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Scientific Congress

An Idea for a Film

by F. David Peat


(Note on Dialogue: The dialogue, when it occurs, is 
often simply overheard and not focussed upon. In many 
cases we catch snatches of different dialogues that act 
to create a sort of ambience or sound effect. On other 
occasions dialogue may be more important.
Sound itself is of key importance in the film. It 
provides a commentary, sometimes ironic, upon the 
action.)

The arrival
Evening. A university town somewhere in North America
. A deserted University Campus. As the camera roams we see shots of a poster "Scientists for a Holistic World", meeting rooms, a parked TV truck. At the airport we see a banner welcoming scientists. The lobby of a hotel or university residence. A few scientists stand around in coats, holding brief cases. They look lost and out of place. Outside the hotel a cab has drawn up and a group of scientists stand around discussing the cab fare. We catch snatches of their dialogue. -It's $27.50 -Hang on, let's do an order of magnitude estimate first. -No, take it up to a round thirty bucks and then interpolate back -Anyone got change for a twenty? -You give me ten, I'll give you twenty. -Twenty-seven dollar's a prime number, it's not going to work out. -It will if you all give me five. -Who's got a calculator? -Get out of the light for Christ's sake, this is solar powered. -I make that $4.1572 each. CAB DRIVER Just pay up will ya! I gotta living to make. -Yeah, well you can just wait? This is important, we're trying to do a calculation. -If we all put in a dollar fifty we can divide. -That's it. Great. No! The tip! The tip! We forgot the tip. -I've dropped my bloody contacts, I can't see a thing without my contacts. -I've got a PC in the back--Driver open the trunk will you, I wanna get my computer out. I can do a direct cash transfer with my modem. -D'you take American Express? -The signal's fucking weak. Anyone got a satellite dish? -I've got some great software for cab fares, you wouldn't believe the graphics. Oliver at Night It is night in Oliver's home. We are in a bedroom and can dimly make out two figures in the bed. Something falls. We hear a curse. Oliver sits up. We see him stagger from the bedroom and go into the bathroom- a sudden flood of hard white light. Oliver looks at himself in the mirror. He is unshaven and haggard. In a series of brief shots connected by jump cuts we see Oliver move through the house, enter his office, and switch on his PC. We see him lit from below by the screen as he works at the PC. Oliver gets up and wanders around. In the dim light we see him drinking from a whiskey bottle, a book under his arm. The light from the fridge suddenly cuts through the darkness. Oliver takes out a jar of olives, some cheese and a carton of milk and begins to eat. The bottle of Scotch is empty. He lets it slide out of his hand then pokes around in a cupboard. We hear the sound of bottles falling over. OLIVER Hmm Slivovits, ugh...gin? Gin and...hm...gin and milk? Gin and coke? Gin and gin? He takes a gulp from the bottle and recoils OLIVER Ugh, how can she drink this stuff? It's like aftershave. Aftershave. There's an idea... No, it's got to be gin. But gin and... and ! Crystals... that's it! Gin and Koolaid. Oliver pours gin into a cup. He rips open a Koolaid packet with this teeth and pours it into the cup. OLIVER All those wonderful colors. He stirs the mixture with his finger and tastes it. He grimaces, then pours in a little milk and adds more Koolaid. Sipping his drink he makes a pretence of the connoisseur-- OLIVER Perfect, who said creativity was dead? Oliver takes his drink, the bottle of gin, the Koolaid packet, the carton of milk and his book. He lies on a sofa and reads by the light of the television--with the sound off. We hear a morning alarm ring although it is still night. We see white noise on the TV screen The alarm continues but it is now bright morning. Oliver is asleep on the sofa, the book on his chest and the empty gin bottle on the floor. Oliver's wife shakes him awake.:- WIFE It's 7:15. You asked me to wake you. Oliver is groggy with sleep and gin. He tries to sit up. OLIVER I'm...er.. His wife picks up the empty gin bottle and looks at it. WIFE What happened? Oliver smiles at her, his hand gestures above his head. OLIVER Ideas....you know. Floating.....around. WIFE I'll get you a coffee. Oliver settles back down again: OLIVER Sleep a bit. WIFE (shakes him roughly) I'm going out and you've got people to meet. It's the conference today, isn't it? Joakim Oesterman's arriving. OLIVER See you for lunch? WIFE Maybe, I don't know. OLIVER: (In alarm) No, you've got to. WIFE I've got things to do. OLIVER But I can't take those people all day. WIFE It was your idea, not mine. Anyway you'd better shower, you've got to give a statement on television. OLIVER An interview....not a statement. WIFE I'm late, I've got to go. (She walks away). OLIVER Hey! (He gestures for her to return). Do something for me will you? WIFE What? OLIVER Run the shower nice and hot. WIFE Christ! OLIVER Then jump in and take if for me. The Wife exits in anger, but Oliver finds this very funny and continues laughing to himself. And take it for me! Oliver at the University. Day [The following scenes they take place at the University and during the central part of the day. Additional scenes will explore Oliver's relationship with his wife, including his desire for control. His early excitement and belief in science, as told through scenes with important people in his past. We must also see his increasing confusion and disillusionment during the day. An important aspect of this are the questions put to him by colleagues, situations, interior monologue and memories. Oliver is being forced into a corner by the whole history of his life and ideas. He is being driven to a crisis point.] The period of daylight is bisected by lunch. During the morning Oliver meets with various orthodox scientists as well as with old friends and colleagues. He also falls into certain memories or fantasies about his childhood and youth. But following lunch the people he meets seems to have become transformed into adherents of various New Age beliefs. He begins to meet people who have "answers" to life and inflated plans for the future. The setting for this central daylight period is a university campus and we soon become aware of a dehumanized and denatured aspect in the environment. The textures are hard and unyielding, plastic, concrete, steel, aluminum, glass. If there are plants and trees then let them be artificial, or in pots. At one point we see a tree being removed from an office and replaced with another, identical tree. Throughout this central section of the film the sound track contains an undercurrent of electrical, electronic sounds--a composition that underlies any dialogue or music. In place of birds and the distant barking of dogs that often characterize an outdoor scene, we hear the click of a keyboard, the sounds of a modem dialing and being connected, laser and mechanical printers, electronic pagers, bleeps, Xerox machines, the hums from electrical machines. From time to time we also briefly glance at a television screens which seem to comment on the action by showing "science programs", shots of trees being cut and burned, polluted rivers. Later in the film Oliver is in the country, the contrast with this man-made environment is emphasized. Morning. The University Campus. At first, while Oliver is seen walking across the university campus, we have not yet left the world of trees, grass and birdsong. But as the morning progresses these sights and sounds are replaced by those of a more mechanical kind. A lecture hall where Oliver is officially opening the conference. As Oliver speaks the camera roams around the audience, wanders around corridors and out into the campus where students are sitting on the grass, then back into the hall. OLIVER I want to welcome all of you. This is a highly emotional moment for me. Over the last few months I've been acting as the catalyst that would bring you together. Well, now you're all hear. I'm.....I'm amazed. And I'm deeply flattered. T his is my dream come true. But let's get down to business. I want to welcome all you astronomers who are concerned about black holes and the creation of the universe. And I want to welcome you physicists who probe the very smallest--the spaces below the quarks. Who knows that if in going to the very smallest limit we may not emerge into the very largest? And you biologists who are working on the genetic code. A code is a language. It is information. How curious that each one of us is the creation of a sort of molecular language. Who knows if a similar language guides the properties of the elementary particles? That's one of the questions I'll be asking you over the next few days. How can we go beyond relativity and quantum theory? What is it that lies at the basis of this universe of ours. It's it mathematics? Is it algebra? Is it logic? Or is it a sort of language, the ultimate code of nature? And there are also some of you here concerned with another type of language--the language of the brain and the basis of a quantum of memory. So in a way, despite the different hats we may wear we are all working together. It is truly heartening to have brought so many outstanding thinkers to the same place. He points to two or three Noble Prize winners in the audience We've got a handful of Nobel prize winners here --and quite a few more potential laureates (laughter). And let me not forget, he concludes, our cousins in the less hard sciences--the sociologists, psychotherapists--and the others who will join us this afternoon. They too are also seeking the boundary between matter and the mind. My dream is of an integrated knowledge, from the elementary particle to the galaxy, from human creativity to the genetic code. For too long has our knowledge been fragmented. Now I see a total transformation of society, indeed a new age. We have reached the 21st century. It is a time of hope for all of us. Thank you. Outdoors. The Campus It is a bright, cheerful, warm morning. Oliver appears happy and energetic. We see him walking with his assistant, a young physics student who is overburdened with a clip board, portable telephone, brief case and sheaves of computer printer output which tend to unravel. Oliver greets participants at the conference. He smiles, waves and shakes hands. Our impression is of constant movement and activity, of energy. We catch only parts of the conversation between Oliver and his assistant talking together. ASSISTANT Professor Oesterman is arriving by car. OLIVER I'll have to be there for that. ASSISTANT The President of the University was hoping for a formal reception and... OLIVER What about accommodation? ASSISTANT The pure mathematicians were having trouble finding their rooms last night. OLIVER What? ASSISTANT They seemed to be confused about which way up to hold their maps. (Oliver laughs). And don't forget the TV statement to night, they'll collect you at 10:30. OLIVER Interview, not statement. A newspaper reporter steps in. She asks Oliver some difficult questions. She is critical of science and all this hope for the future. What about all the terrible problems we have created on the planet, she asks, pollution etc? Oliver smiles and tries to explain, seducing her with his eyes. OLIVER You are so intense. Flashback Through the evocation of her questions and intensity he is plunged back into memories of another woman--a young painter. We see Oliver, as a young man, and the painter together. They talk about art and science. He explains to her that there is magic in the way science looks at the world. He shows her a quantum jump using an apple. As he juggles with apples and oranges the fruit seems somehow to become superposed. Oliver is trying to get across the idea that reality is very more mysterious that any act of the imagination. Together they are going to unify the arts and the sciences. The Present Oliver is rushing ahead with his assistant when suddenly he freezes and stares down and sees, on the clean, pure, white concrete pavement, a curious pattern consisting of just a few stones and sticks at his feet. ASSISTANT Don't take any notice of her, she's just an old crazy. A sudden very brief flash of Oliver as a boy. He is arranging a pattern of stones on the ground. We will see echoes of this pattern on several other occasions. Back in the present. In front of him the old woman is slowly moving grains of brown rice on a large bamboo dish. She keeps her head is down and chants. Her voice is indistinct. It is as if she mumbles or sings, half to herself and half to the grains of rice. Her personality and whole attitude arrests Oliver in his confident forward movement. Oliver seems unable to move. He stares down at the pattern which is very simple yet compelling. We hear a voice (her voice?) OLD WOMAN "Everything in connection. Inscape and Landscape. The Patterns of the Universe." The old woman continues to chant while Oliver stares at the pattern. She looks up at him. OLD WOMAN Never break the pattern. In a sudden movement she flings the grains of rice towards Oliver who frantically brushes them off. Oliver's companion kicks at the arrangement of sticks and stones, sending them flying. OLIVER No! The old woman laughs. Oliver's colleague jokes ASSISTANT Holism's the new religion, or hadn't you heard? Everything's connected to everything else--people even use sun spots to predict the stock market. They'll believe in anything. Oliver moves on but now his confidence appears shaken and his energy drained. The bird songs and sights of nature have faded away. The Arrival of a Great Scientist. There has been much anticipation at the arrival of the Great Scientist, Joakim Oesterman. Now he appears through the crowd, pushed in a wheelchair by his assistant, a young woman in a white uniform. Her bearing is severe and uncompromising. Oesterman is of extreme old age and so encased in rugs, blankets and scarves that we can hardly see him. We sense that is so old as to appear sexless, indeed his part is played by a woman. The crowd of scientists part as the old man is pushed forward. Some push their papers and books forward for him to touch- or be blessed, other's genuflect, touch his blankets, almost cross themselves. We heard their voices, but catch only occasional fragments of what they are saying. He worked with Einstein. He won got the Nobel Prize at thirty. They say he's solved Fermat's Last Theorem. He doesn't have to use mathematics to derive the results--the proof simply arrives in his head. Oesterman's Equation came to him in a dream. Einstein called him his spiritual son. He's solved the Unified Field Theory but refused to publish it. The wheel chair stops in front of Oliver who bows OLIVER We are deeply honored Professor. We..I.. am profoundly moved. The old man moves his lips but there is no sound. OESTERMAN'S ASSISTANT The Herr doctor Professor says there is no conflict, there is no beginning and there is no end." (A pause) "The Herr doctor Professor says there beneath the atom there is only eternal flux and ceaseless movement. The old man now raises his hand and points at Oliver. OESTERMAN'S ASSISTANT The Herr doctor professor says he has touched the seventh veil that lies in front of the heart of reality. The old man lowers his hand and his head drops onto his chest. OESTERMAN'S ASSISTANT The Herr doctor professor will sleep now. Oliver bows and Oesterman's assistant wheels away the old man in his chair. A flash back to Oliver as a graduate student. Oliver is sitting at a table, looking very unsure of himself, and flanked by two professors. They hold copies of his thesis: ONE This thesis of yours. TWO It just won't do. THREE It's too... ONE You see, for a theory to work it must be elegant and totally simple. TWO The universe is so complex and this whole approach of yours. Its too... ONE Its not sufficiently elegant, it lacks simplicity. TWO Yet not complex enough. ONR And the topic...! OLIVER But I really wanted to... TWO We can't all be another Einstein, can we? ONE Do something practical. TWO Forget this dreaming. ONE Results, results, results. TWO Publish, publish, publish. ONE,TWO and THREE Forget all this dreaming. The Campus. The Present Oliver meets up with an old colleague and they talk together. He tries to talk about his dreams of unity. But the colleague, Peter, seems to be laughing at him. He takes an egg out of his pocket. COLLEAGUE The universe is like this? OLIVER Exactly rich with meaning, packed full. COLLEAGUE "Everything is a search for meaning." But there is no meaning--the universe is this. He takes the egg and crushes it in his hand. It simply crumbles to a fine powder. COLLEAGUE The universe is a blown egg. It contains nothing. It is totally empty. That's what freedom means, you're not tied to anything. You have to make your own meaning. A memory. It is night and Oliver, as a boy, walks with his father. We are in some indistinct region where the sounds of nature are distorted and threatening. It is a dead and barren landscape. If there are trees then they are without leaves or twigs. The earth is dry and dusty, without grass. The birds and insects, the different sounds of nature are electronic and mechanical. Father and son descend a series steps and enter into a large building. Inside is a laboratory. It stretches far into the distance and is many stories high. The boy and his father are dwarfed by giant electrical machines. These are not machines of the twentieth century for seem to be of an earlier period--the late nineteenth century. Great brass and copper globes, transformers, giant capacitors tens of feet high, cables, wires, meters. There may even be bursts of high pressure steam, or clouds of liquid air, or even the glow and roar of a furnace. Everywhere there is the buzz and crackle of electricity, the whole environment is mysterious and threatening. The lighting is in a high key and the father's face is full of deep shadows. At no time do we seen the father show tenderness to the boy or even acknowledge his presence. The boy appears frightened by the size of the machines and by their noise, yet there is also a hint of his fascination with their great power and potential. The father points to a pair of globes at the far end of the laboratory. There is a moment of silence and then a staggering bolt of lightning flashes between the spheres. Again and again the lightning flashes. We see the boy's face lit by the flashes of light. It is full of fear, yet at the same time almost hypnotized and fascinated by what he is seeing. He reaches out to hold his father's hand but at the last moment lowers his hand. The lightning stops and the father points to a table. On it is a long fluorescent tube. But the tube, not being connected to any power source, is dark. The more menacing sounds of the laboratory have faded now, leaving only an electrical hum. The father hands the tube to the boy. The boy takes the dark tube and suddenly it fills with light. The boy stares in wonder at this light and his face is lit up with its cold illumination. He runs his hand over the tube and stares into its depths. The father smiles down at the boy. The Campus. The Present. A scientist stares, unblinking ahead of him. His eyes seem to be covered with an opaque film. He gives the impression of all seeking blindness. OLIVER (whispers to his associate) That's Burnack, the astronomer. Burnack speaks, his eyes fixed ahead. BURNACK I see galaxies without end, space upon space, endlessly. I see the birth and death of stars. He raises his hand to his face and a radiant look animates him for a moment. BURNACK I feel the solar wind on my cheek. Endless, endless, endless." A flash back to Oliver, as a young graduate student, talking to his supervisor. The two are in an office at the university. Oliver sits while his supervisor, at the other side of the desk, walks as he talks. There is something of the headmaster or priest in the way he lectures to Oliver. The supervisor insists that scientists are like priests; they are in the world, yet not of it. They must dedicate themselves to nature, to learning her secrets. They must not sleep or deviate from this aim. The scientist is not a doer, not a participator, not an actor. He stands outside, he observes without touching. We must learn to be self effacing, the older scientist says. In a later flashback we will again return to the scene. The supervisor shows the young man a book. SUPERVISOR The great Ernst Mach wrote this book, his signature is in the front. I met him one when I was a small boy. He was the man who deeply influenced Einstein." He turns to an illustration and shows it to the boy. It is a monocular vision, a vision of Mach's room but seen as through a single eye. SUPERVISOR This is how Mach saw the world. He was analytical, dispassionate- a genius. Oliver, a boy It is night and Oliver, as a young boy, is dressed in his pajamas. With the aid of a flash light, carefully descends a dark staircase. Using his hand he gropes his way downstairs. An indistinct whispering can be heard. He moves along a corridor and approaches a door which is opened to reveal a small crack. [This is the first of a series of this particular memory that slowly unfold over the film. At first we only seen the boy approach the door. But later we will see:-] Oliver approaches the door and very gently pushes it open, ever so slightly, so that he can stare into the room. The room is lit only by firelight. In front of the fire his mother sits naked in a bath tub. She has her back to the boy and she gently sponges her naked body. Her nakedness is illuminated by the gentle, warm, flickering firelight. The rest of the room is in darkness, lit faintly by the fire. In the corner Oliver makes out his father, sitting upright, dressed in Edwardian rigor. He has a book on his knee. He straightens in his chair and looks at his wife without emotion. The book falls. We see its open page--the drawing of Ernst Mach of the scientist in his chair. The door is slowly closed from the inside and Oliver is left, small and cold, outside. [Alternative versions:] A brief glimpse of the mother, cut to Oliver's face, but Oliver is now an adult. Cut to the father. The book falls. Close up of the book. We see a drawing of "the scientist in his armchair". Pull back to Oliver as an adult. He turns the pages of the book it is Ernst Mach's "Principle's of Mechanics". OLIVER (voice over) Ernst Mach--Einstein's intellectual father-- the man who believed that we are the passive observers of the world. The scientist sits in his armchair and looks out at the world. But it doesn't work like that does it? The world hits you in the face--and sometimes you're forced to hit back. The present The Conference Oliver enters a room. A group surrounds a scientist who has wired up a dog. Electrical leads come out of the dog's stomach and head, they are connected to a keyboard and printer. SCIENTIST I've always been more interested in a meat machine that in a silicon based intelligence. The specimen now functioning as a microprocessor." He begins to type on the keyboard and the dog twitches and moves. He stops typing. SCIENTIST See, the organism has been programmed to create text. Paper pours from the printer. Oliver tears off a page and begins to read: "(TO be inserted--a quotation from John Stuart Mill's "On Liberty") The Lunch meeting A table at an outdoor restaurant. We hear the sounds of nature, faint bird song. Oliver's wife is sitting alone. A waiter hovers nearby and finally speaks. WAITER Madame? WIFE What? Oh, I don't know. A Perrier I suppose....and a twist of lime, no lemon. The Waiter nods and moves away. The campus. Oliver tries to escape from a group of colleagues. The Restaurant Oliver's wife is scraping the label off the Perrier bottle with her finger nail. She glances at her watch. The Campus Lots of activity. Oliver runs for his car. The Restaurant Oliver's wife, stands, drops some money on the table and leaves. Oliver in the back of a moving cab. He is sitting forward and giving directions. The Restaurant exit. Oliver`s wife exits the restaurant. Oliver runs in from the other direction and touches her on the shoulder. WIFE I'm going. OLIVER I was late. WIFE You said 12:30, look at it now. OLIVER I've got to talk to you. (He begins to lead her back to the table and gestures to the waiter.) WIFE Look, I'm busy. I've got things to do this afternoon. OLIVER (To the waiter) Have you got a menu? Yes. No, I just want something fast, a sandwich or something. (To his wife) Have you eaten? WIFE I'm going. OLIVER An espresso, right? She'll have an espresso (She shrugs) and bring me a--I don't know tuna on whole-wheat, or chicken salad or something. Oliver is sitting, his wife still stands. He half rises from his chair and gestures. She finally sits. Oliver collapses back into his chair, satisfied at this small victory. His wife remains silent. Oliver looks around and smiles. OLIVER It's nice here isn't it? WIFE God, how long have you lived in this city? OLIVER (Serious) We've got to talk. WIFE Not again. Well? Go on. OLIVER Well its... I... Look, it's not so easy to start, just like that, you've got to help me. WIFE Its always so vitally important for you isn't it? I mean, its a matter of life and death? OLIVER Look, some thing's, well, happening to me. I don't know, but its like, well the meanings going out of things. Do you know what I'm talking about? Oliver slowly starts getting caught up in what he is saying and carried away by his own rhetoric. OLIVER Its a bit like, well I can't seem to touch things any more, not directly. (getting excited) Look, today I was walking with Andre and suddenly.....(he notices her expression) You don't really want to hear this do you? (she looks at him and shrugs). You don't really care. WIFE (very sincere but exhausted) Its not that, but you always seem to want to get me involved, you need to suck me down into your problem. And then suddenly one day you're not there anymore--you're off on another tack and I'm left in the hole. Oliver, listen to me. I just can't go on living like that. I've got to have some space to myself. Its like living with... Oh I don't know. OLIVER (touches her hand and smiles sympathetically) Yes, I know, I know exactly what you mean, its just that I... WIFE Can't you hear what I'm saying. I've got my own life and I'm not going to be sucked down any more. OLIVER (angry) Yes, sure WIFE I'll listen to you, but not to the same old stuff over and over again. OLIVER It wasn't always like that. WIFE You used to have real dreams once. (a sudden reaction in Oliver's face) I've got to go. She stands up. Touches his face tenderly and leaves. Oliver picks up the Perrier bottle and begins to play with the label. He suddenly starts and looks round. All he sees is the cafe, its patrons, the waiter approaching, holding his sandwich. He goes back to picking the bottle. The Past. Oliver and his future wife. A series of brief shots suggesting great energy and movement, they are laughing, looking at each other. We see them walking down a street, beside a waterfall, by a river, coming out of a movie theater. Suddenly Oliver takes her by the hands and swings here around. OLIVER I don't want to stop. We've got to keep on running together--we've can't even sleep. They a walking beside a canal in the city, evening, the street lights illuminate them. OLIVER You know I've got this...Oh it sounds stupid.... WIFE No, go on. OLIVER It's like a sort of vision of, well something totally new. A completely different way of doing science. WIFE Science? OLIVER Well, no, not that, not so much stars and atoms and things but people. Its... its a way of looking at the whole universe... of being a part of it, right in the heart of things. Do you know what I mean? WIFE (Shakes her head) OLIVER Listen.(pause) If got this feeling that everything is going to come together... science, art, music. I mean, why shouldn't a symphony be as much a theory of the universe as relativity. Or Bach? Bach's... Magnificat. People like him saw something that no one else could. WIFE And you can see it too? OLIVER (laughs) Why not? (shrugs, then is serious). Well, yes, sometimes. Yes, I think I do. There's really no division between things when you get that deep... and I think I can... The whole thing (waves his arms to indicate the sky and earth) its like a great work of art... but its eternally being painted, or played or thought about and... and when you see it that way, why there's no division from people, between you and me. Look, its hard to say, but I'm not trying to be abstract or anything, because... we're all a part of it. Like being in an orchestra. And that means that something's going to change, something new is going to happen. WIFE (laughing with him) I don't know what it all means, but the sound is fantastic. Oliver with his wife in the past. They are walking in the country. OLIVER We're free. Can't you taste it. Not just you and me but everything. (he suddenly sits and grabs a stone, he shows it to her. she takes a handful of tiny pebbles and moves them in her hand). Look at this... its free... every atom inside can make a decision. But don't you see what that means... for us. We never have to be trapped by anything again. WIFE (She anoints him with the pebbles) Present. The Conference We see a man and a woman arguing- a very depressed couple stand, inert beside them. OLIVER'S COLLEAGUE That's Helga and Arnold, they've developed a new form of marriage therapy. They first interview the couple individually and then work out the dynamics between themselves. Scene: A group of psychologists and workshop leaders talk amongst themselves: I'm charging $500 for a weekend on death. Will death take that? Death's very active at the moment You can't lose with death. If I were a younger man I'd get right into incest. That's just a fad, like wife abuse. Christ how can you say that, how can you be so casual about that? Look lady, don't try to tell me about fucking wife abuse, I was publishing while you still were dry humping at grade school. We're doing lots of touching and feeling, you know making our own costumes. Yeah, I know, I once tried macramé with bipolar affective disorders--but when they got into the manic phase they just couldn't handle the knots. I'm writing a self-help manual for child molesters" Yeah, that's a good market, you wanna put in a lot of check lists and boxes. I've been thinking of writing a book for codependents of people who read self-help books. Helga and Arnold We see Helga and Arnold, the marriage therapists, fighting HELGA So I'm fat, you call me fat? Well look at you. ARNOLD Your mother told me, she warned me about you. A group of scientists are speaking together I'm researching thought. But how can people expect to understand the nature of human consciousness if they're not up to date on the scientific literature? I thought of studying introversion. You'd need a good control group. I was going to get into creativity but it was coming to the end of the fiscal year so I had to spend the money on a computer. Helga and Arnold again ARNOLD Cook? HELGA Yes. Cook! ARNOLD You call that food! I'd rather starve. The depressed couple look at each other and shrug. A round table panel on nuclear war. We hear the remarks of a group of scientists. We must learn to dialogue about our wounds. It's not nuclear war that's the real issue, but the control of women's bodies by a paternalistic system. But we've never really had a chance at a small controlled nuclear controversy--you know, just to test out our model of the scenario. It's the frustration of the orgasm that lies at the root of all anger. I sometimes think that with enough love we could stop the bombs going off--you know, sort of prevent the nuclear reactions ever occurring- right at the quantum level. We all create our own reality. No, no, no...don't you see? We will never prevent war, violence is programmed into the triune brain. So what we've got to is save the data banks, we've got to bury our biggest computers miles underground. We can't do anything for the human race but we can save the Artificial Intelligence. Think of a world without people, without any disturbing emotion. Just a great computer network, eternally dialoguing with itself in abstract mathematics. It would be like a cosmic poem. Like God. People have feelings and emotions, that's what makes them so unpredictable. Computers are logical, its the human brain that's at fault. No, it doesn't have to be that way. We can control it, we can modify the neurotransmitters in the brain. (he holds up a test tube). With this, it can change the whole chemical management of your thinking. I can even induce visions the mystics saw. Meister Eckhard, Hildegard of Bingen, St. John of the Cross, Blessed Julian of Norwitch. With just a few molecules of this you can see God. OLIVER'S COLLEAGUE (breaks into the discussion) Jesus, I like this, God as a food additive! Think of what Ronald Macdonald could do with it--You know I always felt food additives were the great scientific breakthrough of the 20th century. By the year 2000 we should be able to eliminate fats, sugars, carbohydrates and proteins all together and just live off the colorings. Helga and Arnold HELGA I'm leaving you. ARNOLD Don't talk about it, then. Do it. Go. HELGA And don't think you'll get the car. ARNOLD Take the car, take the house. You can have the children too. The married couple begin to hold hands, watching the fight. HELGA I don't want the children, you have the children. ARNOLD Always evading your responsibilities, aren't you? HELGA Don't project your neuroses onto me. ARNOLD Neuroses, she says, neuroses. All I ever hear is neuroses. HELGA At least I have a healthy attitude to sex. ARNOLD And what's that supposed to mean? The married couple walk off hand in hand. HELGA I don't have to keep a stuffed fish under the bed. Oliver ducks out of a lecture Oliver sits on a discussion panel. He notices a young woman in the audience-she evokes the woman that has appeared in certain of his fantasies. She stands up goes to the exit, looking back at him. Oliver excuses himself and gets up to follow. Outside she walks past several students and on into the countryside. Oliver tries to follow her but she is always out of reach. Oliver in the country Oliver has been following the woman and now the sounds of the country engulf him. It is hot lazy day. Insects buzz. Oliver sits down, wipes his head. He looks around at the flowers, plants and insects. He lies down and begins to dream. In the dream Oliver moving through a warm, comforting nature. It is late afternoon when Oliver wakes, a time of long shadows. He looks around and sees a movement. Again he attempts to follow the woman. This time into a dark wood. Finally he emerges into a clearing and sees a house. Some of the windows are lit. Oliver in the Dark House Oliver enters the house. He calls out. He moves from room to room--but there are simply shadows. He feels that he is entering an earlier century. There are faint sounds of a harpsichord. Memories of his childhood-- sights and faint, distant sounds. Possibly he even fancies he sees a man seated at the keyboard--from the era of Newton. A sudden movement. He turns his head, a door is closing. He searches through the house. There are other movements, just at the corner of his vision. Footsteps. Whispered sounds and laughter. He turns and sees his wife in the shadows. OLIVER What is happening? Where is everyone? Why are you here? WIFE I came to find you--Its such a warm night they decided to eat outside. OLIVER But I need to talk to you..." WIFE (she puts a hand on his lips) Follow me. (she slips out of the door) Oliver follows, calling her name. He follows a fleeting shadow out of the house. The Night Dinner A number of tables are laid for dinner--illuminated by spot lights and floods. The scientists are gathered. Oliver moves through them catching parts of their conversation. This is the devil's banquet, the last death throes of civilization. God is dead, society falls apart, science and technology are empty--all that is left is this insane dance from movement to movement, belief to belief--each one crazier than the last. So everyone is there- the physicists and psychotherapists, mathematicians and mystics, altered states, workshoppers, creation story--everyone. We see them at the dark night of the soul- At one end of the table several New Age scientists are engaged in a tight rivalry. Someone on the side of the group raises a his glass of wine and looks into it. They filter this through asbestos. This is the clue for another round in their argument. one takes out a pendulum and waves it over the wine. No this is good, no additives. Another, with a pendulum: Yes, a good vintage. Another takes out divining rods and passes them over a glass of water. This water is dead, it has no memory. Another takes out an electrical box. The molecules have negative helicity. I can charge it for you. Another. Here, allow me. (he makes passes with his hands over the glass) It's quite safe to drink now. I've rearranged the molecules. I thought you were a Buddhist No I'm a Sufi now. I've got my own native Shaman. I'm taking a vision quest next month. But there's a mystic who can do the whole thing in one weekend--there's even a special rate on at the Holiday Inn. I paid my teacher $1,000 to learn to balance my electron energy. That's nothing I paid $5,000 for quantum holism. I've given $10,000 to adjust my daughter's quarks. You can get channeling covered by Medicare in Oregon. What about soul readings? I've tried fire walking--its a revealing experience. At another part of a table. A woman passes her hands over another's head. HEALER Your daughter has a tumor in her breast. Its malignant but it hasn't been detected yet. The mother reacts with rapture. MOTHER Oh you're marvelous. Isn't she wonderful? She cured my cat of cystitis last week. HEALER Do you have her photograph? MOTHER Yes, here. The healer holds the photograph up to her forehead. HEALER There, the cancer has gone. I've also adjusted a disc in her spine. Tell her to sleep with a piece of blue paper pinned over her bed. Someone gets on the table to do the Dance of Creation-- but they are a little uncoordinated, physical cumbersome, anyway the table is too crowded. A man eats with great appetite, shoving in his food and explains EATER I was reborn into the third level of unmanifest reality by Sheena-wa-pookna. CYNIC Yeah--Shela Kowalski, she did a graduate course with me at Columbia. THIN MAN No, Kowalski's the poststructuralist mystic. She deconstructed my wife at a fire walking weekend. EATER She's the spiritual descendant of White Buffalo Woman. Sheena-wa-pookna uses ancient magnetic earth energy. THIN MAN She ran a healing course for IBM executives in the summer. EATER She put me in a pit for three days and heaped rocks and sacred dung on top of me. It was so...so elemental- a real death. CYNIC Yeah? You wanna watch that dung. Some shamans are using substitutes now. EATER (thrusting great gobs of food into his mouth) I've transcended earthly desires. The Scientist's Play The conversation is interrupted when a man made up to look like Einstein enters. He is playing a violin. We are clearly aware that this is one of the scientists "playing" at being Einstein. The guests laugh and we hear their reaction. Look its Einstein. We always put on a play at the dinner. It's old Noakes, he always plays Einstein. Einstein sees a man with a long white beard playing dice. EINSTEIN (in German): Ach! I refuse to believe that God plays dice with the world....but I could be wrong. Bohr and Heisenberg arrive on unicycles juggling eggs to each other. Freud, Newton, and Darwin later appear. EINSTEIN Ach it is that Heisenberg and his friend Bohr with their new quantum theory. I must oppose it. Bohr and Heisenberg pelt Einstein with eggs. The scientists at the table laugh. Death to nineteenth century physics. Away with old ideas. Here comes an old idea. Its Galileo! Galileo enters dragging a rack. There is a beautiful woman tied to the rack, voluptuous, half naked. Galielo begins to turn the rack, the woman squirms and screams-- she seems in pain or the grip of an erotic experience. [During this scene we truck along the table looking up at the scientists. They are now fat, greasy, sweaty and drunk. There now seem to be only men present and they cheer and bang their glasses on the table.] There's Galelio. He's stretching nature on the rack. Get her secrets. Nature's a lying bitch. She's got to be controlled. She's got to be mastered. Cut off her hair. Burn the bitch nature. Don't believe what she says. Give her a good stretching. Ask her about superstrings. What's the lifetime of the proton? What about the fifth force? Galielo stands back and takes his bow. He offers his hand to nature who stands, simpers, nods and raises her arms. NATURE See, I wasn't hurt at all. I'm perfectly all right. No one hurt me. Nature coos and simpers erotically, seductively. She kisses Galelio's hand. NATURE My master--you're so strong, you're so clever. Galelio begins to make obscene gestures and movements. The scientists roar in approval. Nature suddenly becomes animated. She pushes Galielo away. NATURE No. First we must have the trial. The scientists take up her cry. The trial! Nature walks towards Oliver. NATURE We must have a victim". The Trial Nature takes Oliver by the hand and leads him to where Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr and Galileo sit in judgement. Nature takes the center chair, she is both judge, prosecution and Oliver's defense. Her mood and appearance varies continuously--innocent, voluptuous and seductive, motherly, violent and destructive, angry, virginal. NATURE Oliver you are on trial for your life. Have you been loyal to mother nature? At first Oliver smiles and tries to play along with the game. But soon he becomes increasingly disturbed and disoriented. The accusers cry He wrote a popular book. He rejects the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum theory. He's late with his student's marking. one of his papers contained a superficial idea. He doesn't acknowledge his sources. He gives poor references. I caught him wanking in school. He cheats. He's a liar and a tell tale. He's no good at football. The referees reject your paper as lacking originality. NATURE Were you good to your mother? Did you look after her? Were you always faithful to me? Nature turns to Oliver's wife NATURE What's he like in bed? Did he satisfy you? Were there others? Was he the best you ever had? NATURE (to Oliver) Did you comb your hair? Did you wash behind your ears? Do you get excited when you think about me? The whole trial is carried out in a circular, spiraling motion with Nature constantly moving around Oliver, who in turn looks around at his accusers. The faces at the table are menacing now. NATURE Off with it. His head's grown too big. Nature takes his head and gives him a very deep kiss. She rubs his crotch. NATURE Guards! Hands reach out either side and grab Oliver's arms, pulling him back from Mother Nature. Nature begins to cry, she reaches out to touch Oliver's cheek. NATURE Good boy. Nature turns and laughs. She walks away getting caught up in the crowd. As Oliver is led away we look back at the tables. The light has changed. It is more penetrating--like the cold, hard light of morning. It falls on the faces, they seem old, haggard, their make-up runs. We see the deserted tables, piled with food, spilled glasses--a dusty wind blows the scraps and table cloths. We see "Einstein" isolated, the cold wind blowing around him. He plays his violin and for a moment the sound raises itself triumphantly until it is drowned out by the icy wind. The Journey The guards, in menacing uniform, guns at their side arrest him away. GUARDS Are you Professor Oliver Johns? Come this way. The guards frog march him away. OLIVER Wait... GUARDS We have very little time now. Oliver shouts out for his wife. He suddenly sees her. She tries to get towards him but the crowd gets in her away. Oliver is pushed into a van, the guards sit either side of him. As the van drives away lights and shadows move across Oliver's face. GUARDS We have very little time now. GUARDS We're taking you to the studio. Oliver sits in silence as the street lights move across his face. All street and automobile sounds are cut out. A period of silence. Sound of a cold wind. Sounds of waves. The TV Interview Oliver arrives at the television studios. The people that accompany him wear uniforms. It is night-- the lighting almost suggests a prison camp--spots and floods. There is a guard gate. He is checked there by a man with a gun, and again inside the studio entrances. He must produce papers, ID. He is stamped, given new ID, forms etc. Then he is rushed down corridors, down stairs, all with constant twists and turns--people rush by with files and papers, people pass on motorized carts, he is constantly being rushed--in the end he appears to be running. The lighting is ominous--i.e. is no longer clear what is reality and what is fantasy. At one point he moves along the corridor and passes a long line of his colleagues. He is led into the make- up room--surrounded by people who shout orders. He tells them he has something he must say. But they keep telling him: Make it simple. Try to smile. Don't sweat so much--you'll get a shine on your forehead. Are you going to use you hands? Do you want him to use his hands? We've got no time for that. Don't move you hands. Oliver looks at the other figures being made up--a Buddhist, an old woman--all relaxed, all calm, all smiling. He meets the host, who is welcoming, calm, bland. He is seated. Don't sit so far back. No, relax--try to relax. Try not to sweat. Watch your hands. No. Pick up the cup from the side. Don't forget to smile. Not so far forward. Don't move your leg. He's rumbling--don't let your stomach rumble--we'll hear it from coast to coast. Don't mind them, just relax, you'll be fine. Just don't use any technical words. HOST I loved you film, it was marvelous. OLIVER What film? HOST You didn't write about---Hey, who is this guy? 0743 slash A--he's on your cue sheet--right after the Rabbi. HOST Yeah. Yeah...Marvelous, Oliver, really marvelous. OLIVER I really want to talk about... HOST Hang on, yes, yes...no I won't spend too long on him...Yes? OLIVER About what I'm going to say, its really important that I get a chance to... HOST (getting instructions via an earphone) Hang on...no, no.....Yes? OLIVER I mean if you just ask me about... HOST Sorry...just relax, try not to worry, you'll be fine. Marvelous. The interview begins, Oliver starts by knocking over his cup. He tries to speak but is interrupted by the starlet. He mentions the world problems, starvation-- She begins to talk about mother Theresa and how she wants to become a nun and help all the world and adopt poor starving children. "Wonderful". says the host. There is a sudden burst of applause. Oliver looks around bewildered for the studio is empty. Someone signals to him. He stares at a camera...the person exasperates signals again, Oliver stares at another camera. It is clear that he is getting nowhere. The break comes. The host puts his hand on Oliver's knee HOST You were marvelous....just try to relax, not so tense. Make-up adjusts his head. MAKE-UP This fucking guy's sweating like a pig, didn't anyone tell him. OLIVER You see, I just wanted to say... HOST Sure... sure... OLIVER It's important. All my life I've been after it and now, for the first time I think I can touch it. I think I know what it is. HOST Don't worry, we'll get round to it. Others come up WIFE We've got to dump nine seconds of the top of the next segments HOST Sure sure. OLIVER (interjects) Look I want to make sure... HOST Sure, sure. Keep it light, fella. And don't forget to keep smiling. Oliver in the Car Park In the midst of all this confusion Oliver gets up. Ignored by the others, he begins to creep out. He reaches the studio door and looks back. They are about to go back on air. We see, via a TV monitor, a shot of Oliver's empty chair. Cut to the host who is beginning to interview Oliver- i.e. his empty chair- in his absence. Oliver pushes his way out and enters car park. It is dark and the sounds of nature rise to meet him. In the car part a black youth is dancing, jumping on and off cars to rap music from a portable radio. Oliver watches him. Automobiles begin to approach, they form a circle around the dancer, their headlines pointing inward. Other youths enter the circle of light, all dancing. The music gets louder. It cross fades into Bach, Native drumming and chanting. The light is full of dancers. Oliver walks forward. He looks up at the sky--the camera slowly tilts out of the light into the darkness. The End


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