Oyez Oyez…Last call for the Jury in the Trial of Involution. Closing Arguments: 1 Prosecution

The closing arguments in the trial of Involution. Jury called.

Court in Session
Court in Session

All Rise

Counsel for the Prosecution.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury. You have enjoyed a prolonged recess since the last witness in which to read the book on trial. Before I urge your verdict I must remind you that readers have varied reactions to books. You are not required to assess whether it is a good or bad book but whether it merited forty five years of dominating the author and whether anyone else should give it comparative importance. It is a singular work, unable to be evaluated against others. In that sense you are called upon to judge its adventurous masquerade and its claim to authenticity. Just because it looks like a book, and quacks like a book, is it, in fact, a book? Is it fiction or non fiction? Poetry or science? One book or two? Science or art?

Where would a librarian shelve it? Under Philosophy? Literature? History? New Age? Evolution? While she is making up her mind I suggest we persuade the author to cover (with nice brown velvet) the remaining copies of the doorstop Magnum opus as literally that. Doorstops. In two hundred years they will provide archaeologists with speculation. They were to ward off the evil eye? Contain the secret doctrine of the Gods? Clean boots? Enough; you get my drift…

With all that in mind  it is now my painful duty to persuade you to find it guilty of the charges against it. To refresh you may revisit the sessions from the beginning

The Jury by John Morgan.jpg
The Jury by John Morgan” by painted by John Morgan, uploaded to Wikipedia (en) by SwampyankThe Jury by John Morgan.jpg in Wikipedia (English). Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Apart from brief reminders of the evidence against it, and the authority of the witnesses whose testimony you have heard, my appeal to you is the appeal of reason, against the sentiment you are likely to hear from my learned friend.

If you recall, the book itself relies upon one spokesman Reason, pitted against the whispering claims of Soul. Let’s just examine what that means, and why I appeal to you to let Reason guide your deliberations.

Look at the world we live in! The irrational, so called extremes of religious fanaticism are taking us to the brink of destruction. I am not suggesting this book contributes directly to that irrationality; what I am suggesting is the seeds of danger that any reliance on sentiment carries with it.

This work is an appeal to permit, no, to give prominence to the universal longing for love, and in doing so it relegates the slow and substantial achievements of reason by supplanting them with a suggestion that they THEMSELVES were guided by the irrational: the dreams, the incoherence of inspiration by genius; genius in love with ideas, or contemplation. As though the methodical painstaking history of science can be dissolved simply in the fizzy water of a new hypothesis!

While I do not deny the role of inspiration in forging great leaps of understanding what has to be achieved—and this is THE ESSENTIAL POINT—is the anchoring of inspiration to a language understood by the mass of mankind. It is the interpretation of inspiration that is the measure of its value. Dreams are personal; expressing them forces the examination of their wider relevance.

Has this book succeeded in that?

It has signally failed to do so. You have heard Professor Hardy claim it is ‘unscientific’ and essentially ‘baloney’ ( his word), you have heard Professor Anon claim it ‘slips away from being grasped’. Even the sympathetic priest the Rev TG admitted it was turning ‘everything on its head’ ( Darwin upside down.) These men are the gatekeepers in the world of rational discourse. I urge you to give heed to their views.

I would go further and invite a wider consideration. Have any of you, before this Trial encountered this Book? Heard about it? Read a review? If not, why is that? You would think the media might have run with ‘Old Woman has Big Idea’. Why didn’t they? Okay the author may not look like Madonna or have Random House behind her but you would have expected some excitement, given what she proposes?

Is it because the opinion of the world of potential readers have better things to do than struggle with something calling itself ‘symphonic prose’ to put forward an alternative THEORY OF EVERYTHING written by a NOBODY? If it was half as important to the market of ideas as it has been to the diligent author, we should have heard of it.

However sympathetic you may feel about the struggles of the Author, dominated by a deluded sense of mission I ask you to set that aside in evaluating the merits of a book seeking not merely paper to print it, trees to die in its cause, but vying for attention.

There are rational, logical, graspable books written by rational men, and yes, some of them echo elements contained within this work. If you want poetry read Dante or Milton, if you want science read Dawkins, if you want speculation read Ervin Laszlo. So let us remove this book of confusing baloney from the shelves and let those rational alternatives be more easily found. Do not mistake the few scintillating reviews by ordinary readers, thirsty for a belief in the irrational, or longing to perceive that Western Science has betrayed its promises, deflect the argument.

One of those said ‘It just feels right…’ Well, I am sure that the man who took a hammer to his mother-in-law would say exactly the same. In fact it probably felt the only thing to do at the time.

This is a test case about a market flooded with books. What we are here addressing is whether the time has come to evaluate books claiming importance that threaten the solid achievements of academic prowess, with suggestions of dubious merit, a pot-pourri, an aromatherapy, as valueless as fantasy. If you want fantasy read Harry Potter or Terry Pratchett. They do not call themselves science and are much more diverting.

It is easy at a time of crisis to suggest almost any hair-brained alternative and get away with it!

I am asking you to throw out the solid anchor of Reason and find this work guilty of all charges against it, a deluded and scientifically unproven hypothesis about the encoding of memory; inappropriate language; ill judged timing, and certainly the last, an inhumane indifference to the consequences to the author of single-handedly taking on the wall of scientific opposition and total indifference.

Her arguments may look ingenious, her scientific facts seemingly persuasive, but nobody can say anything about her qualifications for such facts or arguments. That is why we have institutions to impart rigour and peer reviews to examine that rigour. This author has not been refined in such fires of analysis. Even she is not sure, or she would not be here!

Exonerate her and you will condemn others with delusions of importance to lives spent in fruitless pursuit.

Any other verdict would simply encourage the benighted author to continue, and give encouragement to others to do likewise. You heard the author appearing as a hostile witness in this case. Why was that? Because she was as anxious as I am in seeing the book set aside and being relieved of its burden of obligation.

I urge you all to be prepared to be unpopular and find the book guilty. Such a verdict would be an act of courage. Thank you.

Jury box cropped.jpg
Jury box cropped” by Ken Lund from Reno, NV, USA – Cropped from the original, Pershing County Courthouse Jury Box. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

.Judge. We will take a short adjournment before the Defense Counsel’s closing speech. Please return at the same time tomorrow.

All Rise

Court in Session
Court in Session

* the distinguished medallist for her contribution to American Letters ( 2006)

On Easy Street? (In Medias Res)

A Fitting Place?
A Fitting Place?

With the plethora of good advice, from grammatical niceties to beat sheets, from POV to first versus third person, none of it helps me at this moment. I am struggling with the whole damn fangle of a book that will insist on escaping from enclosure between covers. Rather like trying to bury a corpse that thinks it has a veto  when it comes to incarceration.

But my good husband who only reads-and re-reads- the classics sometimes has his uses. He thought after much dinner table discussion of the stray hairs and neglected detail, that this perhaps might help me, and insisted on reading it aloud over post-prandial wine. For once he was spot on. I thought there may be others for whom this high vantage perspective might prove useful.

A flourish of authority
A flourish of authority-Anthony Trollope.

“In Medias Res”

Perhaps the method of rushing at once “in medias res” is, of all the ways of beginning a story, or a separate branch of a story, the least objectionable. The reader is made to think that the gold lies so near the surface that he will be required to take very little trouble in digging for it. And the writer is enabled,— at any rate for a time, and till his neck has become, as it were, warm to the collar,— to throw off from him the difficulties and dangers, the tedium and prolixity, of description. This rushing “in medias res” has doubtless the charm of ease. “Certainly, when I threw her from the garret window to the stony pavement below, I did not anticipate that she would fall so far without injury to life or limb.” When a story has been begun after this fashion, without any prelude, without description of the garret or of the pavement, or of the lady thrown, or of the speaker, a great amount of trouble seems to have been saved.

Was it here that it happened?
Was it here that it happened?

The mind of the reader fills up the blanks,— if erroneously, still satisfactorily. He knows, at least, that the heroine has encountered a terrible danger, and has escaped from it with almost incredible good fortune; that the demon of the piece is a bold demon, not ashamed to speak of his own iniquity, and that the heroine and the demon are so far united that they have been in a garret together. But there is the drawback on the system,— that it is almost impossible to avoid the necessity of doing, sooner or later, that which would naturally be done at first. It answers, perhaps, for half-a-dozen chapters;— and to carry the reader pleasantly for half-a-dozen chapters is a great matter!— but after that a certain nebulous darkness gradually seems to envelope the characters and the incidents. “Is all this going on in the country, or is it in town,—or perhaps in the Colonies? How old was she? Was she tall? Is she fair? Is she heroine-like in her form and gait? And, after all, how high was the garret window?” I have always found that the details would insist on being told at last, and that by rushing “in medias res” I was simply presenting the cart before the horse . But as readers like the cart the best, I will do it once again,— trying it only for a branch of my story ,— and will endeavour to let as little as possible of the horse be seen afterwards.

Extract from Trollope’s ‘The Duke’s Children’ Chapter Nine.

I bow to the Master and bid you adieu.Trollope shooting-pony