Short Exegesis: a story in Dadaoism (An Anthology) starts without a title. In the contents it’s called Instance. The first sentence implies: a first person past narrative; that this is one of annual visits from far-off to another character called Bob at the latter’s home; that there’s a social problem the narrator has been trying to solve and has decided on one last tactic. The narrator uses the past continuous to reflect on the immediate past, the effect of the tactic and, using the conditional tense, gets himself back to a past that’s present to him and we with him – if it is a him – in his mind, following his thinking as best we can without any mediatory veil from the writer. Because of the tactic deployed both narrator and Bob are standing.
Double inverted commas indicate Bob’s speaking, the narrator thinks unconvincingly imputing a theft to somebody else. Not knowing what Bob’s talking about, the narrator asks himself questions that’d clarify, one of which Bob answers in speech before the question’s been vocalised, as the narrator comments, elaborating he might’ve been asking his own alter ego. In case Bob is receiving his thinking directly, the narrator, having found out the theft is from a theatre company, also thinks out his next question. Bob answers without speaking, as the lack of inverted commas indicates. To make sure it’s not his alter ego answered, the narrator thinks, by his use of ‘him’, Bob might think he means the imputed thief, Kenneth Roy, which elicits the indignant unspoken response Bob’s not him. The narrator concludes they are in unconscious communication – except Bob then speaks.
The alter ego explains (within brackets, indicating only to the narrator – and reader) why Bob spoke, suggestive of his being the unconscious communicative agent. An exclamation mark marks the narrator’s affront at being thought stupid. He linguistically analyses, as he may think to the alter ego, why Bob wanted to tell him, despairingly, how large the amount stolen was. Bob intrudes, obviously following. The narrator himself lapses into speech because he can’t get over the fact that the theft is Bob’s responsibility, as director, as the narrator thinks, of the company. Bob admits responsibility, for the theft, as the reader might pick up on but the narrator doesn’t. (Don’t get too cocky! The writer knows, and there’s a reason the narrator shouldn’t know.) What Bob’d like to be responsible for is the unconscious communicating he’s never done before which stops feeling, because, the narrator explains, their unconsciouses are communicating infinitely fast, the only way everything, including them, are stopped, and there’s no sound (except when they’re speaking in which cases time will have resumed). The narrator puts this all down to the agency of his spirit he calls his man. He’s more interested in getting on with the story and their talking about the infinity they’re in isn’t making for an interesting story, he drily observes, alerting Bob to his being, as he felt, a character in this story people are reading when he’d really rather they didn’t. He asks if he’s being read now, that now then he’s living through. The narrator answers yes (as you know he is, in the now you’re reading about Bob if and when you are) once he remembers and writes it, equating narrator with writer. But nobody’s reading it in that now, then, the one he’s in, Bob wants assurance. Nobody, the narrator’s man, is, he’s told. No body = spirit.
That the narrator concludes Bob doesn’t want to be read as the character he is suggests the narrator does know the badness of that character. Bob’s concern also goes towards the truth to fact of the story, which continues with the narrator’s thinking out the difference between what was implied, by Bob, and what inferred, by him, the narrator, during which the size of the amount stolen hits him (not much by today’s standards). Bob finishes off the narrator’s thinking with an admission which the narrator may be affecting to take simply as Bob’s taking the thinking to its logical conclusion.
The narrator is then thinking about taking the word of a friend who’s betraying trust, seeing himself at a public records office where he might be betraying Bob’s, maybe in the future, unsure who’s betraying whom while questioning that a friend would, eliciting Bob’s response it seemed the best choice, whereupon the narrator takes his friend’s word, that Kenneth Roy did it. He goes on to posit why Bob would think Roy did it for Bob to say if his friend can’t take his word, the police won’t. He can’t expect that, the narrator says. The descent into consciousness by both of them, Bob’s asking John, the narrator, what he’s to do, and John’s lame suggestion, no better than what Bob thought, to give himself up to the police, is an indication of the limitation of consciousness among other things. John’s ‘It’s different’ is likely his gauging the state they’re being held in (as is a subsequent ‘No change’ or any such comment, though maybe also ambivalent). It’s evident, from his pushing in when John is thinking again, that his man is behind the whole thing.
The next paragraph lets the reader into the relationship of John with man, which is not one of ready submission, even while John’s admitting, to himself, ‘I’m inferior to my own will. How inferior does that make me?’ The not much is implied.
Having put Robert off going to the police, he proceeds to put him off suicide, though the inference from what Robert’s thinking is that stealing was better than suicide. John, in thinking about this, sees himself yet again somewhere else, imagining a backdrop relevant to his thinking, that, whatever Robert’s feeling about it, averting suicide was not the cause of the theft, the dishonesty of which might be excused by poverty, implying Robert has no such excuse.
John’s so taken over by his imagination he doesn’t know who Robert is.
Robert agrees the amount isn’t worth committing suicide for. He thinks John might be against suicide because Catholic except they taught in the same, non-Catholic school and presumes they’re both Protestant which John scotches by stating he’s pagan. Naturally he’s imagining they’re in a school discussing religion and postulates Kenneth Roy, the co-manager of the Theatre Company embezzled from, is a teacher or pupil, bemusing Bob, who, he goes on, evidently knows what he’s thinking and must be a telepath. John’s completely lost the plot. Or has he? He asks why Bob can’t go to the police and say it’s Kenneth Roy. Bob thinks he has to be careful in distinguishing between what was said and what thought because John loses the place. John with an irony too subtle for Bob to register thanks the latter for supplying his deficit. He goes on to say Bob should tell the police despite having said before he couldn’t, because if he doesn’t and it comes out what would the police think? I did it, Bob concludes, which John thinks sounds almost as if he did. The reference to a church places them in Scotland.
John’s giving Bob pointers: the police’ll find something which indicates he didn’t do it – and that Kenneth Roy did. In taking Bob’s clichés literally, the narrator gives him another pointer, ‘not too many’ (pointers, that is, to Roy) and another, ‘Didn’t he deny it to you?’ and so on. Bob gets it; he mustn’t cover his tracks completely. Naturally the narrator imagines they’re immobile on railway tracks because he has Bob on track, the backdrop symbolic. They’re still standing unmoving, facing each other, in Bob’s room. There’s indication of John’s prescience in his mention of a psychopath who ‘was, will be, with me down the road a bit a moment ago or after,’ and possibly a suggestion where John’s now living.
Bob’s starting to hope the train’s maybe not coming for him. He realises he’s being directed. He also realises Kenneth Roy’ll deny he did it. The next pointer given is Bob should take the evidence to Kenneth Roy before taking it to the police because the police would expect him to, another indication they’d take as of innocence. John is imagining them at the glass entrance to a police station he’s led Bob to that he’ll never go through.
While Bob’s thinking through an idea the way John’s been doing, John, trying to work out what Robert’s idea will be, and letting any reader in on it without its being definitively known, thinks Kenneth Roy will see how he’d be the one goes to prison, if it’s Robert takes suspicions to the police, for a crime he didn’t commit. John’s feeling like he should be imprisoned though innocent, imagining himself a child in an avenue being faced by a strange but not dangerous man who ‘speaks’ first: It’ll work.
Bob reflects they’re like the Macbeths plotting murder. John’s being taken aback is indicated by an exclamation mark. The way Bellahouston Academy is referred to does indicate that’s where they both taught. It also sites John, in imagination, in a school. He describes what it’s like living in the moment with minuscule memory of its past and the like foresight. Bob realises the symbolic import of Kenneth’s last name. The way Richmond is referenced indicates that’s where John lives. He asks if he’s imagining all of it. On Bob’s answer and with the premiss there’s a way to distinguish the imaginary from the real, John concludes an analysis that he’s real because of his alter ego (man) or being imagined by Bob’s. The added ’s is his afterthought to make out precisely that it’d be Bob’s alter ego’s imagination. Bob states they’re both real against the background only John imagines. John’s ‘real but not equal’ is a disavowal of Bob’s being equally real. He realises he was a history teacher and knows when Kenneth MacAlpin comes in history. He’s playing! He gives his name, ‘John Bruce; that’s me, absolutely no connexion, a total irrelevance’, about to impute everything to his man, but you already know that, so to …Shakespeare!
Bob questions John’s goodness in helping him do prospective evil to another that he wouldn’t otherwise do. How can he do that without being evil, even more evil than Bob himself? John reframes the question and thanks Robert for posing it. If all it is to him is a metaphysical question, he is evil, Robert decides, going on to ask why he’s helping. Out of friendship. That won’t do if he’s helping a friend do evil to another. John insists he’s helping Robert to do good in bringing a thief to justice. That would explain why he’s never taken in that his friend’s the thief. Or has he? Robert can’t decide whether John’s a fool or evil genius, John thinks about this and concludes better he be an evil genius the other can’t decide is a fool unless, and this is what John thinks of Robert, ‘he’s a fool, who lets out his evil genius on whom he decides is a fool without an evil genius of his own’. On Robert’s amazement John can believe he didn’t do it, John is certain Robert did it, imagining the ground opening up beneath his feet on his way to the underground or from the underground to school. Either his man or the reader wants to know which is it? and gets told off, but it is from the school to the underground. Underground has to be symbolic of Hades. Only his own man can be trusted to get him sure-footedly through this world, where excitingly nothing may be trusted, until he dies, John seeing this as finally losing his footing on what might be a road – of life – he’s crossing and not getting up again (quite disappearing from his own view, inconsistent with its being a road he’s seeing).
He comes out of it enough to see the pavement isn’t a pavement but derides Bob’s telling him it’s a carpet, which must have been golden in colour. They’re in Glasgow and he does live in London. He has a go at police control and corruption before they’ll sweep all Bob’s golden paving away. He’d be better off with concrete. In a roundabout way he’s criticising Bob’s materialism which would give authority a hold over him. Bob says concrete wouldn’t be practical. John can’t quite see the carpet and wouldn’t take Bob’s word for anything. The ground’s falling from under him again or floor. He’s coming to, seeing himself standing opposite Robert in a room but doesn’t know if that’s real, if even standing is. He can’t see. His probable blinking is an indication the unconscious communication’s ending, time’s starting up again, and how short has been the time they’ve been standing there. He’s so drowning in evil, empathetically Robert’s, that he barely registers Robert’s words, that he was told.
The next section is John’s coping with Robert’s thoughts and his own and concluding Robert mustn’t know he knows he did it or that he knows what Robert’s thinking and the better to do this comes out, home and dry, the way he went in, ‘Of course I believe you didn’t do it!’. Robert would get that, and John’s thought as to himself, ‘How could he believe for one second I’d doubt him!’ the better to be convinced, but he wouldn’t have got any of John’s thinking that led to that outcome.
John’s thinking it wouldn’t’ve happened if he’d been asked to do Kenneth Roy’s job is for Bob’s benefit. Betty might’ve thought of it, to have his support. We don’t know any more than that she’s a friend who’s to do with the company, which would come to an end because of somebody its members didn’t know not to trust. He means Bob of course. He’s affecting to be communicating with his man to stop Bob becoming the director of an established theatre. Bob must know John means him because he says he won’t. John wonders who he can work on to get another man to stop Bob if his own man won’t. He’s recognising other people have their own spirits. Bob says he’ll stop it. John leaves it to Bob then as if to his man. He’s helped his friend out and exacted a quid pro quo.
Bob’s not deceived. He moves to the room door, stopping short to order John not to repeat what he said. (Basically the action has been John’s standing up to leave and Bob’s showing him to the door.) John asks what. He’s forgotten but Robert takes it as a witty show of prospective disingenuousness. More than that, he’s amazed at what John is, if inadvertently by simply opening his mouth and letting the inspired words come out, pointing out what had escaped Robert’s notice, for all he was distinguishing between what was actually said and what not, that he hasn’t actually said he stole. On being prompted to, by you know who or what, the writer declined to, leaving the doing of it to the reader and, if you haven’t already done it, I am that reader. No, I will leave it to you. Go back, pick out the words spoken in the pause between Bob’s getting to his feet and showing John to the room door. Does he actually confess vocally to the theft? If not, that would explain why the telepathy stops and starts, slowing down to consciousness in order to effect this. Well? Okay, I have checked and the time taken to speak the spoken dialogue is the time it took. To go on: John gives credit to his man for getting him out of giving his word he’d keep, adding a sideswipe at the man. John considers who he won’t be repeating it to – Betty’s a playwright, the other three actresses – and to whom, with prescience, he knows he will, to Kenneth Roy. He stops to look back at the door and can’t remember what went on in the room but is assured, inferably by his man, he will. He concludes he must’ve been unconscious throughout and still could be, the suggestion, to the reader, being that he is.
The way Bob interprets what he said makes John believe Bob believes he could go through a closed door. John thinks this through: his man does that for him, an indication of his will’s peripatetic nature and how telepathy is facilitated). John can’t tell from his positioning whether he’s en route to the outside door or heading for the room he dreads. (It’s the writer puts in ‘dreaded’.) John may forget but he has flashes of remembrance and the one here disquiets Bob John may recall the salient admission, that of crime. He remarks John’s behaviour, putting it down to a smoking John doesn’t want to go into, of hash. I don’t know what John thinks Robert might be lying about his having been in the room for at ‘unless – Oh!’ Maybe at the rationalisation’s giving away he wasn’t taking Bob’s word for it. From Robert’s noting John’s taking his word he’s not about to go into the room, we can assume, if we haven’t already, John’s feeling weird at the complete loss of trust in his friend that occurred in that room he’s been in many times. His ‘and all like this’ suggests to Robert he doesn’t know of this time or affecting not to. John parries Robert’s speiring with, ‘Know what?’ John’s trying to find out what there is to know and Robert if he knows. He betrays he knows something on asking if Bob wants him with him, to Kenneth Roy’s, although this isn’t a memory since Robert didn’t divulge what he would do. It’s a presumption Robert will do as directed. John hits Robert again with the assumption he’ll have told Eric, to ascertain, Bob apart, only he knows. Eric hasn’t been mentioned before but we can assume Bob’s most intimate relationship is with Eric. Since he hasn’t told Eric, he won’t have told the others. John tests the resolve not to by suggesting he must tell Eric. From Bob’s fear John’s blackmailing him, it’s clear he is and will be the sole depository of the confession. This section in which Bob alone speaks and John comments is just an amusing juxtaposition. There’s no indication the emotional Bob is receiving any of John’s thinking which concludes that Bob is being possessed by John’s man for the sake of his story, this one, good reason enough. John, relatively poor, cuts Robert’s projective mercenariness short, deciding Robert hadn’t believed John would blackmail him until the former had put the power to in the latter’s hands shortly before. John explains all he meant was if Eric found out Bob told him, he’d think Bob loved John more. In his wondering, out loud, if that’s why he told John, Bob does sound like a mock-up of how John thinks so that John most precisely makes clear what he thinks only to discover Bob’s motive is entirely mercenary, of course.
Having decided it’d be intolerable for Bob to live thinking he knew, John is working his way towards convincing him otherwise, at least till the Damoclean sword falls on him, we have to presume when John tells Kenneth Roy. Robert is again being let in on John’s thinking while himself vocalising, a subfusc telepathy in which it’s not apparent to the transmitter he’s not talking out loud too, especially as sometimes he is. Although they’re not in a time-stop, John further describes what it’s like to be in one, as he wants to believe he was when he remembers nothing. This convinces Bob John doesn’t remember and is about to question how that’s possible but stops with the thought – John gets – he nearly went too far, which John embroiders, emphasising he doesn’t remember by sincerely regretting he inadvertently let Bob know what he wanted to keep from him, that he remembered nothing from the room, while at the same time ensuring the effect his man wanted we have to assume. The tone of John’s thinking has changed.
‘Speiring’ means questioning obtrusively. The use of the word ‘shock’ is no accident. John’s saying he’s easily shocked suggests he was, accounting for his being unconscious throughout though his man would’ve arranged that anyway in order to have everything kept intact in unconscious memory until realised. Bob’s saying he might himself tell Eric is a tactic to put John off John plays along with. He finds out what he wanted to know, that Eric’s out, and that Bob receives. John’s ‘Oh dear’ may be at the admission he’s checking Bob’s every word. Out loud he asks if it’d be more in Eric’s interests to move out because of what Bob did or that Bob told John what he did first. Bob confuses the concepts but goes for the first, backtracking however on its likelihood. John gives up trying to find out what Bob did, a decision we may be sure Bob received.
If he does tell Eric, it’ll be a sanitised version fit for his ears, he says. John is thrown by its replicating what his mum said and throws everything yet again into doubt we must assume both guilelessly and deliberately, since this may be an emergency where the man has taken over, by adding he’d forgotten all about her but if he can remember his childhood…, he’s practically telling Bob he will remember all this too. Bob accounts for the change of tone on realising John’s being a child. He wants to know what are the chances of John’s remembering a second time all he’s forgotten. High. Bob’s expecting the contrary answer. John linguistically analyses it doesn’t sound right for ‘chances’ to be high, that Bob, not picking up on the analysis of language, takes straight. John, from analysing, suggests ingenuously and, because of the man behind everything, disingenuously that Bob was thinking the risk of John’s remembering was low. John continues his argument on the basis of the language Bob used that Bob was thinking of the risk to himself. If he’d said ‘chance’ the appropriate adjectives would be ‘good’ or ‘bad’. He wouldn’t say either with the plural but ‘low’ for ‘risk’ and maybe for ‘chances’ too. ‘Mibby’ is from John’s Scottish childhood. Bob concludes his chances are poor. He’s startled by John’s thinking this might be used to prove telepathy but, overall, can’t be, because of too much vocalising. Bob’s working out that improves his chances whereas John, picking up on Bob’s thought, takes it to be there’s not been too much vocalising (not in the preceding bit anyway, which would need to be done telepathically) and that there’s a good chance it can be used.
John, speaking, reverts to the speech before, by questioning the need for sanitising pushing Bob to telling the truth, as John himself would. Bob doesn’t think Eric could take the truth. John comments sarcastically on Bob’s declining to tell the truth out of consideration for others.
It’s taken about as long for them to get from room to outside door as it would take to say the spoken words, plus a bit for conscious thinking. Moving had seemed slow because punctuated by the timestops of telepathy, however fast in themselves. It now seems quick because of John’s forgetting what intervened between room and outside door.
Repellent Bob is presciently told on his expressing gratitude he’ll never forget what John’s done for him that he will but, if grateful, he’ll help prove telepathy. John does remember, Bob thinks, proof of telepathy is what he wants but that’d entail a problem for Bob which is obvious to the reader. John clarifies both he doesn’t remember but will and doesn’t want to prove telepathy but will. He doesn’t know what Bob’s problem might be with proving telepathy he otherwise thinks can be proved but works out from what he himself said that, once he remembers, he’ll also work out what Bob’s problem is about helping prove telepathy Bob believes can be proved because John does. Bob is closing the door, asking what the solution to the problem of proving telepathy might be.
By mirroring John means reflecting the other’s thinking from the closeness of being of one mind, as exemplified earlier when John, disentangling his thinking from Bob’s, realised Bob was the thief, though the thoughts of each have been largely separated by the writer for the convenience of any reader. John paraphrases Marlowe that the experience was hellish and, not by Marlowe but by Cairns, here cheekily giving the writer’s surname, mine, he’s out of the hell he’s left his friend unavoidably in unless he carries a trace of it with him, as his man exults he has, which John likens to being infected by a spiritual disease for which there must be antinobodies because his man would never put him in an irrecoverable position – would you? he addresses him directly. There’s no answer to that. He asks another question, which, from his repeat of it, did get an answer. He asks another and is given the affirmative although he doesn’t feel like he’s succeeded but is glad it’s over, only to be informed that that was only the beginning but that there’ll be breaks. His emphatic repeat is a firm grasp of straws in an anticipatedly continuing drowning.
A detached statement in bold refers to what’s preceded as an instance telepathy can be proved from and says how in formal terms. The possibility of its being consciously relayed has to be removed, as it has been and is being. Bob wouldn’t tell anybody else, for obvious reasons. He raised the possibility of telling Eric only as a tactic to ensure John didn’t. John’s affecting to believe Bob might was in thinking that Bob was receiving, before the mirroring stopped. John’s also being made systematically to forget, the better to keep the instance intact before realising it completely, the next step in proving it. Once realised by him, a third party, a reader of this story perhaps, would undertake to have it corroborated by Bob without asking him leading questions. Bob was evidently throughout getting the gist of the instance, necessary to his following up on it with Kenneth Roy. The likelihood of any third party’s extracting that gist from him, however, was remote without his being made to, as John thought and Bob received. Bob already had what he wanted. Assuming Bob did divulge, the third party would still have to prove John and Bob had not, since the instance, been consciously complicit.
John is seeing and hearing the words against the background of the door. His man explains he was having a flashforward to when typing it. It didn’t look like typing because spoken and written, off the page. His man advises him to hold onto the banister and suggests it might be computing, and that it’s the title. It’s too long to be a title (probably the longest ever) and wasn’t at the beginning, John observes, and wants his man to go back and change something to do with ‘will’. That has to be something not to far back: either Bob will forget him for what he’s done or John will remember and want to prove telepathy, probably the confusion in conflating these last two. His man informs him, the italicising indicating communicating from inside, he can’t go back, that life is irreversible. John protests this isn’t life but art and bad art at that and for the bad artist to go back, find out what was actually done in life and do that. His man tells him to hold onto the banister. John comments his man is obsessed. The man explains he can go back and check the writing but changing the writing won’t change the life but make the writing false to life, using John’s presently not holding or holding onto the banister for example. Hold on, John says, he wants the writing to be true to life because he doesn’t see the point of putting one over on the reader and thinking himself clever by writing what’s not true. The man percipiently says that’s what you’ll think I’m doing anyway. Can’t they tell the truth? John asks. Not content with criticising writers for being cheaply one-up over you, he’s criticising you, quite derisively. He doesn’t mind if his man gets it wrong. His man tells him he’s holding onto the banister. John thinks he’s not and would prefer his man to get it right. His man says he is. When he is, only when, write that, to be right, John affirms, but not if he’s not. If he didn’t check he was holding onto the banister he might not remember he was when he comes to write it, when he won’t be seeing he is. He’s fleeing down the stairs, giving the address fled from, Bob’s, not done in a story in which his address is not being given, he admonishes. We infer the man’s reply, his’ll be on the letter, from John’s repeat of it, like the beginning of this scene after the closed door. He denies he’s disappointed this story isn’t for general publication, as the man must’ve stated, before admitting to a little disappointment. He didn’t know by not wanting to be like any other writer he meant unpublished, unlike other writers. We may infer, from John, the man said not half as much (disappointed) as he (Bob) will be. John admonishes his man for making him feel repelled though it is his job to protect him and asks what’s wrong with Bob. He doesn’t know. The man won’t answer that.
A few days have passed and we’re at the party mentioned parenthetically in the very first sentence. The first person past tense is back. Something was going on between Bob and Kenneth Roy and John wanted to know if Betty knew what. She did but had given her word she wouldn’t tell. His ‘me?’ means she hadn’t given her word to him. He stopped her breaking her word to Bob, having worked out Bob’d expect her to, in order for John to know what he’d done to Kenneth Roy. He followed Betty’s thought processes on why he asked if he already knew. He’s critical of Betty but wouldn’t take from her a power she needed to protect her interests and whatever he could give her besides, yet in her utmost need he refuses and tells her how to die, we may infer his prescient man was telling him, because he exclaimed at it, that she would, though we all do, but was it soon? In a few years, his man said, which was less than a few, John interjected. John concluded his man’d have his reasons. His man reminded him he’d said good reasons before. John insisted on reasons only, questioning how any reason could be good that denied Betty help she asked for in utmost need. He didn’t know why he was back in Glasgow that time for Bob, who’d spoken to Kenneth Roy, who gave Bob an explanation. Bob realised from John’s questions he thought Kenneth Roy had stolen the money, astonishing as that might be, and, Bob assumed, if John didn’t know then he never would. We may infer whatever Bob told Helen and drew Betty into there wouldn’t be any admission of theft on his part. John felt inferior to Bob but his man reassured him and on that he felt superior again. Back in London he finished his check nobody knew.
After twenty years or so, during which they’d have met up without either mentioning the instance of Bob’s confession we can safely assume, Bob’s Xmas card prompted John to phone him. In that call Bob said he was doing the entry on Betty for the DNB, revealing ignorance of who her lover had been. John sent him an accession sheet of his archived correspondence with Betty Bob hadn’t read whereupon Bob ended all correspondence with John. John was shocked by this lack of integrity and the reader may recall shock, according to Bob, brings back what shock makes one forget. But before that, it more immediately shocked John into a declaration out loud that, however it might be justified on the grounds of spiritual peripateticism, would affront Bob’s unconscious if the thought reached it and any other unconscious which read it, because, since he’d said it, John was bound to write it, making proof of telepathy unnecessarily more difficult. He wrote a letter to Bob’s publisher to be forwarded that contained information Bob wouldn’t have. John then checked Bob’s Scottish sources, except Bob’s own letters from Betty, which, all together, knew less than John. He was given Kenneth Roy’s address and wrote to him what Bob had said of him. Roy replied Robert denied having said what he’d said and threatened John with lawyers. John, undeterred, wrote back that Robert would deny he said it. Robert’s lawyer’s letter threatened to sue John for defamation of character to which John’s defence was how else would he know what Kenneth Roy at once recognised if he hadn’t been told it by Robert Trotter. There could be no answer to that without Robert’s admitting he had defamed Kenneth.
John, the writer, addressed the reader: he’s since realised this instance from which the reader could prove telepathy. Why the instance was both vocal and non-vocal is explained. The problem would be proving not all communication in the instance was conscious. The reader would have to verify John came up with the duologue style to convey telepathic communication in a book he wrote after the instance with Bob so that anything of that as yet unrealised style in life would have to be an unconscious communication. Robert’s gist would prove its occurrence. The reader might choose not to prove telepathy, in which case he must not divulge the contents of the story to anybody for the obvious reason if there’s conscious leakage no future reader could prove Robert hadn’t heard of it, so invalidating his testimony of telepathy. The writer has made his story proactive. John informed the archivist of the Scottish Theatre collection of his account of a communication with Robert any historian of his company would have to read before concluding why that company had collapsed. He also informed the Koestler Chair of Parapsychology of an instance from which telepathy could be proved.
Alan, a friend, read a version of the story before being included in it. He thought it was all set at the party. John couldn’t do anything about that without excluding mention of the party at the beginning of the story where he had thought it, at Bob’s. Alan said the story was difficult to read but easier because he’d read ‘the book’, another realisation of unconscious memory. John didn’t always understand what he wrote himself but didn’t excise anything on that account. Alan didn’t try to prove telepathy from this instance. John made clear Alan could tell anybody about the story provided he didn’t divulge its contents. Alan thought John would want Robert Trotter to read it. Not, John averred, before he’s made every effort to have telepathy proved from it because Robert’s saying after reading it that it’s true would be as valueless as his account of the instance before reading or hearing of its contents would be indispensable to proof. John wrote to Robert’s lawyer that Robert knew what he wanted and to write out his account for the lawyer to pass it to the Koestler Chair (who could seek corroboration from John).
When Chômu asked for submissions I submitted this story, published 2012. I later learned from another publisher Robert Trotter died 2012. The story is no longer proactive. Telepathy can’t be proved from it.