = B
ii) "Siv" = C
iii) Ask's mother = A
It's interesting to note that Ask's mother only has a very small role in the second volume and that the angelic Siv has completely disappeared. Gunnhild, on the other hand, is a constant shadowy menace in the background. Sometimes Ask feels sorry for her, but more often he expresses his utter disgust with the cheap, vulgar near-alcoholic prostitute who was cruel enough to have become pregnant by him. It is unpleasant to read.
Another thing I constantly found myself wondering about was the extent to which the sex scenes were taken from life. They are described in an startlingly circumstantial way, but some of them are also very hard to believe.
I found myself swinging back and forward between two opposing views. It seems plausible that Mykle was indeed extremely attractive to women, and perhaps he was the tireless sexual athlete that's depicted here. On the other hand, there's the scene in volume #1 with the ageing Captain that Ask meets on the boat, who's so very explicit about his own adventures. It's suggested that the Captain is a boastful liar who's exaggerating the extent of his conquests because he feels his best years are over, and soon he'll be unable to satisfy the girls. When Mykle wrote the novels he would have been about the Captain's age. Maybe this is his sly way of telling you that he's an unreliable sexual narrator.
As usual in this odd novel, you aren't sure what's going on or how subtle the author is being. Mykle says in the foreword to volume #2 that his book should be read twice. Perhaps I'll have to do that. ...more
Seeing a My Little Pony review just now reminded me of an internet challenge that once resulted in a fair amount of wasted time in my circle of friendSeeing a My Little Pony review just now reminded me of an internet challenge that once resulted in a fair amount of wasted time in my circle of friends. If you look at the IMDB demographics page for My Little Pony: The TV Movie, you'll find that it gets an average vote of 5.1 from men and 7.4 from women, making a difference of 2.3.
So here's the challenge: can you find a movie with a larger difference between the male and female ratings? It's remarkably hard. __________________________________
Antonomasia, who's probably intending to turn pro as soon as they commercialize this game, converts My Little Pony into a piece of sparkly steak à cheval with One Direction: This is Us. Men = 2.2, women = 6.9 gives a staggering 4.7 points of difference. I'm impressed. Can this be beaten?? __________________________________
A couple of days ago, I would have been prepared to bet serious money that this was unbeatable, but by now I'm prepared to believe anything. And it's interesting that all the big differences found so far are in the female direction. Are there really no movies which men like a great deal more than women?
[The Inn at Lichfield. ARCHER, AIMWELL, MRS SULLEN, DORINDA]
ARCHER: Good friends, we have been tasked with this grave duty, to determine if our entert[The Inn at Lichfield. ARCHER, AIMWELL, MRS SULLEN, DORINDA]
ARCHER: Good friends, we have been tasked with this grave duty, to determine if our entertainment can withstand the test of time. Three centuries hence, will the groundlings yet laugh and stamp their feet in answer to our merry jests? And be the response nay, I would know more: whether our play, if helped and amended in right wise, may still enjoy the favor of the fickle public. On these matters, I have asked my good friend and companion Aimwell to bend the powers of his keen intellect. And to our dear Mrs Sullen, I have posed a second question. In these future times, when philosophers assure us that the weaker sex will have thrown off the yoke laid on her shoulders and acknowledge no more the tyranny of men, how will womankind conceive the heroines of our drama? Do we here have women, like Helen and Electra, fit for the ages, or transient simulacra, sketches that our granddaughters will view as no more than shadows? Speak now, and discover to me your thoughts.
AIMWELL: Fear not, good Archer, and cast aside your cares! I have by certain means learned, that our play will even in 2015 be met with favor, and without the least amendment.
MRS SULLEN: And I may make as good an answer as Aimwell. Dorinda and, if I may be so immodest, myself will prosper in the future age, and be held in regard as entire and perfect specimens of the playwright's art.
ARCHER: This is good to know! I--
[Commotion without. ARCHER, AIMWELL and MRS SULLEN hastily exit left, leaving only DORINDA. Enter LADY BOUNTIFUL right.]
BOUNTIFUL: Well? And how did our friends answer? Did Aimwell make complaint that his given task was too great?
DORINDA: He told us he had been given a large one.
BOUNTIFUL: And said he that that the play required explanation or amendment?
DORINDA: He said it would stand on its own.
[Audience demonstrates appreciation of this subtle piece of eighteenth century wit]
BOUNTIFUL: Minx! And what of Mrs Sullen? Has her earnest study discovered worthy and truthfully portrayed characters?
DORINDA: She said she had two. And that they were well-rounded.
Stuck in the dentist's waiting room earlier this week, I passed the time reading this bizarre little dental-themed children's mystery story; after a wStuck in the dentist's waiting room earlier this week, I passed the time reading this bizarre little dental-themed children's mystery story; after a while, I began to wonder if the same formula couldn't be used in other contexts too. For example, here's
How The Story of O Might Have Started If It Had Been Commissioned By The French Dental Health Association
The young woman, O, is walking with her lover one day when they stop in front of a house she has never seen before. "We are expected," he says, and opens the door. She follows him, thinking that this is one of the games he likes, and now he will kiss her, caress her, remove her clothes; but they find themselves in a room with a couch of a curious design, next to which is a little basin with a cup. In the corner is a table holding some instruments. He motions to her, indicating that she is to lie down on the couch. She does so and waits for his next command. Her shallow breathing causes her breasts to rise and fall under her light summer dress. "Now you are ready," he says. "Soon the masters of this house will come. You are to do all that they say." He opens the door and leaves; he does not look back.
O lies on the couch, half-reclining, and waits. After a few minutes, the door opens and two men appear. They are dressed in green robes, with green masks over their mouths. They stand on each side of the couch, which O now perceives is equipped with leather straps. Without saying a word, they fit the straps over her body and fasten the buckles. Then they leave and close the door.
O waits. The straps hold her tightly and she is hardly able to move. There is no clock and it is impossible to tell how long she has been in the room. Finally, the door opens again and another man enters. He is also dressed in green robes. He goes to the table. O can hear that he is fingering the instruments there before deciding which one to take. He chooses one and moves so that he is standing beside her.
"Open your mouth," he says. O opens her mouth, exposing her even white teeth. "Wider," says the man. O opens as wide as she can. Her jaw aches slightly. The man inserts the instrument into her mouth. He probes the spaces between her teeth with the instrument's point, scraping and filing. O feels a sharp pain as he touches the sensitive flesh of her gums. She tastes blood but does her best not to cry out. The man continues his work, attending carefully to every space until he is satisfied. Finally, he takes the cup and raises it to O's lips. His other hand holds the basin under her chin. "Rinse," he says. O drinks the liquid in the cup, which has a strong, not unpleasant flavor of peppermint. She swills it around her mouth and spits into the basin.
The man looks down at her. "You are here to learn that oral hygiene is important," he says. "Welcome to the Clinique Dentaire de Roissy". ...more