“All right, let’s rehearse it again. ‘Jack, show the gentleman that bolt of the yellow watered silk.’ Go on—that’s your cue”
“Jack, carry me across yonder mud-puddle.”
“With pleasure, milady.”
“Don’t say ‘with pleasure’—sounds naughty.”
“As you wish, milady.”
“Jack, that is very good-there’s been a marked improvement.”
“Don’t suppose it has anything to do with that you’ve your fist lodged in my arse-hole.”
Eliza laughed gaily. “Fist? Jack, this is but two fingers. A fist would be more like—this!”
Jack felt his body being turned outside in—there was some thrashing and screaming that was cut short when his head accidentally submerged in the sulphurous water. Eliza got a grip on his hair and hauled his head back up into the cold air with her other hand.
“You’re sure this is how they do it in India?”
“Would you like to register… a complaint?”
“Remember, Jack: whenever serious and competent people need to get things done in the real world, all considerations of tradition and protocol fly out the window.”
There followed a long, long, mysterious procedure—tedious and yet somehow not.
“What’re you groping about for?” Jack muttered faintly. “My gall-bladder is just to the left.”
“I’m trying to locate a certain chakra—should be somewhere around here—“
What’s a chakra?”
“You’ll know when I find it.”
Some time later, she did, and then the procedure took on greater intensity, to say the least. Suspended between Eliza’s two hands, like a scale in a market-place, Jack could feel his balance-point shifting as quantities of fluids were pumped between internal reservoirs, all in preparation for some Event. Finally, the crisis— Jack’s legs thrashed in the hot water as if his body were trying to flee, but he was staked, impaled. A bubble of numinous light, as if the sun were mistakenly attempting to rise inside his head. Some kind of Hindoo apocalypse played out. He died, went to Hell, ascended into Heaven, was reincarnated as various braying, screeching, and howling beasts, and repeated this cycle many times over. In the end he was reincarnated, just barely, as a Man. Not a very alert one.
“Did you get what you wanted?” she inquired. Very close to him.
Jack laughed or wept soundlessly for a while.
“In some of these strange Gothickal German towns,” he at last said, “they have ancient clocks that are as big as houses, all sealed up most of the time, with a little door where a cuckoo pops out upon the hour to sing. But once a day, it does something special, involving more doors, and once a week, something even specialer, and for all I know, at the year, decade and century marks, rows of great doors, all sealed shut by dust and age, creak open, driven by sudden descent of ancient weights on rusted chains, and the whole inner working of the thing unfold through those openings. Hitherto unseen machines grind into action, strange and surprising things fly out—flags wave, mechanical birds sing—old pigeon-shit and cobwebs raining down on spectators’ heads—Death comes out and does a fandago—Angels blow trumpets—Jesus writhes on the cross and expires—a mock naval battle plays out with repeated discharge of cannons—and would please take your arm out of my asshole now?”
“I did a long time ago—you nearly broke it!” Peeling off the knitted length of sheep-gut like an elegant lady removing a silken glove.
“So this is a permanent condition?”
“Stop whining. A few moments ago, Jack, unless my eyes deceived me, I observed a startlingly large amount of yellow bile departing your body, and floating away downstream.”
“What are you talking about? I didn’t barf.”
“Think harder, Jack.”
“Oh—that kind. I should not call it yellow but a pearly off white. Thought it has been years since I saw any. Perhaps it has yellowed over time, like cheese. Very well! Let’s say ‘twas yellow.”
"Do you know what yellow bile is the humour of, Jack?"
"What am I, a physician?"
"It is the humour of anger and ill-temper. You were carrying a lot of it around."
Neal Stephenson, Quicksilver bls. 411-12. Þessi gaur hafði skrifað þetta upp fyrir mig.