LORD SCALES. Is the accused still with us?
KREW. Aye my Lord.
LORD SCALES. Then why is he prostrate? And what is that vaporous cloud pouring from his mouth?
IMP. That’s his soul, if I’m not mistaken.
SATYR. Has he given up the ghost?
KREW. Nay, Satyr. Jacques Vallin is very much alive.
LORD SCALES. Prick him with a pin. See if he awakes.
IMP. [Pricking Jacques]. He’s insensible my lord.
LORD SCALES. Indeed. Not even his own conscience pricks him. Does he still believe that we are naught but shadows? No wonder they call him Mad Jacques. He has the semblance of a moon-walker: he appears asleep but his eyes are like saucers.
KREW. He’s in trance my lord.
LORD SCALES. Well shake him out of it. Slap him round the face a bit. Throw a pail upon him.
SATYR. [Throwing pails]. Alas, he will not wake my lord. That’s three pails already.
LORD SCALES. Give him a good kicking. That never fails. That’ll bring him round.
SATYR. [Kicking]. He refuses to stir my lord. He’s away with the faeries.
LORD SCALES. Bloody hell fire! What an insult! He comes and goes as he pleases. Must I pass sentence in his absence?
KREW. Oh no my Lord! I beg you, don’t do that!
LORD SCALES. Why not? The accused shows no respect for my office, let alone The Infernal Counsel. Where has he gone exactly?
KREW. She’s gone to the New World my Lord.
LORD SCALES. She?
KREW. Yes. But carry on as if she were here. I can assure you that she hears us still – as many voices speaking in reverse.
LORD SCALES. She? The accused herself is in reverse! Yet she would have us believe that other men are backward! ’Tis not enough that this miscreant is a madman; he also claims a gender opposite to the one given him by Nature! Not only this, his deep suffusions of insanity have combined with demonic forces, so that his soul fragments across several planes of existence! With whom are we dealing? Jacques or Jacqueline? Jill or Jack? And in what epoch? I behold many false guises; many splinterings of mind; a solitary flash; a scintillation of coloured light. The accused is a pathological liar; he stands before us full of pompous rhetoric and deluded self-perceptions. Is he not aware of the morbid spot that darkens his inner eye? How feeble. How noxious. How perverse… Behold! Another pyrotechnic flash! His brains are full of vain pageantries! Fugacious pomps of fulminating light! A firework fountain! A maid in leather boots! Or was it a man? My eyes deceive me. The wicked deviancy of his transsexual mind has left me in a fuddle, so much so that I question my own reality! Enough of his transgender rhetoric! What are these flashing lights but phantoms of the wits!
KREW. Not phantoms my Lord, visions.
LORD SCALES. Visions of what, exactly?
KREW. The future.
LORD SCALES. Ah! Of course! What else? At the cursed hour of birth, her soul has fallen into the body of an ox, or some other brute beast. Such winding coils of darkness! And now the enigmas of her fate are entwined in a labyrinth of mixed pronouns! So much so, that she has become a dummy object with little or no meaning at all! Must I speak in reverse, just to be understood? In the name of Lucifer, I know not what to call her from one minute to the next; he, him his; she, her, hers; they, theirs; ze, zir…
SNOWFLAKE. Allow me to elucidate. For queer, gender non-conforming, non-binary and transgender people, being addressed by an assumed “he” or “she” can cause stress and anxiety when they don’t identify as such. Fae/faer are the most commonly used noun-self pronouns to my knowledge. The complete set is as follows: Objective: Fae; Subjective: Faer; Possessive Adjective: Faer; Possessive Pronoun: Faers; Reflexive: Faerself. So instead of saying “He/She is my friend” we say “Fae is my friend”. And instead of saying “I saw him/her yesterday” we say: “I saw faer yesterday”. But please note that Fae/faer is singular unless otherwise specified. So we say “fae is/fae’s”, and not “fae are/fae’re”. This is common mistake because fae/faer has a similar vowel sound to they/their. Also, don’t assume two pronoun types are conjugated the same just because they are in another pronoun set. For example, the possessive adjective and possessive pronoun in he/him/his are both “his,” but in fae/faer, they are not the same – but similar to the other sets like she/her and they/them.
LORD SCALES. Are you sure about all that? How confusing. I must confess, it makes me feel most uncomfortable.
SNOWFLAKE. Yes. It is often very confusing for people because of their unconscious bias.
LORD SCALES. Unconscious bias? By which you mean my god-given common sense? So how should I addresses you, sir?
SNOWFLAKE. My name is Jemima. But my chosen pronous are: Fae, Faer, Faers, Faerself.
LORD SCALES. Oh? Well you don’t look like a Jemima. You look more like a Jim or a James. You have a beard for a start. And you’re built like an ox. Is there anything else I should be aware of, sir?
SNOWFLAKE. Yes. To ignore my chosen pronoun, and to deliberately address me with the wrong pronoun is deemed a hate-crime.
LORD SCALES. A hate crime? I find that astonishing! Transgender people make up 0.6% of the population, but they have been allowed to change the entire language! Not content with the old pronouns, they invent new ones! Subjective, objective, personal, demonstrative, interrogative, indefinite, and relative! And now they make it the business of the Courts to apply partial remedies with ad-hoc legislation!
SNOWFLAKE. Well, it is very humiliating for trans folk to be identified as one gender when they wish to be identified as another. New pronouns can eliminate that humiliation.
LORD SCALES. ’Tis no less humiliating for me to be forced to call you “she”, when you are clearly “he”.
SNOWFLAKE. I’m sorry you feel that way. But assumptions based on appearance can be harmful, especially for those transsexuals who may challenge perceptions of what a man or woman should look like. That’s why we must all use gender-neutral pronouns.
LORD SCALES. Must we indeed? Er, tell me, do you know the accused on a personal basis? I mean, who invited you into this court?
SNOWFLAKE. I invited myself. We transsexuals must stick together. The courts have ruled that all institutions must provide a welcoming and safe environment – including the respectful use of appropriate pronouns.
LORD SCALES. Respectful? Do you know who I am? This is The Infernal Counsel, no less. My court is not subject to the folly of Earthly laws. Your use of pronouns does not apply here — pronouns that are based not on biology, but entirely on the feelings of the individual — feelings that can change like the wind.
SNOWFLAKE. If we make assumptions about which pronouns are correct, we risk misgendering people.
LORD SCALES. Misgendering?
SNOWFLAKE. Yes. Or singling out trans people who want to clarify their pronouns. Deconstructing the language is a small price to pay for respecting everyone.
LORD SCALES. ’Tis no small price. ’Tis no small price at all. ’Tis a very great price indeed! Besides, why should your feelings be more important than mine? And why should I have to learn a whole new set of pronouns just to please you?
SNOWFLAKE. Yes, I know it can be overwhelming. There are so many pronouns. You can’t be expected to know them all. We’re not advocating that you memorize them. Just that you are open to using them.
LORD SCALES. But you are advocating their use! You have brought them into legislation! Have you any idea of the calamity such abuse of grammar might cause? Let me give you an example. Suppose that I am fighting a war. My general is transgender, and has chosen the pronoun “They”. In the heat of battle, and with cannons roaring, I cry out in confusion: “Where is my general?” There comes a faint reply: “They went over the hill!” By which I assume my entire army went over the hill. Believing my troops have fled, I concede defeat and surrender to the enemy. Consequently, I loose the war over a transgender pronoun. Because my army did not go over the hill. Only my general did. Do you see? Do you follow? Linking verbs are followed by complements, not direct objects. Ergo, when pronouns form complements, they should not be in the object-form. However, the object-form is invariably used in speech. We do not say: “It wasn’t they” or “That’s we in the painting”. We say: “It wasn’t them” or “That’s us in the painting”. To replace the singular subject forms “He” and “She” with the plural “They” is not only backward, but downright dangerous. Take the simple sentence: “He lent her his pen.” If we are forced to use gender-neutral pronouns for both persons, we now have: “Fae lent fae faer pen”. Or “They lent they their pen”. What perfect nonsense! Who is lending to whom? Please do not insult my intelligence. Such a sentence flouts the rules of language, truth and logic; for it corrupts that principle of verification by which it can be determined whether or not a sentence is literally meaningful.(i) I have naught against a person’s chosen gender, but to compel such use of speech is an assault on civilized society! What mischievous policy! Are transsexuals not first and foremost people, like other kin? Methinks a devil is amongst them, stirring up division. Why do they consent to such monstrous propaganda? ’Twill soon be a hate-crime to deny their chosen pronouns! I refuse to comply with this culture of victimisation. And I refuse to call you Jemima, when you are obviously Jim. Fae, Faer, Faers, Fiddlesticks!
SNOWFLAKE. [Sobbing]. I am deeply offended. I find your opinions not only repugnant, but highly dangerous to society at large. You show a profound ignorance of the sensitive issues involved, and I motion that the court depose you, in favour of one who is more inclusive and fair.
LORD SCALES. Ah! Little snowflake, don’t stand too close to my fire, or you will vanish in a vaporous wisp. Your intolerance contradicts the intellectual superiority that you assume in the first place… Why does my opinion cause such hysteria and offence? I shall tell you why: ’tis a foolproof way to silent dissident voices. To protest is an act of heresy. And we all know what happens to heretics: they become outcasts; pariahs; untouchables, no better than lepers. I have witnessed many scandalous endings of illustrious careers. Oderint, dum metuant. [Let them hate, so long as they fear].(ii) Any opinion liable to cause offence is deemed a crime. Further, any opinion that may incite a future offence, is also deemed a crime. Of course, the offence itself is entirely subjective, but the perceived crime is always made real, and blown out of all proportion. Thus expressing a contrary opinion makes free speech a curse. What is feared most, is that my heretical opinion may contribute to the conversion of the others. My disobedient refusal to accept your right to go through life without being offended, causes me severe reprehensions, privation of temporalities, court summons, and even imprisonment. Secret accusations and calumny spread like wildfire. Genus hominum perspice. [See what kind of men they are]. Like so many birds, twittering in the trees. Slander, lies and gossip are forcibly encouraged, without any regard to civil liberty or moral law. These corrupt cavils, perfidious incitements, and gross falsehoods are employed for one singular purpose: my excommunication. The aim is to dishonour me, not only in my household and personal relations, but also in my work at large, and to so blacken my reputation, that I become an odious contemptible outcast. Such are the abuses of the Revisionist Courts. An explanatory definition of my crime is given to the Board of Censure, and their report is not in my favour. My denunciation rests on vague accusations of rudeness, hurt feelings, insult, and perceived prejudice. In short, actions that legislators have abstained from subjecting to censure for millennia. Of course, no actual crime has been committed. The real crime is not that I cause offence, but that I have the audacity to express an opinion that differs from the revisionist narrative. Regarding my sentence, there is not even an interlocutory investigation. I am condemned without trial, simply on the grounds that I have caused offence. But the Truth is always offensive – especially to a subversive mob, whose sole aim is to destroy the cultural and spiritual bonds of the past.
SNOWFLAKE. I shall use whatever pronouns I like. Why don’t you go and hang yourself? You transphobic pig!
LORD SCALES. Transphobic? That’s very presumptuous of you. I might be transsexual myself, for all you know. Shall we shift the goalposts a little? Forget pronouns. Let’s move onto nouns instead. Is that not progressive? Be tolerant for a moment, I beg you. I want to make fringe ideas seem less extreme, and thereby more acceptable… From now on, I wish to be called Giraffe – except on Sundays, when I shall be called Hippopotamus. Pray do not scoff. For I will cry “Hate-crime!” when you refuse to address me according to my wishes. As you can see, I am not a giraffe. Nor am I a hippopotamus. I am first and foremost a devil. And a very good devil indeed. Needless to say, a man is as different from a woman as a giraffe is from a hippopotamus. They don’t call me Lord Scales for naught. I’ve been judging men for millennia – in all their various hues – and I can assure you that ideological subversion always forestalls the fall of civilization… Great Zeus! Look there! A cascade of rainbow orbs! I’ve never seen the like!
KREW. They’re Christmas Lights my Lord.
LORD SCALES. Christmas? Already? But we haven’t had Easter yet. Pity. I was looking forward to my Bishop’s Egg.
KREW. Bishop’s Egg? What pray tell is that?
LORD SCALES. A sex toy for the witches. I leave the rest to your imagination. Do you know, when Embrun was besieged by the Protestants in 1585, a phallus was found amongst the relics? I recall the trial of a witch at Saint Eutropius of Orange, where a large leather phallus was seized and burnt. Phalli were objects of worship at Viviers and a thousand other churches. It led to many obscene practices. The priests inflicted severe punishment on women found guilty of using phalli. What hypocrites. Those priests took clysters up the arse at the drop of a hat. Don’t blush Krew. There’s naught to be ashamed of. Sexual gratification is a biological necessity, and essential to sound mental health. In view of this fact, and in honour of the witches who were burnt, I would like to put dildos back in churches. Not at the altar, but one on each seat, to be inserted during the Pater Noster.
KREW. You heathen heretic!
LORD SCALES. I’ll take that as a compliment. Needless to say, the New World is a heathen dystopia. Everything is topsy-turvy and inside out. Secular fundamentalists view civilization as a text to be deconstructed. Society is full of latent insanity; it only takes a little effort to exploit the psychic emotions of the masses, and the weaker minds are overthrown. Such mental confusion is always used to divide and rule. Postmodernists normalize anything and everything. Especially extreme and marginal behaviours. That’s easy to do when all meaning is relative, and open to hermeneutic reinterpretation. The enlightened modernists are naught but nihilists who remain hostile to all religious and moral principles; they refute objective truth, and believe that life is ultimately meaningless. Their favourite pastime is historical revision, by which the past is constantly rewritten to suit their chosen narrative. They are particularly fond of passing dictates that prove their elitist polemic. The more shocking and perverse the dictate, the better. Newsflash: The interpretive modernists have destined all dildos for hermeneutic blessing. The state will supply free dildos to persons of any gender, for gratification during mass. Inline with our commitment to equal opportunities and the liberation of women, all icons of the Virgin must be torn down and burnt.
KREW. My lord! I find that most offensive! What profanity! What utter licentiousness and depravity! What a scandalous satire of the Holy Office!
LORD SCALES. Do you see what I just did there? I deconstructed veneration of the regenerative principal, and reduced it to a sordid act that defiles the sacred. But if you find the idea of synodic debauchery offensive and profane, ’tis simply because your ignorant parochial values fail to grasp the profundity of modernist progressive ideologies. Let us deconstruct a little more. The orgasmic cult is nothing new. The groves of the Great Goddess teemed with untold debauchery. You find that shocking? Imagine how Herodotus felt, when he saw the girls of Mendes, submitting themselves willingly to the thrusts of the sacred goat. The old Egyptian kingdom is littered with phalli. Their obelisk is phallus of the earth god of Geb, whose ejaculation seeds the sky with stars! The obscene divinity of the ancients flows through all religions, with countless phallic rites and observances. Roman brides deflowered themselves on the phallus of the priapic god, and placed wreaths upon his glans. Why are you disturbed? Let us lay bare the orgiastic roots of Christianity. The lingam of the Greeks was anointed with holy oil, and the divinely begotten one was called Christos, which means “anointed”. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera… Dildos in church does not sound so profane now, does it? Besides, ’tis a little known secret that spontaneous sexual arousal is a powerful psychological tool, especially when initiated by Mother State… Now that your conservative Christian values have been shattered, and bell-ringing is banned on the premise that it disturbs the peace, or upsets your mental health, I would like to move onto more important matters. And what could be more important than me? Remember, henceforth, you will refer to me as Giraffe, except on Sundays, when I shall be called by my other name, Hippopotamus. Welcome to the New World. A world that prides itself on its intellectual sophistication. But ’tis a relativistic world without any intrinsic value; a postmodernist hell, where revolutionists pervert all modes of societal obligation, and unsettle the moral sense. Believe me, there was more honour in the Roman arena, where Christians got thrown to lions… Behold! Another flash of rainbow light! I say, what is the agent of this pyrotechnic show? Gunpowder?
KREW. Not gunpowder, my Giraffe. Electricity.
LORD SCALES. By which you mean lightening?
KREW. Not exactly. The splendid display we see before us is made of bulbs. A myriad of flashing bulbs.
LORD SCALES. Bulbs? What? Like garlic?
KREW. Garlic? Upon my word that is funny! No, these are light bulbs, silly!
LORD SCALES. What? That you plant in the ground? And they grow into so many coloured lamps!
KREW. Oh! Oh! These bulbs are not for horticulture! Let me explain, for I have a trifling knowledge of things electrical. What you behold are filaments of fiery tungsten in phials of multifarious gas.
LORD SCALES. Ah yes, of course. Fiat Lux! I recall the Atlanteans used the same in the Pylons of Isis. But where on earth are we? And at what moment in time? Is this the Asylum of the Damned or some other place?
KREW. ’Tis true that Jack is shackled in Sunhill Asylum, but his soul has taken flight. At this very instant, he is roving Blackpool, a famous seaside resort of low morals and mirth.
LORD SCALES. A daydream perhaps?
KREW. No my Giraffe. I can assure you, these lights are quite real.
LORD SCALES. Or a diabolical illusion incurred by madness. Is Jack drugged? Has he taken a magic philtre?
KREW. On the contrary. He is sober as a judge. His third eye is busy observing two men who have travelled from the south.
LORD SCALES. For why is he watching them?
KREW. Because they hold the key.
LORD SCALES. The key to what, exactly?
KREW. The key to Man’s conscious evolution…
LORD SCALES. His conscious evolution, no less?
KREW. A noble cause with which my Giraffe is well acquainted.
LORD SCALES. You sycophantic Cyclops. Do you take me for a fool? You give the court more glittering misdirections in his defence.
KREW. I speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
LORD SCALES. Truth? What would you know of truth? You look like a foetus. Has anyone ever told you that? A foetus of the fifth lunar month. I’m sure your wits are far from developed. A foetus, I tell you.
KREW. I am what I am.
LORD SCALES. What is your intention? To sway the jury with lofty ideals and high sounding verbiage? Like some sophist of the Aegean, you have been taught how to capsize your opponents in rhetorical argument. But you underestimate my intellect. You think you’re clever, but you’re no better than a rude unlettered Bœotian. All the Greek schools have been examined and found wanting. As for your cabbalistic hocus-pocus…
KREW. My Giraffe, I only wish to make things clear.
LORD SCALES. Conscious evolution. What utter tripe. That’s about as clear as mud. Your testament implies that Jack Vallis is not only out of his mind, but out of his body!
KREW. Indeed. At this very moment he undergoes a mysterious process of bilocation.
DOCTOR BUCKET. Jill, Jack, Paddy-wack! I doubt the accused is even lucid. He’s unaware of his own awareness. So how can he bilocate? He dwells betwixt dreams and reality. The Cyclops would have us believe that man’s inner life is his most immediate reality. But simple logic infers that he can never wholly leave that sphere, not transfer himself into another state of being, let alone another mind. The Cyclops has possessed a man and driven him insane. In short, he has convinced Jacques Vallin that his outer world is naught but a projection of his inner life. Goblin jury, I ask you, how can Jacques be in two places at once, when he exists entirely in his own skull? What the Cyclops really means to say is that Jack Vallis is dreaming of Blackpool, and nothing more.
KREW. You twist my words. Jack has the power of transporting his spirit with incredible speed from one place to another.
GOBLIN. Like a malevolent witch.
DOCTOR BUCKET. Jack Vallis is no witch. He’s a deluded psychopath who requires a full-frontal lobotomy. The Cyclops cannot prove to us that Jack is in Blackpool. Where is the evidence? All Krew can attest is a long history of mental illness, that goes under the spurious title of Spiritual Warfare.
KREW. [Stamping his foot]. Oh! You stubborn ass! ’Tis a simple matter of telegnosis. Jack is in Blackpool, even though his body is imprisoned in Sunhill Asylum. By which means, he has knowledge of events far away. Is it really so hard to understand?
DOCTOR BUCKET. Telegnosis? ’Tis beyond all rational comprehension! A telepathic transsexual! Whatever next?
LORD SCALES. I’m beginning to pity this Jacques Vallin. Like all untreated transsexuals, he suffers from morbid sensibilities and an unhappy spirit. As for his gnostic sect, well that was just childish wishful thinking. Like the Bogomils before him, he mistook the world of matter for an Evil principal. An easy mistake to make, especially when you’re trapped in the wrong body. I must confess that even I dabbled in Manichæism as a youngster. I was a very misguided devil – an agent provocateur for His Imperial Satanic Majesty – and well versed in all sorts of subversive ideologies. Especially atheism. But all that is behind me now. Look at that wretched creature, frothing at the mouth. Yes, poor Jacqueline is a most unhappy girl indeed…
KREW. I knew you’d begin to see things from her point of view.
LORD SCALES. Cyclops, ’tis perfectly clear that you have distorted her field of consciousness for your own agenda. You appear to her as a ball of Light, bringing messages from beyond – deceptive messages that lead her irrevocably astray. And all the while, she is under the foolish misapprehension that she channels the Light. What is your desire? To manipulate her faith?
KREW. No my Giraffe.
LORD SCALES. Then what?
KREW. My desire is to bring her to the Living God.
LORD SCALES. Who is your god?
KREW. My god is the same as your god.
LORD SCALES. All heretics claim allegiance to Christ when cast to the flames. No doubt Jacqueline will do the same. But she is not to be believed. For she is full of opinions which the devil has depraved. If you are truly her diamon, and a being of Light, then you, and you alone, are the agent of her conscious evolution.
KREW. Indeed I am. How perceptive of you.
LORD SCALES. Wipe that smirk off your face. And stop sniggering. What are you Cyclops? Angel or devil?
KREW. I am what I am.
LORD SCALES. You uphold the Christian conviction that Divinity incarnated in the domain of Time?
KREW. I do.
LORD SCALES. Yet you have plagued many a family line with mischievous poltergeists. Explain yourself.
KREW. Materialists are blinkered and stubborn. They need a little convincing every now and then.
SATYR. As the case unfolds, I am more inclined to believe that Krew is the one who should be on trial, and not Jacques Vallin.
KREW. In truth, we are indivisible.
SATYR. Yet by your own admission, all his preternatural gifts came from you. And ’twas by your instruction that TERGA came into existence.
KREW. I cannot deny it.
LORD SCALES. What is the purpose of that machine?
KREW. To expand the mind of Man.
LORD SCALES. Or open the gates of Hell?
KREW. Materialists have an insensibility to Spirit more concrete and absolute than any earthly creature. ’Tis not by design, nor even the evidence of Nature, but by intellectual vanity that they refute the reality of god.
LORD SCALES. That may be true. Nevertheless, TERGA will be their undoing.
KREW. Nay, their salvation.
LORD SCALES. [Thinking for a moment]. Hmm… Telegnosis is a power common with many vulgar witches and miscreants. Yet I cannot deny ’tis also a gift of many saints. But I fail to see how a machine that opens the third eye cannot invite the agency of many malignant spirits.
KREW. Jack Vallis has only ever used his power for the betterment of mankind; to heal the sick and promote peace amongst nations. Thrice he has averted Apocalypse. But if we do not go to Blackpool, and help these mortals from the south, the whole Earth will be destroyed by fire, and our Diamonic Kingdom will fall into oblivion.
SATYR. I fear the Cyclops speaks the truth. A great calamity will befall us all if we do not act. The Infernal Counsel cannot stand by and do nothing. We must give the accused the benefit of the doubt. We must go to Blackpool and help these men.
KREW. Methinks that is a very wise decision.
LORD SCALES. Very well Krew. Tell us more of Blackpool and these mortals from the south.
KREW. They go by the names of Blyth and Sims. Both are agents of Mother State. But Sims is a wizard. Within his satchel is a phial of Mullard Magic.
SATYR. I believe the Cyclops is referring to the magnetron valve.
KREW. Precisely. That is the key. We cannot let it out of our sight. We must follow these men to Sunhill Asylum.
LORD SCALES. Agreed. If Jacques Vallin cannot be roused, open his third eye a little more. Ah! look there! A road of horseless chariots, all made of steel! How ingenious… But which chariot must we follow?
KREW. Each one has a number plate. See? We must find the chariot with plate marked 667 GFC.
LORD SCALES. As you wish. The Infernal Counsel shall now enter interstitial space. By which means this entire court will shrink to the size of a pinhead.
[Sliding whistle sound].
GOBLIN. I always turn to jelly when he does that.
LORD SCALES. How many devils can fit on the head of a pin? Ha! Ha! Scribe, please run the Timeline forward until I say stop. Goblin jury, keep your eyes peeled, and watch the road ahead…
GARGOYLE. It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack. So many coloured lights. How pretty they are. Look there! The wheel of Fortune! It reminds me of the rose window at Amiens. Dame Fortune turns us topsy-turvy faster than a windmill.
DOCTOR BUCKET. Oh shut up, will you! Dame Fortune? There’s no such thing. Our fate is naught but a deterministic causality.
GARGOYLE. I beg to differ. Recall the words that Boethius put into her mouth: I cause a rapid wheel to turn. I love to raise the fallen and abase the proud. Mount then, if thou wilt, but on the condition that thou dost not wax indignant when the law which presides at my Games, demands that thou shall descend…
DOCTOR BUCKET. [Sneering]. Must you quote Boethius at such length? I find it very tiresome. What are you trying to prove? Don’t pretend that you’re a scholar. You’re naught but a spewer of rain. Or at most a hawker of wine. What an absurd situation. I really must protest. I do not approve of being shrunk in this undignified manner. I find it most disorientating. Is all this strictly necessary? I mean, what are we doing here? Playing a tedious game of “spot the chariot”. What a complete waste of time. I’ve got better things to do with my life than search for madmen. Especially theists. We’ll never find that chariot. Why? Because it doesn’t exist, that’s why…
IMP. Wait! Stop! Go back a bit. Yes! That one there! Eureka! 667 GFC.
LORD SCALES. Well spotted little imp! What have we here? A steel chariot with a dead horse in the back.
KREW. ’Tis not a dead horse: ’tis a donkey costume.
SATYR. The Cyclops is correct. ‘’Tis a pantomime horse.
SATYR. A situation of farce and confusion. A nursery story, formerly ending in a transformation scene.
GOBLIN. Oh. And the donkey suit?
SATYR. A disguise like the Romans wore at Saturnalia.
GOBLIN. Saturny what?
SATYR. A riotous and merry mid-winter festival – when men dressed as women, and women dressed as men.
GOBLIN. By the horns of Satan, the world never changes…
LORD SCALES. Who’s driving this infernal contraption?
KREW. That’s Blyth, my lord. He had a spiritual awakening after meeting Jack.
LORD SCALES. And the man in the passenger seat?
KREW. That’s Sims, the wizard.
LORD SCALES. He sleeps like a babe in the arms of Morpheus. Little imp, go forth and look inside his sconce. Tell us what you find.
IMP. [Crawling inside Sims’ ear]. Upon my soul! ’Tis quite a mess in here. And very dark. I can’t make head nor tail of it.
LORD SCALES. Go right down his lughole.
IMP. It waxy. Very waxy. And it stinks like a sewer!
LORD SCALES. Be careful now. We don’t want you getting stuck…
IMP. [Distant echo]. By the devil, you could grow turnips down here. Although I myself prefer parsnips: they have a sweeter taste and finer texture. Oh dear, I’ve come to a dead end.
KREW. That’s his ear drum, if I’m not mistaken. Pass on through. And mind you don’t get hit by the malleus.
[The IMP dematerializes to the other side]
IMP. Oh, I don’t like this one little bit. Potholing a lughole. Just where am I going?
KREW. Can you see the stapes?
IMP. The what?
KREW. The stapes. It resembles a stirrup.
IMP. [Cringing at the echo]. Keep your voice down. There’s no need to shout.
KREW. Beyond the stapes is a window into the bony labyrinth. Wherein resides the cochlear. Forge straight ahead. Thereafter you will enter the semi-circular canals…
IMP. [To self]. They always send old Juggins to do the dirty work. Just how am I supposed to squeeze through there? This spirit life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I’d rather be in a hive of bees than stuck in this glue pot… How I wish I was back in fairyland, sitting on the lap of my uncle’s son-in-law’s sister’s third cousin. Or was it my aunt’s step-mother’s fifth daughter’s niece? I can’t rightly remember. In any case, racking my brains about it gives me a headache. Suffice to say she was a pretty maid who smelt of lavender. But now I’ve been sent down a stinking lughole, where I might find so many snakes and toads…
LORD SCALES. Do not think we cannot hear you Juggins, yap-yap-yapping about your genealogical tree! Fear not. You won’t find any snakes or toads down there.
IMP. What about a troll? I might get eaten alive. Or slow roasted over open coals… Wait a minute… What’s this?
LORD SCALES. Are you there yet?
IMP. Oi! I’ve found a water slide! It spirals round and round, just like snail shell. I didn’t expect this! Let’s have a go! Whoah! What a helter-skelter! Yippee!
LORD SCALES. Stop larking about, you nincompoop! I didn’t send you down there to fool around. Find his wits. Spy his dreams. Reveal his soul…
IMP. [To self]. That miserable Scales always spoils my fun. Yes my lord, no my lord, three bags full my lord…
LORD SCALES. I heard that, you cheeky rascal!
IMP. There’s a light ahead…
LORD SCALES. [Excited]. That’s it! The dream pool! Go to it Juggins, go to it!
IMP. I see it now! By Jove! What raptures and revelations! See how this modern man is buffeted by Satan!
LORD SCALES. Of what does he dream?
IMP. He dreams of us my lord. He dreams of the ancient Djinn…
LORD SCALES. Then he dreams wisely. Let us try a little divination. Whereabouts is he?
IMP. He’s in another realm, forbidden to mortal eyes.
LORD SCALES. Is he out of the body?
IMP. Whether in the body, I know not, or out of the body, I know not: God knoweth.(iii)
LORD SCALES. What of his raptures and revelations?
IMP. He invokes the forty-two letter name of God! Woe! Woe! Woe! Behold our fallen forefathers!
LORD SCALES. Forefathers? [Long pause]. Juggins! Are you still there? Answer me Juggins! Tell us what you see!
IMP. I see Titans! The sooty Titans of the deep! In a majestic crystal cavern! And Jacques is amongst them, floating in an orb of Light…
LORD SCALES. [Scratching head]. ’Tis hard to know if the accused is caught up in the sixth heaven, or the third hell.
IMP. I can’t look: the Light is blinding!
LORD SCALES. Get out of there Juggins! And be quick about it! Tinkerbelle, give Sims a prod. Rouse him from his slumber. Let us see what this man is about…
TINKERBELLE. [Waving her wand]. Awake little man. Psyche wants a word with you. She comes to expand the sphere of your vision. ’Tis time to open your eyes to her sublunary world…
Copyright © Nicholas Shea 1992-2021. All rights reserved.
i. “A simple way to formulate it would be to say that a sentence had literal meaning if and only if the proposition it expressed was either analytic or empirically verifiable.” Language Truth and Logic, by A.J. Ayer (Victor Gollancz 1936).
ii. Words attributed to Accius by Senneca the Younger in his treatise De Ira (On Anger).
iii. 2 Corinthians, 12:2.
Image credit: Detail of a miniature of the Wheel of Fortune, at the beginning of book 2 of the De Consolatione Philosophiae. Image taken from f. 13v of De Consolatione Philosophiae (Roman de Fortune et de Félicité; index Consolation of Philosophy); Le testament; Le traitie de parler et de taire. Written in French. (BL Royal 19 A IV, f. 13v).