642 Things to Write About – #23

Rene DescartesA light in your backyard gets brighter and brighter, until… Flash! Flash! Flash! What causes these flashes? Where are you, and how do they affect you?

I write this sitting in a powercut. The only light with which to write is the torch on my phone. I’m in an odd posture, knelt on the floor with my ankles crossed, elbows on my bed and holding my phone close to my notebook – we don’t get much light in the countryside. In the dark it casts a surprisingly bright, yellow circle of light across my pad.

Flash! The largest thunder storm I’ve heard in a long time has been ravaging my little town all night. The lightning lit up the whole room while we watched Bake Off.

I have just looked out of my window and it’s strange… there really is a light there. A steady light, I mean, artificial looking. Hovering. It seems to be getting closer. Blinking. Or is it winking  at me through the darkness?

It reaches my window. The Flash! Flash! Flash! is like a soundless knock on the glass. It doesn’t wait for an answer.

The light enters and halts right in front of my nose. So much so that I go cross eyed as I try to keep it in view. In my blurred vision, the circle of light becomes ever so slightly elongated, like it’s leaning back nosily, to get a good look at my face. It rises to the centre of my forehead and passes through my skin, through my skull and into my brain.

I look down at the black of my phone screen and see my reflection. That shouldn’t happen. It’s pitch black, there’s no light to make a reflection. A tiny dot of light is visible in the centre of my pupils.

Suddenly, I feel my hand start to move. I’m sure I’m not telling it to do that. I try to keep it still. No, it continues to move, tracing small circles around a space at the beginning of the first available line – like it’s getting its bearings. I don’t hear a sound above the heavy beating of my heart as the pen hits the page and starts to write:

Mistress, what cheer? A good even to you.

“Umm. I – “

Beseech you, understand my purposes. My name is Rene Descartes. I won’t stay long, just a quick stop this time. 

“I – This time? Wh-“

Shh. There is no time to chat, I must be getting on. You are only stop 350 this even, really I am very behind. Now, look again into that, that – thing – what do you people call them? No, quiet! Don’t answer, just pick it up.

I think he means my phone. Either way, my left hand has started to move that way of itself.

Now. Look into it – that’s it. What do you see?

“My face?”

A thing of naught! Look into your eyes. Into your own eyes – look deeply now. The light I sense you picked up on earlier. Yes, look closer at that light”

Without any other option I do as he says.

And what do you see?

“No way! What?”

Ha! Do you see it? You see it, don’t you! See me I should say, of course.

There is a tiny, genuinely tiny little man sat in a chair inside my head. I don’t know what to add to that sentence.

Don’t worry I’ll do the talking.

“You know what I’m thinking?”

Of course! I am in your brain after all. Yes, I am Rene Descartes and I am here, leaving my writing – you will find your own script has changed to resemble absolutely my own, 400 years aold – as proof that the pineal gland exists! Mr Ryle has dragged my name through the mud quite enough! It is time I proved my theory once and for all. Human beings are controlled by a tiny man, the soul we might say, located in the pineal gland in the brain. On the morrow, thousands of people all over the world will wake up to scripts of this strange white parchment, just as you have here, with my writing on them. The pineal gland exists, I am sitting in it now, directing your hand precisely to imitate my own. Quite the monumental proof, I hope you will agree.


Hush,  I did not ask for your input. As I was saying –

“But, Mr Descartes – “

Hush! My time with you is up; I must get on to my next vict – ahem – appointment. Yes. Thank you kindly for the use of your brain. I do commend me to you. Farewell!

I have only time to think that I, for one, will be telling nobody of this encounter in the morning, and that it’s strange, as much as Descartes wanted to contradict the accusation that his theory creates nothing but a ghost in a machine, in doing so he really had become a ghost controlling a machine. My mind is starting to go fuzzy. And, just as if the power has been cut in my own body, I feel myself fall into a heavy, dreamless sleep.


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