another self

For some reason I thought of Abigail & Brittany Hensel today – it just occurred to me that they must be getting near the age of graduating high school, so I wondered what their life was like these days. I found a video on youtube about their 16th birthday, when they got a driver’s license, in which the subject of dating is at least mentioned, but primarily it’s made clear the girls don’t want too much attention. The comments about the video range from the beautiful to the depressing… Personally I find their case amazing. I’m fascinated by what it means for the relation of mind & body, as I think I said the last time I posted about this (which may have been years ago on another site, I don’t remember) and I’m also just impressed with their own attitude and way of living. So many teenagers with much less difficult scenarios (like, uh, me, once upon a time) spend years moping around feeling sorry for themselves; these girls take on something which has got to be enormously complicated on some occasions and just do not get caught up in worrying over the tough parts.

Watching these documentaries just makes me really happy. This is so interesting, and they are so cool. It’s stuff like the way they move their hands together & finish each other’s sentences (see around halfway through this video, when they’re discussing how they love turning up the bass when they drive, e.g. – the way they clap their hands over one face or the other seemingly unconsciously) that really fascinates me. It makes it so clear how the body is intelligence, how it’s not a rational mind driving around a body…

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40 Responses to “another self”

  1. Dennis Says:

    I’d like to see these two when they’re not so synchronized. There must be times when one wishes to watch a soap opera while the other cringes and would prefer a walk or going to the library. Or what about selecting classes? Does it ever happen that one has absolutely no interest in, say, a chemistry class, her sister wishes to take, while the other, likewise, hates economics? How do they work that out? What if one wished to be a lawyer and her sister just wanted to work at a department store? Can you imagine how boring it would be for each to have to just sit or stand, there, day after day, while her twin worked at what made her feel fulfilled? Does that ever occur? I mean, you know, sisters often go different directions.

    What if a conjoined twin was deprived of oxygen in the birth process and left severely retarded while the other was of genius intellect? Do you suppose that’s ever happened?

    And what about wages, should these two sisters both decide upon a career in common? Would their employer be obligated to pay them, separately? Or would they be compensated as one, since, even though each is working as hard as anyone else in the firm, together they can’t produce more than one person normally could? Would they have two individual social security cards? And if so, would an employer be mandated to pay each, separately and, thus, at least twice the minimum wage for any job?

    When one is watching a movie the other considers boring, does the disinterested one sometimes fall asleep? And when that occurs and the other grows weary, does the now rested one dread the idea of going to bed? And what if one inherited a desire for food and the other tended to be an ascetic? How would they work that out? Would shared genetics prevent that from occurring or do cravings and willpower come from elsewhere? If one wasn’t hungry but the other ate anyway, that would be aggravating to become innocently fat. Oh, and you’d have to eat half what most people do, if both shared alike. But, if you were conjoined with a greedy one, you might almost have to give up eating altogether.

    It would drive me nuts, never being alone at any time. I suppose they learn to tune each other out when necessary. But that wouldn’t be sufficient for me. And what about those times when you get into a fight, as siblings are wont to do. You couldn’t stomp away. And if you grew to hate each other? What a nightmare!

    Here is a worst case scenario. What if your conjoined twin picked up a knife or gun and killed someone? Would you turn her in, knowing you would have to endure whatever punishment she did? And how would the law work that out since we take pride in never deliberately incarcerating an innocent person? Wouldn’t we be forced to make life hell for an innocent if conjoined with an individual who was evil and dangerous to all?

    Could the best person in the world continue to feel innocent if conjoined with a serial killer? Or, as a sinister hand reached out to prevent a victim from escaping, would a formerly innocent hand reach out, too, to save herself from detection? Are we that close to the edge?

    Given your interest, I have a film recommendation but you might be turned off by the title. It’s called ‘Freaks,’ and was directed by Todd Browning in 1932. There are two characters in the film who look upon others in the circus, they work, as freaks. And they get their just rewards as villains in the end. The people in the film are for real including a man who had absolutely no torso. I wouldn’t have thought a person could still be alive. But his arms got him about just as well as our legs seem to. And he was quite intelligent, too and had an actor’s good looks, if but he’d had a lower body . There were also two little people who gave great performances. The mentally disabled actors did a fine job, too. And a couple of actresses were severely so. But, again, they were convincing as part of the artificial film environment they were pretending to reside.

    People walked out of the theaters in 1932. They didn’t like being shown such deformed ones who at that time were typically kept in hiding. I suppose many still are. And even in that YouTube link you provided, you can find some disturbing, malicious comments. I did a lot of volunteer and paid work with developmentally disabled and I liked this film because real emotions were shown and the so-called freaks came out appearing as the loving, intelligent ones while their mockers were portrayed as shallow and corrupted. That seemed right and satisfyingly appropriate.

    One would expect it would be difficult to make actual disabled people into believable actors. But Browning really pulled it off. The characters and plot sweep you into the story, however far-fetched it may occasionally seem. It does get surreal at times, such as when they’re chanting, in somewhat deliberate jest of themselves, in accordance with how they perceive much of society sees them, “Gooble Gobble. Gooble Gobble. We accept her. We accept her”. . . only she doesn’t accept them. The imagery is unforgettable. It’s become a classic cult film, now. See what you think, some time.

    One last point regarding the conjoining twins. I once read of an experiment wherein cells from flat worms that had learned to make their way through a maze were transferred into the bodies (not brains) of other flat worms. And in consequence they were able to make it through the maze faster than those who had not been so implanted. So at least at that level it appeared there was a kind of body transference of knowledge possible. Given that it would be interesting to blindfold each of the connected twins and have them answer questions that would normally be used to determine telepathy and see if there may be a transference of information going on.

  2. drinkme Says:

    what I think is unfortunate is the way that the cartesian notion of the self is so fully ingrained in use that the fact that have two separate heads makes us think of them as fully autonomous individuals. Even they insist that they are certainly not two-headed: they’re two separate people – who just happen to share a vagina. This is not the best way to think of their situation, in my opinion. They are a unique kind of being. They are two and one at the same time. They are not just stuck with each other, they are each other to a significant, although not entire, extent. But this should just remind us that all of us has many parts – I make decisions I regret, or have “mixed feelings” about what to do or how much to eat or whatever – to think that my decisions are all unified because I have one head, and theirs must all be binary because they have two is simplistic at best.

    So the idea of one sister wanting to be a lawyer and the other just wanting to work in a department store seems to me not very different from the inner difficulties we all face to various extents, of feeling drawn to multiple things. Clearly they have to live one life – if they ever have sex it will be together; every time they use the bathroom it is together – they are not sisters in an ordinary sense, and to think of them as just sisters who can never leave each other’s side is to misunderstand their experience, I think. Even if they talk about being individuals, I feel like they have to recognize on some level that they are also a unity, and that that aspect of their experience is important. They know how to coordinate without having to plan and go through extraordinary frustration – if you’ve ever had to coordinate a dance or a performance with other people, you know it can take a lot of work and sometimes irritation to get something right, but they seem to understand how to move in relation to one another intuitively. They can ride a bike, drive a car, play ball, type, just like an average teenager.

    Yes, I do think it points to body intelligence, and emergent rather than individuated selves. Thanks for the info on the film – the title “Freaks” doesn’t worry me as a lot of people use the word positively – I have a few books on “freaks” and freak cultures that speak about reclaiming the difference of being a bearded lady or a conjoined twin, not just trying to fit in to the dominant norms. I think that’s a cool approach myself, though of course it’s up to each person how to handle their difference.

  3. Dennis Says:

    I’d better correct one comment I made. Or at least I think I need to. Upon consideration, I believe it would be impossible for one conjoined twin to become oxygen deprived and not the other. Likely, each has control over one lung and so they could even take turns putting their heads under water for quite some time if they liked, while the other breathed hard for both of them. At least, I think that would be so. Wouldn’t surprise me if one could keep her head under for up to half an hour, if the other was in great shape.

    It seems to be a theme this week on your site of multiple persons residing in one body; not only in a physical way, as with the conjoined twins, but you mentioned about multiple persons residing within yourself, as well. And I think Barney the Clown said something of like kind, too.

    You know how they used to disconnect the corpus callosum as a bridge between the two halves of the brain? I never read of that resulting in an inability to walk, did you? I can’t imagine, if that were a consequence, they would have been permitted to continue such surgeries for as long as they were. But if people could still walk, without a connection between the two sides of the brain, that would mean they were doing the equivalent of what Abigail and Brittany do; i.e., two brains separately propelling a body, acting as unified autonomic nervous systems. That surprises, me, actually, a bridge lobotomy wouldn’t result in an inability to walk because you can imagine being tied together with someone else, where you controlled but one leg of motion and your partner the other, and it would take a good amount of practice to learn to walk together like that. I do believe there would come a point, though, where you would become skilled and walking together, from then on, would require no more of your attention than it does now. And that’s what I see happening with Abigail and Brittany. They may share common movement, at times, but I think they are more like two separate individuals than one, when it comes to conscious life.

    I believe their videos are deceptively leading us toward seeing oneness. All people, especially young, are more likely to show their more bubbly, cooperative sides when cameras are rolling. But I think the mother said it best. There are two girls, there. Even when they were dribbling up to the basket, sure, they did well when they could equally participate. But they missed the shot and my guess is they often do because each wants to take it and it’s undecided until the last instant who will. I’ll bet they’ve had many a quarrel over the other being a ball hog. Their legs move automatically, now, but their arms and hands are working under conscious control, just as ours are, only each has but one she’s responsible for. Yes, they sometimes make them work in unison but on those occasions, for the upper body, they are very much separate when working together. You mentioned typing. Well, if they’re typing with two hands, each has completely separate responsibilities.

    Even your example of going to the bathroom is more representative of two than one, on a conscious level, I suspect.. Yeah, they have to go in and sit down together but I suspect they each grab a separate magazine at times. And I anticipate there was once a scene wherein one sister eventually demanded of her mother or dad, “The TP is on my side so I always get stuck. Why don’t you put a holder on the other side so we can take turns?”

    I would predict the way they retain autonomy is to quarrel often. “Mom! Abigail doesn’t want to go to the mall. Please tell her to get up and go. She never wants to do anything I want to do.” This is less likely but it could have happened where someone called out, “Fight!” and everyone came running to find Abigail and Brittany standing on a street corner, each scratching and pulling the other’s hair out. OK! Maybe that’s unlikely. But it’s fun picturing and would make for a good movie scene.

    You know, I’ve been of the understanding that each girl controls her side of the body. If that were not so, and it was the other side they controlled, they would be more handicapped and forced into even additional cooperation, wouldn’t they? I wonder if it’s ever that way with congenital twins. It doesn’t require a great deal of imagination to picture it would be much easier to eat or wash one’s face if you had control of your own side of the body. And if you didn’t, that might mean you’d be placed into a position of having to clean and feed each other. Do you suppose that’s the way it is, sometimes with some congenital twins?

    Your mention of a shared vagina reminded me of a movie scene that I think was from ‘Freaks,’ of congenital twins having separate husbands. If I’m remembering correctly, one of the twins was making love with her man while the other looked removed and a bit bored. And she stuck her head out a tent flap, to converse with someone outside while her sister was going at it. I’m naive and bought that scene without considering it closely. But now that I do, it would be impossible for one sister to be removed. If one of them were excited, the other would have to be also, try as she may not to be.

    I had two friends in my high school years who were identical twins. They got along great and I don’t think I ever ran into one who wasn’t with the other. In college, they formed a musical group, along with their sister. They were all very talented and always drew a good sized crowd when they performed. So, considering them and Abigail and Brittany, I would think my examples of one congenital twin becoming evil while the other was not, would be rare. But you never know. A loaded gun could be sitting on a table and in one bad moment, you could find yourself joined with a sister who had momentarily lost control, thus putting you into big trouble as well. I read of a case of identical twins in which one could not stand the other and actually killed him. He said, after, for the first time in his life, he felt autonomous and free. That’s obviously a very rare case. But such things occasionally happen. And wouldn’t it make headlines if a congenital twin had committed murder while her sister looked on in horror? It would have the makings of a trial of the century. And pity the poor judge of that one.

    You know. I may just try writing that book. Seems like it would be fun, doesn’t it? I’d better hurry before Stephen King or Dean Kuntz beat me to it.

    Back to reality, you said each girl can type. How does that work? Does each type with one hand or do they work in unison? If the latter, I’m confident neither could do what I’m doing now, of typing one’s thoughts. There would be no way. If they’re typing in unison, it would have to be of copying what’s written before them. And of course that would work in a typing class. But for their own selves, they’d likely be better off learning to type one-handed. Then they could each type their thoughts, and simultaneously, at that.

    So I agree with most of what you had to say. It’s just I think you’re going too much with the theme of body intelligence. What we saw on that film was mostly autonomic nervous system driven. I concede we often take pride in being coordinated, especially when young and still in school. But I think what we saw represented very little of what these two girls are really all about. I believe they are two, more than they are one. But I see where you’re coming from, also, because on the other hand, they come closer to being one, than married couples likely do, even after 50 years of marriage. Married couples can have different jobs and chores about the house, such that they can coexist and yet be doing things separately, most of the time, as well. So, yeah! I see what you mean. The twins are relegated to always having to share much more. And of course, another rare thing they would have in common is they are likely to die together. The only possible exception I can see is if one got a brain tumor. Much as I enjoy my autonomy and the freedom that allows, I can see how tragic that would be for one of the twins to gain that same freedom at the other’s expense. Where happiness existed before, an emptiness would be felt thereafter, which would go far beyond what is normally felt for the loss of a loved one. It would be a feeling that part of oneself had died. Yes, I know that’s always true for all of us, too, when we lose someone. But we don’t become unable to walk or lose control of one side of our body. And, of course, too, we don’t lose a part of ourselves who was perpetually, physically there, sharing the same heartbeat, our entire lives. What a loss that would be. Fortunately, brain tumors are rare and odds are, both twins will go together when their time comes.

    Life has become better for people like Abigail and Brittany. Fifty years ago, they would have been relegated to hiding. I suspect people hadn’t decided how to justify seeming flaws in creation and so, to maintain God’s perfection, commanded that supposed flawed ones be sent to institutions or kept at home. Now we rejoice in difference. And I think that’s great. There are so many participating in special olympics programs with joy and celebration. We’ve come out of the closet. In some respects our nation has gone downhill and I’m either shamed or worried in ways I never was before. But when it comes to treating those who are different with more respect than ever, in the history of mankind, I’d say, we have reason for pride. And I only hope that continues. According to a friend of mine who started the first group home for developmentally disabled in California, he got the idea from an individual in France who had done the same there. So maybe that’s why we hate the French, because we owe to them one of the best things about ourselves.

    It would appear your interest in so-called freaks has been keen at times. Where do you suppose that comes from? Can I guess? I suspect you have an artist’s soul in you. I’ve had a few such friends and they do usually get a kick out of challenging social norms. They’re always interesting because they dress as they wish to, not as others would have them. Their homes are typically atypical in some way or other. And if men are from Mars and women from Venus, then artists must be from another galaxy altogether. To continue my conjecture, you’ve pressed against the edges of social norms and done something at some point in time that made you feel naked to the world; wherein you were thought daring and interesting by some but a freak by others. You’ve never forgotten that exhilaration and wonder sometimes what it would be like to be in that state for a lifetime.

    So am I way off?

  4. Barney Says:

    I’d forgotten all about my Cartesian experience from college days, until I read your reminder. How well I remember plotting out points of interest on Cartesian maps for what was to be my big summer trip. A friend of mine told me of a place where I could purchase an ottoman sofa for a song and shipping it back to the states would be duty free and cheap. I thought, “Wow! That’ll almost pay for the trip, itself.”

    I bought a GPS device for my trip and it’s a good thing I did, too, because when I arrived, I discovered there were no roads. It was all desert land. I found a man who had a cart with sled runners that could easily slide across the sands while pulled by three camels. I wasn’t about to ride in an empty box so I purchased supplies and plenty of water to get me to the Ottoman store. To cap it off, I found an old, padded sofa for only 5 bucks, I could rest upon while moving and then throw out to make room for my Ottoman, once purchased.

    The driver asked if I’d like him to mention points of history along the way of the Cartesian plane we traveled.. I protested I had no interest in things which had already occurred but was far more fascinated by things that had never happened and likely never would. Thus, we drove off in silence. The heat was horrible and the sands monotonous. How I longed to reach our destination. But when we arrived, we walked across the sands to find only a sign. I could make out the word, ‘Ottoman,’ and gave the driver permission to read the rest of what was written. “Here was the center of the Ottoman empire, he said, until Wilson, Clemenceau, and Lloyd George got together in Paris in 1919, and carved it to pieces.”

    I couldn’t speak, my mouth was so dry. My water was running out because I’d anticipated being able to refill at the store. I waved my map and attempted to ask what came out sounding like, “De store. De store.” My driver looked and said, “This is not a Cartesian map. You’ve come to Cartesia Minor.” My heart sank. You’ve mentioned the importance of body. Mine was so miserable I wished nothing to do with it any longer. I’ve read of people who have been tortured in pursuit of information who held out better when they could escape their pain by looking to a higher power. And so I attempted to obtain to a pure sense of thought, separate from the stress imposed upon my body. Furious with myself, I began to feel like Tattoo of ‘Fantasy Island,’ who used to shout, “Des plane. Des plane.” Only I was saying, as I attempted to leave my failing body behind, “Back to Descarte. Back to Descarte.”

    It was such a relief to get back and swish some water over my dry, swollen tongue and feel I could talk, again. The driver then asked where I’d like to go. I asked what my options were and he said, “Well, if you’re lazy, we could go to Istanbul where you’d find lots of coffee shops with sofas you could lounge on all day. But if you’re thoughtful and would like to return to a time and place where dreams rule and you could make real what you will, then Siam is your place. I considered, “Yes, I can be quite lazy. But, then, I like to think I can be thoughtful, too.” Finally, I summoned my energy, flapped my cartesian map, and said, “I think. Therefore, Siam, Driver. With that, Descarte pulled away and I have never regretted my decision, since.

    Now as the moon shines down upon cooling sands, to the swish of Descarte’s sled runners, I find myself wondering whether Siam ever had an eighth kingdom where I knew a woman who awaits me, now. And I find myself singing, “I met her in the Eighth Siam. Met her in the Eighth Siam, Siam. I got married to the widow next door. . . “

    It’s a wonderful evening.

    Barney the Would-Be Clown

  5. drinkme Says:

    Dennis, your comments are really interesting, and you make good points about the cooperation when the camera’s on… I didn’t mean to make it sound as if I thought they were completely united by any means – but I wanted to emphasize that I don’t think even an ordinary person with one inner self is actually completely unified. The difference here has a lot to do with how much of their disunity has to take place externally and how much internally – tummy aches and gas and bowel movements and menstruation are rather intimate experiences that they share, and things like a racing heartbeat, racing hormones, etc, are probably at least partly shared since they share a circulatory system. It’s true that they still have a private area that each one can retreat to, which the other one cannot access directly – but since I do suspect that some portion of unconscious knowledge is really body knowledge, it is possible that they read each other exceptionally well, and “know” or understand one another’s internal worlds. That doesn’t mean they can read conscious thoughts, but to me that is the most superficial layer of who we “really” are. I think if the girls were to have such intense issues with one another it would be more due to the norms other people set and psychological issues they were having over this than to honest physical complications that would necessarily have arisen in any setting.

  6. Jack Says:

    Hey, Barney,

    Why don’t you consider installing some back speakers in that Descarte of yours and piping Horst’s ‘The Planets,’ through them as you skim across the sands? Crank those rear speakers up so loud, it almost feels as if the Horst score is pushing Descarte along. Lose yourself in the music and stars abundant, so far from city lights. And then you could prove to the world that it’s not so foolish having Descarte in front of the Horst, after all.

    Jack Cass

  7. Dennis Says:

    You’ve inspired me and I’ve been thinking about our subconscious minds, what that might mean, and of how much control our bodies may have over us. That was sort of a rare assignment since I don’t usually go that direction. Perhaps I don’t because it’s so complex and seemingly unknowable. For example, we may speak of the effect of genes, but other than of being able to point out particular ones and saying these seem to have this peculiar kind of effect, I don’t think we’re anywhere near knowing why. It’s kind of like with gravity. We know objects attract each other but we don’t really know the why of that, yet, either.

    The trouble with subconscious thought is it’s similar to attempting to observe electrons. As soon as you see them, they’re no longer behaving as they normally would. Any time you attempt to look into the subconscious mind, what you see has become consciousness and hence is no longer the same. I wonder if that’s not just as well. I mean, this computer is a binary system and becomes complex in its programming beyond my imagination. But I enjoy the output I receive from my computer, regardless of being relatively ignorant of how it’s done. Same with listening to the radio. There are wires, transistors, coils, etc. in a system beyond my comprehension. It would be nice to know more and perhaps I should learn. But even if I don’t take the trouble, I enjoy the music and occasional ideas I pick up on the radio. And that’s quite a lot in itself. Same with my consciousness, you know. I enjoy the show it offers me, never mind how it comes about.

    One thing I do like about my subconscious, though, is that I can send it an assignment, say when I forget a name, for example. And it’s as if there is a little librarian inside who will search and dust off the shelves until she finds what I requested. Then, sometimes a day or two later, with no effort on my part at all, the information I summoned is sent up to me. And I’m not kidding either. It really does seem to work that way.

    So would it count as subconsciousness that almost everything we know is down there somewhere, in the basement, so to speak, waiting for an assignment to be called up to the light of day?

    I think we do have subconscious tendencies toward given and various temperaments for various diverse occasions. And my guess would be they’ve been influenced by a pattern of rewards and verbal beatings we’ve endured throughout life. So that would be another influence toward oneness the twins would have. Likely most compliments have been received by both, the same, and, likewise, with cruel comments. If I’m at least partially accurate about how temperaments develop, it should be that the girls are similar in that respect, then.

    Do you think the moods we feel are chemically induced and hence Abigail and Brittany would tend to feel about the same at any given moment? And of course I’m talking about natural chemicals our bodies produce on their own.

    I used to feel, other than our unique set of memories, you and I, say, would be exactly the same person because I tended to think of pure consciousness as the same for all, once the history of our lives was removed. What if two babies were born on the same day in the same hospital and their mothers had been injected with a drug which was defective or mixed wrong, such that both their babies, one a boy and another a girl, went into semi-comatose states. They were both kept in the same hospital room and treated or cleaned by the same nurse on any given day for all the time they were there. There was stimulation piped in, through speakers and on a big-screen television, too. Every effort was made to keep the two stimulated with hopes of eventual awakening. Basically, these two babies grew into adulthood experiencing everything the same. So if they both regained consciousness on the same day, at the ages of say twenty or thirty, and they’d been conscious enough over the years to actually be learning all that time from their various shared sources of stimulation, how close to being the same in thoughts and feelings would they be?

    Would they be even more similar, if they’d been twins, thus coming closer to having the same genes?

    And would those twins be even closer to the same if they’d both been of the same sex? Or, would their sexes be irrelevant since they hadn’t possessed conscious control of their bodies, yet or received information from society of what expectations there were? Would inner chemicals and processes have separated their ways of thought even before awakening?

    Your heart seems to be in these sorts of questions. I heard you mention something about working on a thesis paper. So, are mind-body relationships part of your research? I’ve read just enough philosophy to suspect most writers have been men who were more interested in pure intellect than they were in body influences on determining who we are. So, if you are going in a mind-body direction, I would think you might be able to come up with some unique insights.

    I can think of a few pieces of evidence of body influence on thought and behavior, such as a study which indicated people with Double Y chromosomes are more likely to end up in prison. Identical twins who were separated at birth have been studied years later and found to often have common characteristics in how they dress, their manners, and ways of thought and beliefs, that would seem to go way beyond chance. Those with fat gene tendencies are said to be less likely of finding good jobs. Same with ugly people. Even with names, it’s been found that those who have odd names tend to be more successful, perhaps because they were teased as kids. I don’t know. But maybe they withdrew into books and dreams and turned their learning into success. Or perhaps it came from wanting to stick it to those who had teased them.

    I know there have been experiments of giving girls testosterone and they were found to be much more aggressive after.

    All that said, though, I’m still inclined to think of myself in terms of the great historical mind. And I think that’s my god. I see that build-up of knowledge as like a river wherein those who follow me when I’m gone will be dipped in, just as I have been in my lifetime. It’s that stream I give credit for my highest thoughts, more-so than what my body has contributed.

    But I hear you. And, yeah, that is a good point. I suspect you’re saying our bodies contain millenniums of accumulated knowledge in them, too. Perhaps I need to learn to appreciate myself more and see if I can discover my personal, direct ancestors within. But what am I saying? I sound like a medicine man. Are you sure this study can lead anywhere?

  8. Dennis Says:

    Dear Drink Me,

    I read over your letter again and interpreted it differently this time. Last time I was reacting to your comment that conscious thought is the most superficial layer of who we really are. And I’m unconvinced of that.

    But I agree with you, completely, that we all have numerous selves within. Ask any father when a young man comes knocking on his door to date his daughter. He’s seeing in that kid something of himself and he doesn’t like what he sees. Sometimes the subconscious mind can make for a very nice trash heap to bury away old selves we’d rather leave behind.

    I think the reason we save so many personalities, within, though, and keep them active, is that, as Shakespeare said, we’re all actors on a stage. And in that process of playing various roles, we lose track of who the real person is. Maybe there is none. No, I think there is. But while our actors all reside in a shared body, their playwright has none. And that’s why it’s so hard to find ourselves, at times. We forget and think it’s the body in control rather than that invisible entity which I suppose would be considered a soul. But, then, with that comment, I guess I’m back to where we started. That’s been the bone of contention between us all along, hasn’t it? I think there are two playwrights at work on those girls’ stories, only they’re always writing within the same home.

    You mentioned intimate experiences the twins share. Do you suppose they would consider experimenting with masturbation. They’re at that age. And how do you imagine that would come about if they did? It seems that would be awkward for conjoined twins. It’s a subject usually avoided. No benefit of privacy, even then. Do you think it’s a subject that would be discussed ahead or one day would a sister awaken to sensations the other was creating? I likely shouldn’t be considering this topic. I’m beginning to feel like a voyeur. And now I’m considering the possibility of one sister issuing a restraining order on the other. So I’d better get out of here, lest I go off to never-never land again.

  9. drinkme Says:

    Re: masturbation, I think this is a great example of how social norms effect us. A lot of teenagers, especially girls, would feel awkward and all mixed up and unsure what to do about masturbating when they were the only one around – they would still have all the different voices in their head saying “You can’t touch that!” – why? it’s just me, right? but there are still these multiple voices & ideas about what is normal.

    For contemporary teens, there is more pro-masturbation literature and education out there – more people saying, don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal, so that a lot of them will feel less guilty & awkward about doing it, but it’s still uncomfortable for plenty of people to talk about, and no doubt there are still plenty of girls who have felt urges but never acted on them because of an idea that it’s somehow “not right”.

    For the Hensel twins, the social prohibition is stronger – a lot of people will think of it as some kind of weird incest if they masturbate, because they’re identified as two separate people. Maybe there is a very particular line where the sensation splits, and they can “stay on their side” and that would be acceptable. BUt honestly, I think that if this kind of conjoined twin were an ordinary phenomenon, we would have developed social norms to adapt to it, including the idea that it’s ok to think of yourself as more unified than sisters. If it were the next question after “boy or girl” to say “two heads or one”, I think we’d have a different attitude about them – it’s just because we have no category for them that we try to make them fit into our already defined categories, and when they don’t fit exactly, we ignore the problems that may cause & just hope they work it out in private.

    All identical twins come from one egg to start with, so they were originally one individual. They split, but never completely, and so have two brains, which makes them more separate than a conjoinment that split the other way (like the woman from the late 19th c who had four legs, as she would have been a twin, but the split never finished… I don’t remember her name, but she had children from both vaginas) but still more of a unity than unconnected twins, who are still quite interestingly close due to their shared dna, or ordinary siblings, who have much less in common.

  10. Dennis Says:

    Well, I think you’re absolutely right that social norms would be different for the two girls and harsher toward them, when it comes to masturbation than toward non-conjoined people of today. But, then, times have changed, as you say, where there is more leniency allowed than in years past. So I’m estimating the rules and expectations wouldn’t be any harsher toward the twins, than they were when I was young, toward me and most other guys, too. I’ve always suspected. (I do think masturbation more common with guys than gals.)

    I think what resulted from the stigma were lots of people pretending to denounce those who participated in such an activity, while figuring no one would ever have to know they were one of them. It was an age of hypocrisy. And I agree it’s not quite the same now, though people still don’t readily go around volunteering information, as you say. But, then, that’s what’s nice about being relatively anonymous, here. I can be absolutely honest and confess to anything, because chances are, I’m never going to meet you or your readers and friends.

    So, you know, I think I can say from experience, social stigmas become insignificant in the privacy of a bedroom. But, the twins will have to feel each other out (figuratively, I mean.) So what was easy for me will be more challenging for them. But, you know, I don’t tend to be one of those who enjoys making lots of rules and laws to punish people who are doing no one else any harm. I’m not even an enthusiast for statistical laws wherein we punish and incarcerate someone because, though, no harm was done, if 10,000 did what he had done, one bad incident might occur. To me, locking up 10,000 people is a very bad incident, too. But what I intended to say is, more power to the twins, regardless of what they decide. It’s their business, alone, and not for an outsider to intrude and interject his prejudices.

    Do you think it possible that one twin would wish to try masturbation and not the other? Or are you absolutely convinced these two most commonly think as one? You know, you mentioned incest. In a way, isn’t that what all masturbation is, even for those of us who aren’t conjoined? As you say, we all have different people within. And I assume they’re all of the same family.

    You know, when I hear people say they would never consider masturbation, it’s most often because of the possibility of ghosts. The idea of a grandparent looking on is appalling. Likely most times, they’d lean toward complete disbelief in such phenomena. But when it comes to being caught at that activity, the slim possibility of an earthly afterlife, is plausible enough to stop them.

    Thanks. I enjoy hearing your ideas and that’s why I’m here.

  11. Dennis Says:

    I just read back over what I wrote. And you know, I have got to stop saying, “you know,” so much. I’m starting to sound like a candy bar.

  12. Dennis Says:

    Update:

    Well, it just keeps getting stranger for me. I just learned they don’t share a heart nor a stomach. They have one of each. Also they have two lungs each and pretty much all of the organs above the navel that we all have. But below the navel, if I’m understanding correctly, their nerves are intertwined. I was thinking each girl controlled one leg. But it would seem, instead, their wiring is such that it’s as if one person is in control when walking, even though both must exert herself and feel as if it’s she who’s moving them.

    But read this and see what you think because I am mystified.

    “In conversation, they are clearly distinct persons, with distinct likes and dislikes. Despite sharing a body, the twins have different tastes in food and clothes. Some of their clothes are altered by their seamstress so that they have two separate necklines in order to emphasize their individuality. They negotiate what they will wear each day. They will usually have separate meals, but sometimes will share a single meal for the sake of convenience (e.g., each takes a bite of a hamburger). Abigail is better at math and Brittany better at spelling. Their preferences in food, clothing color, etc. differ. For tasks such as responding to an email, they type and respond as one, anticipating each others feelings with little verbal communication between them. In such cases as the latter, their choice of grammatical person is to use the first person singular out of habit when they agree, but when their responses do differ, they use their names in the third person singular.
    Adulthood will bring new issues in terms of careers and their personal identities. Their careers will have to be highly compatible, if not identical.”

    So here is why I’m puzzled. How could they possibly be typing together with few words exchanged? They really should check these girls to see if somehow thoughts are being wordlessly transfered between them.

    I feel badly for having brought up a couple of subjects related to them. I was thinking in the abstract, such as when I considered the possibility of one congenital twin committing murder, etc. But when I saw them on film again, I winced when I was reminded there are real people there. And they seem like very good people, too.

    So, yeah, I enjoy fictional possibilities for people who haven’t been and never will be except through my creation. But such invention should be kept separate from the actual twins themselves and from any other actual living individual as far as that goes.

    So you know what? I think I did wrong. And whoever that person was who got too carried away, I hope there is room in my subconscious trash heap for him. But that could be a problem with adopting a multiple person identity. It becomes too easy to forgive oneself. “Hey! That wasn’t me. We got rid of him long ago.”

  13. Carol Says:

    Perhaps you’ll find this film will answer some of your questions. It was my favorite of the Hensel twins.

    Note how one finishes the other’s sentences. And toward the end, it looks like one is mouthing the words of the other as she speaks and counts down with her sister’s hand. Could be because they both memorized a list or maybe it’s something else.

    On other films their words frequently overlap, too. And it was often incredible how rapidly one sister anticipated the other in coincidental motions. Might there be a power they have tapped into we are unaware of?

    They discussed in this film about how there is much bargaining between them. So it must be they often have separate desires requiring compromise.

    My trivia question of them would be related to my cat’s occasionally awakening me when he changes position. What’s it like when one feels an urge to turn in her sleep? Of course she couldn’t without her sister’s help. Do you think they’ve learned to go with the flow without much disturbance to their sleep when they change positions?

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=165966452583886884

  14. Carol Says:

    Dennis,

    I’ve thought all day about your belief that you are nothing but thought and an invisible creative designer, acting from without. Here is one idea I came up with. If not for this multiplicity of bodies, we are surrounded by, natural and otherwise, it would be impossible to have a thought. If a conscious mind was floating in space, devoid of senses, hence completely cut off from the material world, if memories hadn’t been formed yet, I can’t think of any thought it would be possible to have. Can you? Name one. You may as well be dead because you couldn’t even know you exist. I mean, what thought could you have to let you know? You would have no words, yet, nor even a concept of hearing. You would be nothing but potential and if the material world never presented itself, your existence would never be, either. You would be dead even though alive.

    There was a computer programmer who died the other day, who designed a software program in the 80s, that had a woman’s voice answering questions of users. It was still a primitive time, then, for computers. But one interesting thing he concluded that I still believe holds true. He said you can program a computer to think but you can’t program it to care about thinking.

    Pure thought would be computer like. But of what worth would that be? If you’ll buy me a new computer, I’ll smash this one to bits even though it can calculate and think faster than you or I. It can’t feel. It can’t care. So it’s of no significant value. Not like you and me. It’s our senses that give us poetry and love. Music. And flowers would be like plastic if we couldn’t bend over to smell them. Pegging down the reality of our being is a complex task. But drama requires body. Surely you see that. All of the sciences, too, would be nothing without a material world to study. And the wonder of birth? How could you possibly discount that? Not to mention a warm embrace.

    Perpetual consciousness? Come on! What are you talking about?

  15. Jack Says:

    Barney

    Something I wonder. I realize this would never be presented as a theory at any school of economics. But you’re a would-be clown. Why would you want to be? Clowns are laughed at, not with, right? Don’t you have to be a masochist to want to be laughed at? And in laughing at clowns, does that make us sadists?

    There were many clowns in the 20s. Claplin was a clown at times. Pies to faces, slipping on banana peels, cars pulling away with a woman’s dress caught in the door. There was more laughing at rather than with people in the 20s. So I’m wondering if that was because it was a sadomasochistic time. And could that have been a factor of the great depression? Was the masochist in us feeling a need for punishment? And was the sadist in us willing to oblige?

    You don’t have to turn on radio talk shows or Fox long to pick up on a great deal of mockery. There are also many fearing we’re at the start of a major recession. I ask. Could there be a link? Have our shenanigans about the world made us feel a need to be punished? You mentioned Wilson, Clemenceau, and Lloyd George getting together after W.W.I to make decisions related to nations’ borders, as if from ahigh. Maybe that felt contrary to George Washington’s long-held admonition that we mind our own business, as too intrusive, and so, out of guilt for the loss of an old ethos, we slipped into a taste for clowns and laughing at people rather than with. Rich turned upon poor. The poor acquiesced. And we, as a whole, became a mockery of who we once were. And with that, it only required a small funnel cloud, and the entire circus tent collapsed upon us.

    What do you think, Barney. Are we almost there again? Are we replicating the late 20s just before the great depression? I surely hope not. But, well, what do you think?

  16. Barney Says:

    I agree with one thing you said, Jack. You’ll likely never find a university course offering a theory of economic decline as caused by clowns, their fans, and laughter. Yours was certainly a unique line of thought. If I’m recalling your surname correctly, I would go so far as to call it an exclusive Jack Cass economic theory, likely never before conceived nor ever to be, again.

    It was truly exceptional.

    Barney the Would-be Clown

  17. Jack Says:

    Barney,

    I think you supported my point, even if you didn’t mean to, when you referred to my Jack Cass economic theory. This is a time of mockery just as it was in the ‘20s prior to the depression. I say it’s related to widespread guilt, subsequent personal accusation, and a deep need for punishment. How better to achieve that than with a painful recession? Those things have a way of bringing people back together.

    I suppose I should rejoice. In many ways, this crazy, insulting time was made for the likes of me.

    Jack Cass

  18. Barney Says:

    Jack,

    Forget your crazy theory. You’re way off. It’s just a fun time, that’s all. At kids parties I never got so many laughs as I do now and from adults too. Yes business is slowing. But that’s only because folks’ budgets are tight. But they’re happy even so. When I fall on my can or my pants fall down, they don’t appear guilty when they laugh. In fact, they’ve never seemed so amused and unrestrained. So I don’t buy your guilt stuff either.

    Still, it’s a tough time for clowns when the economy is down. We tend to be a luxury item many, now, can ill afford. The rich still could but they don’t seem as interested in having us as average folk do.

    Malls are more likely to hire us than they were last year. They know people want to see us more than ever. But it’s hard to get by on such irregular callings. I’m actually entertaining increasing numbers of people because of bigger turnouts where and when I perform. But I’m also making far less money because of the fewer gigs and my bills are piling up, since my house payments have been drastically increasing. Way things are, it’s all I can to to buy a new honking red nose anymore.

    They say follow the money. Do you suppose they’d like clowns in Dubai?

    But I digress. I say you’re imagining things. I see absolutely no evidence this is a time of mockery. People just like clowns, that’s all, and always have. There is nothing sadistic in that nor in anything about these times.

  19. Dennis Says:

    Dear Jenny,

    What you offer sounds good but it could be better. Most casinos offer free gambling chips for staying and you made no mention of them. What would the quality of meals be? Could I order lobster? Would you cover my bar tab? I assume you’d fly me out there and back. Would you also cover anything I ordered on the plane? You really haven’t given me much information of what you’d do for me.

    As playwright, I’m considering what I could create for my characters having a blue, hairless body. And it seems as if the stories would have to be limited, here on planet earth. Just because I’m detached from my body doesn’t mean I’m not interested in roles my characters can play. And let’s face it, an alien body won’t go over so well for anything other than science fiction. And in the real world, it would not be easy to find examples of that for my characters to interact within.

    Also, a thousand dollars is hardly worth jumping at. I mean, for what you’re asking, it seems like you should start out with an offer much higher. It’s like being given a TV part as Superman. Historically, that’s always branded an actor and made further acting roles less likely. People can’t forget a memorable part. And I fear having a purple, alien body would have a similar effect. At best, I’d have to be typecast thereafter.

    To me, intelligence is like a desert seed, just waiting the right conditions to sprout. I think those seeds have always been. I also believe obscurity is an inevitable fate for any civilization. If it weren’t, given life has had eternity to spread across the universe, it would be everywhere, now. But we don’t seem to see many aliens about. So I’m guessing, by the laws of entropy, it’ll all come to an end one day and all traces of our former existence here will be obliterated, just as has occurred for other civilizations, untold times, over an eternal period incomprehensible to ourselves. And so it will be forever into the future. Obscurity is God, so to speak.

    I find it encouraging, that when life is reborn, as it always is, some findings hold perpetually true. And one of those is of geometric formulas. When our entire universe is no more and a new big bang occurs to replace all that was obliterated before, I feel confident intelligence will find a new good place to grow and with time, the area of a circle will again be calculated. And the mind will imagine a perfect circle long before it can actually be created. That’s another thing, Carol, humans can do, is imagine. I don’t believe computers will ever be able to do the same. But when a future mind contemplates a perfect circle, the effect will be the same as when I do so, now. And without realizing, we’ll have become one at that moment. Should you consider a perfect circle, simultaneously, we are then one. Likewise, if we both say, “Oh, my God! Or, “Yes!” in kind, the same likely holds true. If you’ve ever read, ‘Stranger in a Strange Land,’ you might say we have grokked and become one, then. It’s one of life’s great joys. And it’s a driving force. Out of multiplicity, we crave oneness.

    Mockery is in opposition to that. And that’s why I sort of agree with Jack’s theory. And let’s face it, I hate to be a stick in the mud, but you did sort of serve up an example of sadistic humor, didn’t you, Jenny? (Actually, after some experimentation, I’ve found being a stick in the mud isn’t so bad after all. I’ll never say I hate being one again.) So I guess the body does have intelligence. It certainly knew better than I on that one.

    I doubt if my characters will show up for your party, Jenny. I’m sorry. There is a part of me who believes that would actually be a good deal of fun. But if we went, there would be another part screaming, “What to Hell do you think you’re doing?” just about the time a ball, you threw, hit the mark and we were falling into that permanent ink tank of yours. Likely there would be an actors’ strike if I attempted to send them your way. Still, if you up the offer, don’t hesitate to contact us.

  20. Dennis Says:

    I think one thing you got wrong, Jack, is your prediction of a coming great depression-like downturn in the economy where we Americans will come together again. Obviously, there is presently a recession, of sorts. But it hasn’t hurt most stockholders all that much, thus far. The wiser ones (or those with big bucks to hire wisdom) are doing a lot of investing elsewhere, such as in Brazil. So they’ll weather the storm OK. Also home prices on the upper end, worth millions of dollars, are still selling better than ever. So they’re not being hurt in that area, either.

    But here is the thing. I heard on CNBC (a stock market channel) today, a commentator say that the end result of this shakeup is going to be, half of Americans are going to be poorer than they’ve ever been before. “So look for stores, he said, to come along that are going to cater to cheaper end goods for that lower-end market, as a place to invest.” Of course, Walmart has been doing better than ever, recently. I’ll bet Dollar stores are doing well, too.

    My point is, as I said months ago, formerly Middle Class Americans are not so bright as they were in post WWII years. They’re being decimated and don’t even notice. They’re too worried about prayer in schools and having semiautomatic rifles to detect what’s happening to them. So I’d have to say this downturn will be a final triumph for one of the most successful presidents ever and I do mean President Bush. He didn’t succeed in destroying Social Security but his Medicare prescription plan should help put that socialized medical program in grave economic danger soon.

    And come on! Half of Americans left poorer than they’ve been since depression days? That means a transfer of money upward so our wealthy can be even more so. The former wealth of Americans has to go somewhere, right? That kind of achievement is as much a mark of a great republican president as Reagan’s success in lowering the highest tax rates down from the 60th percentiles to the 30s. That left him considered a great manager of the economy, never mind our federal debt tripled under him. (It’s only doubled in Bush’s time. And that still isn’t good. Well. . . unless you have hopes our deep debt will require an end to programs such as Social Security; so that money could be transferred to our higher classes, too. I mean, what else do they have to shoot for, now, locally?)

    Of course, there are other nations and their people in a global economy. Hopefully, before they’ve thoroughly defeated Americans, they’ll turn their eyes elsewhere. Well, I guess they have, actually. We all know that. It’s where many of our jobs have gone. And of course, that’s what helped destroy our unions, too, along with a strong voice that used to speak out for Middle Class America. And it wasn’t a voice of “Throw them some more crumbs.” Rather it was one demanding dignity, respect, and a fair deal for people at all levels. That’s long gone. The only voices we hear, now, are those of millionaires hired by multimillionaires to put out propaganda in support of our well-to-do.

    I suspect republicans, looking around and seeing no challenges to this coup they’ve just pulled off, are shrugging their shoulders and saying, “Well, that’s no fun. They didn’t even try to stop us.”

    No, this downturn will not be shared by all. There will be no coming together. This is about separation. It’s about transferring half of Americans into a small pen where they’ll be granted sustenance and left to die should they become ill. And we’ll help that along by giving them all the weapons they desire to shoot themselves because fortunately, they tend to restrict their shootings to their own. And of course, while they’re alive, we’ll entice them into deep debt, charge outrageous interest rates to keep them there, and take advantage of their desperation by providing them low-waged jobs with no benefits. Oh, and make bankruptcy tougher than ever to declare, too. Fortunately, most Bible thumpers have never actually read the thing so they’ll never know much of this stuff being done was prohibited by a god they’re ignorant of.

    It’s the new America. Enjoy!

  21. Carol Says:

    This is just a minor annoyance but still worth mentioning. I ordered my two allotted digital TV converter rebates from the government to cover I thought the expense of operating my regular TVs when the changeover occurs next year. But the rebates only covered $40 each and Best Buy charged $60 each. So I ended up having to pay $40 total out of my own pocket so my two older TVs could work next year. This seems like charity for the rich. I’ve got to pay $40 so they can have their high definition TVs. Like they don’t have enough money to pay for their own luxuries? They’ve got to come begging to me?

    The aristocrats are coming out winners every battle now. Just once I’d like to see us win one. How about universal health care for starters?

    Dream on right?

    Must have been nice when average Americans felt their government was working for them. I hear them saying words and don’t believe a thing anymore. I’m coming to believe the DC following Washington is an abreviation for deception. So many secrets. And on whose behalf?

  22. Dennis Says:

    I see Jenny’s letter was removed. I suppose you did so my sake. But if you could reinsert it, I’d be grateful. I thought it was an excellent, concise argument in support of connection with the body, a subject I’ve been pondering quite a bit since you introduced it. And besides, I felt Jenny’s letter was humorous and I really got a kick out of it. I swear I’m laughing right now, just thinking about it. I mean, didn’t you think it was funny, too? OK, maybe I have a warped sense of humor. But I thought it was great. And, too, I concede, I’ve moved more in her, Carol’s and your direction regarding body influences of thought. I concede Spock was only likable because emotions did sometimes show through.

    We do tend to appreciate Sherlock Holmes, though, and he wasn’t so transparent. I heard these lines today:

    Dr Watson: “Are you telling me you have no feelings at all?”

    Sherlock Holmes: “I possess them, but unwillingly. If I could have them all removed, I would.”

    And, yet, I wonder. Maybe we like Holmes because we never quite believe him when he says such things. His friendship with Watson, alone, disproves his words.

  23. drinkme Says:

    I didn’t remove any responses… Maybe she deleted it herself?

  24. John Says:

    What a lot of wimps! You should be applauding if half our population will be poorer than ever. Dennis accuses Americans have become less intelligent. Well, then, shouldn’t that make it easy to become part of the upper half and enjoy the additional wealth gleaned when the poor become poorer? College is great. You’ve got to have it on your resume. But the problem is, too many become book addicts while in school. I can tell you from experience, you don’t find successful people sitting around reading or surfing the Internet, either, for non-business related reasons. You’ve got to grab reality by the hairs and shake off the dust of past intellectual imaginings. That’s not to say you don’t use your intellect. It’s only to say you have to become specialized and concentrate all your energies on whatever your job may be. I don’t care if you’re a physicist or a cop. You’ve got to live your job, night and day, if you wish to get ahead. And too few are willing to do that. Most want to be dabblers in everything life has to offer. And that’s a good way to end up on the short end.

    When I walk around this mansion, I reside, I occasionally glance at my walls of books and that suffices. I’ll never open them. But they’re mine. And I feel energy just for having them. They look good. And I collect old ones, too. I’ve got the first magazine ever published. Now that’s a feeling of power. I’ve got relics from Greek times. And I haven’t forgotten all I ever learned. I enjoy the feeling that Plato may have once meditated upon this very Greek goddess protome I possess. But you see, those feelings are the fruits of labor. I won’t open a book to investigate ancient times further. That would be a waste. As I say, if you wish to get ahead, you’ve got to eliminate all distractions and perpetually get down to business. It’s the only way.

    We are looking to drain capital from the lower echelons for many reasons. One, we can have manufacturing plants located here, again, if we can create conditions where Americans will be willing to work for minimal wages and be grateful for them. Also, as I said, and I think this has been true for all nations in history, if a segment of society has less, then another segment can have more. That’s why we had slaves for so long. Of course, we can’t call them that any longer and really they’re not, because if you work hard, you don’t have to end up one. But we’ve got to have people working for peanuts, too. It’s the way capitalism works. You can’t have rewards for some without creating suffering for others.

    A life of concentrated labor, necessitating a closing of books, is the way to the top. I shouldn’t say, all books, though. You’ve got to keep up on trivia. It’s the key to appearing intelligent. By all means, browse through an almanac occasionally. Or do as I and buy Trivia Pursuit games. Put the cards all over your house and make a habit of testing yourself every day. That’s enough to keep up with facts you can use on occasion to impress business associates. Create enough wealth for your family and yes, maybe they actually could waste away their time sitting in mansions reading books all their lives. But just remember, it took people like me, slaving away, with devoted resolution to the firm, to create that idle class. And you’ll never produce such a generation from the lower classes unless they be 100% devoted to but one cause and, therein, move to the upper end.

    Don’t forget Dennis even insisted that out of multiplicity we crave one. That one is your job. Give it your all and you won’t have to whine about being in the lower echelons. Put down those books. Turn off this computer. Same with the television. And if you don’t have a job you can do right now, this very minute, go find one. And I mean find one even if you’ve been working all day. You’ve got to have a job you can work at 24 hours a day.

    One last point, many of you seem to have an attitude that our triumphs are a bad thing. You don’t realize how essential we are. Let me show you a letter I received from a good friend the other day. I don’t think he comprehends, yet, how his minor ordeal had to be part of our plan. When your design is to make half the population much worse off than they’ve ever been before, you’ve got to set up a system of defense against any negative repercussions. Given the silence, we may have played it safer than we needed. But you can’t know ahead. And who is to say this massive justice system we’ve created won’t be necessary in the long run?

    Here is the thing. You’ve got to have a lot of criminals to rationalize having an abundance of cops, lawyers, and judges. How to manufacture them? Well, you’ll see Tom is a bit naive but really, the conditions he describes are just what are needed to create the kind of repeat offender necessary to allow for the buildup of our criminal justice system. And of course, that was necessary, lest resentful citizens take to the streets. Our technique has been simple. We know if a dog is placed in a small cage, confined with other dogs in the same condition, and all are deprived of human contact and any chance for reward, they will turn on each other. And when one is released, you’ve got one hell of an angry, vicious dog on your hands. So all we had to do was conduct just such an experiment with humans. Fortunately, like dogs, released criminals don’t tend to wander far from their neighborhoods. So they can turn on their neighbors while our mansions remain safe. We’ll even give them all the weapons they want, too, in exchange for their votes, because, again, they’re going to shoot each other, not us.

    Here is Tom’s report. See if we haven’t created just the situation I’ve described. And when Americans awake to find what they’ve lost, we’ve got the cops out there on the streets to stop them. It was all part of our strategy. And, come on! Are you going to get onboard? Or would you prefer being a resentful loser?

    “Subject: Fw: I’m Free ! Out of Jail ! Finally ! Freedom !”

    “Hey John,”

    “As you know…I just got out of jail yesterday. What a nightmare that was…I am so glad to be out and back in my humble little house ! I go back to work tomorrow. Here are some more thoughts about the experience:”

    “Gotta be honest with you…It was not as bad as I expected…IT WAS WORSE ! ! ! I still have this feeling of shame and humiliation from being there that I cannot quite explain. I couldn’t even shower it off. It was definitely humiliating and dehumanizing and I guess that is the goal to keep you from going back. However it does not appear to work as I met half a dozen people or more that were in there for multiple DUI offenses. Many were felons now and looking to do over a year in there or go to prison.”

    “WOW ! What an education I received about the jail and law system…to be honest…It seemed more like 6 months than 6 days. It wasn’t so much the conditions…but having to live in such close quarters with so many freaks, weirdo’s and mentally ill people. They put me in CCU and then a dorm with multiple felons, armed robber’s, domestic batterers, grand theft cases, petty thieves, druggies and even guys doing time on Federal charges that will be in jail for life.”

    “A guy hung himself and killed himself just a couple weeks ago in the same CCU cell ( Holding tank with 9 other dregs until they classify you ) that I was in . I can see why he did it. You are stuck in there with nothing to do, nothing to read or write with, no radio, no tv, no weights to lift, no nothing. You have to use the bathroom in front of everyone and shower in front of them if you dare.”

    “It seemed almost as much like an insane asylum as it did a jail. I know I never want to go back ! ! ! At least I never met a Bubba…I just walked around with pissed look on my face most of the time… like… “Don’t fuck with me or I will kill you”.

    “One gentlemen ( the only semi normal person ) there in my cell block once I was classified was on his “4th” DUI and this was the first time he had to do any jail time. His name was Ron Gardner…He used to be the main News Anchor for Channel 2 back in the 90’s. He was the only relatively normal person I met in there. Nice guy, he gave me some lipton tea bags… ( there was no coffee ). Do you remember him? Now he works for the Department of Tourism. He got out the day before me after serving 30 days.”

    So that’s Tom’s report. And I say, wow! These jail conditions, he described, were our doing. If left to you bleeding heart liberals, prisoners would still be watching television, working at jobs, and going to school. As a result of our policies of longer terms, our prison population has about tripled. Recidivism rates are as high as they’ve ever been. And despite so many prisoners being off the streets, we still have more crimes than ever taking place. And we’ve built no additional prisons to accommodate all the additional prisoners, rather squeezing them in to drive them that much more mad, much as our dog experiment would predict. We’ve created monsters. But look at the benefit. Given the increased evil that confinement without stimulation produces, citizens have accepted our criminal justice system’s ballooning to a size that would have seemed intimidating, if not for what we did. And that huge justice system was just what was needed, if we desired to pull off this ripoff of average Americans, one of the greatest capitalistic accomplishments of all times. And, yes, perhaps Dennis was being facetious, but President Bush really is one of the greatest presidents ever. But we can’t say so, yet, because we’ve got to attempt to get the votes of resentful Americans. But you wait and see. Bush will get his dues when the time is right.

    Now you can either be stupid and whine about poor little Americans when you read Tom’s letter of prison life or hear news of folks losing their homes and jobs. Or you can climb on board and get a mansion, too. I’ve told you how to accomplish that and I’ll tell you what. I like high ceilings. You really ought to give them a try some time. But if you don’t, hey! I’ve got cops out there for people like you. Your choice. I’ve done all I can for you.

    Guys, I might mention, if you’ve got liberal girlfriends, they’re only so out of resentment they haven’t run into a guy like me, who would invite them to live in my mansion. Money buys ideology. Never forget it. We may permit a loved one to continue spouting liberal words. But in line with your subject of discussion, those would only be words. In body and spirit, once a woman has experienced wealth, she will always be conservative. And she will love being so.

  25. John Says:

    Lest I was accidentally removed, too, I’ll try one last time.

    What a lot of wimps! You should be applauding if half our population will be poorer than ever. Dennis accuses Americans have become less intelligent. Well, then, shouldn’t that make it easy to become part of the upper half and enjoy the additional wealth gleaned when the poor become poorer? College is great. You’ve got to have it on your resume. But the problem is, too many become book addicts while in school. I can tell you from experience, you don’t find successful people sitting around reading or surfing the Internet, either, for non-business related reasons. You’ve got to grab reality by the hairs and shake off the dust of past intellectual imaginings. That’s not to say you don’t use your intellect. It’s only to say you have to become specialized and concentrate all your energies on whatever your job may be. I don’t care if you’re a physicist or a cop. You’ve got to live your job, night and day, if you wish to get ahead. And too few are willing to do that. Most want to be dabblers in everything life has to offer. And that’s a good way to end up on the short end.

    When I walk around this mansion, I reside, I occasionally glance at my walls of books and that suffices. I’ll never open them. But they’re mine. And I feel energy just for having them. They look good. And I collect old ones, too. I’ve got the first magazine ever published. Now that’s a feeling of power. I’ve got relics from Greek times. And I haven’t forgotten all I ever learned. I enjoy the feeling that Plato may have once meditated upon this very Greek goddess protome I possess. But you see, those feelings are the fruits of labor. I won’t open a book to investigate ancient times further. That would be a waste. As I say, if you wish to get ahead, you’ve got to eliminate all distractions and perpetually get down to business. It’s the only way.

    We are looking to drain capital from the lower echelons for many reasons. One, we can have manufacturing plants located here, again, if we can create conditions where Americans will be willing to work for minimal wages and be grateful for them. Also, as I said, and I think this has been true for all nations in history, if a segment of society has less, then another segment can have more. That’s why we had slaves for so long. Of course, we can’t call them that any longer and really they’re not, because if you work hard, you don’t have to end up one. But we’ve got to have people working for peanuts, too. It’s the way capitalism works. You can’t have rewards for some without creating suffering for others.

    A life of concentrated labor, necessitating a closing of books, is the way to the top. I shouldn’t say, all books, though. You’ve got to keep up on trivia. It’s the key to appearing intelligent. By all means, browse through an almanac occasionally. Or do as I and buy Trivia Pursuit games. Put the cards all over your house and make a habit of testing yourself every day. That’s enough to keep up with facts you can use on occasion to impress business associates. Create enough wealth for your family and yes, maybe they actually could waste away their time sitting in mansions reading books all their lives. But just remember, it took people like me, slaving away, with devoted resolution to the firm, to create that idle class. And you’ll never produce such a generation from the lower classes unless they be 100% devoted to but one cause and, therein, move to the upper end.

    Don’t forget Dennis even insisted that out of multiplicity we crave one. That one is your job. Give it your all and you won’t have to whine about being in the lower echelons. Put down those books. Turn off this computer. Same with the television. And if you don’t have a job you can do right now, this very minute, go find one. And I mean find one even if you’ve been working all day. You’ve got to have a job you can work at 24 hours a day.

    One last point, many of you seem to have an attitude that our triumphs are a bad thing. You don’t realize how essential we are. Let me show you a letter I received from a good friend the other day. I don’t think he comprehends, yet, how his minor ordeal had to be part of our plan. When your design is to make half the population much worse off than they’ve ever been before, you’ve got to set up a system of defense against any negative repercussions. Given the silence, we may have played it safer than we needed. But you can’t know ahead. And who is to say this massive justice system we’ve created won’t be necessary in the long run?

    Here is the thing. You’ve got to have a lot of criminals to rationalize having an abundance of cops, lawyers, and judges. How to manufacture them? Well, you’ll see Tom is a bit naive but really, the conditions he describes are just what are needed to create the kind of repeat offender necessary to allow for the buildup of our criminal justice system. And of course, that was necessary, lest resentful citizens take to the streets. Our technique has been simple. We know if a dog is placed in a small cage, confined with other dogs in the same condition, and all are deprived of human contact and any chance for reward, they will turn on each other. And when one is released, you’ve got one hell of an angry, vicious dog on your hands. So all we had to do was conduct just such an experiment with humans. Fortunately, like dogs, released criminals don’t tend to wander far from their neighborhoods. So they can turn on their neighbors while our mansions remain safe. We’ll even give them all the weapons they want, too, in exchange for their votes, because, again, they’re going to shoot each other, not us.

    Here is Tom’s report. See if we haven’t created just the situation I’ve described. And when Americans awake to find what they’ve lost, we’ve got the cops out there on the streets to stop them. It was all part of our strategy. And, come on! Are you going to get onboard? Or would you prefer being a resentful loser?

    “Subject: Fw: I’m Free ! Out of Jail ! Finally ! Freedom !”

    “Hey John,”

    “As you know…I just got out of jail yesterday. What a nightmare that was…I am so glad to be out and back in my humble little house ! I go back to work tomorrow. Here are some more thoughts about the experience:”

    “Gotta be honest with you…It was not as bad as I expected…IT WAS WORSE ! ! ! I still have this feeling of shame and humiliation from being there that I cannot quite explain. I couldn’t even shower it off. It was definitely humiliating and dehumanizing and I guess that is the goal to keep you from going back. However it does not appear to work as I met half a dozen people or more that were in there for multiple DUI offenses. Many were felons now and looking to do over a year in there or go to prison.”

    “WOW ! What an education I received about the jail and law system…to be honest…It seemed more like 6 months than 6 days. It wasn’t so much the conditions…but having to live in such close quarters with so many freaks, weirdo’s and mentally ill people. They put me in CCU and then a dorm with multiple felons, armed robber’s, domestic batterers, grand theft cases, petty thieves, druggies and even guys doing time on Federal charges that will be in jail for life.”

    “A guy hung himself and killed himself just a couple weeks ago in the same CCU cell ( Holding tank with 9 other dregs until they classify you ) that I was in . I can see why he did it. You are stuck in there with nothing to do, nothing to read or write with, no radio, no tv, no weights to lift, no nothing. You have to use the bathroom in front of everyone and shower in front of them if you dare.”

    “It seemed almost as much like an insane asylum as it did a jail. I know I never want to go back ! ! ! At least I never met a Bubba…I just walked around with pissed look on my face most of the time… like… “Don’t fuck with me or I will kill you”.

    “One gentlemen ( the only semi normal person ) there in my cell block once I was classified was on his “4th” DUI and this was the first time he had to do any jail time. His name was Ron Gardner…He used to be the main News Anchor for Channel 2 back in the 90’s. He was the only relatively normal person I met in there. Nice guy, he gave me some lipton tea bags… ( there was no coffee ). Do you remember him? Now he works for the Department of Tourism. He got out the day before me after serving 30 days.”

    So that’s Tom’s report. And I say, wow! These jail conditions, he described, were our doing. If left to you bleeding heart liberals, prisoners would still be watching television, working at jobs, and going to school. As a result of our policies of longer terms, our prison population has about tripled. Recidivism rates are as high as they’ve ever been. And despite so many prisoners being off the streets, we still have more crimes than ever taking place. And we’ve built no additional prisons to accommodate all the additional prisoners, rather squeezing them in to drive them that much more mad, much as our dog experiment would predict. We’ve created monsters. But look at the benefit. Given the increased evil that confinement without stimulation produces, citizens have accepted our criminal justice system’s ballooning to a size that would have seemed intimidating, if not for what we did. And that huge justice system was just what was needed, if we desired to pull off this ripoff of average Americans, one of the greatest capitalistic accomplishments of all times. And, yes, perhaps Dennis was being facetious, but President Bush really is one of the greatest presidents ever. But we can’t say so, yet, because we’ve got to attempt to get the votes of resentful Americans. But you wait and see. Bush will get his dues when the time is right.

    Now you can either be stupid and whine about poor little Americans when you read Tom’s letter of prison life or hear news of folks losing their homes and jobs. Or you can climb on board and get a mansion, too. I’ve told you how to accomplish that and I’ll tell you what. I like high ceilings. You really ought to give them a try some time. But if you don’t, hey! I’ve got cops out there for people like you. Your choice. I’ve done all I can for you.

    Guys, I might mention, if you’ve got liberal girlfriends, they’re only so out of resentment they haven’t run into a guy like me, who would invite them to live in my mansion. Money buys ideology. Never forget it. We may permit a loved one to continue spouting liberal words. But in line with your subject of discussion, those would only be words. In body and spirit, once a woman has experienced wealth, she will always be conservative. And she will love being so.

  26. jenny Says:

    Friends say I be pillo. . .No, be philopopsicle in thought they say. What be philopopsicle? Friends say be proud. I like be proud. Big word philopopsycle. Make small. Make pillo talk, yes? Or no, mean philo talk I think say? But what be philo? Be philo way special memories? Or no. Sorry. So dumb. Be philo human being I think. Of course. I like. Make think love, yes? Love be philo 4 me now.

    Think word mean share philo talk and popsicle late night with friend. Much fun 2 share. Enjoy. Make slow while ice melt til both be bare and done. Then smile. Be warm all over. So very good, yes? I like be philopopsicle. Fun share and melt together. Friends say mean big thinker. Yes, I like think big.

    I be feel in philopopsicle mood this evening.

  27. John Trumbell Says:

    What is this? I send at you insults and challenge. And all I get back is some ‘philopopsicle’ nonsense. What’s wrong with you people?

  28. Barney Says:

    Philopopsicle? I think you mean philosophical my man. Could it be one of your shortcut to intelligence cards became smudged? It doesn’t take a whole lot, you know, to make one look foolish. I should know. Good to see you’ve joined our circle too.

    Barney the Would-be Clown

  29. Dennis Says:

    I think the gig is up. I’ve been somehow erasing submitted letters when attempting to make new ones. But it was fun while it lasted. And I always suspected you knew, anyway. As you say, we have many people within.

    This has been like coming full circle. Years ago I happened onto your site and one of the first subjects I discovered was a series of your writings about freaks. But I also saw your request that any liberal visitors attempt to influence your sister on her website because you feared she was swinging right. Well, that wasn’t so easy. It proved to be a much taller order than I could handle. I think Gwen was kicking my butt more often than not.

    So I had to develop other characters to help me out. But I also created a couple of them to fight for her side. I’ve got at least a few conservative people in me, too, and, hence, came Wyatt Earp’s letter and my guy Tex got in some shots at my liberal characters, as well. And I don’t believe we ever were able to shoot any back at him. Like a Texan, he always stood tall and seemed too unshakeably ominous to take on. I always felt Liberty appreciated his being there. He was ever steadfast and never uttered a word that lacked power.

    Thank you for having once defended me when I was Fred the Prisoner. Is there any chance Gwen could be persuaded to send me the exchanges we had when I was Spaced Out, Tree Hugger, Born O’ Gin Tea, Granny, Wyatt Earp, the Mayor, Tex, Fred the Prisoner, and of course, Dennis? And any others who she may have known were me that I’ve forgotten? Does she still have those? It might be fun to read through them one day. I think we both put a lot of hours into them.

    I pray your health be well. When I discovered your site, you were going through Chemo. I suspect that was no small factor in your coming to realize the power that body can have upon thoughts. Perhaps you should write about that some time. I would guess an experience like that would have to be quite powerful in shaping one’s character and thoughts. Oh, it just occurred to me. Another circle. It was about Easter, then, too, when I first visited. You had colored eggs.

    If Liberty should be willing to forward those old letters, I guess you’ve got my address(es). Hope you’re not ticked. I’d sort of hoped to be entertaining and, yes, a bit provocative at times. But from this end, it can be hard knowing whether one’s failing or succeeding, welcome or resented. Still, one always hopes it’s all the best stuff rather than worst. As Jenny would say, “I like be proud. I like be happy.”

    And I like make happy, 2.

  30. Dennis Says:

    John,

    I don’t believe there is any way to combat someone like you in debate form. It comes down to values. You value yourself and no one else, at least no one who is not similarly wealthy. I’m quite certain there would be no way to convince you to care for an American who is dying without care. If it’s accurate, as Michael Moore insists, that 18,000 of us are dying every year because of lack of health insurance, I have to believe there are a good many doctors in your camp. It amazes me they lobby to prevent national health care when they know it results in having to turn people away. But money talks.

    I’ll bet you’re an incredibly warm person with your customers. But you’re sneering when I express concern about so many fellow citizens dying untreated. No money to be gained from them, right? As I say, there is no good argument against such sentiment that I know of. It would be like attempting to persuade a serial killer that murder is wrong. If there are no guilt feelings to work with, if the killer enjoys your protests and pain, employing logic is pointless.

    But we live in a democracy so when they, who you argue should be disregarded, join to act in their best interests, it’s possible they could accomplish something toward their good, despite your resistance. True, money buys a strong voice. But I perked up when I heard Obama say if we stop permitting you to distract us, something might be accomplished. He’s the first I’ve heard mention about the power of distraction. I find it encouraging a presidential candidate is aware of that strategy and realizes that it’s been killing us.

    Associated with distraction is the power of divide and conquer. I wouldn’t have a clue how to go about employing that strategy against the wealthy. But I can see plenty of instances where it’s been successfully used against the poor. And I’ll bet you’re smiling as I say that, too, aren’t you, John?

    No, I won’t talk with you further. Honestly, it would be pointless. You can’t teach courtesy to a deliberately discourteous person. You can’t instruct cooperation and concern for others to one who believes we should all be opposed to each other. I might add, I fear your superior tone has crept into all economic levels. Prejudice is as rampant these days as it’s ever been. I wonder if that may have been part of your divide and conquer strategy, too, promoting sick attitudes. Whatever helps keep low income workers at each other’s throats, right? Better they blow off steam against each other that they may forget about all they’re losing to you. I’d say you’ve been winning, actually, for some time, now. It’s been working. My guess is the creation of a middle class was an anomaly of history, brought about by a long shared depression and triumphant world war; fought by rich and poor alike, side by side; a shared wealth, likely now slated for demise with no revival coming any time soon.

    I still retained some hope until shortly ago I heard a couple of blue collar, low paid workers discussing social security and one began to launch in about how social security was never designed as something to live on. “It was only to be for supplementing retirement income,” he insisted, as I quickly walked away, dreading to hear more. These guys didn’t make enough to think that way. But they were demonstrating how intelligent they were by showing they could repeat what they’d heard Rush say.

    So, John, those workers today convinced me. I’m throwing in the towel. Honestly, I believe we’ve been thoroughly defeated. The airwaves are too full of your people. And too many of mine believe every word.

    Just treat my woman good, will you?

  31. Barney Says:

    John,

    I can’t think of anyone who deserves being done over in purple more than you. But the problem for me is this. Even though you’re the biggest jerk I’ve ever encountered, if you were hired by Ringling Brothers to perform in Washington DC, where they are presently, I would be jealous to the point of despair. That unfortunately leaves me no choice but to vote to save you even if you are an undeserving scoundrel.

    Sorry everybody. I know he has it coming. But it would be a nightmare for me if they hired him after turning down all my applications. It would seem so unfair. But I know they’d be inclined to do so out of charity for one who was in a condition where it would be difficult to find a decent job elsewhere. John doesn’t realize but he would find ecstasy in the circus where he could never find anything similar in his old life.

    So again I vote to save John, fully believing it’s the worst thing I could do for him because honestly, being John is not the road to happiness while being purple well may be.

    Barney the Would-be Clown

  32. Raz-ma-taz Says:

    John,

    You be careful. With all that purple on yah it’s gonna be hot. Kinda like the Arizona desert, I’d say. But they insist purple is for royalty. So far be it for me to deprive yah.

    I vote not to save that bastard.

    Raz-ma-taz

  33. John Says:

    They have indeed made an April fool of me. Every time I look in the mirror I see someone else. I’d never considered how it would be to have the same mind in an alternate, deformed body. I’ll never be able to sell again. My associates will have nothing to do with a freak. No one will. Frankie and Machu may as well have taken a gun to my head. It’s over for me, now. They’ve taken everything I’ve got.

    I suppose you don’t know what I’m talking about since someone was able to erase Machu’s and my brother, Andy’s letters. I’m convinced it was my brother who betrayed me in exchange for Frankie’s granting control of the business. Now all I’m hearing is ‘tough love.’ Well, I see the tough but where is the love? I’m a man without family. I’m a man with many enemies and no friends. And now I’m a man without any prospects for the future, too. And that last one is the hardest to bear for one such as I.

    I always felt I could buy friends if need be when things were going well. I don’t know where this gambling addiction came from. Was I deliberately attempting to destroy myself? I knew these guys were knuckle busters. What in God’s name was I thinking? I’m ruined.

    They even took over my health insurance account, not that I care any more. Death would be a blessing, now.

    I’m confident you would have voted in my favor if Andy hadn’t hired a hacker to erase those letters. You simply didn’t know what was going on. I’m sure it was Andy because Frankie wouldn’t cheat. He plays hardball but he plays fair. We’ve never been a loving family and even less so when there is profit to be had. Andy was always resentful it was I who assumed control of the family business, for being the oldest, when Father died. I know it was he who ultimately did this to me.

    But who cares, now? I walk alone from here on. I suppose I always did but not like this. Acid thrown in my face would have been better than this painless transformation. I’m afraid to go outside. But what am I to do? I’ve no money. I’ve no way to live unless I go out into the world. And, yet, what choice will I have in an unwelcome world but to shun it in return?

    Shall I turn to crime, then? I can think of no other way, if no one will have me anymore. At least in prison there would be other freaks and they would feed me there. I don’t know what to do. Crime is something I’ve never considered. And prison would drive me mad. So much unceasing noise, there. And no privacy. A tall, flying leap may be best. I’m a walking, dead man, anyway.

    The John I once knew will never be again. The world often sees us, not for who we are, but for who we appear to be. I never realized that before. But now it’s all too clear. Worse, I look in the mirror and it’s the same for me. That’s not me looking back. It’s a freak. I’m a freak. And I always will be now. The world is accurate. I’m not the same person I was yesterday. And I never will be again. But who am I?

  34. John Says:

    The stress has been too great. I was preparing to go to sleep last night and my heart suddenly kicked out of rhythm like it was quivering rather than beating. I felt my pulse and it was slight and erratic like a slow flow going back and forth, with an occasional beat interspersed. I’ve been very light-headed and even found myself down on the floor once, not recalling how I’d gotten there.

    I’m uninsured now and so am taking my chances. I don’t wish to go to emergency out of concern for establishing a pre-condition which could exclude me from future care, should I ever become insured again. I haven’t forgotten how we were able to cut off an insured employee of our firm from cancer treatment after we established she’d had skin cancer years previous which may have survived surgery to spread to her lungs. We saved ourselves a bundle on that one. But of course, she died.

    So knowing how the game works and weighing the odds, I’ve decided my best chance in the long run is to risk coming out of this untreated rather than letting my problem be known, lest I end up dead, one day, too, like my former employee from lack of care due to a precondition excluding coverage.

    I’ve survived so far and it’s been over 18 hours. So it can’t be a heart attack. Anyone know what my problem might be? If you have any suggestions for home remedy, I suppose that would be good. But to be honest, after all that’s happened, I’m content just to lie here and wait to see if I live or die. It’s interesting. A few days ago, I felt like a man without family or friends. Now that I may be dying, and knowing I’m a shunned loser, considered undeserving of treatment by those in control, I feel like a man without a country, too. Is there anything left me but to die?

  35. jenny Says:

    I go hospital. Nice people work hospital. Kind and smiles. Get well soon. Pay slow if like. Use credit. Easy. You go 2, yes? Be damn fool not go. You be smart not dumb ass or I be mad.

    Life be good. Death bad. So you stay while longer, yes?

    Go hospital now and I love you much, much, much.

    Jenny

  36. Dennis Says:

    John,

    I can understand where you’re coming from. I once had a medical condition while uninsured and took my chances rather than risk establishing a pre-condition which could disqualify me from future care, too. But your case sounds more serious. I agree with Jenny that you should go to emergency right now. Likely you just need some medication to restore your heartbeat to normal rhythm.

    Best regards,

    Dennis

  37. John Says:

    Dennis and Jenny,

    No can do. I requested home treatment remedies and nothing else. In case I haven’t made it clear, I’ve considered my options carefully and believe staying home is my best medical strategy. I have no intention of changing my mind. Now there is a large grocery store that also has a pharmacy only a block away. Do you know of anything that could help me which wouldn’t require a subscription? If not please stop bothering me.

  38. Dennis Says:

    John,

    OK, you win. As I say, I once took a chance like you. So I understand. But I hate seeing anyone else having to do so. Look, I did some research and this is what I found. Now I could be wrong but my guess, since you’ve been in arrhythmia so long, is you have a condition called ‘Atrial fibrillation.’ And the big danger from that, I read, is you could form a bubble in your bloodstream that could go to your brain or heart. Make no mistake, it could kill you or give you a stroke and brain damage. You really should go to emergency.

    But if you absolutely insist on not going, here is what I found suggested from others who also were excluded from our health care system. Keep resting. Maybe watch TV to take your mind off your problem. But also take aspirin regularly. Potassium is supposed to be good for a heartbeat. And I read of a person who claimed taking a small amount of epson salts helped restore her heartbeat when it went haywire. Another person wrote you should massage the sides of your neck to help restore rhythm.

    I agree you are presently a man without a country. The United States, as you know, is willing to let you die if you need any long-term care. But as I said, for your condition, the emergency room could probably handle it. Most people are over it within a day or two with proper treatment. There is no heart damage caused by it usually. I read that President Bush Sr. once experienced your present condition while in office. He was back at it, full steam, in no time.

    But, OK. I’ll keep looking for other suggestions. It might be easier if you contact me at my E-mail address of Platotledes@yahoo.com. Write me and I’ll send you any ideas as I find them.

    Hang in there,

    Dennis

  39. Carol Says:

    So John, how are you feeling today? I hope your heart is beating strong again.

    Praying for you,

    Carol

  40. Dennis Says:

    Some of you know, already, John Trumbell died. We corresponded while he was ill. This was his last letter; to me, anyway. I read a newspaper account indicating the coroner’s estimate of time of death. And, if he was accurate, that would have been about the time John sent me this.

    So, Dennis,

    My heart has been stopping for several seconds at a time. The longest was for twelve seconds before it kicked back in again. I kept wondering if it would restart or if this was going to be the end. Makes for an eerie moment, I’ll tell you. Each time my heart stops, I can’t do a damn thing but hold my pulse and wait to see if it restarts. Is heart cessation a typical symptom of atrial fibrillation, do you know? Write me if you find anything more, will you, Doc? I’m still resolved I won’t risk going in and establishing a precondition which could preclude me from future care when insured again. It’s just a matter of calculating odds and I’ve decided taking my chances, now, gives me my best chance for a long future.

    This death scare has really got me to thinking. There once was a time when I’d look into space at night and wonder where out there in those vast, dark regions, the earth would be when I first kissed a girl. Now I look up and wonder where the earth will be when I breathe my last breath.

    I find it fascinating there is a place out there, at this moment, in outer space, that has likely never been filled and especially by air. Do you get me? For eternity it has sat out there empty, dark, and waiting for that instant when the earth would at last arrive to fill it with oxygen and light. And after so long waiting, when air finally arrives in that eternally empty space, what’s going to happen? I’ll be breathing my last breath. Now isn’t that ironic? A void transformed into utopia, giving breath where never before has breath been given and light, at the very instant when I must breathe mo more and enter into darkness. Somehow it doesn’t seem fair.

    This has long been my meditation, that where we are, this very moment, was but empty space only minutes ago and will be left behind as blackness, again, even before I can finish this sentence. Isn’t that something? We’re in what was outer space this morning when we awoke. And where we were, then, well, I’m looking out into the night sky, now, wondering where that may have been.

    I’d like to know which direction the earth is headed. Do you know? And I don’t mean around the sun. I mean, as we and the sun are flying outward from the big bang, which star would that be toward?

    I suspect most people these days aren’t able to easily contemplate our earth’s reality as a kind of utopian spaceship. I mean, what could be better than this moment when fixed upon thought of our spectacular craft? But I wonder if we may be too entrenched in symbolism to adequately realize our good fortune, since appreciation may require consideration free from any other associative links that may distract from what actually is.

    To be enjoyed, some meditations require absolute attention with no analogical mixes of dilution. And when you accomplish that, you’ve got to ask yourself, if we were loading this craft with a volunteer crew from a much larger planet, intent upon departing for billions of years, would we board a crew of over six billion as presently are riding on the earth? Or would that number be considered too big a drain on resources for such a trip?

    Anyway, as I was saying, my frequent meditation is that, here, several minutes ago, we would have been floating in this very space and it would have sucked the air right out of us. But we’re here to have given this very special place fulfillment at long last. And, ah! Breathe that fresh air. May it always be so, And how far have we traveled in one breath’s time? Did you ever do any yoga, Dennis? I’m closing my eyes, now, and breathing stomach to chest, like a slow moving wave, contemplating that, simultaneously, I’m moving at some, unknown, incredible speed, through the universe, like one of many ants, on floating sticks, propelled outwardly by a boulder crashing into our pond.

    When I was a kid and freshman in college, I didn’t take the business courses my dad demanded of me. I was too cowardly to tell him of my rebellion and instead used deception. But every course I took that first year was a liberal arts course. And I had a blast. I met the girl of my dreams. And, yes, I was at long last taught how to kiss. I know that sounds strange. But kissing really meant something back then, in and of itself.

    We even talked of marriage that first year. But then my dad learned what I’d done and threatened to cut me off if I didn’t take practical business courses, thereafter. Always fearful of him, I buckled under. And, consequently, Linda broke up with me. That still hurts. She said she didn’t want anything to do with a guy who didn’t pursue his own dreams. My dad promised she’d change her tune once she learned of all the money I was raking in. I guess I kind of believed him. And so I worked my tail off to become a millionaire before the age of thirty. I ended up making ten million instead.

    Linda had moved and I didn’t have her forwarding address. So I hired a private detective to report on everything he could learn about her, especially her daily habits. And when he returned to give me all the information I required, I told everyone in the office I was taking a month off.

    It was a few days, but sure enough, eventually, Linda entered the neighborhood coffee shop at about the time I knew she sometimes did. She appeared happy to see me initially but then I could see she had made some mental calculations of odds and decided there was no way I was sitting there by chance. It was then I saw resentment appear. So I decided, “Damn, I’d better get immediately to the point because she’s about to turn away.” I hurriedly told her I was a multimillionaire, still loved her, could offer her a great life, and had an empty mansion that only required her and kids to make it into a home. I asked her to marry me. And she turned me down flat and somewhat coldly, too.

    Linda didn’t say it outright but I knew she didn’t wish to ever see me again. I departed and drank myself into depressed meditations that have never left me to this day. Since money had proved worthless, I took to gambling. Didn’t get back to work until about six weeks later, this after going to Vegas for several weeks where I gambled every penny I had away and much more as well. I was in deep trouble.

    The debt was actually good for me though. It forced me to work harder than ever to recover. It was a distraction I much needed. But when at last I could relax, financially, I began thinking of Linda, and drinking again. I ran into Machu and he introduced me to his boss, Frankie. Frankie had an operation going of big time, illegal gambling and I took advantage. Kind of got into a cycle. I went up and down financially, many times.

    But now I’m down and after what they did to me, as a lesson to others, I suppose, I’ll never be able to financially recover again. A freak can not prosper. Physical appearance is no small factor to success. And now I’m coming to realize the hard way, health is a key element, too. A year ago, I believed anyone caught with a health problem who didn’t have health insurance, was a loser we’d be better off without. And of course, that’s how it is in this country, too. But I never thought it would be me who could end up dying from neglect. And, of course, I still hope it isn’t.

    Thanks for the medical advice. I’ve been popping aspirin, rubbing the sides of my neck, as you advised in an effort to restore rhythm; also have taken potassium and vitamins. I did find some Epson salts. But I wonder if I took too much. It seems to have given me the worst diarrhea I’ve ever had in my life. It’s left me feeling extremely weak. Also, my blood pressure is down to 80 over something. Once I got up to use the bathroom and found myself on the floor without remembering how I got there. But I’ve a few bruises to show for it.

    Well, this is a gloomy report. Sorry about that old fellow. I’m actually feeling a kind of ecstasy. I think fear comes from having hope, facing choices, and fretting over whether we’re making the right ones. Doctors will usually give you lots of hope even in the darkest of times. And they will present you with options. But I’ve got no doctors who are willing to help me, now, and there are no choices being offered either. So there is really nothing to worry about. Either I’ll die or I won’t. Still I do wish very much to live which is a change because after what Frankie’s gang did to me I thought I wanted to die and this only a few days ago. Be careful of what you wish for, huh?

    I keep thinking about my freshman college year. It was the best year of my life. I did some writing then and my English professor said I had potential. It was a poem, related to my meditation I told you of, which initially won Linda over. This is it. What do you think? It’s related to what I said about looking out into space and wondering where the earth will be when… Just as the earth doesn’t stand still, I remember it occurred to me, a gaze between two lovers would be in movement, too.

    Like an unclimbed mountain,
    ahead is a vacuum that has
    for eternity remained unfilled
    as our planet and galaxy shoot ever outward.

    Charging space that may, in a moment,
    be empty, again, forever more,
    my eyes shine through shared vapor,
    to glowing eyes, reflecting eyes,
    connecting with mine
    in one, prepossessing enclosed gaze;
    A peering tunnel of alternating current,
    transferring light as a laser streak,
    boring through space,
    a nonexistent place;

    until now

    forever awaiting this moment
    of timeless fulfillment.

    Ah, Dennis! What a year that was. Professor Kickridge saw my poem and sent it to Poetry Magazine to see if they’d publish it. They expressed interest but Dad forbade it. He was furious. He said he wasn’t about to have a wimpish son who wrote poetry. That ended that. Dad then made me drop all other interests but business. Now what do I have to show for it? Just another wasted life. I’m struggling against saying, “I coulda been a contenda.”

    But I wonder if I could have been.

    Thanks again, my friend. Oh, you wouldn’t believe what’s playing on the radio, at the moment. I haven’t heard these guys in ages. They’re singing “Yours is no disgrace.”

    But, then, they’ve never met me, have they?

    John Trumbell

    I just set a new record. This time my heart stopped for 20 seconds. I’d better send this now, just in case. Good God! What a scare. Those were the longest 20 seconds of my life. I can’t believe this is happening. It doesn’t seem fair. Most other people my age are walking around in good health. Why me? Shit, this is crazy. I’ll worry about the future, later. I’d better get to emergency or I may not live to have a precondition which would disqualify me from future care. I’m going to call an ambulance. John

    I guess John either changed his mind or died too soon to make the call. To all who have sent me letters expressing concern, about the charges leveled against me, don’t worry. I don’t see how they could possibly catch me. I’ve been paranoid of government for years and so bought this computer with cash and never subscribed to an Internet provider. I consider this my secret computer. I’ve never written any friends or relatives with this computer either. This has been strictly a coffee shop computer and I’ve never used my real name on it. So the authorities can fret all they like. I see no way they can catch me. I have no doubt they’re reading this, now, and so be it. There is nothing they can do but frown.

    I won’t say who for obvious reasons. But the sister of one of you offered to put me up. She’s quite a character. She says she wants to start an underground railroad for people who offer medical advice for ailing ones who can’t afford doctors. She insists this is a backward nation and the authorities have sold us out. So she feels hiding untrained medical fugitives in such a land is a noble act. But don’t worry. I’m not going to accept her offer.

    Really, offering medical advice is not something I regularly do. John expressed a problem and I tried to help him by doing some research. Regardless, I guess, yeah, I’m wanted for practicing medicine without a license and, since John died, they want me for murder, too. I do worry the Epson salts may have dehydrated John to a dangerous level, especially given his heart condition. I wrote him back advising he take some immodium and lots of water. But it would seem I was too late.

    Again, though, don’t anyone worry. I’ve left no tracks behind that could lead to my capture.

    Thanks for all the concern expressed, though.

    Dennis

    Oh, and any police officers who are reading this, hoping to capture me, you might consider one of these days you may end up without a job and health insurance, too. It can happen. And then you may find yourself grateful having someone like me around to help you when doctors would casually toss you out to the grim reaper without concern. Just business, you know? But I suspect you’re not listening. You’ve got insurance, think yourselves immune, and couldn’t care less about anyone else. So I’m thumbing my nose at you all. Come and get me if you can.

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