Sample (half a chapter or so) of a potential book. Placed here for feedback purposes.
| The shrill ring of a doorbell disturbed Edward's concentration, kindling frustration.
If he so desired, he could have easily directed his mind into analysis, perhaps scrutinize the frustration -- detail its psychological impacts, dig up its root causes, identify its properties. But he knew, subconsciously, that if he were to do so, there would be no turning back. Venture into the jungle of cognition, and one is lured by the fascinating truths that await, impelled down the sublime path of endless discovery.
Ah, but he had gone too far. You see, Edward had followed the same line of thinking as we navigated above. He had fallen into a meta-analytic trap.
Thank goodness, then, that a second doorbell rang precisely at that moment, or Edward might have been irretrievably lost in an endless loop of rumination.
No answer. Had Edward had a little more energy at that point in time, with the state of mind to pounce into action rather than wallow in thought, I am sure he would have raised his voice and demanded the identity of the ringer. But nay, his motivation was too low, his aversion to distraction too strong, and his inertial tendency to remain at rest too stubborn . He ignored the sound.
When the bell rang a third time, his frustration flared into exasperation, exacerbated by a spout of bitter realization -- either he must endure the unnerving doorbell rings for an indeterminate amount of time, or he must break his spell of laziness and open the door.
Clinging to the hope of an alternative solution, he threw an old rubber paper weight at the door, crossing his fingers that whatever imbecile was standing on the other side would get the point and leave him alone. But knowing the idiocy freely circulating those days, he highly doubted his strategy would end the moron’s antagonizing.
Indeed, he presumed correctly the ringer’s unacceptable lack of inference skills -- a fourth ring.
“For goodness sakes, desist!”
“Just open the door, Edward!” A man’s voice. Middle-aged. Baritone.
The rush of earlier self-pity swelled exponentially. After running a mental scan of any possible solutions that avoided a wasteful expenditure of valuable energy (none to be found), Edward whimpered, slowly removed his bare feet from the desk, and dragged his rather frail, lanky frame to the entrance way. With a push, the door swung open.
“I’ve never known a man quite as lazy as you, Ed,” came the drawling voice from outside, accompanied by a convoy of saliva and odorous, warm breath.
We can now complete the description of the anonymous ringer. A middle-aged man indeed, with cropped, somewhat curly black hair, enthusiastic dark eyes, a thick, ebony moustache, and face cradled by a double chin of considerable proportions.
“I appreciate the complement, Ron,” Edward responded, “And I do not mean that sarcastically. Laziness is a wonderful resource, nullifying a good many temptations to involve myself in unprofitable diversions. It keeps me contented in the universe of thought, where I much prefer to be.”
At that thought, Edward shot a quick, compulsive glance to his left, referencing a rickety, iron bookcase. There, sitting on the third shelf, with a slightly torn cover and yellowing pages was an open book. If one were to peer closely at the cover, perhaps one could make out the words, “The Mind: Book III”. In any case, it was more a journal than a published work, pell-mell observations and notes that Edward would scrawl in hurried manner, at whim of a sudden idea or theory. Occasionally, a conversation or stray thought would trigger Edward’s memory of this book, upon which he would immediately check up on its safety.
There is no thought more terrifying than being taken to the grave with one’s every thought and aspiration, every discovery and calculation, remaining virgins to reality outside the mind -- all of the progress and wisdom accumulated through the years strapped to a dead, silent body, forgotten forever under a meter of soil.
Writing was his link to immortality, a wormhole connecting the eccentric, vast, glorious universe of his mind to the existent universe, the outside world, reality. He could not lose it.
“Haha, you haven’t changed at all, Ed. Same old pretentious snob,” spoke Ron as he broke into a cheery grin.
Curious how the faces of some men can melt into such utter, jovial warmth. The bushy eyebrows, moustache-crested smile, crinkled eyes, chubby cheeks -- what could make such a combination so delectably mirthful? Does such an impression arise from pattern-based assessment, grounded in previous associations of kindness with such facial features? Does it come from some evolved psychological function whose purpose is now all but extinct? Or is the answer more psychoanalytic in nature, to be found deep in one’s subconscious childhood memories?
Even as this reel of thoughts fired off in Edward’s mind, he reserved a thread of conscious thought to keep up the conversation. Scattered throughout the patching of above thoughts was the following dialogue:
“So, what are you up to Edward?”
“Work. I’m slaving away on a study whose deadline is next week Thursday. Polishing up the graphs, making some final touches.”
“Lies, I tell you. I bet you are still on preliminary research.”
“You know me too well, Ron.”
“Everyone knows you put things off. If you weren’t so bloody smart, you’d have been a goner a long time ago.”
“Then let’s be glad I do have such a superior intellect.”
“Warranted ego. Pride is not a wrong in an of itself, it’s a sword only the greatest, and the most cautious, can wield. Only when it obstructs altruism, begets overconfidence, or impedes self-improvement, can it be a vice.”
“And I take it you avoid such pitfalls perfectly? Since you are the almighty, can-do-no-wrong Edward?”
“I have the necessary precautions. Responsible doses of arrogance are safe, and truth be told, quite pleasurable.”
“Pleasurable to you. Annoying to others.”
“I should know, man. I am one of the others.”
“A sample size of one is not sufficient to adopt such a generalized statement as, ‘annoying to others’. As a matter of fact, I believe I am quite popular among my peers.”
“There is a difference between adoring your egocentricity and respecting your success.”
“I am liked as a person, in fact. My personality, although at first seemingly haughty and pedantic, in time can win over most anyone... Perhaps it is my manner of communication. My speech is complex, eloquent, and far from colloquial, and while this can be polarizing, I find more people on the pole of admiration than disgust.”
“There you go again, singing your own praises. Anyhow, I came here for a reason.”
“I wouldn’t expect differently. Enlighten me.”
“Well, as you probably know... things have been really working out between me and Elaina. I mean, she just seems...”
“Get on with it.”
“I am inviting you to my wedding, Saturday, August 5.”
“If by ‘finally’ you are referring to the painfully long decision process that led you to this point, I would say yes, you are right; it was painfully long. If, instead, you imply a sort of eager expectancy on my part, culminating in this long-due revelation, I would not say you are right. She is not the woman for you; I was sort of dreading this day, in fact.”
“Ed, give me a break.”
“A break from what? I answered your question honestly; what more can you ask for?”
“Edward, enough is enough. The joke has gone too far.” Truth be told, there was not a hint of humor in Edward’s earlier comment. Elaina Roberts to him was nothing more than a drag on Ron’s uncanny potential, not to mention a time bomb of future devastation. Ron was but a victim of the barrelling locomotive called love, blinded to the rashness of his decision.
“I’m wondering Ron: is it considered taboo to break an engagement? Better make the partition now; the split will only become more painful and cause deeper scars with time.”
“Shut up, Edward. I said the joke has gone too far.”
“How many times must I repeat? I am not performing stand-up comedy here, Ron. I am steering you away from future disappointment.”
“What future disappointment?”
“Marriage troubles and a radical spike in stress levels.”
“And how do you know this will happen?”
“I do not; but as an impartial third party not caught in the paralysis of love, I believe myself more able to make this judgement than you are.”
“When have you ever been right on relationship matters before?”
“What do you want me to answer with? In-depth statistics? Convincing anecdotes? A golden resume? Pick your poison.”
“I’m not here to play games, Ed. I take it you don’t want to come to the wedding?”
“Whensoever did I say that? In fact, although attending your wedding may implicitly sanction your reckless choice, I do intend to go. Based on a quick mental mock-up of the consequences of attending your wedding, I believe the rational choice, the one that would maximize utility, is to attend. To be exact, the drawbacks of endorsing your irresponsible decision, wasting an afternoon of valuable research time, and introducing such a hideous experience into my memory are counterbalanced, even outweighed, by the valuable observations I can make both on the behaviors of the individuals participating in such a momentous ceremony -- one both solemn and euphoric -- as well as on the behaviors of the family members and friends witnessing such an occasion.”
“You want to treat my wedding like a field experiment. Wonderful. You are no longer invited.”
“No longer invited?”
“You can thank your cold, unfeeling heart for that.”
“You shouldn’t just turn the tables on me like this! You made an offer; I accepted.”
“Who says I shouldn’t?”
“You really wish to dive into ethical theory? I employed the imperative, ‘you shouldn't turn the tables on me’ as a means of pointing out, disapproving, and suggesting reconsideration of your inconsistency with the normative non-retractability of such things as wedding invitations. Normative principles are functionally necessary for an optimal social system, due to the fundamental importance of external or societal reliability, consistency, or predictability, especially in the area of behavior, to the degree that optimal decision-making conditions for individual agents can be reached. Do you want me to continue?”
“No thank you, professor. I think class is finished.” And with that, Ron promptly left the room, slamming the door violently behind him. Edward stood stunned.