“Somewhere, in all of this, the essence of Siam was concealed, along with the essence of this city wearing its mask, pretending to be something it wasn’t…” – THE PLACE OF QUARANTINE
It was Saturday; in the morning, Nok took him to a Buddhist temple. Having given the monks food offerings, they spent two hours at a meditation ceremony. The process entranced Brevich with its steady, unhurried rhythm. Thais – young and old alike – came in, took off their shoes, sat on a wooden platform and closed their eyes. Cameras stood on three sides – concentrated, serene faces floated across large screens.
“Neurons play a part in memorization but only by acting together with something else…” – THE PLACE OF QUARANTINE
My colleague, in his article published long ago, had only outlined the basic principles. Memory, he wrote, is formed by two related mechanisms, not just one based solely on neural cells. Neurons enter into the game first: responding to external stimuli, they begin to “fire” electrical impulses. But their role is auxiliary – through their activity, they only help other participants living in the microworld.
“My consciousness was awakened, brought to life by very real fields and particles…” – THE PLACE OF QUARANTINE
The seafront is gradually filling up with people. Today we went out early, among the first to do so. I continue my story, “For no reason, I started shivering and broke into a cold sweat. Then my head began to spin and my temperature rose. My mother put me to bed with a moist towel on my forehead. Everyone thought I’d become sick – with flu or something worse – but they were worrying in vain. There was nothing wrong with my health. What had happened to me was what the majority of my contemporaries experienced sooner or later. What you and everyone else here in Quarantine went through as well. I attained consciousness – true consciousness. I detached myself as a form of living matter from all other species, genera and families – in the broadest sense, far beyond the bounds of recognized taxonomies. To borrow a popular term, I became a human being!
“It’s like taking a step toward a mathematical model of karma – in this world, no one laughs at the word ‘karma’ anymore…” – THE PLACE OF QUARANTINE
I put my pencil on the table – carefully, soundlessly. Silence hangs in the room for several long minutes.
“It’s funny,” Nestor says at last, without the slightest hint of a smile. “I see you’ve believed me right away, without even questioning what I’ve said. Yet many do question it – even those whose minds are far less critical than yours. Many think it’s all been made up, like in a children’s fairy tale. Maybe it’s just me you believe? Am I such an authority figure for you? All right, only joking… I understand you, scientist to scientist: it’s impossible to argue with statistical confirmation. Well, admit it, are you stunned? Do you want another bathroom break? It won’t help: I am stunned too – to this day. Despite all the time we’ve had to think about it here!”
“The task was to reach into people’s heads with an invisible hand and take control of the process…” – THE PLACE OF QUARANTINE
At first, the biologists got excited – it seemed their eyes had been opened. The parameters of the electromagnetic waves really did change from stimulus to stimulus. The brain reacted differently not only, say, to smells and photographs, but also to different smells and different photographs, while identical stimuli, in contrast, led to similar reactions, to similar charts and images on the screen…
“The cornerstone change of the paradigm before Einstein was beyond the power of the human mind – or maybe simply before him, no one had been feeling with such passion? Passion protected him from the horror of looking into the bottomless depths…” – THE PLACE OF QUARANTINE
It was me who used the word “passion,” and Gunter agreed with it. We became comrades-in-arms on that day; it marked the moment of our solidarity.
“This is no joke – out there you no longer exist. It’s all over – finita, forever, amen. You’ll remember soon enough, trust me…” – THE PLACE OF QUARANTINE
“You died back there,” she says quietly. “It is better to accept it; there’s no hidden agenda. I know this all sounds crazy but…”
To me, it doesn’t sound like anything. A complete absurdity, the dissonance of harmonics in the unbearably sharp copper sound. And – a premonition waiting nearby.