The Essence of Life
A fiction by Ignazio Salvatore Basile
The story of Mr Winningoes
“My name is Patrick Winningoes Parnell and I was born at Wadebridge, in Cornwall, in the south-west of England, to a Catholic Irishwoman and a Protestant Englishman. My father, Lord Isaac Winningoes, whose family was among the noblest and most ancient for English lineage, at that time, was a very close adviser of the British government. My mother was named Mary Josephine Parnell.
In those times Great Britain was still a vast empire and Ireland, born earth of my mother, made integrally part of it.
After a happy infancy, I was enrolled at a classical studies school, but when I was sixteenth something happened to me such seriously to change the course of my life into misfortune.
Without any apparent reason my father withdrawn me from the College and the same day of such a sudden resolution, in a night of storm, I was embarked on a ship, “The Ulysses”, that anchored at Land's End, attended my arrival to set sail.
My father didn't want to give me any explanation and, despite I implored him crying, that I didn't want to depart without greeting my mother, he was inflexible. He delivered two letters to me: one for the reverend Jacob Sevear, who would have become my despotic guardian; the other for me, and I read it on tears, when my beloved coasts were already distant from sight.
It contained, this letter, few recommendations on the principles that a good child has to observe, together with the information that my destination would have been Boston, in the U.S.A., and that I had to be in charge to the reverend Sevear.
The life that attended me beyond the ocean was, my friends, a hard one indeed to be sustained. Certainly, I had all the possible comforts, but I lived in a gilded isolation, without almost any contact with the outside world. My guardian was inflexible on applying those rules that, as he underlined, had been ordered to him by my father: I could not go out, if not in his company; I didn't have to possess any sum of money, providing himself to satisfy any my desire; even the newspapers and the magazines passed for his careful censorship, before I could read them.
After some time, my captivity slightly decreased, but I still felt as a prisoner and for my mind, to find a free play in the studies, in which my guardian worked out to be a wise and able preceptor, was a matter of surviving.
How many nights I dreamed to fly, like Icarus, over the Atlantic or to sail, as Ulysses, searching for new, craving lands! How many nights I cried, thinking of my mother and my distant born beaches ! How I felt heavy, then, my father's hand on my head and that of my sad destiny! For how much I tried on it, however, I didn't succeed on breaking those chains that tormented me. From time to time I contrived a plan to run away, but I always postponed it, hoping that the day after a letter from England would come, to bring me the freedom, the end of my nightmare and its mysteries.
After years of that life of segregation, finally came the very expected day: On my twenty-first birthday the reverend Sevear handed me over a letter from my father on which he accounted the circumstances that were the origin of all my sufferings and that so much had to influence my life in the future. But the joy for the long, desired truth, was darkened by the sad news: my mother, my beloved mother, had died, two years before, in the prison of Primestone.
I was acquainted through that letter that my mother, just a little before my departure for Boston, had been halted with the accusation of plot to overturn the institutions and the Crown, accusation much more serious, being my father a man at service of the State. She was recognized guilty, and only the interest that some friends of my father showed towards, saved her from the inglorious end that struck all the other heads of the revolt: the hanging in public square.
But she “could not stand up with the imprisonment”, as my mother wrote in one of the few letters she was allowed to write to me, and which the reverend Sevear had been ordered not to deliver to me before my twenty-first birthday:
“My gasp of liberty cannot hold up to the imprisonment between four suffocating walls “.
The scandal that followed the discovery of the plot to free Ireland from the oppressive English yoke, had also overwhelmed my father, who was forced by his political enemies to give the resignations. But the aspect of the whole story for me more spine-chilling was constituted by the fact that my father himself had discovered and denounced the secret activity of my mother, for which he asked me to be forgiven and hoped that I would understand the involved, ethics implications.
How I hated him henceforth! I cursed him, one hundred, thousand times, from that day and for the days to come! How could he have chosen his stupid state’s reason against the love of a fragile and sweet creature as my mother? Why did he not embark her with me to subtract her to the jailers? His king, then, was more worth than his woman on his heart?
He recommended himself to my comprehension, since he did act for my own goodness, leaving me out, considering also my youth age, from the clamors and from the shame of the scandal that had overwhelmed our honorable name, and he finally, remembered me, that only God can judge men’s operates.That atrocious contradiction induced me to hate also “his” God. If only Him, could judge men’s behaviors, why did he denounce my mother to a Court of men?!? - “
That regrettable question concluded the monologue of our guest, to which we had assisted in a religious silence but with long live share.
While evoking his memoirs, that I imagined remote for forgetful time in his mind; above all speaking of his mother, in his voice a veiled tone of emotion had appeared.
And I don't know if I really perceived a mist in his eyes, ‘cause it lasted only for a bit: after pouring a glass of water and drinking longingly, he fleetingly passed a candid napkin on his face, with which he suddenly cancelled any trace of it. Then he stayed immovably, absorbed in his sad memoirs, or perhaps picking up ideas to continue his story. George had followed him for the whole time leaning his chin upon his hands on the edge of the table. Without proffering a word he lit a cigarette and soon after he pushed the packet towards me. With peaceful and indifferent tone, Mr Winningoes took back on his speech.
-“The same day I knew by my teacher that I was the only heir of my mother’s estates, and that since the day of her death, he had been its honest and prudent administrator, as he was ready to detail me on his account.
That man, I had so much hated and blamed, now that his ungrateful charge had come to end, seemed to me good and comprehensive, and his words calmed for a few time my incurable pain; henceforth, however, I needed to think about my life, and in those places I would never succeeded in shaking off my sad past. I begged the reverend to continue to administer my goods and I departed, to discover the world.
I travelled at first through the United States and Canada, then I went to Australia and New Zealand. After I visited Europe, without never finding the courage to return to my country. Tired of the European Countries, among which I mostly liked Italy, I departed to India and finally, always curious of new lands, I went to Africa.
Neither women, neither alcohol, nor drugs not even the vices which I was devoted in those years succeeded in cancelling my bitter memoirs, until one day, while I was sojourning in Kenya, I fell ill, prey of strong fevers. Not a lot, then I gave, to live or die, but the Fate, had evidently planned that I survived, so that the programs could be realized, whose I will have the honor and the pleasure to communicate to you. Revealed therefore from the illness, I returned to America aiming however to south, that I had not visited yet.
Going up again homeward, I stayed for a long time in Mexico, that not little fascinated me. By then, I had satisfied my world's curiosity, so I preferred to take over again my studies, more assidously than before. I was akin of all: medicine, biology, physics, mathematics, chemistry, hidden sciences, illusionism, magic arts, engineering, electronics, astrology, philosophy, astronomy, sociology, anthropology, theology, ethnology, history, juridical, economic and political sciences and every other thing attracted my mind curious of reaching new knowledge.
During the numerous years of my following study, it happened on me a gradual mutation that flowed, after another short lapse of time, in a great, bright revelation. I had realized, deepening on studies that any single subject lost, little by little, until vanishing, its own contours and that all acquired information met in a bubbly melting pot, to form just one, immense nucleus of knowledge.
Yes, dear friends: our knowledge is an original, total unity. The single disciplines of human knowledge are but the infinitesimally small fragments that the mankind looks hopelessly for recomposing in to the aboriginal unity.
Two were the necessary consequent corollaries to this thrilling discovery. The first one is that the brain of both animal and human beings constitutes, though at a different evolutionary stadium, a microscopic part of the primordial totality. The second is that human thought search, yet in a blind and messy manner, to recompose, at a mental level, the great, primitive explosion, the Big-Bang, through a long and fatiguing marching back, up to the innumerable light years that separate it, from an equal, yet opposite, roaring and powerful implosion. And if you consider that our mind speculates in the space-time as fast as speed-light, this kind of final Big-Imbang will appear less far than any hasty forecast.
The burst of the second world war caught me surprised on this walk of studies and searches.
Bitterly I was forced to consider that human beings pursued their premature end, rather than search for the truth.
But at that time I hadn't yet understood that every human action, even the most iniquitous and bestial, has however its own reason to be done and for me, that war, would have been another fundamental step on the way of comprehension.
When Germany, violating the international agreements formerly undersigned, moved war to England, attacking London, I realized that the right moment had come for me to show that the Parnells loved to fight for freedom, under any flag and against whoever oppressed its exercise. I went to England and enlisted, as a volunteer, in the Royal Air Force, despite I have to confess you that, after the betrayal of my father, I felt more Irish than English, also considering that in those days, as it is today, Ireland was divided in two parts, with a part still under the British dominion.
After a brief but intense training I was assigned, as I had required myself, having the pre-requisite for it, to pilot’s hunting squads. Between whiles of my missions I had the opportunity to deeply analyze the causes of those disastrous events. I had been, it is true, in the years immediately preceding the war completely devoted to my studies, in a way that I could call purely scientific of the phenomena which stand at the base of the human life, but it was not certainly in the fore coming years of war that we had to seek its reasons and inmost causes. The roots of hate and evil sank their extreme appendixes in the most tangled and lavish meanders of human mind. These deleterious feelings, so inherent to human mind, were to be conceived like the principal causes of that huge bath of blood.
From this premise I puzzled out that the basic beliefs of the national socialist philosophy were correct: the humanity, in order to be saved, needed a superior race to be raised over the others for leading them to salvation. But German race could not certainly be the chosen one. The world needed a novel race, filled by goodness and love.
With a greater fury than before, I addressed all my energies against the hateful enemy: I challenged death ten, hundred, thousands of times, always defeating the adversary.
Little by little, I started perceiving what role it was reserved to me in the history of the world and the contours of my destiny assumed more and more its clean and precise outline.”
While pronouncing his last words Mr Winningoes, who had gradually been increasing his excitement during the narration, lifted up his right forefinger, tensed as an accuser, and rotating a couple of times his eyes, he halted eventually with an insane expression of craziness depicted on his face. He remained for indefinite time with the lift forefinger, staring into space, with his muscles tended as if they wanted to get out of standing. He seemed a statue of marble, immortalized in a grotesque pose. This sudden explosion of apparent madness came unexpected. Before we had the time to interact, however, the man seemed to recover himself. He looked around, lost and embarrassed and, grabbed a glass of water, voided all of it in a hit. The water seemed to calm the man. His eyes showed now a serene light and he looked like being almost absent, lost in his thoughts or perhaps looking for recomposing the interrupted line of his story. He pulled the refreshments trolley and picked up a crystal’s cruet filled of a golden colored liquid.
- “Have a drink, please. It is cognac from Charente, one of the few things that I appreciate of French people.”
This way saying he poured some of that liquid in a short, carved wine glass, explaining that a cognac, to be really good, has to leave, if slightly rotated, a thin layer of color inside the glass.
As soon as I had drunk, I immediately felt a comforting warmth. On the warm’s alcohol wave I thought that that man surely knew so much indeed about life. His theories, yet quiet abstruse to me, showed however a sort of suggestive charm.
- “You certainly know how has the second world war concluded” - said the man, who went on talking about the last phases of the war, mixing them with some personal circumstances and original points of view, totally different from official historical interpretation .
- “Excuse me , my friends, for detouring from the main path” - he returned to say taking back the main stream of his narration. -“After all, such problems, didn't interest to me so much at the time, neither they interest to me today. I had to follow my life, and rather, the use of the atomic bombs in Japan made me understand, even more, the urgency of stopping mankind’s foolishness, under the risk of destroying the world and all its living forms. When I was dismissed, appointed as a real hero, I decided to go to pay a visit to my father. I still felt some grudge towards him and perhaps, I thought, I would fling to him my medals, which “his” king had given to me. But the memoirs of my happy infancy wound me in a veil of emotion and when I saw my father, old and tired, convicted on a wheels chair, I understood that was time to pass over and look at future.
He cried, my old father, seeing the medals that I had conquered in the hot skies of Europe. With pride he told me that he knew of my heroic deeds, and now that his name, the glorious lineage of Winningoeses had been fully rehabilitated, he could happily die. I wished to him a very long life, leaving his medals as consolation of my not dilatory departure. My books, my studies attended me again, in the United States, for a new thrilling issue on the walk of truth.
Taking back to my searches I considered that I had to continue in a forced direction, if it were true, as it is true, that the brain of every living being contains, even though modified by the evolution, the original matrix of our existence.
I resolutely threw myself heart and soul into brain’s study. I felt that I had to create a super brain in order to be reproduced and form a race of super-men able to drive on the right direction this dregs of humanity that inhabits the world.
After some rough attempts of surgical engineering, that occupied me for different years, whose initial success and following disappointed bitterness, almost led me to abandon the whole project, it was the fate to intervene showing the right way to me.
Which kind of proof would I more need to wait for? The same celestial stars directly showed me the way!
A beautiful day, in fact, while I was observing under the microscope a cat’s brain, ulterior, fortunate guinea-pig, subtracted to the deprivations of its life for the glory of the Science, an amazing account happened to me.
I had set the small feline’s organ in a cylindrical open neck test-tube and I was continuously thinking about it, looking as usual for a sprout of understanding on its complex and mysterious composition. At a certain point, needing something to eat, I went upstairs. I left unwillingly open the microscope’s focus. I was going to have a cup of tea, with my daily survival meal, when I heard some beats on the door. The circumstance was quite unusual. Nobody ever came to find me and Soledad, the Mexican housemaid who was in charge for homework, as an invisible angel, entered in the house using her own key.
As I opened the door a young man introduced himself as an emissary of the English legal study “Heirs and Heirs” .
He was coming to inform me that my father had died and I had been named his only heir. He also told me that he had brought with him some letters of attorney to allow his fellows to look after the most urgent matters of administration.
I signed those proxies without not even reading them. On the financial plan I would have been now stronger than ever.
My studies would get a great advantage from this new decisive financial impulse. But why didn't I feel any sorrow for my father’s death? Yet I had loved him, in the cheerful days of the infancy; and he had loved me.
Thinking about the years of my infancy and the coasts of beloved and distant Cornwall, I finished to consume my poor meal, then I returned downstairs.
I immediately noticed that something strange had happened during my brief absence.
In the test-tube the brain of the cat had dried, acquiring a grey and pale color.
I extracted it with the pliers: it seemed a dry sponge without neither weight nor smell. What devil had it happened?
It was a gust of wind which answered to me.
In that underground where I secretly developed my experiments, I had not left but a small window, that I wanted surfaced to the level of the ground.
It had slightly disclosed, quiet enough to allow the passage of a provident ray of sun which, intruding the optic circuit of the microscope, had poured in with all its mighty energy, dehydrating completely the object of my experiments.
But my light, initial disappointment had soon to be transformed in high exultation, when I closer observed the test-tube that had served like furnace to that unforeseen experiment. On its fund rested some drops of a dense and glimmering liquid! I had a lightning, an intuition that afterwards had to be exactly revealed.
Admirably exact, my friends! I had found the way to extract from the muscle that includes our life, from the brain that contains all the knowledge of a human being, its own essence. An extract, a summary, that is the same, but free from the physical brain’s encumbrance, from the grey mash that comprises it. Free from the flesh as a soul is free from its body as an idea from his thinker, as a thought from its action!
As you certainly know all our mental energy springs by a simple chemical reaction that is continuously produced in our brain. Such reaction, that the physicians define with the name of “synapse”, is originated by the reaction between the liquid whose any brain is imbued and the cells it copiously contains.
In practice this liquid, that has equal molecular structure in every man, works as a tracing detector of the cerebral process, whose action is, instead, what countersigns a man from another.
The intimate reasons for such different action of the cerebral processing, have seen divided for a long time the humanity.
Manhood has however been until now incapable to intend the true reason for the difference of the beings of its species.
A human being, from the scientific point of view, it is only a product of a casual connection of the basically chemical mixtures that are contained in the cells. And all its activity is coordinated by the cerebral cells.
To succeed on obtaining a distillate of those cells, meant therefore to dispose of a substance of inestimable value.
You can of course imagine, what such an emotion I felt when I injected those drops that were deposed on the fund of the test-tube, to a rat guinea-pig.
The result was amazing, greater and more meaningful than I had been able to foresee myself. The mouse, a normal mouse of averages age and greatness, after spending twelve hours asleep, wakened up again.
Apparently he seemed to be the same as before the injection, but actually he moved in a different manner however.
He had, in a few words, a different air. He slowly started walking and moving its tail upwards, in a way quite unusually for a mouse; furthermore he sniffed and smelled the air and the ground of the cage. And I was much more surprised when I saw him stretching its legs towards and backwards, forming a tall hunch with his backbone, then sitting down leaking his pawns and finally resting in leisure with a sleepy way. Its limbs still looked like those of a mouse, but they behaved as belonging to a cat! That was the exceptional result!
The animal seemed restless and took on turning around the cage with his feline behavior. He was surely looking for some food.
I gave him his usual mice food but after he had smelled it for a long time, he started over turning around visibly more nervous and hungrier. I opened a cat tin food and with my great surprise he devoured that meal in a flash.
He grew up constantly in the following days, assuming a double massive structure compared to the same aged of his own race, then his growth seemed to halt.
His epidermis had not suffered either big mutations; nor the bony structure, at least externally, showed to have acquired any peculiar characters, except for the moustaches and the legs, that seemed to have changed for a most congenial use to cat’s needing.
In the movements and in the external behavior he moved as a cat though having the semblances of a mouse.
A serious question had bothered me since the first days of the experiment: how would that animal relate with another mice? And how would other cats relate with him? In his more inner instinct had he become a cat or he had remained a mouse?
With much trepidation I moved him to captivity with other mice: they started to squeak very afraid; it was evident that those small rodents had immediately warned the hostile presence.
He had a good time pursuing them and grabbing them as cats make with mice, and at long, exhausted and satisfied, he rested quietly on a side of the big cage, while the little mice, remained farther all afraid and trembling.
He didn't show any interest to pursue them, more than joking in that way, perhaps because he was not hungry or even because something inside prevented him from doing it.
The thing, after all, didn't interest me and I transferred him afterwards with a real cat, and also there the success arose to me: they behaved as two bosom and jovial friends.
At the beginning I thought to try his reproduction, but actually this would have been only an interesting and suggestive detour from my principal aim.
In order to reach it I had to gather all my efforts, and the results of that first experiments constituted the base of my following job.
First of all it was clear that the cerebral muscle, under particular conditions of temperature and environment, like those which took accidentally place that prophetic day in my laboratory, released a particular, liquid and dense substance, containing the fundamental geniuses, that I call primaries; those which are responsible of the most intimate and proper characters of the race.
It was also evident that such substance appeared able to be moved into another brain, creating there a new habitat in which to regenerate its cells and with them repurchase its functions and its aboriginal characters.
I verified more times the exactness of these hypotheses, but only in a direction, that I define evolutionary. The experiment only succeed if the essence of a superior animal, in the steps of the evolutionary chain, was introduced in the brain of an inferior animal, while in the other way down, the phenomenon took place in a lesser and very attenuated tone, deprived of significant consequence.
I baptized the liquid essence ‘nouchefalon ', and I prepared hence myself to develop in the foreseen direction my experiments.
What would it happen if I transfused some ‘human nouchefalon ' in to the brain of another man?”
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