Saturday, January 19, 2013

71. Flowers for Algernon (6)

Google Images
April 27—I got up the nerve today to ask Miss Kinnian to have dinner with me tomorrow night to celebrate my bonus.
At first she wasn’t sure it was right, but I asked Dr. Strauss and he said it was okay. Dr. Strauss and Dr. Nemur don’t seem to be getting along so well. They’re arguing all the time. This evening when I came in to ask Dr. Strauss about having dinner with Miss Kinnian, I heard them shouting. Dr. Nemur was saying that it was his experiment and his research, and Dr. Strauss was shouting back that he contributed just as much, because he found me through Miss Kinnian and he performed the operation. Dr. Strauss said that someday thousands of neurosur­geons might be using his technique all over the world.
Dr. Nemur wanted to publish the results of the experiment at the end of this month. Dr. Strauss wanted to wait a while longer to be sure. Dr. Strauss said that Dr. Nemur was more interested in the Chair of psy­chology at Princeton than he was in the experiment. Dr. Nemur said that Dr. Strauss was nothing but an opportunist who was trying to ride to glory on his coattails.
Google Images
When I left afterwards, I found myself trembling. I don’t know why for sure, but it was as if I’d seen both men clearly for the first time. I remember hearing Burt say that Dr. Nemur had a shrew of a wife who was pushing him all the time to get things published so that he could became famous. Burt said that the dream of her life was to have a big-shot husband.              
Was Dr. Strauss really trying to ride on his coattails?
April 28—I don’t understand why I never noticed how beautiful Miss Kinnian really is. She has brown eyes and feathery brown hair that comes to the top of her neck. She’s only thirty-four! I think from the beginning I had the feeling that she was an unreachable genius—and very, very old. Now, every time I see her she grows younger and more lovely.
We had dinner and a long talk. When she said that I was coming along so fast that soon I’d be leaving her behind, I laughed.
“It’s true, Charlie. You’re already a better reader than I am. You can read a whole page at a glance while I can take in only a few lines at a time. And you remember every single thing you read. I’m lucky if I can recall the main thoughts and the general meaning.”
Google Images
“I don’t feel intelligent. There are so many things I don’t under­stand.”
She took out a cigarette and I lit it for her. “You’ve got to be a little patient. You’re accomplishing in days and weeks what it takes normal people to do in half a lifetime. That’s what makes it so amazing. You’re like a giant sponge now, soaking things in. Facts, figures, general knowledge. And soon you’ll begin to connect them, too. You’ll see how the different branches of learning are related. There are many levels, Charlie, like steps on a giant ladder that take you up higher and higher to see more and more of the world around you.
“I can see only a little bit of that, Charlie, and I won’t go much higher than I am now, but you’ll keep climbing up and up, and see more and more, and each step will open new worlds that you never even knew existed.” She frowned. “I hope. . . I just hope to God—”
“Never mind, Charles. I just hope I wasn’t wrong to advise you to go into this in the first place.”
I laughed. “How could that be? It worked, didn’t it? Even Algernon is still smart.”
We sat there silently for a while and I knew what she was thinking about as she watched me toying with the chain of my rabbit’s foot and my keys. I didn’t want to think of that possibility any more than elderly people want to think of death. I knew that this was only the beginning. I knew what she meant about levels because I’d seen some of them al­ready. The thought of leaving her behind made me sad.  I’m in love with Miss Kinnian.
Google Images

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

70. Flowers for Algernon (5)

Google Images
Who said it was easy to find out who one is? – as far as I know, no one! Indeed, we somehow spend our energy in a life-long quest of our own identity [well, no, let’s face facts: there are those who never care: the self-conceited] – or, at least, I wish I were right.

There’s Charlie, grappling with his ever-changing state of awareness, slowly and dramatically getting to know who he is – in the others’ perception.

Lots of data from this episode are rendered differently in the different media. Knowing them will be considered proof of having done the task.
 Flowers for Algernon (5)  

Daniel Keyes
Google Images
April 22—I found out what a Rorshach is. It’s the test I took before the operation—the one with the inkblots on the pieces of cardboard. The man who gave me the test was the same one.
I was scared to death of those inkblots. I knew he was going to ask me to find the pictures and I knew I wouldn’t be able to. I was thinking to myself, if only there was some way of knowing what kind of pictures were hidden there. Maybe there weren’t any pictures at all. Maybe it was just a trick to see if I was dumb enough to look for something that wasn’t there. Just thinking about that made me sore at him.
“All right, Charlie,” he said, “you’ve seen these cards before remember?”
“Of course I remember.”
The way I said it, he knew I was angry, and he looked surprised. “Yes, of course. Now I want you to look at this one. What might this be? What do you see on this card? People see all sorts of things in these inkblots. Tell me what it might be for you—what it makes you think of.”
I was shocked. That wasn’t what I had expected him to say at all. “You mean there are no pictures hidden in those inkblots?”
Google Images
He frowned and took off his glasses. “What?”
“Pictures. Hidden in the inkblots. Last time you told me that every­one could see them and you wanted me to find them too.”
He explained to me that the last time he had used almost the exact same words he was using now. I didn’t believe it, and I still have the suspicion that he misled me at the time just for the fun of it. Unless—I don’t know any more—could I have been that feebleminded?
We went through the cards slowly. One of them looked like a pair of bats tugging at something. Another one looked like two men fencing with swords. I imagined all sorts of things. I guess I got carried away. But I didn’t trust him any more, and I kept turning them around and even looking on the back to see if there was anything there I was sup­posed to catch. While he was making his notes, I peeked out of the corner of my eye to read it. But it was all in code that looked like this:
Google Images
WF+A DdF-Ad orig. WF-A SF+obj
The test still doesn’t make sense to me. It seems to me that anyone could make up lies about things that they didn’t really see. How could he know I wasn’t making a fool of him by mentioning things that I didn’t really imagine? Maybe I’ll understand it when Dr. Strauss lets me read up on psychology.
April 25—I figured out a new way to line up the machines in the fac­tory, and Mr. Donnegan says it will save him ten thousand dollars a year in labor and increased production. He gave me a twenty-five-dollar bonus.
I wanted to take Joe Carp and Frank Reilly out to lunch to celebrate, but Joe said he had to buy some things for his wife, and Frank said he was meeting his cousin for lunch. I guess it’ll take a little time for them to get used to the changes in me. Everybody seems to be frightened of me. When I went over to Amos Borg and tapped him on the shoulder, he jumped up in the air.
Google Images
People don’t talk to me much any more or kid around the way they used to. It makes the job kind of lonely.