Tuesday, July 17, 2007

"The object impinged on my periphery."

Bone bird pecking at a skull, originally uploaded by mossko.

A dispatch from Ambassador G.:

From the book Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America with Einstein's Brain by Michael Paternini:

(Harvey is the mentally deranged doctor who, years ago, stole the brain of Albert Einstein. Paternini accompanied him cross country on a road trip towards the end of his life, after he had been persuaded to return to the brain. Yes, this is a true story of the real world that we actually do live in.)

"A present?" says Burroughs, switching again, dissolving as suddenly into some ecstatic state of childhood. Wayne is in his forties, though wearing anoversized fatigue jacket--the uniform around here--and with his dark sweep of hair, he appears both younger and dwarfish. He leads the writer back to theDynachair . "Well, well, what could it be?" A happy soft-shoe. Harvey, too, is suddenly piqued, and sits with raised eyebrows--curious cat.

"We'll call it the Bone," says Wayne, disappearing into a dark corner of the house to retrieve it.

"The Bone!" cries Burroughs. "The lovely, lovely Bone!" Harvey is confused now, looking back and forth between Burroughs and Wayne, as Wayne gently places a huge wrapped object on the coffee table. Wayne reads a letter that accompanies it, from an anthropologist who found the following item while trekking in the Southwest. In describing the moment of discovery, the anthropologist writes something like "The object impinged on my periphery." And Burroughs gets stuck on that, starts repeating,"Impinge-on-my-periphery! Impinge-on -my-periphery! Impinge- on-my-periphery! " Then he falls on the gift with greedy hands, disrobing it in a crinkling fury, to reveal--what else?--a large brown petrified bone.

When Harvey sees it, he yells, "IT'S INFILTRATED WITH CALCIUM!" As if it's about to explode, and we all need to take cover. But having worked Harvey up into a climactic frenzy, Burroughs himself has disappeared into a mellow, post-coital reverie. "Absolutely magnificent," he whispers, far away, caressing it. "Feels like linoleum."

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