All in the mind

May 29, 2010

Dr Miles Munroe strode imperiously down the subterranean corridor, pausing occasionally at one of the numerous security doors at which his elegant fingers would tap a security code, register at a biometric scanner or complete an elaborate logic puzzle. The security at Dr Munroe’s personal New Jersey laboratories was certainly comprehensive.

In the good Doctor’s wake shuffled his new assistant, Edward. The contrast between the two men was marked; whilst Munroe was tall with a mane of glossy black hair sweeping back from his high forehead, Edward seemed swamped by his white coat, his scalp and jowls covered with an uneven stubble.

As he walked Munroe lectured his aide.

“When I finally perfected the technique of personality transfer the eventual solution was surprisingly simple.”

At this point his paused, mid-stride, and directed an arched eyebrow at Edward to indicate his continuing surprise. Edward responded with suitably surprised look of his own, and the Doctor proceeded satisfied.

“Consider if you will the Freudian structure of the mind. We find that the id, which constitutes one’s innate lusts and desires, is embedded deep within the organic structures of the brain. Those lusts and desires are common to every human being; from the ‘average Joe’ on the street to the President of the United States of America… or indeed to the criminally insane. No offense Edward.”

“None taken,” Edward croaked.

“So what is this thin veneer which separates me from you? Freud called it the ego: the rational mind. However, as a young student in Paris, it was my greatest insight to realise that if one were to copy the ego from one brain to another you would transplant the subject’s personality.”

At this point the Doctor became increasingly animated.

“It took twenty years of research to perfect the technique. But ultimately all that one needs is a bio-electric inference scanner to read the subject’s ego, skimming the cream as it were, before over-writing the ego of the target.”

“And what about the super-ego?” asked Edward who had developed an affinity for this type of psycho-babble during his time in the institution.

Doctor Munroe waved a dismissive hand.

“Oh, that sort of takes care of itself. And now that everybody backs up their memories to the internet memory transfer is a doddle too.”

Edward nodded enthusiastically. By this point the pair had reached a door misleading labeled ‘broom closet’ which the Doctor opened with a flourish to reveal an imposing laboratory kitted out with the latest in bio-electric inference technology.

“During my experiments my success rate has been exceptional with targets accurately approximating the personality of the original subject; with very few instances of schizophrenia, personality overlap, or psychotic breakdown,” said Munroe in the manner of a insurance salesman reciting some obligatory small-print.

Edward nodded, clearly in awe of the Doctor’s spiel.

“Do you have many volunteers?”

“Volunteers? Oh absolutely! Definitely lots of volunteers,” Munroe confirmed, before fixing Edward with a piercing stare. “Edward, I am sure that you are wondering about philosophical implications if this technology.”

Edward’s slack-jawed appearance suggested that at that very moment he was wrestling with the philosophical implications of personality transfer. The Doctor continued his monologue.

“Imagine being able to hold the very essence of a person – a loved one – in your hand.”

Munroe plunged his hand into the pocket of his lab coat and withdrew a small square memory chip which he held between thumb and forefinger.

“Here in my hand I hold Charlotte, my late wife. A fascinating and sophisticated woman. She was complex, challenging and cruel… oh so cruel”

The Doctor’s face contorted as though he were in pain.

“She was my nemesis,” he whispered before descending into a pained silence.

Edward shifted uneasily from foot to foot, uncertain what to say.

“Doctor?”

Dr Miles Munroe turned slowly to regard his swarthy companion, a manic glint in his eye.

“Of course, this is where you can be of some assistance.”

Edward grinned eagerly, squirming with excitement.

“If you would just take a seat over there.”

The doctor indicated a stainless steel chair in the center of the room. It would not have looked out of place in a dentist’s surgery, apart, that is, from the heavy leather straps and cranial saw.

Munroe saw the panic rising on Edward’s face.

“Come now Edward, there is no need to be reticent, it’s what she would have wanted.”


Stupid

March 28, 2010

The pig-faced man continues talking,

“…golf with an old college buddy… handicap of thirteen… bogeyed the fairway???”

I nod, but his words mean nothing to me. A young woman with pretty green eyes arrives and interrupts excitedly.

“…non-specific retrovirus… neural pathways… funding application???”

Again I nod and laugh encouragingly, but she seems to expect more. I wander off through a maze of corridors.

Later I meet the young woman again. Now she is wearing a face mask, but I can still see her pretty green eyes.

“…dreadful containment failure Dr Matthews… appear to have contracted Stupid…”

She leads me away.


Telemetry

March 6, 2010

General Richards strode into the control room where klaxons wailed and alerts flashed on a wall of monitors.

‘What’s the problem Lieutenant?’ he barked.

‘It’s the telemetry, Sir. The subject is recording increased levels of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. His heart rate and blood pressure have gone through the roof,’ replied a young officer.

Richards scowled, ‘What about brain activity?’

‘His anterior-temporal lobe just lit up like Christmas tree,’ the lieutenant looked up, visibly shaken. ‘Do you know what this means?’

‘Indeed I do,’ the general grabbed the nearest phone. ‘Get me the Pentagon immediately… the President is in love!’


The Math Problem

February 13, 2010

It was late at the Institute for Speculative Mathematics. Most of the researchers had long since left to drink beer and go body-popping, but Kenji remained amid the ruins of his academic career. Any hope of completing his doctorate now gone as he desperately tried to re-derive the equations by hand.

Kenji slumped in his chair. He should have gone into climate modelling instead.

“Damn,” he cursed “whatever I do everything always reduces to zero. I might as well disappear up my own…”

With a groan the universe folded in on itself and Kenji vanished in a puff of algebra.

[First posted Tue Jan 26, 2010]