Bill Todd -- An Uneasy Utopia
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 Chapter 57

Back to Zero

The rough patch has now arrived. Vignis is here constantly, and is taking down these words. If the reader finds them connected, it will be because Vignis is connecting them as she writes them.

Something of philosophical significance is accompanying my deterioration. It's part of pragmatism that the little clock on the table has a back side only because I would see the back side if it were turned around, because I would feel its back side if I put my hand behind it, and so on. These are all facts about perception. The existence of the back of the clock consists just in the fact that I, and perhaps others, would have such sensations under such circumstances.

The amusing thing now is that I just did reach behind that little clock and felt nothing. Does that mean that the clock has no back?

One might say that this latest brain fever has blitzed certain areas of my brain in much the way that the Nazis blitzed part of London. Just so. But, still, according to the pragmatic view, the kind of clock I used to believe in does not here exist. My present clock, real though it is, is not the same sort of object. It has stable visual properties, but not tactual ones.

Mr. Whitely was just in, and, like myself, he lacks legs. At least in the visual dimension. It would have been impolite for me to have attempted to touch his legs, but I suspect that, even had I done so, I would have felt nothing.

The science that says that one cannot move around without legs (or some substitute) has no application to the objects in my world. I have perfectly good objects in my world, such as backless clocks and legless Whitelys. Who is to say that they are less real than the denizens of the perceptual worlds of other persons? My objects have been studied less and explained less, but I am confident that there are Nobel prizes to be won in the explaining of them.

Vignis, that is the person in my world whom I know by that name, retains all her admirable body parts. She lacks only the fascinating odors that she used to produce. She may be forgiven if she thinks her world more real than mine. I, too, once believed as she does. But I now realize that it was only an accident that my perceptions corresponded so closely with those of other persons. The objects I believed in were real, but so were the objects I now believe in.

It must nevertheless be admitted that, almost from one hour to the next, my perceptual world changes. The objects become ever more scarce and attenuated, and I won't be surprised if the clock loses its hands. Death, one supposes, will occur when no objects at all remain.

Bill Todd -- An Uneasy Utopia
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