BY THOMAS HARDY
Notes on contagion
I literally cannot say whether Lemon was mistaken about his “emptiness.” As for doom – enough doom for everybody – I don’t want to say. Given:
Then a soul in the “incarnation foyer” should expect to be born nearer to the end of a race than its beginning – there are more places available. Put it that way (the “Doomsday Argument”).
The focus of my essay is a contagion which spread over the world, altering landscapes, but in the case of its Cantabrigian epicentre, not gravely so.
Lemon is comprehended in that focus because a component of the contagion originated with him, at any rate it settled its form in him. This component or “meme” might be described as the strong inclination to move from ontological facts to bodily praxis. Several weeks before Lemon died he passed this “meme” to a woman called Vanessa Curtis, who took it with her to the City Church on St. Albert’s Road. In that faith-clogged environs it bred catastrophically with a “meme” that could be described as the ressurection of the flesh. The bloated and deadly progeny possessed characteristics belonging to neither parent. After Lemon's suicide, incidentally, he was also infected by this hybrid strain.
Chinwag is comprehended in my focus because of his influential role in containing the breakout. He is the one case I am looking at in detail. I had him, Samantha, and the enraged taxonomer to chose from. Angels are reptiles? He would have totally spacked out. Were it not for the latent violence of these three . . . well. It doesn’t bear speaking about.
"[...] I rose at night, and visited
The Cave of the Unborn:
And crowding shapes surrounded me
For tidings of the life to be,
Who long had prayed the silent Head
To haste its advent morn.
Their eyes were lit with artless trust,
hope thrilled their every tone;
"A scene the loveliest, is it not?
A pure delight, a beauty-spot?
Where all is gentle, true and just,
And darkness is unknown? [...]"