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Date: Sun, 27 Oct 2002 20:33:03 -0800
From: Michael Andre-Driussi 
Subject: (urth) PEACE: the office of Dr. Van Ness (again!)

Roy and I, on this list, have discussed the big plate of spaghetti that is
PEACE.  The most tangled noodle of the whole thing is, I believe (well, for
the moment at least -- bear with) the visit of Weer to Dr. Van Ness's
office and alll the weirdness that follows.

In the past we have looked at the clear evidence of "bad splices," where
time-frames have been patched one on top of the other.  This is part of
what makes the Dr. V thread difficult to trace, because Weer has visited
this one doctor for 30 years, from a period when he was a skinny loser to
when he was a fat king of the town.  If Weer only had yearly physical
exams, that would be 30 visits to pick and choose from for the splicing.

For the purposes of debate, there must be two conflicting points of view.
Roy has volunteered to champion the view that Weer's situation is
nearly-solipsistic, and the ghosts he sees are puppets of his psyche:  Dr.
Van Ness, as the ghost who most interacts with Weer, is by this action the
most complete puppet of all.

I am putting forth the option of 0% puppetry and 0% solipsism.  The trade
off is 100% time travel.  (And unlike Billy Pilgrim of SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE,
Weer's travel is =not= paradox free.)

Now then, getting down to the gist of it.  The text suggests to me that the
Dr. Van Ness thread is made up of at least three visits, each one in a
different decade: 1953, 1963, 1973.  Each visit had a crisis: the 1953
visit had Weer flustered/tormented by seeing Sherry again (and probably
fearing that she is pregnant by him); it is clear that the 1973 visit was
immediately after his stroke.

So what happened in 1963?  Our timelines get rather hazy there, other than
certain key facts: Weer became president; Weer had three visitors (Bill the
ad man, Eleanor the tree lady, and Charlie Turner the dog man).

The text suggests that Weer bounces around in time at the Doctor's office
(skeleton key: arranging "Life" magazines in sequence by cover, applies
especially to the doctor's office) before more-or-less stabilizing in 1963.

How is this perceived in linear time?  President Weer has had some type of
nervous breakdown, naturally!  Thus all that talk of a future stroke
=really did= happen.  The mirror test, the TAT cards: all real.  And what
did Dr. Van Ness think of it?  He seems to have decided that Weer was
suffering from overwork -- the sudden change in becoming president, moving
from apartment to mansion, etc.  Because note what his advice is: work is
not to be liked; Weer should find a hobby; Weer should walk around some,
and talk to people.  This advice is not really appropriate for "stroke
recovery," which is what Weer is asking about (and he takes it as adequate
for stroke recovery by puttering around in the garden and reliving
conversations); but it is perfect for helping a person out of an episode of
mental illness.

In this way, we see that "the madman is right," in the sense that Weer of
2274 invaded the Weers of 1953, 1963, and 1973 and spoke the truth (as much
as he understood it in a vague post-1974 sort of way) about his situation
(which amounts to "last man on Earth" stuff).  Hence the paradox: does Weer
recall the mental breakdown he had at Dr. Van Ness's office in 1963, or did
it not happen until he did it as a ghost, overriding the Weer of 1963 to
speak out (in a way that Scrooge and Billy Pilgrim cannot)?

(Or wait, have I already said all this before?)



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