Sunday, May 20, 2007

Vive le galop infernal

I guess I should have commented before now on Mrs. Schori's interview with the Austin American-Statesman. Other people did, but I just didn't feel like it. Frankly, it's hard to find much humour in TEC and its owners these days. I feel like someone who's gone from chuckling over a relative's scattered, eccentric antics to realizing with shame and horror that that relative has crossed the line from eccentricity into dementia, and is never coming back. It's just not funny sometimes.

The more Mrs. Schori babbles her inane bromides about the great future ahead of TEC and "the field ripe for the harvest" that's supposedly just waiting for her eager beavers to reap and gather in, the more I feel that I'm watching a whole organization descending into insanity.

I've always been a great reader of ghost and horror stories, and now I'm reminded of a story called 'The Dancing Partner' by Jerome K. Jerome. It's the story of a man who builds a robot to dance with ladies at a ball. It isn't alive, but it's built to look like it is, and for a while, it does exactly what it's supposed to do - it dances perfectly, never steps on toes, never misses a step, and it sends out a continuous stream of "charming" platitudes, just like a real man. The problem, of course, is that it can't be trusted not to go wrong, and when it does, the disaster keeps building exponentially, and nobody knows how to stop it.
"Had any one retained a cool head, the figure, one cannot help thinking, might easily have been stopped. Two or three men acting in concert might have lifted it bodily off the floor, or have jammed it into a corner. But few human heads are capable of remaining cool under excitement. Those who are not present think how stupid must have been those who were; those who are reflect afterwards how simple it would have been to do this, that, or the other, if only they had thought of it at the time.

"The women grew hysterical. The men shouted contradictory directions to one another. Two of them made a bungling rush at the figure, which had the end result of forcing it out of its orbit at the centre of the room, and sending it crashing against the walls and furniture. A stream of blood showed itself down the girl's white frock, and followed her along the floor. The affair was becoming horrible. The women rushed screaming from the room. The men followed them.

"One sensible suggestion was made: 'Find Geibel -- fetch Geibel.'

"No one had noticed him leave the room, no one knew where he was. A party went in search of him. The others, too unnerved to go back into the ballroom, crowded outside the door and listened. They could hear the steady whir of the wheels upon the polished floor as the thing spun round and round; the dull thud as every now and again it dashed itself and its burden against some opposing object and ricocheted off in a new direction.

"And everlastingly it talked in that thin ghostly voice, repeating over and over the same formula: 'How charming you look to-night. What a lovely day it has been. Oh, don't be so cruel. I could go on dancing for ever -- with you. Have you had supper?'
That's what's happened to the Episcopal Church: when it first started going wrong, it could have been stopped and set right, but people were too confused and lost their chance. Now, it's racing around, faster and faster, smashing up against things and ricocheting off, causing more and more damage. Meanwhile, it goes on grinding out the same old meaningless platitudes, like a tinny recording, while leaving a trail of destruction in its path.

3 Comments:

Blogger Kasia said...

While you're (tangentially) on the subject of books...as one of my favoUrite targets, I have tagged you for a book meme... :-)

12:56 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

Oh, thanks for the tip! I'll pop on over and take a look - books are always a favourite subject!

6:08 pm  
Blogger Kasia said...

Yes - that's one reason I was sure to tag you, as you always seem to come up with something really fascinating and obscure. You're far better-read than I could ever hope to be. I thought I was a bookworm until I started reading your blog... :-)

6:45 pm  

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