Saturday, 1 November 2014

Of Torments and Quandaries

The ‘Non Victorian Chick' girl wrote to me recently (don’t’ worry: I have her permission to use her quote) regarding the posting, ‘Blinkered Justice?,  (Thursday 23rd October).  A most insightful commentary, I think she really has her finger on the pulse when she writes:

“The thing about the picture that strikes me is that the girl is indistinct and fuzzy, the bars are clear and concrete, as are her hands grasping at the bars.

To me it seems a bit symbolic. The girl is becoming indistinct. She's fading a bit, becoming less and less herself. The bars are clear, and concrete. The prison she is trapped in is slowly causing her to fade, and become less and less herself as time goes on. Her hands grasping at the bars are clear as well. So if the girl herself is fading out, her desperation is mounting.  She is trapped, caged, confined, and there is no way out. And as her former identity slowly fades and becomes less distinct, her animal desperation is mounting, as she realises that in time, she will eventually become – unrecognisable.

In a concrete sense, the picture could suggest prolonged sensory deprivation. Her vision could be affected by contacts/frosted goggles/a blindfold worn for long periods of time. Her hearing could be affected by white noise/dripping faucet/ears plugged for long periods of time.  Eventually, she might have laser surgery - after she has lost the ability to read and write.  She could discover - when asked to write out another biography or confession - that she no longer knows how to read and write. She might discover, when told to count the strokes of the cane out loud, that she can no longer remember how to count. 

The Non Victorian Chick”

This got me to thinking (which is one reason I always encourage correspondence).  Years ago in one of my previous incarnations as an electronics engineer I would on occasion be exposed for a longish period to a 800Hz or 1KHz test tone - not especially loud - a very pure sine wave.  Now, the weird thing was, after I turned it off, for a short-ish period afterwards it seemed or felt as if something was missing from the background sounds around me, as if there was a "notch' in my hearing range exactly tuned to the test tone pitch.  This was a very, odd, weird and disconcerting effect.  I was just wondering what effect it would have on the subject of have a constant pure tone pumped into her cell or room in which she has been confined rather than good ol' white noise.  

Going back to the ‘forgetful nurse’, (see the posting of Saturday 18th October) I always liked the dripping tap thing simply because it can be made to seem as if unintentional and yet, given a dead quiet room – and especially if used in conjunction with the subject confined to a straitjacket - it can make for a delightful torture.  This is especially the case if the subject is forbidden to speak unless spoken to first for fear of receiving a damn good caning otherwise while of course being desperate to remind her carer to turn off the handbasin tap tightly before leaving.

In a similar vein; within the story arc of the present thing I am working on - in one of the later sections - the heroine finds herself confined to a room wherein the lighting continually goes on and off (there may, or may not, be an institutional element - I'm not telling - suffice it to say that it represents a significant departure from my previous output).  But imagine a misbehaving fluorescent tube.  This is something that is easy to replicate in ANY situation - it just requires a faulty starter to have been put aside at some previous date, shutters on the windows or thick heavy drapes or some other way to cut out extraneous light and some form of confinement (and straitjackets are easy enough to come by nowadays, even privately).   

People come, people go – the flickering goes on and on and on, or the tap drips and drips and drips maddeningly...  And no one seems to notice…

But another though has just struck (nothing at all to do with the new book):  What if she has been left totally at liberty to do something about it herself, to get up and turn off the dripping handbasin tap, flick off the light switch (though that would plummet her in to total darkness) - physically at liberty, but restrained from doing so by discipline?  She is not allowed to; and if she does, there will be consequences...  The cane or the torment...  Which will she choose?  

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