Oxygen and Aromasia

by Claës Lundin

translated by Bertil Falk

Table of Contents
Chapter 14
Chapter 16
appear
in this issue.
Chapter 15: The Subduer of Will

“I’ve learned much during my stay in Gothenburg,” Oxygen said to a friend he was accustomed to confiding in. This was the day before the election.

“You’ll learn even more if you’re elected to Parliament,” the friend added.

“I don’t feel any yearning for that goal any more,” Oxygen said.

Surprised, the friend looked at him and expected an explanation.

“Fortunately, I’ve learned to know myself better. I know the reason for my behavior as an electoral candidate, the right reason: the only one. I also feel that I can’t live without Aromasia. But let’s not talk about that at present.”

“However, the subject seems to awaken your feelings.”

“That’s something else I’ve learned here: never keep still, always develop, never believe that you’ve found the best and the highest. The brain organ has permitted me to experience a higher manifestation of the arts, much higher than the scent organ.”

“And yet, I’ve the feeling that you love the admirable ododion-artist perhaps even more than before?”

“I love Aromasia more than ever!” Oxygen exclaimed. “But her art is defeated. I’m sure of that, and it will never win back the high status it had a short while ago. And even my profession is threatened by considerable restrictions. To be sure, as a weather-maker there’s still a lot to be done, but it’s probable that it won’t be long before our foremost function, creating rain or drought for the agriculture, will be totally superfluous, and at the same time farming will come to an end.”

“Before that happens, you’ll nevertheless,” the friend objected in a comforting way, “create many thousand rain clouds.”

“Why wait until the orders cease?” Oxygen asked. “I will sell my share in weather manufacturing. My knowledge could be used for newer inventions. I intend to develop and perfect what other people before me already have begun and devote myself to the underground and through-ground connections between different places.

“That is the big mission for the immediate future. But before I surrender myself entirely to that task, my personal feelings and wishes must be satisfied. To be sure, what’s human stands first, and the ego of the human being takes the front seat. For the present I am busy working in that direction. I know quite well that this is a giant undertaking, more difficult than all other enterprises.”

He stopped speaking and lapsed into thoughtfulness.

“And then, what is this work?” the friend asked. “Could you confide to me its nature and purpose?”

“It’s not a question of piercing the earth or extinguishing volcanoes,” Oxygen replied, “neither is it a question of getting in touch with the other celestial bodies or blowing up the Moon. I don’t shrink back at the prospect of all this, for I know that it can be done. The question is to force a woman’s will power. That’s the task to which I shall now direct all my ingenuity.”

“To force a woman’s will!” the friend exclaimed. “But the woman’s will is no different from the man’s?”

“That’s what I also have believed, but I’ve begun to think that a woman’s will power is something much stronger.”

“That’s what they said in antiquity, especially in the old Scaldic lays that we now find so old-fashioned and not in agreement with the real nature and true goal of mankind. But in daily life they have still continued to pay the least possible attention to what a woman wants.”

“Why talk about antiquity!” Oxygen exclaimed. “We now live under completely different conditions.”

“And therefore,” the friend objected, “you should not think of forcing the will of some other human being, be it a man or a woman.”

“Oh, please, no moral philosophy of the old kind! My wishes must be satisfied: that’s the ambition of every individual and what everyone says if they are sincere. Aromasia has shown that she possesses a will that is opposite to mine, and therefore...”

“Therefore you want to bend her will in accordance with your own,” the friend interrupted. “A lovely prehistoric deed! And it’s the person of today — no, the person of the future — who thinks like that and wants to act like that?”

“The past, the present, the future are all the same to me when it comes to owning Aromasia,” Oxygen explained with an expression of firm conviction.

“Owning!” the friend exclaimed. “That’s another truly prehistoric conception! Should a man own a woman? Should they not both be united with equal rights in marriage?”

“Oh, my friend, you’ve never loved. I can clearly hear that. You stick to theories. I live in real life. I must own Aromasia in order to be happy. That’s how I feel and know and to reach that goal...”

“You must own her,” the friend once again interrupted, “even against her will?”

“No, not against her will, but if that will turns out to be unmanageable, then I must try to force her to be brought into line with my will. That’s what I concentrate on now.”

“Well, then show yourself amiable, good, brave, generous and anything that could have an effect on the unmanageable will. Put the power of persuasion into your words, the enticement of enchantment into your actions, the attractiveness of delight into your appearance.”

“Nonsense! Those are only the old emergency expedients, which have never really accomplished anything — or for only a short time. No, our times demand more powerful means, stronger ones, as the will is stronger that shall be overpowered. I now am working at finding fully appropriate means. With even a comparatively short treatment of the central nervous system, it must be possible to bring about a desired effect on the will and on the sympathetic feelings of the individual treated in this way.”

“In olden days, they simply resorted to a love potion.”

“Don’t joke,” Oxygen said in all seriousness. “We’re talking not about the superstitions of the past but about the scientific resources of our own time. I’ve not been thinking of anything else these days, and you know that I am thinking quiet fast and clear, thanks to the specific physical training my brain has undergone.

“While I outwardly worked for my election, talked at meetings and did what was expected of a candidate, I inwardly worked on the solution of my mission of happiness. Now everything is prepared. I know which spots in the brain and the spinal marrow have to be treated.

‘However, I still lack the special apparatus, and what’s even more important, I neither don’t know how I’ll be able to get near the object that will undergo this treatment. Aromasia avoids me. She offers her hand to that silly Apollonides. But tomorrow she’ll give a concert at the Öregryte block. Then I can approach her.

“She won’t follow me willingly, but there is a way. A light stream of gas from the bottle you can see here may well accomplish something. And if I only get enough time, even without a special apparatus, to do what I’ve thought out, then I hope I will have at least begun to force the will of the intractable one so that she will no longer avoid me.

“If I can then retrieve her love, I will evoke a tender devotion gradually and scientifically. Ever since I felt the influence of the brain organ for the first time, I’ve been increasing my knowledge of the brain’s function.”


Proceed to Chapter 16...

Story by Claës Lundin
Translation copyright © 2007 by Bertil Falk

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