(Unofficial) Addenda to The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases
Place of Origin
Uncharted Island in the South Atlantic
First Known Case
A coal mining village in central Pennsylvania was stunted by an abnormally high infertility rate in the 1870s due to noxious gases released from local mining activities. The county’s sole newspaperman Abraham Lyegog – editor of The Bog Shoe Authority, a shameless penny press tabloid – caught drift of an ultra-aphrodisiacal, natural fertility drug in the form of a small red berry originating somewhere in the South Atlantic. The opportunity to acquire the fruit was viewed as being “worth a mighty goober” by Mr. Lyegog in that he could peddle both journalistic accounts and a medicine of purported salvation, even if the berries proved to be nonstarters. Lyegog, liquidating what remained of a failed wholesale operation for horned lizard oil, hired six nonagenarian Chinese railworkers to help navigate a dilapidated whaling ship into the blue yonder toward the Southern Ocean.
Lyegog and his crew made timely arrival at the miniscule yet lush outcropping of rocks, flora, and avian fauna described by their primary lead – a supposedly Portuguese map littered with poorly drawn leviathans and a grand, inaccurately printed signature of Vasco da Gama. The travelers were greeted by “a band of women and menfolk with complexions whiter than the inside of a johnnycake” who, by way of gesture and a few words in common, communicated that they were marooned descendants of overly ambitious Viking explorers. As it happened, the island was indeed rife with tiny red berries that were said to be the very eggs of Freya herself and invariably promoted bounteous pregnancies. In spite of admonishments from the inhabitants, Lyegog wrote that he successfully “bamboozled the far-flung Norsemen into trading a barrel full of their inestimable fruit for nothing more than a claw foot bathtub and a porous lifeboat.”
Upon his return, Abraham Lyegog was met with mixed reactions of skepticism and eleventh-hour hopes of curing the village of its sterility epidemic. Within nine months’ time, not only had the potency of this berry transformed a backwater charlatan into one of the most read journalists in the western world but it singlehandedly turned a withering mining town into “the very picture of American fecundity.”
After the men would swallow the berry whole – by strict instruction of Father Abraham Lyegog (as he had preemptively dubbed himself) – sexual intercourse with their wives was to follow some sixty to seventy minutes afterward. The participating couples did not need to wait long before obvious outward signs of pregnancy appeared, for the berry most often caused multiple births at a time including successful deliveries of octuplets, nonuplets, decaplets, undecaplets, duodecaplets, and one astonishing case of trivigintuplets (a total of 23 breathing infants to one distended, yet elastic mother). The town’s population of 347 grew to a pink and pampered 2,996 in a matter of 18 months from when the berry was first introduced.
Fortunately, “Father Abraham” had made the decision beforehand to restrain the berry from being distributed outside county lines. This act of foresight was due more in part to preserve control of publicity and branding than fears of product liability or inducing overpopulation – although Lyegog had made notes of the cautionary tales provided by the islanders, telling of cyclical population explosions followed by famines occurring intermittently over centuries past.
After the first twelve months of the berry’s introduction, some unprecedentedly gruesome results of its use came to light. Whenever both male and female partners had decided to partake of the fruit before an attempt at pregnancy, severe complications arose. It was mandated by the islanders that only the men were to consume the berries and that if a woman was ever to have been discovered as having broken the taboo, she would be “drenched in gull’s blood, bound to a raft, and taken out to ocean as chum for an as-of-yet uncatalogued species of tiger shark.”
Not only was the berry able to enhance the male gamete but it also affected those of the female in an undesirable manner. A perfect storm brewed of super-sperm capable of swimming up through the fallopian tubes and into the ovaries only to meet stimulated eggs (of up to hundreds in number) coming into early maturation all at once. Human females are born with around one million eggs, although that number decreases to 300,000 by puberty. Of these many thousands, perhaps only four to five hundred should come to maturity and reach ovulation in one’s lifetime.
With so many eggs becoming fertilized at once, hyperectopic pregnancies would invariably occur. In these cases, fertilized eggs were found not only in the uterus or fallopian tubes (as in typical ectopic pregnancies), nor were they even limited to conventionally unconventional locations of the ovaries, cervix, or abdomen – these eggs burrowed their way into uterine and ovarian veins and arteries from which the eggs could be transported to, potentially, all other extremities and organs. The results were impregnation of the liver, kidneys, intestines, thighs, fingertips, eyeballs, tongue, earlobes, brain, etcetera, etcetera… Given some time for gestation, the sufferers were transmogrified into lumps of polyps, pustules, and flesh that literally made a side-show promoter of Joseph “Elephant Man” Merrick “blush a fiery red and duly disgorge his dinner of mutton and gravy onto my galoshes.”
Lyegog put an end to the business, but only after contemplating an itinerant freakshow with the monstrous corpses as a centerpiece whilst simultaneously fleeing lawsuits. Instead, he settled a few grievances out of court before packing up, rehiring his antiquated Chinese crew, and sailing back to the uncharted island. There, in absence of the Viking residents who had apparently liberated themselves by refurbishing the lifeboat and bathtub, Lyegog personally oversaw the uprooting and conflagrations that were to eradicate the berry-producing bushes.
It should be noted that neither the regular or ectopic pregnancies of the berry were results of polyspermy (when an egg is fertilized by more than one sperm). “If the pregnancies had involved polyspermy,” marks one G. Sitko, a contributing editor of Anomalous Obstetrics, “the outcome may have been one that the American national defense would have been ill-equipped to confront at the time.” Sitko continued later in the article about a sect of millenarian Amish in Pennsylvania who had made off with some of the berries and their seeds during the time of Lyegog, “They’ve already been making strong headway against mainstream birthrates and they have clandestine groves of these berries – I’ve seen them in satellite imagery…we’ll all be Amish soon.”
Reports have been collected of atypical ectopic pregnancies ever since the berry’s short-lived tenure, however, approximately 80% of these reports may be written off as cases of misidentifying tonsil stones (calcium accumulations found within the tonsillar crypt.) Most notably, in 1961, a beached globster discovered on a shore in Angola was described to Dr. Lambshead by international mail and sent along with a sample of the carcass. Dr. Lambshead made reference to hyperectopic pregnancy in his notes now pasted to the outside of the jar housing the curiosity in formaldehyde. The reference reads, “Cysts like curdled tapioca, but more embryonic – possible connection to hyperectopic pregnancy if the chunk is human – will examine under microscope after this evening’s meatball sub forthwith – strike that, I’ll be having corn flakes tonight in its stead.”
As it nearly goes without saying, a recent glut in reality television shows revolving around mothers of extreme multiple births has producers and scouts on the trail for whereabouts of surviving berries. The miraculous fruit has already played a notorious inspiration in previous media, most notably in the banned alternate ending to Preston Sturges’ The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944) recently reconstructed and released by The Criterion Collection.
Reverse Invisible Man Syndrome
Place of Origin
History & Symptoms
This modern-day malady affects only those who fancy themselves “biohackers”, or persons who opt to create an interface between their own biology (often their central nervous system) and cybernetic add-ons such as computer chips, circuits, and prosthetics. The biohackers in these cases have inserted computer chips that interface directly with the brain’s synapses and electrical signals within the occipital lobe, specifically targeting optical functions. In an attempt to achieve electronic image displays that appear directly through the optic processing centers of the brain, these cyborg pioneers have thus far failed to succeed. Thirty-five percent of those known failures have resulted in Reverse Invisible Man Syndrome.
RIMS occurs suddenly and all at once – other human beings disappear completely from the sufferer’s vision, leaving behind floating sets of clothing and apparel, their flesh having shifted on the refractive index to complete transparency. Apparently this ability has been reawakened by the tampering and, for one reason or another, applies solely and selectively to when the brain recognizes that another human being is seen. Those afflicted have been subjected to tests with varying images that gain in levels of transparency whenever the images increase in human-like appearance (e.g. a stalk of broccoli has perfect solidity while the anthropomorphic Donald Duck is far more translucent.) RIMS causes countless quotidian inconveniences (e.g. having only partial sight of pedestrians while driving, blindness to body language and facial gestures, etc.), however it does seem to have provided a solution to both fears of public speaking and conventional addictions to pornography.
Due to the abruptness of its onset, discovery of RIMS often occurs in a shocking or dramatic fashion. For instance, one Cornelius Albers recounts when the syndrome first struck in his brain, “I was short on cash and had to stop by an ATM. The machine had some sort of malfunction – as computers often do when I get to close to them with the nanotech that supplements my liver – so I had to go alert a teller inside the ATM’s bank. I walked through the revolving door, saw ten to twelve sets of clothing without manikins going about typical bank-like business of waiting in line and getting money from headless tellers. At this, I continued my circular path back through the revolving door and out onto the sidewalk of invisible men, women, and children. My first clear thought was that this was an anomaly of the simulated universe we are actually living in, but fortunately I was stable enough to remember the surgical implant I had placed in my brain last Wednesday thanks to my social connections with the black market for brain surgery.”
Not unlike H.G. Wells’ character of Griffin, the afflicted wirehead also show signs of power madness and sensations of invincibility. One sufferer of RIMS was quoted as saying, “Suddenly I realized the power I held, the power to rule, to make the world grovel at my feet.” The new personality quirk often culminates in the participation of extreme and dangerous sports including javelin catching, moving-train parkour, and noodling for alligator snapping turtles.
On the positive side, RIMS has gifted medical science with the great hope of tapping into a previously unknown x-ray vision ability inherent in the brain. The evolutionary theories abound as to the origins of such a characteristic, ranging from the usefulness of spying through dense plant-life and rocks for oncoming predators to the less intuitive safeguard against murdering a fellow human (the idea being that other human figures disappear from view in times of bloodthirsty aggression and thus prevent or balance the costs of warfare.) Still under debate is the reason as to why only other human beings become see-through.
The best chance at reversing RIMS is fittingly via the invention of a new computer implant to counteract the effects of the old one. So far, the closest reversal has invoked disagreeable visions of objects resembling giant Turkish dates in place of the missing persons.
Other possibly related avenues have been explored – Goeringer’s Syndrome, in which the sufferer always sees one less of something amongst a group of any given object, has raised some discussion of comparison, although there is an even less chance of escape from that particular illness. And finally, rumors and murmurings of RIMS (or a very similar phenomena) have been attached to Chilean men contracting a sexually transmitted disease from genetic chimeras of llamas and guanacos.
The most well-known case of RIMS is that of Holger Ömanssonson (yes, this is the correct spelling) of Sweden. Holger has turned the syndrome into a personal boon by taking his experiences on a public speaking tour and book signing coupled with live entertainment in which he juggles three double-sided spiky bludgeons while donning a flame-covered asbestos suit and walking the length of a 25-foot tightrope over a vat of bubbling acid.
Latent Chest Face Usurpation (Zola’s Disorder)
Place of Origin
First Known Case (in which Symptoms will be described)
Zola’s Disorder is purely genetic in nature and makes itself present around, by most estimates, every 97th generation – lying dormant longer than any other genetic disorder on record. It exclusively afflicts males. The first well-documented case comes down to us with great felicity from those who make it their living to research illnesses of the fringe. It is an account, a story more or less, written in astute detail by an enlightened and well-bred Duke in 18th century Bohemia, intimately quilled into the parchment of his own diary and translated after its discovery in 1926 by Dr. Lambshead himself during one of his excursions into Germany:
August 12th, mid-day
How happy is the man whom God has provisioned fresh company amid Summer’s dullest epoch! My limbs would have quivered and leapt by their own volition had this morning not delivered some shred of excitement, which it most certainly has.
Not one, but two intriguing guests have arrived by some grueling manner of post-chaise driven by four ravaged and clearly Persian stallions. I merrily took it upon myself to put my manservant to intermission so that I could meet them without delay. Out from the chaise stepped primarily a man of thimbilic stature – his elven feet were the sound of rice pellets rather than that of the wooden soles he wore. He made an unfamiliar kowtow and, motioning with an undulation of his cloak, presented to me a shadowy crevice of the carriage where, as I assumed it were, a figure of some significance was situated.
The figure was cloistered and stooped and imposing and had sweat hoarded on its brow line, the only portion reflecting much sunlight. It greeted me in a coarse and exotic tongue before stepping out into the filtered light coming through the trees of my estate and revealing itself to be a broad-shouldered man of some four to five cubits in height – if he were of sound posture. He never looked at me squarely, presumably a sheepish result of whatever ailed him that he would be so cramped in his manner.
His short squire was the one to broach any common language between us, hackneyed and patch-worked though it was. For some time, it seems, my visitors had been denied any extended form of quarter and were in hope that I would grant them their desired reprieve from traveling the endless backroads to the east. I’m not timid to admit my pity was far more with the magisterial warhorses and their misappropriation than it was with an umbrous stranger and his liege requesting my utmost hospitality – I arranged for the horses to be stabled, well-nourished and watered, and for my guests to be shown to their tentative suite, the cottage beside our fishing pool.
Dinner, as I attempted to inform them, would be the occasion at which we could hold richer discussion. Ah! But now is the time for me to gather the necessary maps, reference materials and encyclopedias so that I might piece together some semblance of a backstory on tonight’s transients…
August 12th, pre-slumber
As my impressions had led me, they are political refugees, but of a higher degree than I anticipated. The man (his name is unrevealed to me out of precaution, but he goes by the simple pseudonym of “Zola”) is not only regal in dimensions, but is apparently regal in derivation. He very well may call himself a king, but house rules will make him a “czar” – the word is more endearing and, of course, oriental. Our czar stems from some region north of the Moslem city of Bukhara at the edge of Khurasan; I was able to pinpoint this much by cross-referencing our respective maps. It appears Zola has fled his once accommodating kingdom by night, being the extant centerpiece to the losing side of a civil war.
Presently, this next morsel of our conversation is still unverified by my scanty means of translation, but the darkness in the czar’s eyes and a cadence of death in the dwarf’s voice steered me to believe that I had heard accurately when I was told of an unconsummated mass suicide that was to have taken place by the czar’s order and that his own men had turned on him out of direct defiance of the command. What nefarious lands have arrived at my doorstep this morning?
The men acted grateful enough of my cordiality, but by the cooling of his second course, the czar ended his feasting and thence persistently clutched at his abdomen. His regards of my presence were generally aloof, at least as I took it to be. I permitted them both an early leave and bid them a good night’s rest. Tomorrow I will rejoin them in the drawing chamber.
August 13th, high-afternoon
The language of tone often yokes when the language of tongue cannot. Another bid for detailed conversation with the duo only went so far as their vocabulary could venture and at this I replaced myself at the seat of my instrument rather than my bergère. Consistently they gestured their approval of both the sound of the Klavichord and its performance under the ballast of its age (once I told them it was a 15th century heirloom and of its vaunted heritage.) It did my feelings of benevolence good and my self-worth better to see – for the first time since his arrival – true vitality in the czar’s countenance as a result of my display.
After I had finished some substantial pieces credited to Praetorius and one demure ditty of my own creation, the czar gruffly demanded something from his companion and the little man vanished with a child’s gust only to reappear seconds later with a rustic array of pipes, plausibly double the measure of his own femurs. The pipes were of an amber ivory, I imagine that of wizened yaks, while the copula was contrasting black leather. The czar’s instrument was far more entrancing and affective, due in large part to the ardor he put into his presentation – this black-haired Persian transformed into a satyr possessed! I’m still gratified by reviews of the peregrine scene in my mind’s eye.
Directly and all at once, my enthralling guest displayed clear marks of fatigue upon laying down his syrinx – the czar’s face had flooded and his breathing was immense, but – and what I choose to write down next, I pray that the Lord’s grace is enough to cover any sin of talebearing I may commit – by both the summer heat and his own exertion, he had removed the binds of his shirt, revealing the entirety of his bare chest. Here, it could be seen plainly by the window’s stark light, that his nipples, though spacious, grossly lacked pigmentation and were of unparalleled pallor. Not only this, but the ample breadth and nearly abysmal yawning of the czar’s navel caused a sharp gasp to escape myself. Although the discoloration of the nipple area may be common in his native land, I doubt that the abnormality of Herr Zola’s navel is nature’s construction – the sight is surely the remnants of some life-threatening wound or the like.
Whatever the case, I won’t be vocal on my observations any further than this. I’m leaving tonight for a week or so at Auntie Enza’s and the goat-fat candles she likes won’t ready themselves. I’m sure the two weary travelers here will take it as no peccadillo to enjoy a week-long rest at my estate without my persistent pestering.
August 23rd, mid-night
Bah! Scarcely one day’s return from my leave and already I can’t keep myself from ebonizing my journal in grimy gossip without battling insomnia!
Given that I’d left Zola and his companion to their own affairs for a while, I planned on a hunting excursion with them for the day of my arrival. I with my flintlock and the czar befittingly with his regal bow (his servant supplying the arrows) readily took to the woods in the northeast. The prize of our hunt began with intent to bring down a ripe stag, but tales of a hissing monitor lizard of comparable size and incomparable temper from the czar inspired me to be just as vigilant for anything wearing scales.
One hour into the hunt, the sun had reached its zenith and the shade of the overarching conifers wasn’t enough to keep us from sweating like sausages. Naturally, this allowed for us to divest the top-halves of our garb to stay regular and I won’t waste anymore ink in getting to the center of tonight’s entry: his nipples have by now lost all color and, not only this, have attained some mucous glaze that glistened all-together separately from the sweat on his skin. But even more astonishing, betwixt each ivory circle, a magnificently glaring peak has formed, rising up from the sternum. The mystery surrounding this sudden pyramid compels me far more than any Egyptian structure! Lest I forget to mention, the wide “gash” through the czar’s navel is now more chasm than cut, having grown in its horizontal span and perhaps even in total girth.
For the remaining duration of the hunt, my eyes were continually, firmly rowing themselves against my own good nature in the direction of these progressing curiosities. I eventually found upon an appropriate moment with which to offer my procurement of any medical examination and subsequent treatment that might be desired, but the ever-clandestine man only waved his open hand and gave an earnest refusal of my offer. I judged it improper to ask any questions regarding the nature of this bizarre combination of conditions, but if the dynamism of them keeps its pace, I’m certain I will need to intervene in some manner or another.
In fact, I’m taking note here and in my head to have a letter sent to Doctor Harrach in the morning so as to obtain, hopefully, an informed opinion on the matter ahead of some dire development of the disease.
August 25th, late-morning
Ever since the hour of our hunt ended, the czar has made himself a veritable bear’s den out of the cottage. I could sense that the pain from his abdomen was cursing him again from the end of our outing, but it must have compounded afterward – I’ve heard reports of ghoulish moans emanating from behind his spruce-wood door all yesterday and night. He has apparently accepted copious pounds of food and water, but not an ounce of assistance otherwise.
I think it best to wait on a response from the doctor before soliciting Zola’s company again.
August 27th, evening
No part of the mystery should involve me in the least, he says! Parasitical homunculi are for priests and warlocks, his letter complains to me! Ha! Doctor Harrach’s brain is filled with too much superstition and not enough desire for logical compassion.
Ah, well, I’ll soon be reassessing the situation in a moment by giving the czar’s quarters a knock and rationally requesting more intelligence on the condition before seeking out a second medicinal opinion. I’m off…
August 27th, nightfall
Heaven bless my humble dominion, for I know not what phenomena have been wrought on its grounds by this errant king.
Loose paths of smoke were exiting not only from the hearth of the cottage, but also from its windows when I approached. I hesitated at the door before turning my way over to one of the open windows so that I might gather an impression of the smoke inside ahead of entering.
My written observations here are now far beyond the ranks of snoopy meddling: extending from the czar’s bite was a long, hefty cheroot giving off a substantial amount of fumes itself besides those of the blaze in the fireplace. Another cheroot, even more glowing and embersome, was handled by the dwarf and administered to select regions of his superior’s skin. This, I recognized as a therapeutic practice of the far Orient known as moxibustion which exploits the leaves of mugwort, and I was immediately recomforted by my own awareness of the custom. But this was not what rattled me – the inhaled smoke was not being exhaled through the czar’s throat, rather it was billowing directly from his belly! This was not some trick of the dancing firelight, nor was I conflating the smoke from the cheroots or the main fire – this gastric orifice was as much of a secondary mouth as one ear is to another – it not only exhaled, but took smoke back into its gullet! By St. Thomas, this wound was miraculous – it breathed!
And of course, this feature was not alone in its evolution. From what I could see, an opening had formed on the underside of the impossible peak jutting from his sternum (which had escalated in its extent and pointedness) and was contributing yet another channel of breath into which smoke was sucked and released. The centers of the nipples had also changed in appearance, now hosting a menacing blackness amongst the glossy membrane in white. These dark blots both expanded and retreated accordingly when they met with the light, very much the same as our own optic apertures function!
All of these visuals were staggering beyond previous experience to me and the thrust of my heart was far too much to allow me a consummation of my visit. I fled from the cottage without saying a word to its occupants and I am keeping my distance tonight, paused in simple stupefaction.
August 29th, daybreak
On the order of Tantalus and the unreachable feast, my sanity is on the brink for not having questioned the czar nor for having siphoned the courage to fasten another glance on this monstrosity in motion – to witness the metamorphosis while the opportunity lasts. Surely this mutation trumps that of the great antlered sea snail in the Sarmatian Sea by volumes! And here I am squandering my time with a common inkwell and cold porridge…
August 29th, morning
I have seen the face…and now I have heard it. As if waiting for the impending strike of my fist on the cottage door, the noise, the unfathomable noise, sounded without ambiguity and I could not bring myself to attempt the same knock. Creeping on my forefeet, I stood with my back to the wall and made my looks undetected through the window.
The presence of a septum was now unmistakable, so the protrusion from the czar’s sternum could no longer be referred to as any else but a veritable nose. Both a top and a bottom row of molars and incisors have rapidly sprouted their way into the horrible, frog-worthy mouth – what procession within the span of a day! Imagine the course of a fetus taking as long…homunculus indeed! But the voice was unlike anything above earthen plains, if one should even brand it as vocal. Once I was able to pair sound with sight, its origins were clearly visceral with the small intestine likely serving as the needed “larynx”. No words were formed and the voice was more flatulence than steady vibration, but the intent was evident and chilled me as if autumn had been skipped altogether.
The czar’s position was (and I suppose still is) seated in much straighter posture than before, eyes shut and, most notably, in total nakedness. The dwarf was nearer to a corner, carving away at a slab of our house cheese – until he offered each piece singly to the uncanny gob! A sheer horror to behold!
It is taking every particle of my refined being to hold the reins on the yearning that I might take up my silver Hirschfänger, have it sharpened, and then slash the hellish creature to its end. I shouldn’t give the matter a second’s thought though and simply send the both of them back on their derelict way before some harm comes to them by my hand or another’s of my household. And yet…still one more of my personal facets would have me carrying out my stint as passive observer – my amusement justified by a docile morality, unfounded thought it may be.
Either way, I should fast through lunch and land on a decision.
August 30th, mid-day
My faltering be damned! Indecision is its own decision and seizes power when given the chance. Murder has indeed manifested but in an unexpected and most heinous manner – by the blood-dripping traces of mangled flesh and bone on the stone floor in the cottage and just as apparent on the raw legs once belonging to Herr Zola, I found it safe to declare that the dwarf had been devoured.
In truth, two killings has the parasitic fiend committed – the czar’s spirit has been ousted; his neck is not upright, his gaze is wholly vacant, and his chest no longer heaves with air. The biological particulars of this crime, I wish were known to me – specifically by way of a forced and violent dissection… (Editor’s Note: The “host” body dies off once his lungs have critically converted into brain matter for the second head.)
Alas, the opportunity to bring the being to justice has escaped along with the horses and post-chaise. Reports from my servants informed me that the creature, now articulating speech with some organ as pliant as a tongue, said that its name is “Glornum” – or at least this was the label they could best discern out of the wretched bowel-speak – and that a few words of German were used, in accord with the pocketful that the czar had carried in his own vocabulary.
I suppose all that is left for me today are prayers and ablutions…and perhaps some short sketches of the creature before my mind’s eye loses sight of it.
The character known as Glornum, according to other secondary accounts, apparently made his leave of the duke’s estate in high spirits and headed directly back to Zola’s homeland. Three years gone, Glornum wrote a letter back to the duke in fragmentary German, claiming to have re-seized Zola’s old throne by virtue of his terrible appearance. The duke then helped to give the disorder its current name by referring to this person as “Glornum the Usurper” in his disclosure of the story to Charles-Ferdinand University in Prague.
There is a possible relation to Turbot’s Syndrome, especially considering that Turbot’s is a sickness of the homeless and that Zola was homeless in his own right as a refugee.
Also see related: “Blemmyes”, World Macropædia of Fallen Races. Conley, Ladge. 1836.
Place of Origin
Optiognosis is a disorder of the brain. In neurology, the Bereitschaftspotential or readiness potential (RP) is a measure of activity in the brain’s motor regions leading to voluntary movement of muscle. It has been studied since 1964.
In the 1980s, psycho-physiological researcher Benjamin Libet conducted his Nobel Prize-winning experiments on the relationship between our conscious experience of volition (or free will) and RP. Libet discovered that RP occurred approx. 35 hundredths of a second before any reported conscious awareness of the desire to make a movement. He took this as an invalidation of free will in regards to our movement, although such an utter condemnation has been debated. This gap of awareness that is RP is useful in brain-computer interface applications such as the mental control of computer displays or artificial limbs.
In recent years, individuals wishing to close this gap within RP have taken great and various efforts to do so. Through the combined activation of the genes XOjC (most associated with mongoloid eye folds) and MFBS-3 (associated with cancer of the hair) as well as extended forays with meditation and/or cognitive-enhancing drugs, some have achieved the closing of this gap. The purported result of this is that true awareness of the present is achieved and thus true free will is possessed by these individuals.
Known Cases & Symptoms
The newfound awareness generally becomes too overwhelming for the liberty-enhanced, seeing as how an infinite number of distinct choices are now knocking at the doorsteps of their minds all at once. In every case thus far, the overload leads to a traumatic turning point at which the person suddenly develops a one-track mind centered on an extremely singular and equally ambitious mission of breaking an obscure world record, even if that means disregarding social limitations in the process. The prevailing theory behind this development is that the powerful barrage of choices is forcibly quieted by this one particular and obsessively sustained choice.
Case examples have included:
- Attempts at getting oneself to frisson (having chills or goosebumps) to the point of generating the equivalent electrical output of a typical potato battery; the current record holder has only achieved lasagna levels.
- Becoming the first man to have voiced the official Barney Gumble on The Simpsons in sixteen different languages and on at least four different continents; apparently this feat has already been achieved by a polyglot of the female sex.
- Eating a 15-piece bucket of sidewalk chalk in under 40 minutes. “Drinking orange juice helps to balance out the high alkalinity of the chalk,” suggests the 29 year old who had never eaten anything more abnormal than a pizza with anchovies before suffering from optiognosis. “I really don’t mind having quarterly lithotripsy [kidney stone removal] procedures – this is my life now.”
Other cases hold somewhat more variety in their obsession in order to make the achievement more easily defended, such as the Quad Cities resident who wishes to be the first person to hold all of the following accomplishments under one name: a world champion in the martial art known as Wushu, a 1st place winner in Cannon Beach, Oregon’s sandcastle construction competition, Molvania’s #1 bounty hunter of gypsies in two consecutive years, and to have completed an Iron Man Triathlon wearing nothing but two orange bandanas.
Some other cases are entirely quixotic:
- One Paraguayan school teacher is banking on becoming the first to discover the once hypothetical planet of Vulcan said to be positioned between Mercury and the Sun.
- Another is attempting to synthesize three new isotopes of ununoctium using only the diesel engine of a decommissioned supertanker and genetically-modified Brazil nuts (for their relative radioactivity) in the place of a particle collider.
Unfortunately, an escape from the disorder is not as simple as suppressing the necessary genes that made optiognosis possible. The only method touting even a modest success rate of attenuation involves an eight-year imprisonment within a solitary confinement camp in Siberia and daily reinforced viewings of the Ugandan version of Pop Idol. Other methods have proposed arguments from the most depressing and nihilistic philosophers as a means of convincing the sufferer that he or she is without free will, however the effectiveness of this route is unsubstantiated and often ends in suicide for the one supplying the treatment.
Sufferers of optiognosis may also have the ability to see light within the infrared spectrum (just as those with aphasia may be able to see within the ultraviolet). Film director Werner Herzog is currently in pre-production stages for a documentary on the subject. Herzog has been quoted as saying, “I marvel at this disease and yet it sickens me. Here, we have the world’s most inspired and zealous human beings, but their aspirations strive for the random and meaningless target of amassing the world’s largest collection of moist towelettes while on a diet of nothing but egg salad sandwiches – it truly is a striking metaphor of life on this planet.”
Dr. Jordan Inman, GP, after contracting what is known only colloquially in northern Estonia as “the seventy-year itch” via excessive application of horse shampoo, Inman has since maintained a frenzied epiphany that virtually all ailments may be prevented by taking the hygiene hypothesis to unprecedented extremes. Each Hour of the Wolf at 3 AM approximate, Inman begins his daily routine by stoking a Turkish fire pit replete with a hearty potpourri of guano, putrefying carrion , and anonymous roadside regurgitations, inhaling the fumes for a good measure within the confines of his 213 square foot home, a refurbished USSR security kiosk minus any vestigial indoor plumbing. Inman will then proceed to swim 40 round-trip laps in his most prized manure lagoon and allow the rising sun to impress the remaining “blessed skin cakes” with its rays. His diet consists of staples not limited to foot cheese, aurulent brine of the ox, and thoroughly spent strips of flypaper. Inman has opted to spend the rest of his days in Semey, Kazakhstan for its high concentration of nuclear weapons testing, and thus, its natural breeding ground for novel and advanced strains of bacteria and viruses against which to pit his immune system. The flea-bitten doctor is also a true believer in polyphasic sleep cycles of varying makes and models.