Wordcarpenter Books

Chapter Twenty-four 




            Arriving at class he took his place beside Michelle's chair that was empty. He noticed that someone had written on the desk:

- Charlie, Class of ‘88

    So Reid wrote:


    He was feeling a bit peppy.

            Bakhurst wrote a definition on the board:

Anima: 1. the vital principle; source of energy and creative action; soul; life. 2. An individual's true inner self reflecting archetypal ideals of conduct.


    He turned around and faced the rows of students.

            "Could each of you please close your eyes please and try to imagine yourself in an extraordinarily dire situation, such that you are half-starved and on the verge of death, or in complete despair." There were puzzled looks from some of the students. "Sorry," he said in his characteristic British manner. "Pardon me but really, ask yourself: what would be the one thing that would give you the most strength to survive? What would that one thing be that would give you the most reason to live?" Looking at Reid, he said: "It was Nietzsche who once wrote: ‘He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.'" The class was quiet, waiting for him to explain.

            "An individual's anima is the source of the will in man. It is his base of power. The important thing to know," Bakhurst said, taking a step away from the lectern "is that each individual's anima is unique. Each person's manifestation of creative energy is necessarily different than another's." Bakhurst taught with ease and grace as he sat back in his chair and relaxed. Reid began to see that philosophy class had become his only luxury.

            Out of the corner of his eye he saw Pyke put up his hand. He had grown a scraggly goatee and wore a blue T-shirt that had the words:


            "Why are they different?" asked Arthur Pyke. He leaned back in his chair and stroked his burgeoning goatee.

            "Why?" he confirmed. He sketched a crude image of a computer on the blackboard, and then beside it drew an image of a floppy disk. He labelled the computer hardware, and the floppy disk software.

            "You see Mr. Pyke, the computer represents the unpolished energy that we all possess." They both confirmed this with a mutual nod. "With the power turned on, the computer is just a raw energy, analogous to the electrical current that flows through the computer's maze of wires and intricate micro chips and whatnot."

            "Like the energy our blood supplies via the maze of veins and arteries," said Pyke.

            "Yes, and hopefully all the way to our brains, right Mr. Pyke?" He looked up at Pyke and read his shirt for a moment.

            "Yes," he said, nodding at Pyke's blue t-shirt.

            "An uncultured piece of hardware still needs to be channelled; it needs software. It needs an operating system." He casually pointed at the floppy disk on the board while keeping his eyes on the students.

            "In our computer analogy," Pyke asked, "what would the operating system be?" Bakhurst, who had taken to stroking his hairless chin as he spoke, lifted his hand in thought.

            "Experience as you know, is a function of one's chosen environment and actions through time. It is our history. So the aggregate accumulation of the days in one's life could, in our analogy, represent the algorithms in ones operating system. An individual's life experiences make up their software. It is written by ourselves through our history and upbringing. Since each person has their own sui generis history, each person's software is different. It is our instinct that is our blueprint for behaviour, which is contained in our hardware. All people have instinct. How we harness our instincts with our life experience will determine the unique individual within us. It's what makes us all different from each other. It's what determines ones software."

            "What about identical twins?" Pyke sipped from his coffee, which might have been his tenth of the day.

            "By definition identical twins have the same hardware," Bakhurst replied, pointing at the computer, "but they are both different in their experiences through time. These differences in personal cultivation can be subtle; for example one twin chooses to play chess and the other chooses to play cricket. These are our units of experience in our history, and it is through our history that we come to learn more about the world and how we become enlightened to what is within our soul." Bakhurst, who looked like he was wearing the skin away on his chin, looked up at the class and saw Pyke's hand up again.

            "So the problem with most people is that they don't customize their software to magnify their hardware?" The laughter defused the intensity in the classroom for the students who had been listening. Even Bakhurst let out a chuckle.

            "I suppose the problem would be, Mr. Pyke, that most abort any attempt to get in touch with the particular flavour of their anima." In front of the lectern he spoke looking upwards. "They don't co-relate their a posteriori software with their a priori hardware. If one can open the door to their instincts, then they could customize their daily experience to develop a stronger sense of self." He began to stroll in front of the chalkboard again, but then stopped to write:

Customizing your life experience
is to extenuate your inherent
cognitive bone structure


    Bakhurst paused, trying in vain to suppress a smile. The moment passed.

            "Viktor Frankl, in his classic Man's Search for Meaning, which was your assigned reading for today, writes that if you can find the one thing that gives your life meaning, then they can survive the trials and tragedies of living. You must try to get in touch with that one thing that you find most valuable in your life. What is your dream? What do you most want to do if you had the free time and means to do anything? Now is the time to find the answers to that question and use them as the driving force to customize your software. By finding that one thing you care about the most, and engaging in it, your will strengthens over time because you are spending your time on something that matters to you." Bakhurst stopped, sat on the edge of a desk and surveyed the class.

            "What I want to communicate to you is that you must take the time now to find this one thing that you feel gives you the most meaning in life. It's important. Teachers, like me, love to teach. This is the most important thing to me. Others, like perhaps an athlete, it's winning a gold medal at the Olympics. For another it's helping people, or composing music, or for another it's stopping the environmental destruction that is happening to us now at an alarming rate. Each one of you has that thing in you. Don't think it's insignificant. If you ignore it, it can bring you down and make living life almost unbearable. My father, who was a minister, liked to preach:

If you bring forth what is within you,
what you bring forth will save you.
If you do not bring forth what is within you,
what you do not bring forth will destroy you

    You must find your why to get through the how of this life.

            "The problem that many people face is that they don't take time to discover their own conceptual geography in order to properly develop their inherited abilities." Bakhurst stopped, sat on the edge of the corner desk and surveyed the class. "Where one is imperfect is precisely where one's originality begins. Any questions?"

            "Is anima more like the strength that springs from your will," he asked, "or is it like the music that comes from your soul?" Pyke shot a quick glance at Reid.

            "I believe they are one of the same Mr. Pyke. An individual's anima is the source. The important thing to know," Bakhurst continued, taking a step away from the lectern towards Pyke, "is that each individual's anima is unique to that individual. Each person's source of energy is like a fingerprint; no two are the same."

            Just before the class ended, Reid looked over at Arthur Pyke and noticed what he had written in his notebook. His only notes were written in capital letters:


            Most people looked like they were either in deep thought or confused. Reid was transfixed on his chair, keeping his eyes on Bakhurst. He had understood what Bakhurst had said; it was a recipe against phoniness. The term conceptual geography stuck with him for the rest of the day hanging in his mind like a barbed arrow.


Chapter Twenty-five 

Taylor Not Afraid


            In the morning he was up a little earlier than usual because he had a lot on my mind. He didn't sleep well having fits of impatience thinking of the St. John's Ambulance certificate he had found on Drake's dresser. And despite the shallow nature of Daphne and her ways she did have a point. He needed time to work through it and see how his lack of action had contributed to Drake's cognitive dissonance. The truth was he wasn't crazy about seeing Drake again. He knew Mr. Ketchum would be at the hospital today. There was something about the way he looked at him now that made him feel uncomfortable as hell, maybe because he knew he had chosen not to take the course with his son. And every time he saw him, because he was a successful psychiatrist, Reid felt he was making his own diagnosis of his psychological state. And to be honest, that's the last thing he wanted - for someone to be delving into his thoughts. He just wanted to be on my own and away from all these complicated matters. He wanted to talk to his grandfather because he would have the words to make his turbulence dissipate into the ethers so he could return to his old self.

            Taylor was up early too. He was in the living room reading The Razor's Edge because of that 1946 film they saw. Reid wanted to read the book too if he could only clear his head a little. Taylor had been there for a while because he was ready to take a break. He asked Reid if he wanted to go for breakfast at The Rose and Crown. He went there sometimes because they have a great bacon and eggs special on all day and they served a bottomless cup of coffee. Reid's stomach was still a bit dodgy but he said I'd go with him.

            "I need to go by the hospital this morning to see Drake, and drop off some things for him. He's leaving Kingston in the next day or so and Mrs. Ketchum has asked me to drive Drake's station wagon back to Toronto." Taylor sat up on the couch. He could see his interest was piqued.


            "I haven't decided yet." So they planned to stop for a breakfast special of bacon and eggs at The Rose and Crown on their way down to the hospital.

            For some reason Reid was content to sit there in the crowded restaurant, sipping his coffee and anonymous, and hearing Taylor speak. He was in good spirits because he related to the main character Larry Darrell wholeheartedly. As he spoke he kept referring to the Rose and Crown as the Rosenpenis.

            "We live in an age of the shrinking garnish," Taylor said looking at his plate. "Say McFetty, whaddya say we leave the Rosenpenis and go on a road trip to New York City?"

            "Um, I don't know Taylor."

            "Drake's parents asked you to drive Drake's station wagon home, didn't they?"


            "So we have mobility. We can go up through Montreal and down Highway 87; it'll only take nine hours at the most. It's ten now, and we could be out of Kingston by ten-thirty thus putting our arrival time in New York at about seven and a half bells, just in time to hit the pubs. Whaddya say?" Mischief exuding from every pore.

            "Well, it's a bit far, man."

            "Come on von Betty. How can you say no to a spontaneous post-Rosenpenis road trip? It'll be fun. We need a break." Drinking his third cup of coffee he considered it. He could use a break. Taylor's enthusiasm didn't alleviate Reid from his growing claustrophobia. He felt trapped in Kingston because of the constant reminders of his running with Drake, during the days of an unknowing innocence. The thing that pushed him over the fence was the idea of stopping off in Montreal to visit his grandfather, who he knew was in the hospital having an operation on his hip, and was taking it hard. To Reid his grandfather was a Renaissance Man. He had been all over the world and could take anything that life had to throw at him. The idea that he was bummed out in some hospital in Montreal bothered him. He was probably the only person Reid really looked up to. As far as male role models go, his father certainly wasn't around. And every time he tried to get his approval he only hacked off his legs at the knee. But his grandfather wasn't like that. He used to tell Reid how he hung out with the Three Musketeers in France during the twenties and rode his bike all over Europe. He was buddies with Rene Lacoste and Jean Burrotra and the other tennis master, who made up France's national team and had all won the French Open. He was a real McCoy man-of-action who had lived life as a verb. He had seen and lived life.

            "You've become a bit of a Nietzschean right?"

            "I like his ideas, yes."

            "Well then you know his aphorism: There are no philosophies, only philosophers."

            "No. I haven't heard that one, but what does it mean?"

            "It means stop muckin' around thinking so much and become a philosopher."

            "And how does one do that?"

            "You know sometimes- No, wait. It's a damn fine question padre. I think it means get off your ass and do things you want to do that defy reason. It means create your world of what you value, not what others value. It means to learn for yourself by making mistakes. It means live your life like a work of art! It means take chances man! Don't be cowered into a corner waiting for something to happen. It means follow your gut, chase your fears, strive for your dream, harness your passion, do now what you could do tomorrow. It means let's go to New Yorl City!"

            "I get it."

            "I have money so we can split the cost of gas and whatnot."

            "I have so much work to do. It's so close to the end of term."

            "There's always a lot of work to do. There's always something. That's what a spontaneous road trip is." The notion of visiting Drake again exhausted any patience he could muster. He wanted to be with Michelle but she was in Vancouver. Besides he thought, it was his birthday tomorrow. Taylor's eyes swamped with alacrity.

            "All right Tailpipe, I'm in."

            "You're in?"

            "I'm in." They paid the bill and walked to the hospital together. Mr. Ketchum was there and to Reid everything was crowded and intense. He nodded at Drake's father but he avoided his eyes. Reid had to protect himself from what he said by the way he looked at him. Taylor sensed it so he took up the reigns.

            "So Mr. K when is Drake leaving us?" Taylor asked.

            "Tomorrow." Taylor put his hand on Mr. Ketchum's arm and steered him towards the door, out of range from Drake. He spoke to him man-to-man.

            "Well, is he going be all right going forward? What I mean is, could it happen again?" Drake's father told him about Marfane's syndrome and being supervised to take his pills, all of which Reid could have told him over breakfast.

            "But we're hopeful he will be back in his classes in January."

            "Classes!" Taylor was moved closer to him. "Don't you think that's a little too soon? Attending university classes is not like sitting in a high school classroom you know." Taylor softened his voice. "Is he going to be ready for classes? That's less than eight weeks from now."

            "The doctors say there could be some permanent brain damage but my feeling is that the sooner he's back in the saddle, the better it'll be for him to remember things and getting back his memories. I think his cognitive dissonance is only temporary. He's a tough kid and I don't want him falling behind. He' improved more than they expected, so there's little reason to think he can't make a full recovery."

"Why the rush? Even if what you say is true, why not nurture him back to full health before throwing him back into the mayhem of university life?"

            "Why not?"

            "It's been thirty years since you were at university Mr. K. I think it's changed a bit since the fifties. It's pretty hairy sir. I'd hate to see him feel left out. Life now moves pretty damn fast. All of us will be here next year. The worst thing is that he's going to feel inadequate." It was a though Mr. Ketchum took the last comment personally, but that didn't affect Taylor's posture at all.

            "You can think what you want Taylor, but the longer he's away from what he likes to do, the worse it's going to be for him."

            "Mr. Ketchum, I'm not afraid to tell you I think you're wrong."

            "Your opinion son. That's your opinion." Righteous, Mr. Ketchum stood his ground against this young know-it-all upstart when Taylor shook his head and looked at Reid. He could see what was going through his mind: Couldn't they see that he's not the same? Couldn't they see he needed more time?

            Reid handed the bag of toiletries to Mrs. Ketchum. She put them in a large suitcase and then took a tissue and wiped Drake's nose, blocking him from Reid. It depressed the hell out of him to see that. He had been given a sedative and couldn't keep his eyes open.

            "It's time for him to rest Reid. Thank you for bringing his things." She wouldn't even let him shake his hand before he left for Toronto. To complete the block, she gave Reid a hug. He could tell she was holding in a cry.

            "Drake, I'll see you in Toronto. Okay?" He nodded but it was exaggerated. To Reid he looked desperate and scared with so many people in the room. Reid walked through the door where Taylor and Drake's father were standing.

            "You're driving the car are you Reid?" Mr. Ketchum all business.

            "Yes, I am. It should be there within the next week or so. I'll bring it by before exams start."

            "It's appreciated. And be careful. You're not insured." He was looking deeply into Reid's eyes, which made him squirm. He and Taylor say good-bye and walked away, sensing something wasn't right.



Table of Contents

1.     The Student Ghetto
2.     The Living Tree Principle 
3.     Overcoming Neophobia 
4.     Socrates' Big Swinging Ice Pick 
5.     Life As An Adjective 
6.     The Timestealer 
7.     Range of Multiplicity 
8.     The Banks 
9.     The Means is the End 
10.  The White Haired Doctor 
11.  Mortally Wounded 
12.  Visigoth Code of Ethics 
13.  Cognitive Dissonance 
14.  The Chinese Laundry Café 
15.  Catching a Crab 
16.  Sheer Recklessness 
17.  Shattered Glass 
18.  In His Father's Voice 
19.  The Dreamstealer 
20.  The Vine of Resentment 
21.  The Golden Mean 
22.  The Altered Eye Alters All 
23.  Missing the Middle Part 
24.  Anima 
25.  Taylor Not Afraid 
26.  Beyond the Monoperspectival Norm 
27.  The Grip 
28.  Visigoths in Tweed 
29.  The Unseen Hand 
30.  Dislocation 
31.  Pouring Heavens of Valhalla
32.  So Then...       


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