Saturday, September 14, 2013

Deciding Day

A passage from Intensive Care (1970) by Janet Frame:

Now let me tell you more about this Act of Parliament called the Human Delineation Act. On my birthday, the Deciding Day, everyone will be counted and tested and with all the information gathered the computer with all our history inside it will look at each one and say sharply like a soldier, Human, Animal, Human, Animal, depending on what you are, and if you are human everyone will smile at you and say 'Fine weather we’re having, congratulations,' and you will go free and be able to live in the world as a human being; on the other hand if the computer decides you are animal, how different it will be for you in your future life, for at once they will kidnap you, capture you, and put you in a cage and take you to a factory if you are suitable and they will experiment on you or keep you locked up and stare at you day and night, study you until the situation is more than you can bear. Your legs will wither from not walking and you will be forced to screw up your eyes to see in the dark, blindness will come eventually and death, and if you think I paint a grim picture of what will happen, then I can only say that you who are reading this are lucky not to be living in the time I write of. Do not be deceived — you may be living in it and not know, because two times can live together and the one doesn’t know that the other time is living because if you’re in one time whatever would make you want to think there is another there going on through the light of day and the dark of night? Is your world my world? Do you still have seasons in the year, Christmas followed by autumn when the leaves turn gold and float from the trees until the trees are bare and winter has come with frosts and cold mornings, and then before you know it spring has come round again with the flowering currant. If you have seasons like this then you are living in our part of the world and you will know about our Act of Parliament which sets an example to all other people who love freedom and democracy. Are you preparing for the Deciding? Are you afraid?

Intensive Care (paperback edition, 1990s)

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