Before my delayed run-in with fate -- my dismissal from the graduate program at North Southern University -- I had the "good fortune" to work with Dr. Thomas Beardsley, and that explains how I got involved with Gibberish as an experimental therapy - a process known between Beardsley and me as "The Gibberish Solution." I was, in fact, one of its few true enthusiasts, as well as (unless one counted Beardsley himself) its most heavily experimented-on subject. Hoping against hope, I hoped that through gibberish I could obtain some sort of street credibility with Beardsley, and that I could use him as an academic lifeline if things got hairy. This naïve scheme of mine didn't work, and when I eventually realized my time in the psych department was up, I immediately wrote a letter to the dean of studies expressing my outrage concerning Beardsley's wrongdoings. I told the chair of sociology in person about Beardsley's brazen misconduct, and gave her a digital recording on which Beardsley inadvertently confessed to having repeatedly forged University documents.
Here below is the last draft, meant to explain the Gibberish Solution, that Beardsley, when we were in the midst of our studies, told me to work up in case he needed something the common people could understand. Eventually, a completed version -- which would reflect our work as it moved a little further along -- was supposed to have been published in the behavior analysis newsletter. Here is how I wrote it:
"Dr. Thomas Beardsley, professor emeritus of behavior analysis, has created a new therapy that has the potential to help the mentally ill combat their demons as well as streamline life rhythms for more mentally healthy people. As Dr. Beardsley describes it, 'applying nonsense talk to life's problems is a kind of therapy called '"The Gibberish Solution."' The application of this treatment demands new and novel ways to increasingly incorporate gibberish into language, and thereby short circuit the painful associations that are formed between feelings and language. Life will continue to be traumatic, one can be sure of that, but some well-timed gibberish talk at strategic moments can help one remain semi-functional during moments of stress or disaster."
I don't know where he is now. I know that he disappeared once -- I saw it with my own eyes -- and that in doing so he abandoned me with nothing to show for my work in gibberish but an oversized, shocking mouse tail that unpredictably and outrageously shoots out of and retreats into my lower back -- and which shocks anyone around me who might be there to see it. But despite the tail and how everything ended, I think Beardsley wound up better than me. Beardsley has been uploaded, perhaps, into some Martian archive where his physical body can be digitally recorded, scanned, and modified before a more advanced database kicks out the next Beardsley, who will descend down to earth, his beard, maybe, not as well-trimmed, his pencil and pad, maybe, clutched in his hands with a slightly nervous tremor.
Beardsley was impossible to like. He was a scientist, so as a personality type he was entirely defective, and this was reflected by his physical appearance. Post-Napoleonic, his shortness emphasized the small part of intellectualism and academia that is truly vulgar. Aggressive, hairy, at his best he could only be barely tolerable. But Beardsley's credentials will inevitably remain gargantuan, inversely proportional to his rodent body. He had published 34 papers, and was working on his third book -- all, if robotic hybrids can be said to age, before turning 40. His second book had put him on the academic map in a global way -- clocking in at no less than 867 pages, it was incredibly well-received and made him the leading light of the entire University. Beardsley told me that 28 more papers were going to be published within the next year. He has joined those papers, or at least those that have by now been published; he is scurrying around with them on the internet.
When I was frustrated with Beardsley, he himself became a subject of my angry prattle. After one of my particularly exhausting experimental gibberish sessions, I suddenly saw him up in the misty night sky, his naked, hairy body encased in a glass gondola which hung suspended precariously from a massive cable that went downward at a 60 degree angle over the summit of a small mountain. But when he slid open the glass-paneled gate to let himself drop out, he slowly dematerialized, and I think this is because hitting the ground would have been impossible for him; falling and landing on the ground in an injurious way would have called for a human body. In reality, Beardsley -- or his body at least -- is perhaps dead, but I don't know if some power surge might cause him to crawl out of the electrical outlet in my bedroom.
How we became friends is extremely unlikely, but in the garden of crossed, opposing trajectories, our venomous cross-pollination certainly makes sense. Ours was a quasi-intimate association built on our mutual deficiencies -- his social and mine social and academic -- and the knowledge that for us, our defects might just work in our favor for the purpose of a short-term friendship. I was a useful idiot: I not only spoke Beardsley's experimental gibberish to myself seven nights a week and recorded my progress as I did this, but I helped him conduct his experiments with gibberish at prisons and mental hospitals. I recorded what the subjects said, wrote down notes from each visit, kept records. I did my best to interview the subjects and bypass the confidentiality clauses that would have frustrated Beardsley and me endlessly if we had tried to plunge deeper into the prison and hospital records to access older case histories. I wrote down the crimes or misdeeds any subjects may have committed, their sexual hang-ups, whether they had a history of violence, how they had functioned in high school, the horrors of their childhood years, whether they had used recreational drugs, and what kinds. None of the ethical considerations or bureaucratic protocols were bothered with or followed. Nobody's rights were respected. We forged everything, and particularly brazen was our forgery of University consent documentation, which has exposed me to a civil lawsuit.
The project was foolhardy, but it was memorable. How many times does one get to sit next to a policeman on one side, an orderly on the other, and watch a world-renowned academic engage with a fully shackled prisoner, gauging extremes in a dueling competition of word salad, where one type of nonsense talk spars with a more frightening variety as though in a poetic boxing match? During the half hour sessions while our subjects were babbling or blustering with Beardsley, he would frequently bob his head maniacally or lethargically, as if fusing the outbursts to his own internal tempo and laying the groundwork for new waves of cognitive thought. Whether the linguistic mood was sullen or frenetic, he would stretch his hairy arms out in front of him and spread his fingers open, waving his hands from side to side in opposing directions, as though fending off intruders while casting a spell. Our third session was perhaps the most memorable, probably because of the explicit and yet obtuse nature of the "conversation," which properly began 10 minutes in to the session, when the inmate, with startling clarity, let his feelings be known to those around him.
"Gonna let the bitch have it. Dead slut whore. Everything I gave her. Shove it up her cunt and beat her with a hammer. Let the bitch have it. Fuck her up good."
But Beardsley, eyes closed and bobbing his head around, came to the rescue.
"Elder objects, romance gumdrops. Modern problems, red red ribbons. All moonlit birthdays. You can handle this. It will be a nice day. Coming up. All clear over here."
The subject responded:
"Accident victim, dead as hay -- cut his head off anyway."
Beardsley didn't miss a beat:
"Shoulder warriors, lost in pillows. The waves beat over these sad, gnarled willows."
Our subject made eye contact with Beardsley, and this was a good sign. His face slackened, and he laughed. After ten minutes, the breakthrough moment had arrived. This was clearly a success.
Beardsley laughed; I laughed (in fact Beardsley told me I had to laugh, since humor was an important component of the Gibberish Solution). The orderly might laugh or frown. Frequently the attending nurse, especially if it was a woman, winced at all this distinctly masculine craziness.
There wasn't always a sense of danger involved. Normal people can be nonsensical too. Gibberish studies can potentially extend to healthy subjects, and can be conducted informally within an academic institution. At least that is what Beardsley hoped for. He tried to persuade not just his grad students, but his colleagues to take part in experimental gibberish. A handful of grad students and professors agreed to try it, most didn't. None except me stuck with it. This is what I was there for.
The only truly consensual subject, I did most of my "work" before going to bed. All the day's frustrations were part of the party, and Beardsley, who hated anything that smacked of psychoanalysis, didn't want me babbling after waking up in the morning -- my dreams might distort or cloud the sources of my frustrations. Every three minutes, from the torrent of random words I let roar before going to bed, I would extract from my head the "important" ones and put them in a particular "spatial" model -- the template. I recorded the selected words digitally, and all the templates were catalogued, eventually numbering 1129. I might use, as per Beardsley's orders, a cluster of four plural nouns, followed by a humorous question and answer. For example:
"Apples, rocks, sweatpants, lamps. Who pooped in the ocean? I did, Mr. Mattress head."
Then three more minutes of "free form" babbling, and another template like this, only with new words. Later I found out that the template by itself never mattered at all. Nonetheless, it served a function, because it created a sense of purpose.
One of Beardsley's directives, which of course I didn't like and which is responsible for having left me with the autonomous tail, was that during my babbling sessions I had to soak a towel or cloth with a gooey resin, which I placed on my lower back. I kept those nasty jars of slime Beardsley kept giving me in my refrigerator for four and a half months. I applied the resin to myself dutifully, disinterestedly, and during my more exhausting, vigorous sessions I would feel strange currents tingling warmly up my spine, which I thought were simply the byproduct of some benign process I was unaware of. I did, you must realize, have other things to worry about -- I let my gibberish be informed by my imperiled academic status and various other assorted phenomena, lazily disregarding the resin on my back as no more dangerous than a kind of warming balm or strange jelly that might be sold at a spa or a health shop. Sometimes, 10 or 12 times or so out of my 138 total sessions, I had by chance taken some codeine or morphine some time before the nightly gibberish, and at those times I could feel the warmth of the resin penetrate into the very marrow of my bones.
After taking into account what he told me at our last meeting, my being some sort of baseline for what a "psychopath" is meant to personify seems possible. After all, I was the only one who got involved in prolonged sessions of speaking gibberish on a daily basis, as if such a thing should be second nature to me; apart from the mental patients or prisoners who agreed to the experiment, the few other people who tried it to humor Beardsley always wound up losing their patience almost as fast and belligerently as Dr. Hammond, who actually punched Beardsley in the face after a brief attempt the night before -- but Beardsley, a true obsessive, always kept forcing his fixed idea onto everyone.