#6: Flaming words and a typewriter
Back to Edmondson. Where were we?
Yes, right before he started hearing voices.
That’s where it gets funny.
The medical reports are sketchy at best, and you can only guess what those mountebanks mis-diagnosed crudest in those days. The average ration of pharmaceutical drugs (bromine, morphium) you were subscriped to for a slight headache should have been enough to explain all mental problems Edmondson might have had. Maybe he heard voices. Maybe he was under some spell, maybe he just had a good high. Nothing of that would have mattered all that much. But not in Edmondsons perspective, you see? He chose another option, and it is essential to understand the why to it. He couldn’t be mad. He couldn’t be subject to insanity, after all those years of brilliance. So those voices must have been real. But he couldn’t pick the alternative either. He wouldn’t recognize some kind of spiritual presence haunting him, some kind of psychic connection to paraphysical entities beyond the scientific. He had fought hard enough for that line, after all. So he went for a third road, and it’s a wild one. If sorcery and empirical science are two realms in disjoint, and Edmondson was not under some spell, well, certainly there must be a scientific explanation for the continued presence of transcending wisdom in his mind. In order not to be mad, he had to seek sanctuary in scripture, in writing, in science. He had to write himself into the discourse of his time, a pastiche of animistic occultism, psycho-physiological mesmerism and natural philosophy. Only he went further, he pushed the distinction mark to it’s limits, which sounds something like: Almost EVERYTHING must be technology. From here on, his notes are getting sketchy, the handwriting indecipherable for pages, but what he follows up with is a crude blend of early magnetic theories about human brains emitting fields of “nerve vibrations”, a lot of negligent guesses about the nature of aetherical motion (which would be disproven to exist, some ten years later) delusional yet quite poetic justifications, and a bottom line that the whole universe must be some kind of machine. Since it’s not magiqal in nature. And, yes, he could talk to it (or it to him, he isn’t quite decided).
So why, you ask, haven’t I heard about this before? To the public knowledge, Edmondson was some crazy bastard – but I’m positive I’m one of not too many people who actually read how far gone he was, in his later days. The reason this wasn’t published, anywhere, is that Edmondson, in his clearer moments, was bright enough to surmise it could destroy everything he strived for if he compromised his reputation further (when my voices wear of, I also find them quite suspect). His friends and co-workers were kind enough to not let the word out about his occasional phases, even after his death.
Where am I going with this?
I just don’t think it’s that much of a story.
As I said, usually when I’m consuming certain substances, I am hearing thunder-ridden voices of mighty snowflower gods as well. I know it’s just because I’m on some chemical, which is meant to manufacture exactly that effect on my brain. There are other options to interpretation. Those Fre’mon native tribes up in the desert would have quite a different (and less reductionistic) opinion on certain “holy substances”. But I have my historical background, my story I can work with, and I think it’s a cool one. Edmondson could only choose from the discourse at his disposal, and that was that stupid world 200 years back. He himself strived to partake in it’s construction, by discerning representation terms. He was stuck within his own story, see. The choices he had were all well within that story, within the discourse of his time. Whatever his later experiences could have felt like: The only way to express them – at all! – was within the symbols, discussions and public truthmaking processes at work, more so: The only way to even get conscious about it is getting conscious about it “as” something. And that crucial “as”, guys, that’s highly informed by historical processes. The story must go on. So, you see, in a way I’m quite positive that Edmondos wasn’t crazy at all, that he was in fact influenced by forces outside of his mind. Only I wouldn’t call them para-psychological. Sociologists named it Discourse, psychoanalysts the Master Siginificant or the Big Other. I just call it words.
And that’s where it all comes together. To differentiate whether someone is crazy or sane, you need a criterion which has to be put into place at some point. Dualities originate from within experiences, they are not around from the beginning. Everything feels “as” something, and our consciousness and subconsciousness exchange a jolly handshake in order to pick and choose the symbols, stories, motives and categories at hand to fill this “as” with some meaning. Words forge realities, or rather: The criterion between reality and fiction glides only in the slipstreams of words. I am casting here, see, casting with my flaming typewriter, and that’s all you need to know about Alfred Edmondson.
I have to remind myself to give that line to my lawyer.
I’ll be back once I have something to say, worthy of my enchanting attention. Literally.
I am not Fiction