Maile Chapman


First, the scientist is sorting his glassware. It might seem such a pointless, pointless task… but is not; for in the next step he is measuring the specifics of human-derived samples, and then so-on in such progressions will he move into the workday. His working thoughts have an opacity such that he will not remember them later, but he thinks in several directions. Firstly, he does not like, he is offended by, the popular representations of people like himself (he has seen himself many times represented as a soulless drone in movies underground within multi-national biotech corporations; or else he reads in the paper that he is one of many madmen, illogical and sinister, practicing irresponsible science). But, so far contrary to the current stereotype, he is a religious man who thinks often of the possibility of the Second Coming. He is a believer in possibility; he has heard a voice. It came from a tube full of living material. Over the surface there was a positive meniscus and he put his ear down to it; brimming, it moved, there was a movement of light, the rim held its integrity and nothing spilled over. All around him, then and now, a smell of cleanliness attested to the rightness of the lab in which he works. A cleanliness so far removed from madness! That smell of cleanliness is evidence of the fight against corruption of all kinds; but today the scientist suffers a sore throat, a headache; although these complaints are small he is in need of comfort. He is at present unable to afford the time or pocket-money necessary to leave and purchase any of the non-drowsy over the counter medicines which might otherwise be of service and as a result he questions the integrity of the body. But within his body his spiritual heart has movement. He does not disdain the exacting repetition of his work. He does not mind waiting for the division, the eighth cell, which he will with transcendent concentration remove, and isolate, in order to do the testing that must be done. But despite all optimism neither does he attach any symbolic meaning to the actions he performs. A sample is a sample; the body is the body, he cannot think that the cells feel any equivalent to pain. In the end it is this simple, he thinks: the result is not all, but the result is all important. Some kinds of answers are here, within the material, within the glass, and though they do not live here:, assuredly they live elsewhere. Assuredly all is undiminished, in eternity. And through his headache, he feels the lift, to continue.


This piece was made by shuffling together ideas from books and newspapers found on my desk. Taking subjects from different sources introduced elements I might not have put together by choice (the Second Coming, cold medicine, embryonic screening). Most of the sentences were generated randomly and separately, and have been revised into a whole since then; the title refers to this method of construction.