Whittingham_Asylum_Corridor_[now-demolished]

Court Transcript

LORD SCALES. Which brings me to the desecration of the Pyx and the Host you emptied on the dying priest. A terrible crime in itself.

JACQUES. Pah! That was no crime. The pyx is but a leaden box, full of mouldy straw!

GOBLINS. Disgusting! Repulsive!

JACQUES. ’Tis only fit for rats!

LORD SCALES. Er, might I ask, is it possible for a rat to take the body of Christ?

KREW. That is the most absurd and elementary of questions.

LORD SCALES. Silence Krew, I’m asking the accused. Well Jacques? Is it possible? You have told the court of Squealing Jeanne, the “sacrament sow”, to whom your mother fed the Host. But what of a rat? If a lowly rat partakes of the consecrated wafer, shall it become a regal rat?’

JACQUES. Absolutely. I have seen them do it a thousand times.

LORD SCALES. I think you miss the point. “He that eats my flesh,” saith Christ, “and drinks my blood, hath eternal life.” But shall a rat gain eternal life by eating the flesh of the Son of Man? Will it cleanse the rat of all sin?

JACQUES. Do you mean to ask, shall the rat be raised up on the last day? Nay, it might as well imbibe the blood of a mountain goat… The folly of the Catholic faith has no end.

LORD SCALES. Yet some demon doctors insist that belief is everything – that the content and reality of the hereafter is created by a faith in one.

JACQUES. Do not atheists have a hereafter?

LORD SCALES. Aye, but in what manner can a rat believe in God the Father Almighty and Jesus Christ, his son?

JACQUES. Oh, all rats must believe. Under pain of death. That’s why they swarm to church and feast on wormy wafers – those rats who think that common bread and wine, by the influence of holy prayer, is mysteriously changed into the true and vivifying body and blood of Christ… The miller was right: all that passes through the body comes to a vile end. Which could not happen to the Host, if Christ were in it.

LORD SCALES. But some of these rats believe the body of Christ is immortal and incorruptible. That is to say, the Host passes through the bum cheeks, as Christ was crucified between two thieves. That which is material is corrupted by the guts, but that which is spiritual remains divine.

JACQUES. It scarcely seems probable that such a monstrous doctrine should be so widely accepted. ’Tis an impudent insult to common sense and the first principals of reason. A wise man knows the difference between a literal and figurative expression. But a rat cannot distinguish between truth and error. Ergo, the rats swallow it: the body of Christ incorruptible, to purify their souls, sanctify their flesh, and confirm their hearts and minds in the hope of heavenly things. Catholics are the greatest of fools. The material water of baptism and the sacraments are not profitable to salvation. They are not even true sacraments, but false and diabolical. That is why Catholics are the cause of all calamity…

LORD SCALES. I see. Thank you for making that clear. Scribe, let the error of the rat be noted…

JACQUES. Error? What do you mean? All transubstantiation is pagan fodder.

DEMON DOCTOR. Well said that man! Even the old Egyptians celebrated the resurrection of Osiris by a sacrament, eating a sacred wafer to become the veritable flesh of his flesh… ’Tis all blood, blood, blood.

JACQUES. Aye! Catholic altars are little more than butcher’s slabs. ’Tis perverse in so many ways…

LORD SCALES. Catholics are the greatest of fools, and their odious rites have blinded them to the Light of the morning star…

JACQUES. Most noble Lord, I see your scales are weighted with reason. Catholics are indeed the greatest of fools.

LORD SCALES. Scribe, let the error of the rat be noted.

JACQUES. Another error? Why? What did I say? Why do you bait me so? Do not Catholics sip wine for His blood and eat bread for His flesh?

LORD SCALES. Of course. I don’t deny it. But whose is the chalice of His blood?

JACQUES. Why, ’tis none other than pagan Dionysus, born of the virgin Semele at winter solstice; nurtured in a cave, and identified with the Bull.

LORD SCALES. Ah! The blood of Dionysus, slain in sacrifice for the purification of man…

JACQUES. He was a horned child, just like myself.

LORD SCALES. Clearly you are a man of theological integrity, and one after my own heart. I find all that Eucharistic blood letting quite repugnant. If only Catholics knew the truth.

JACQUES. That Lucifer is Lord?

LORD SCALES. No. That history is littered with these so called “Christs”. It tickles me to think of it. Goblin Jury, have you not heard of Odin, who hung by his own desire, crucified upon the world’s tree, transfixed by a spear?

IMP. Oh? And did he hasten the resurrection of Spring?

LORD SCALES. I wouldn’t know: Spring always comes late in those northern climbs. And what of Atys, hung upon the pine? Shall I tell of The Day of Blood in the Temple of Cybele, when I tiptoed through the violets, and saw the novices at their vernal rite, castrating themselves for the kingdom of heaven. But you are not so foolish as to castrate yourself for the kingdom of heaven, are you Jacques? I’d be ready to piss myself laughing if you did.

JACQUES. Your frothy jests cannot hurt me.

LORD SCALES. I see you have no heart to be merry. And the very pang of it has put you in a sweat. Yet, ’tis strange that this doctrine of the eternal sacrifice of Himself, ordained by God for the salvation of mankind, has inspired so many religions, and was seized by primitive man before the dawn of history itself. ’Tis very mysterious… Eh, Jacques Vallin?

JACQUES. Yes my lord, very.

KREW. Very mysterious indeed…

LORD SCALES. Hmm…

KREW. Hmm…

JACQUES. Hmm…

LORD SCALES. But the night draws on. Let us not dwell any longer on the bloody rites of antiquity. The bell strikes three…

KREW. Yes, we are running out of time.

JACQUES. I must tell of the milkmaid before you judge my soul…

LORD SCALES. We come to it again: your soul. A clever rogue you are, and how eager to save it. But alas, I have reached the first judgement already. For the image of your soul is before my eyes like a hideous Chimera. Your soul is arrogant, mean and vulgar; the smallest and best parts are enslaved by your own bitterness, and the largest ruling part is but the worst and maddest… Why are you so keen to save it?

JACQUES. For terror of hell-fire!

LORD SCALES. Our god is an all consuming fire.(i) And little do you know, you were already ablaze before your wisdom teeth erupted.

SATYR STYX. He was dammed from the start: a man not fit for purpose.

LORD SCALES. That learned men are condemned to become philosophers is a terrible damnation in itself.

JACQUES. Or that girls like me are condemned to become men.

LORD SCALES. Oh! Oh! Girls like me! Oh! Fetch me a cistern quick, before I flood the bench with tears! A thousand devils seize me! Look at this wretch! Jacques the heretic, Jacques the healer, Jacques the lusty, Jacques the pitiful, Jacques the deformed, Jacques the pretender diamon! Poor Jacqueline. How in God’s name, could you ever transfigure?

GOBLIN. Transfigure, transfer, transferrin, transferee, transfinite, transform, transfuse, transit, transient, transition, transitory, transliterate, translunar, translocation, transmigrate, transmutate, transparent, transplant, transpose, transvestite, transsexual… transgress!

JACQUES. Was it all in vain? That my soul was united to this body for the sole purpose of quickening it? Yet I am not quickened, but full of rage! Christ Jesus, give me one sound doctrine of philosophy!

KREW. Love one another.

JACQUES. Look at me: the seventh son of a seventh son. The Climacteric number of all diseases!

LORD SCALES. Empedocles reduces the soul to elements; Plato to number. Shall we, like Platonists, define the world with numbers?

JACQUES. Oh! Stop it! Stop!

LORD SCALES. One for the universe; Two, for primary length; Three, for breadth; Four, for depth. Goblin Jury, let us see if we can define the soul likewise…

JACQUES. Stop, shadow!

LORD SCALES. – Reason is One (for without it, naught else is possible); Knowledge is Two (since it proceeds from axiom to conclusion); Opinion is Three (and the number of a surface). Sensation is Four (and the number of a solid). By Uranus! What Chaos we make! We tie ourselves in knots, for numbers are but ideas themselves; and ideas are derived from elements. And thus we judge the world falsely, by our reasons, opinions and sensations; for our idea-numbers become the very form of things. But they are not the things. Further, since the soul is cognitive yet also capable of causing motion, some Platonic magpies have combined the two and defined the soul as a self-moving number!

GOBLIN JURY. One for sorrow, two for joy; three for a girl and four for a boy; five for silver, six for gold; seven for a secret never to be told…

JACQUES. From what depths have these mocking goblins come? The pit of Hades or my own insanity?

LORD SCALES. Insanity? Your ignorance is frightening. There are spiritual authorities of which you are totally unaware. But to try and explain them would be a total waste of time, because they are beyond the limit of your feeble imaginings. So you will have to make do with us Shadows. Besides, where is Hades but Earth itself: your material state in bodily life.

JACQUES. The torrent of my restless soul… Wait a minute… Perhaps the Governor was right after all. Perhaps I’m not here…

LORD SCALES. Oh? If you are not here, then where are you, pray tell?

JACQUES. In a floatation tank.

LORD SCALES. Floatation tank? What floatation tank? I see no cistern here.

JACQUES. ’Tis not here. ’Tis in the New World – at the asylum of Sunhill. That’s where I sleep to be sure. Pontius has meddled with my brains. You demons are just phantoms of the Id.

LORD SCALES. The Id? And what is your Id but the moonscape of an Idiot?

JACQUES. Stop thinking! I am lost in the Inquistor’s mill, and orbit myself in contrary ways, wheels within wheels. These apparitions are false and irrational; a fabric of legend, myth and dogma… Look! The wheels are turning again; yet their motion has a law: sometimes reversed, now waning – a governor of time and space, interlocking spindles, spawning golden gyres… Impossible! These devils pervert my thinking. I shall not oppose body to soul – only sense to reason. And my senses lie, for they are in flux and have no fixed being… Lord Scales is an insubstantial thing, a mist of errors, whose atoms are the stuff of shadows…

LORD SCALES. Atoms, mad abbot? Well, even in the Atomists we find much cause for amusement. Apparently, atoms come in many different shapes and sizes, from which the whole universe is made. The different qualities of things are due to the different atomic shapes, sizes and arrangements. This is almost laudable. But the particulars can never be known because they have no abiding existence. What is more, the Atomists insist the soul is no exception; they say the soul is naught but a complex of atoms within the body. Ha! Apparently, soul-atoms are spherical in shape, smaller than a fleas arse, and just as mobile. They resemble atoms of fire and have the consistency of wind – which may be proved by holding a flame to your own bum trumpet… I once knew a doctor of philosophy who, after eating a plate of beans, farted out his entire soul during Mass, and spent the rest of Lent gulping like codfish just to get it back!

KREW. Oh! Oh! That is most amusing my lord. But as a matter of fact, we Cyclopeans are not satisfied with the simple resolution of matter into infinitesimal particles, and prefer instead to imbue the qualities of mind upon infinitesimal particles. Mind is the generative force. Therefore we must call everything mind. One mind. One world. The Unus Mundus. To wit, the body, which decays, is clearly matter and the soul is mind. But if the soul is mind, and the principal cause of the body, then the body is manifest soul. To wit, matter is nothing but mind. Oh you dunces! Haven’t you got it yet?

Copyright © Nicholas Shea 2000.

i. Hebrews 13:29

Image credit: Whittingham Asylum corridor – now demolished.