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Text of Diary I Found in the Box

Hey everybody as promised I've typed up the text from some pages of the diary I found in the mysterious box (see previous post). It seems to have been written in 1890! In this entry the author describes a sort of mental breakdown...

—Laurence





This entry is titled "Musings On the Random vs. the Regular, and Resulting Improvements I Made to My Household"


March 16th, 1890


I so much delight in the works of Mother Nature. I allow her to inspire me. I make room for her in my heart, and she does not fail to appear to me, her face radiant, to soothe me when I need soothing, to excite me when that emotion is called for, and to always intrigue, answering each of my eager earnest questions with questions of her own, leading me onward, toward revelation after revelation, into the boundless depths of her intricacies. I am careful always, dear reader, to express my deepest gratitude to her. And furthermore I have a sense that the truths she reveals to me are for my eyes alone. If her teachings were to be discovered too soon, by minds not ready to receive them, perhaps unscrupulous minds, bent on destruction, and steeped in a mindset of inequity toward fellow beings, her sacred teachings would be in danger of being misused, for purposes of war, or commercial gain, or other demeaning human enterprise. So for that reason I have hidden this my diary in a secret location that by my devices will remain hidden, to be revealed in exactly 132 years.


My colleagues at Cornell University do not suspect my dark secret. However, they think that I am mad. I will admit that my methods are unorthodox. But I get results. Many of my experiments come from an intuition, and from listening to my own body. The body speaks! You who know will understand what I mean. I then simply follow this initiating intuition to its logical conclusion, which often presents new questions which when followed lead me to arrive at a new set of conclusions, and so on, and so forth.


For example, let me describe to you some of my experiments this morning. This will also serve as an explanation to those of you among my friends and family who are concerned about my present situation. Upon awakening I found that my back was sore. I attributed this soreness to the softness of my bed. It seems that the top of my hips wants to rotate forward when I sleep on my back. If I sleep on the floor, this forward rotation is suppressed, whereas if I sleep on my soft bed, this rotation is manifested.


Why should this matter? Position of the hips is more important, dear reader, than you might at first suppose. My research into Eastern medicine has shown me that hip position is very important for the proper flow of subtle body energy, what the Hindoos [sic] call “prana”, similar to the Chinese idea of “chi”, or what the Japanese sages call “ki”. This energy is said to be the source of life, and creativity, and (dare I say it) sexuality. Poor posture, both when awake and when asleep, can prevent the free flow of this energy and lead to all sorts of maladies, including the back pain I was experiencing. I therefore resolved to sleep on the floor of my bedroom hereafter, and to facilitate this new arrangement I took an axe to my bed.


Later, sitting at my breakfast table and dwelling further on this issue of proper energy flow, and posture, I was led to ask why it is that the tops of my hips felt compelled to rotate in a forward direction. The answer occurred to me in a flash. But of course! The very chair I was sitting on was the cause of it! I reflected further how those nations which have adopted chairs for their dwellings, and so spend much of their time sitting, those people definitely show symptoms of reduced energy flow, such as irritability, irascibility, mysterious aches, medical ailments, and so on. And it occured to me that these so-called “advanced” nations have, by adopting chair technology, introduced into their lives a perhaps immediate comfort without considering the long-term deleterious effects of the chair on their bodies. We are a chair-damaged people!


Compare, dear reader, the sitting and movement practices of indigenous peoples, which consist primarily of squatting, sitting on the ground with folded legs, walking long distances daily, and in general moving their bodies much more than their “civilized” peers. Is this not a healthier lifestyle?


In considering these issues it was then that I came to the logical conclusion that chairs are damaging to one’s health, and so I took an axe to all of the chairs in my household. After this strenuous task, which I suspect attracted the unwanted attentions of my neighbors, I elected to look more closely at other items in my household and consider their effects on my body and my mind. I was engaged in what I call a “science of introspection”. While my colleagues at Cornell are following mundane pursuits such as placing elements in a periodic table or pinning butterflies to cork boards, I choose to instead look inward and follow the lines of inquiry that lead from there. And in looking around my house whilst keeping also an inward gaze I felt a pattern emerge, and the pattern is that the works of Man overlay a certain rectilinear layer upon the works of Nature, and in so doing diminish, perhaps even demean, that which Nature has wrought.


And squatting in my living room this afternoon my eyes came to rest upon a map that I have eloquently framed and put on my wall. It is a map of the Fingerlakes region of this great Empire State, a map drawn about 100 years ago by Simeon De Witt, Surveyor General of the State of New York, the “Father of Ithaca”. On its base layer the map shows this area’s waterways spreading like trees over the landscape. Overlaid on top of these trees, however, is a brutish grid of ownership. The grid dominates the map. And I resolved to construct a new kind of map, one that somehow flows with the landscape instead of against it, and overlays beautiful contours on the land, rather than a callous grid. And I was reminded that the grid represents parcels of land given by the Colonial Congress to the soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War, as payment for their participation in that gory enterprise. Was this land theirs to give? What of the native peoples who lived here, murdered and driven off by Sullivan and his federal troops? At the thought of this injustice I became enraged, and I tore this map from my wall, and smashed it upon the ground. The breaking glass made a satisfying sound and the disorderliness of the broken glass upon my carpet pleased me.


My eyes then fell upon a calendar that I keep pinned to my wall for maintenance of my social schedule and reminders of necessary errands. And I thought, here too we, I, have overlaid a grid on the workings of Nature, though now not upon the dimensions of height and width of the landscape, as De Witt had done, but this even more pernicious grid has been laid upon the dimension of time itself! It is a grid of seconds, minutes, hours and days; a grid of months and years binding the free-flowing rivers of time like prison bars!


Again I became enraged and I brusquely removed this my calendar from the wall, and tore it to shreds, and added the pieces to the pile of broken glass in the middle of my living room. (It should be noted for posterity, dear reader, that this was the precise moment that I had an idea for how to construct a machine that can travel in time, which I shall describe later.)


Following the dictates of my “science of introspection”, I looked inward and asked myself how I felt about destroying my calendar, and I realized that by removing my list of errands, and by loosening the bonds of my social obligations, I felt freer in some way. I felt my very identity begin to fade, and I became in some strange sense a “nobody”, albeit a glorious nobody. Can you understand, dear reader, how I felt?


I continued my scientific discoveries, epiphanies even, of the day. I looked around the room with the glaring gazes of my inward and outward searchlights and then I considered the true nature of the room itself. “What is a room, and is it healthy?” I asked. And it occured to me that the room itself was, as with the map and the calendar, and the chair and the bed, an offense against Nature, an overlaying of a man-made grid on something that should be free-flowing, the flow of three dimensional space itself. And “The Room” came to me to represent a box confining my own spirit, and I longed to set my spirit free. And I saw then how “the Room” is an idea that is repeated at all scales, with almost mathematical predictability, “above” and “below” the macro scale of my own body, and we can see room-like structures at smaller scales: this desk is like a little room for office supplies; and the desk drawer is an even smaller room within that room; and the folders within that desk drawer are “rooms” for the papers within. And we see room-like structures at larger scales: the house is a large room to contain the smaller rooms within; and the neighborhood’s grid of houses and roads is an even larger “room”; and the city itself contains these neighborhoods.


And my head began to swim with these lofty thoughts of containers within containers within containers. I sensed something wild in me that longed to be un-contained, and so I set about to free it, first by burning down my own house. I took the wooden sticks from my bed and chairs that I had earlier today chopped up, and stacked them against the side of my house. I dowsed them with lamp oil and I procured some matches to set it all alight. I paused, however, to reflect on how my clothing was constraining. Suddenly I could no longer tolerate wearing clothes. I put down my matches and removed my jacket, my tie, my shirt, my shoes and my trousers.


It was then that my man-servant Weatherbee discovered me, as I stood naked beside my house, striking a match to set it alight.


“Good God sir, what are you doing?” he exclaimed. And seeing me naked for the first time he revised his pronoun: “Er, madam!” he amended.


“Yes Weatherbee, it’s true. I am a woman. I have been pretending to be a man all these years in order to rise in the ranks of academia as only a man can. Please don’t tell my employers about your discovery.”


“Oh no sir, er, madam. Your secret is safe with me.”


Weatherbee convinced me to postpone the destruction of my house, and he helped me engage the services of this sanatorium, where I now sit on the floor writing in my diary. Before he left, Weatherbee asked me to “Please tell me your thinking regarding your activities today”. I explained to him my revelations about the harmful nature of beds, chairs, maps, calendars, rooms and houses, and containers in general. I spoke of the rectilinearity that I saw creeping into and constraining Nature, and preventing our True Nature from emerging.


“We need to remove the grids from our lives,” I told him.


“Have you considered hexagons?” he asked.


“How do you mean?” I replied, showing interest.


“Well, one reason for a square grid is that squares can tile a plane. The hexagon is the only other regular polygon that can tile a plane.”


“Ah, but the three-dimensional square, i.e. the cube, is the only pythagorean solid that can fill three dimensional space. There is no equivalent ‘three-dimensional hexagon’.”


“Not so! I have just this morning conceived of what I call a ‘hyper-hexagon’ that can neatly fill a four-dimensional space.” He drew a sketch for me on a page of this journal.



“What is this here?” I asked, pointing to the diagram. “Could it be…?”


“Yes,” he said. “The dimension of time.”


“What a strange coincidence,” I said, looking him exactly in the eyes. “Why just this morning, while tearing up my calendar, I had an idea about how to effect travel in time.” I searched his eyes for some sense of recognition. I detected a slight twinkle, as if some part of him, perhaps not his conscious part, but a part of him manifesting some deeper spirit, gave me a nod of approval.


“Yes,” he said. “A strange coincidence.”



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