The Professor Makes a Diagnosis
"Some doctors attribute Gulf War syndrome to chronic fatigue syndrome. . . . All of these
syndromes move toward suspicion, conspiracy theories, witch-hunts, and mass panics."
-- Elaine Showalter, Hystories: Hysterical Epidemics and Modern Media
\Nerve\. It takes a lot of. Sometimes very little.
The fraternal twins, animus and anima, were named by the Professor: neurasthenia
and hysteria. They were conjoined by symptomatology. The government saw them
and ordered a revival of freak shows. Freaks paid a hearty commission to doctors.
Frog Men, Armless Wonders, and Bearded Ladies all applied to perform, but this
was a flea circus. Those who were fleas did not want to be fleas. They wanted to be
giants and monsters. Still, many envied the fleas. One tattooed man got a series of
flea tattoos on his arm, but you could see nothing. "Fleas are vogue now," he said.
"But that's invisible ink," said Camel Girl. They argued over this for awhile. Then
he got on her back and they rode to Jerusalem, to prove something more important.
\Nerve: also: patience, endurance\. Intricate connections matter. Us systems.
The earth trepanned the stars from the skull of heaven. Onto a woman's skin was
burned a hologram. Blood turned to light. Some soldiers were ordered to wear flea
collars in the War. Maneuvers did not prepare them for the albescent sand, the
years of frigid heat. The hologram was an image of a three-dimensional woman.
From most angles it looked flat. Once domesticated, the dog soldiers returned to
their arterial trees and could not function. The woman wore a black robe to cover
everything but the hologram. Wholeness became too complicated. They all drew
chalk lines down the centers of themselves and pretended to have civil wars.
Nobody ever died. The wars acted like they were ending.
\Nephology. The study of clouds\.
A teenager in Canada discovered a clinical marker for these subclinical things. Under
her microscope flourished cumulonimbus. But she was a neophyte. There are no