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IDYLLOPUS PRESS : BIG SOFA : Bigsofa Core Site : the unicorn is myopic



freud's couch*
not the bigsofa


I was sitting in a cold white rigid chair and a man was looking at me out of a bright third eye that glowed from the center of his forehead. He reached out, touching my skull gingerly, and said something encouraging, as though I were a child. His fingers went away.

"Take this," he said. "It's good for you." I swallowed. Suddenly my skin itched, all over. I had on new overalls, strange white ones. The taste ran bitter through my mouth. My fingers trembled.

A thin voice with a mirror on the end of it said, "How is he?"

"I don't think it's anything serious. Merely stunned."

"Should he be sent home now?"

"No, just to be certain we'll keep him here a few days. Want to keep him under observation. Then he may leave."

Now I was lying on a cot, the bright eye still burning into mine, although the man was gone. It was quiet and I was numb. I closed my eyes only to be awakened.

"What is your name?" a voice said.

"My head..." I said.

"Yes, but your name. Address?"

"My head--that burning eye..." I said.

"Shoot him up for an X-ray," another voice said.

"My head..."

"Careful!"

Somewhere a machine began to hum and I distrusted the man and woman above me...

A pair of eyes peered down through lenses as thick as the bottom of a Coca-Cola bottle, eyes protruding, luminous and veined, like an old biology specimen preserved in alcohol...

I listened with growing uneasiness to the conversation fuzzing away to a whisper. Their simplest words seemed to refer to something else, as did many of the notions that unfurled through my head. I wasn't sure whether they were talking about me or someone else. Some of it sounded like a discussion of history.

"The machine will produce the results of a prefrontal lobotomy without the negative effects of the knife," the voice said. "You see, instead of severing the prefrontal lobe, a single lobe, that is, we apply pressure in the proper degrees to the major centers of nerve control--our concept is Gestalt--and the result is as complete a change of personality as you'll find in your famous fairy-tale cases of criminals transformed into amiable fellows afer all that bloody business of a brain operation. And what's more," the voice went on triumphantly, "the patient is both physically and neurally whole."

ralph ellison, the invisible man

the unicorn is myopic

"More important are the eyes. Both for offense and defense, the eyes act as the control tower, so a horn located in close proximity to the eyes has optimum effectiveness. The prime example is the rhinoceros, which in principle is a 'unicorn.' It is also extremely myopic, and that single horn is the very cause..."

Haruki Murakami, Hard-boiled wonderland and the end of the world


"I can't see beyond my nose."

murakami, in "Hard-boiled wonderland and the end of the world," gives a very interesting story of the discovery of a unicorn skull.

In 1917, the skull, as yet unidentified, is discovered on the Russian Front in September, a month prior to the October Revolution. the Russian infantryman who unearthed it while digging a trench would have thrown the skull away, but his commanding lieutenant had been a graduate student in biology at the University of Petrograd, and noting the peculiarity of the skull, he contacted the Chairman of the Faculty of Biology and requested a survey team be sent to the area. As Russia was in upheaval, no team arrived. So, the lieutenant entrusted the skull to a wounded soldier who was being sent home, promising him a sizable compensation upon delivery of the skull to the Faculty Chairman in Petrograd. by the time the soldier is able to go to the university, its gates have been closed indefinitely. hoping that at a later date he will be able to collect his money, he stores the skull with his brother-in-law who keeps a stable. the skull is forgotten.

the skull next sees the light of day in 1935. the stablemaster, having sold half his premises, in the remaining half opens a small hockey goods shop. while doing inventory he comes across the box with the skull in it which had been left with him. in the box is a note which reads, "Please bestow fair compensation upon the bearer of this item." when the former stablemaster finds he is unable to deliver the skull to the chairman for whom it was originally intended, the man seeks out another biology professor, tells him the tale of the skull, and sells it to him.

the professor examines the skull and finds it to most closely resemble that of a deer but for the single horn that modified the middle of its forehead. "The horn was still intact. It was not in its entirety, to be sure, but what remained sufficed to enable the reconstruction of a straight horn of approximately twenty centimeters in length. The horn had been broken off close to the three-centimeter mark, its basal diameter approximately two centimeters...Professor Petrov--for that was his name--summoned several assistants and graduate students and the team departed for the Ukraine on a one month dig at the site of the young lieutenant's trenches. Unfortunately, they failed to find any similar skull. They did, however, discover a number of curious facts about the region, a tableland commonly known as the Voltafil. The area rose to a moderate height and as such formed one of the few natural strategic vantage points over the rolling plains...what interested Professor Petrov about the Voltafil was that the bones unearthed there differed significantly from the distribution of species elsewhere in that belt of land. It prompted the professor to conjecture that the present tableland had in ancient times not been an outcropping at all, but a crater, the cradle for untold flora and fauna. In other words, a lost world. A plateau out of a crater might tax the imagination, but that is precisely what occurred. The walls of the crater were perilously steep, but over millions of years the walls crumbled due to an intractable geological shift, convexing the base into an ordinary hill. The unicorn, an evolutionary misfit, continued to live on this outcropping isolated from all predation. Natural springs abounded, the soil was fertile, conditions were idyllic..."


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haruki murakami

*Freud's couch image from the web, visit the Sigmund Freud museum to view his couch in all its colorful glory
Quoted excerpts from Ralph Ellison's "The Invisible Man" and Haruki Murakami's "Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World"



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