David Gale’s Peachy Coochy Nites #1

20 slides are each projected for 20 seconds and spoken to for the same period, no more, no less. The script for one of these precision-based presentations is found below.

Season 1: PC#1

Seized by the skull by strangers she struggled to free her eyes from their insistent searching. What were they after? Was it just another gouge or did they honestly think she was hiding something in her head? Not thoughts or ideas but things like keys, a small piece of jewellery, a wire puzzle, a toffee even? What if they were right?

And what if it were a golf ball? What irregular optical phenomena might be generated by the pressure of a small piece of sports equipment on the visual cortex? And what if the anomalies were not visual but psychological? How could she trust her own assessment of what was happening to her? A golf ball, in particular, would roll around, sparking off all manner of false impressions.

And then she understood. It was not Cap Ferrat that she remembered but Cap Gras! The Capgras Syndrome, no less – a rare psychiatric condition in which the sufferer is convinced that people and objects around her are doubles or impostors. Family members are seen as mechanical duplicates or hired actors. Chairs, tables, jugs – all have been replaced by exact replicas.

Breaking away at last from the souwestered fishermen who had been poking about in her head, she ran along the beach towards  the point where it touched the sky. Or what seemed to be the sky. She would never be sure again. Except for one thing. She would dedicate her life to countering the counterfeit,  unmasking the veiled,  bombarding the bogus, exposing the forged.

Moments later she found herself in a wooded area.  She turned to her companion, Peter Cartwright,  from Hertfordshire, for advice. Something about his reply made her instantly suspicious. “Hello! Hello! Who’s a pretty boy? Hehehehehheh!” Could it be that her Capgras was overlaid in some way with a zoological element hitherto unremarked by mental medicine?   

She realised that she was among campers. Their clothing and their table covering were checked. Their equipment was apposite. They seemed very much in love. One of the men stood out from the outdoor crowd because he was wearing a boater. She checked herself – it was not a boater – it was a canoe! She had mistaken Peter Cartwright – for it was he – for a toucan!

“Peter!” gasped Gwen – for that was her name – “I am seized by a syndrome that compels me to trust nothing!” He swept her into his tent, muttering “This is no ordinary camp, Alison! It is actually a still point between worlds, a place in which the eyewatering multiplicity of universes is obfuscated by the generation of pathologies.” “Come again?” said Gwen.

“Alison,” Peter said to Gwen, “even as you listen to me now you are lying in a makeshift sisal hammock. Next to you is another Alison, let us call her Gwen, in a universe where Alisons are called Gwen. She too may be lying in a hammock listening to a man…” “Let us call him Andrew,” interrupted Gwen. “Whatever,” said Peter, “Yes, Andrew is telling Gwen…

…that there are worlds in which psychiatric diagnoses are routinely deployed to deflect attention from the very real problem of inter-universe osmosis.” “Do you mean…?” Gwen blurted. “Yes!” Peter spat. “Leakage!  The very real sense of dislocation that dogs our days derives not from despair or desuetude but distinct discharges from adjacent realities!”

“Fuck a pony!” swore Gwen.  “Are you saying that there is some sort of insidious sideways drift through the veil?” “Yes!” breathed Peter,  “That which Everett and Deutsch considered to be theoretically feasible has nevertheless been widely regarded as prohibited by quantum linearity…up until now.” “Fuck a donkey!” breathed Gwen.

“So those days where everything seems distant and unreal, almost a theatrical display, which I had taken as an index either of psychological inadequacy or, at best, an effect of late capitalism, are actually multi-world slippages?” “Exactly, Alison. Those times when you say something and some fucker criticises it – that’s because he’s in the wrong world!”

“So there are worlds in which everything goes right and people agree with you and that’s where you belong but you might have somehow slipped out of it?” Gwen asked. “Not only that,  Susan,” Peter was excited now, “Even by thinking of such a world you create it! Since the beginning of time every thought has sparked a universe!” “Strewth!” Gwen said.

“Let’s go for a walk, “ she suggested, arbitrarily. “Somewhere I can breath.” Soon they were in East Anglia. Near Thetford. “Which Thetford, though?” she mused. “Alison, this is the thing, there are numberless Thetfords. This is the Thetford that came into being when we began discussing Thetford.” “That’s so far out,” Susan observed.

Suddenly the sky darkened and was filled with a terrible roaring. As if inscribed like flies on a speeding windscreen,  echelon after echelon of multi-role fighter aircraft thundered across the vault of the heavens.  “What world is this?’ cried Gwen. “Why F-16s in a universe created by our aborted thought-patterns?”

Over-identifying with the massive G-forces generated  in the contemporary cockpit, Gwen felt her very flesh rolling like lava towards her chin. “Alison,” croaked Peter throatily, “I love what you do with your face!” “It’s because of you, Peter,  you tyrant,  your mastery of the worlds brings out my hidden plasticity!”

Gwen glanced up.  “Jelly fish!” “No, Gwen, it’s raining men! They are paratroops from another dimension! The veils are being rent! The plasticities are running like lard! Now we can meet the man who didn’t get Pamela Henderson pregnant in 1971!” Gwen paled. “I never knew!” “Lucy. She is a milliner now,” said Peter matter of factly.

But Peter’s insouciance was not to last. From out of the crowd of silk-folding troops stepped a figure that caused his blood to run like ice. Gwen understood immediately. “My God, Peter! It’s Andrew! It’s because I thought of him! He has come from the universe in which Gwens are Alisons and Peters are Andrews. What does he want?”

“I want you, Gwen,” said Andrew, casting aside his canoe in one muscular gesture. “In my universe you are Alison but here you are Gwen, Gwen. I have yearned for you across the impenetrabilities of quantum linearity and now you have thought of me I am free.” Gwen turned to Peter. Peter asked Andrew “I don’t suppose you have a number for Alison?”