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                  Achilles Anophtheis (Achilles revisited)
The director walked onto the stage, gingerly adjusting his radiation mask in
order to fit the microphone beneath it. His nervous cough boomed through the
hall. After shuffling the papers on the podium before him, he began.
"Welcome ladies and gentlemen of the Pre-Apocalypse Archaeological Society.
We have called this session to impart to you a matter of the utmost
importance, a discovery of the highest order. As you are aware, our teams
have only recently been able to sift through the debris of the razed cities
of our belligerent predecessors, thanks to the efforts of our colleagues at
the Physical Research Society who, with the aid of Allah, have made our task
infinitely easier with the invention of a radiation suit which allows our
field workers to work even in areas of the highest radiation concentration:
the cities of what was formerly the United States of America. The
discoveries are literally pouring in, and we have our hands full simply
cataloguing the numerous finds. Our first find was a small rectangular
object, containing a spool of thin ribbon, which one of our historians
identified as what was known as a cassette. Simply put, it was a device on
which sounds could be recorded. From its small size, our historian
conjectured that it was of a type designed for recording the human voice
rather than music. Armed with this belief, we managed to convince the Censor
Society to allow us to reconstruct the primitive machine to play back the
message we hoped it would contain. They agreed; on the condition that we did
not do so until they had a chance to screen it for the negative influences
that caused the downfall of the last corrupt civilization. They duly
approved it and we are now ready for its first public presentation.
"Before we begin, I would like to explain some of the terms used in the
recording, for those of you who lack the benefit of an historical training.
The tape is evidently the recording of a psychologist. You are all aware
that the sacrilege which led to the destruction of the Nuclear Age was
primarily caused by the decline in religious belief and values. A
psychologist was the person who supplanted the role of the confessor in this
blasphemous time. He labored under the delusion that the immortal soul was
accessible on a scientific, human level; and, like most of the scientists of
the day, impiously discounted Allah as an unnecessary complication. We found
an infamous saying which pervaded much of the Pre-Apocalypse literature:
ÔReligion is the opiate of the peopleÕ. Well, psychology became the new
Ôopiate of the people.Õ
The patient with whom the doctor is dealing with in the recording, has been
identified as a prominent businessman of the day. He is what was called an
arbitrageur. A man who specialized in dealings on their stock market, a term
I am sure all of you are familiar with. In any case, an arbitrageur bought
and sold companies for a profit. In the few pieces of literature we have
been able to recover, it seems that such men were regarded as the heroes of
their age. I refer of course to the numerous copies we have of the
autobiographies of Donald Trump, Robert Campeau and the like. Evidently the
culture considered these books to be of great importance, for we found huge
amounts of them in large buildings. This was apparently for safekeeping
since the storage facilities were located well away from the centres of
attack in the event of a nuclear war. The periodicals of the day also
reflect the reverence in which these men were held, as they are frequently
mentioned. It is another mark of the degradation of the society that the
primary estimate of a manÕs worth became the amount of money he earned. It
is difficult in this holy age to conceive of such blasphemy, but it is
necessary that we do so in order to avoid the same traps into which they
fell. We have managed to reconstruct the scenario as far as was possible,
but we endeavored to retain all of the original conversation in addition to
our own narration. I donÕt think that there is anything further that you
need to know about the recording, except perhaps that it appears to be
incomplete. I would ask that you remain as silent as possible, because the
tape is of very low quality and the accent is very difficult to understand.
If you are having trouble, I suggest that you follow along in the
transcripts with which we have provided you." The Director signaled for the
tape to begin, and left the stage.
Dr. Zeis loaded the cassette into the machine and tested it. It wouldnÕt do
to have it chew up the tape again, especially not for so important a
patient: the sort of patient who could make his career . . . or break it. He
knew he couldnÕt afford to squander his good fortune. As his mind wandered
over the seemingly endless ramifications of success, the static crackle of
the intercom interrupted his reveries. It was his secretary warning him that
Mr. Reussi was on his way in. The doctor rewound the tape and offered up a
quick prayer that it would work. The door swung open and one of the worldÕs
richest, most powerful men strode in.
Mr. Oswald Achilles Reussi had made his fortune by taking over companies and
turning them around. He was able to start at such a high level because of
the substantial inheritance he had received from his father. He was rich
enough to ensure that he received only the best sort of publicity, and that
was why he had been so irate when the media learned that he was in therapy
and had printed the story with a glee that only those who made their living
from sordid details were capable of acquiring. Dr. Zeis had regretted his
indiscretion, but that sort of publicity was simply too tempting to resist.
He had only been able to calm the fuming man by convincing him that it was
essential that he not be afraid of the stigma of therapy in order for it to
work for him. An old dodge, but it had performed its function and placated
the incensed patient.
Oswald crossed the room with a gruff greeting (Dr. Zeis had learned early
that this was not a man to waste time). He took his customary position,
sprawled on the couch. Dr. Zeis did not place any value in FreudÕs theories
regarding the merits of the couch, but he didnÕt have the heart, or the
nerve, to object.
"Well Mr. Reussi," he began, glancing down at the few notes he had been able
to salvage from the previous sessionÕs mangled tape, "last week, we
established with a fair degree of certainty, that you are suffering from an
unresolved Oedipus complex. This, in turn, has contributed to your success,
by engendering in you a sense of competition with your father. The matter
was not helped by the fact that you frequently suffered comparison with him
in your youth.
"This week I hope to confirm the conclusions we drew through a brief
examination of your present life. This examination will, hopefully, yield
manifestations of this dysfunction, and then we may direct our efforts to
its resolution. So, perhaps you could tell me about what is troubling you
most at present." Oswald shifted uncomfortably and seemed to be searching
for a topic. He eventually settled, and began.
"YouÕve probably heard about my attempted takeover of Trojan Inc., the
rubber company. I was not in it for the money, I suppose that all I really
wanted was to complete a deal of historic proportions. At any rate, I had
submitted a bid, and, because of the amount of money involved, didnÕt expect
to encounter any serious competition. The board of directors was not very
happy with the offer, but I knew the shareholders would not allow such an
opportunity to pass them by. Just when I was hammering out the final details
and preparing to submit the offer to the Securities Commission for final
approval, a former friend of mine, Alexander Atreides, came in and pulled a
white knight, right under my nose."
"IÕm sorry," the doctor interrupted, "but IÕm afraid youÕll have to explain
technical terms to me; IÕm not well versed in the language of business. I
donÕt understand what you mean by a Ôwhite knightÕ."
" Oh, thatÕs fairly straightforward. A white knight refers to a strategy
that companies use to prevent being taken over by a hostile party. They find
someone who they would like to take over the company, and then they convince
him to undertake the attempt by promising him the endorsement of the board
of directors. Although in this case, Alexander offered his services to the
directors, convincing them with guarantees of job security. So the board
naturally jumped at the chance, and he stole the company from right under
"How do you feel about his actions?"
"I was angry at first, but now heÕs in serious financial trouble because his
attempt to pull off Ôthe greatest takeover in historyÕ is being stalled by
the companyÕs Chief Executive Officer." "I read something about it in the
paper. HeÕs attempting to take over Trojan, but the head of the company,
Hector Prince, wonÕt let him."
"ThatÕs right." replied Oswald. "Trojan is the worldÕs largest manufacturer
of condoms, and with the present scare over social diseases, itÕs business
is booming. They also own several tire companies; basically, they own
anything that involves the use of rubber."
"Can you help Mr. Atreides?" asked the psychologist.
"Yes, but IÕm not going to. I believe that this is some sort of divine
retribution. Fate is paying him back for cheating me out of my company."
said Oswald complacently.
"Did he do something illegal?"
"You mean in stealing Trojan from me?" The doctor nodded.
"Not really, but itÕs not the sort of thing one does to oneÕs friends. I
mean he knew that I wanted the takeover, and that this company was the
target I had chosen over five years ago. I had just been biding my time
until an opportunity presented itself; and when it did, he was right there
to take advantage of things I had told him as a friend . . . confidential
things." "Mr. Reussi, I have heard nearly enough," the doctor said, putting
down his notebook, "but there is one more thing that I need to know. If Mr.
Atreides had not done what he did in the Trojan takeover, would you help him
to defeat Hector?" "I would jump at the chance of making that dog Hector
squirm. HeÕs one of the most despicable men I know. He never fails to point
out that my father married into money, while his family is one of those that
trace their ancestry to the Mayflower."
"Then, if I may, I suggest that you go to Mr. AtreidesÕ aid." the doctor
knew that this would not be received warmly and was prepared to defend it.
"Why should I help Alexander? HeÕs as much of a bastard as Hector!" The
doctor cleared his throat.
"Firstly, it would be to both of your advantages to see Mr. Prince out.
YouÕve already stated that you would like to see him squirm, well hereÕs
your chance. And to top it all, you would have a chance to be part of the
largest takeover in history. You stated yourself that this was your main
motive in the matter." "ItÕs true that I would like to see Hector squirm,
but I hate to have to save Alexander in the process." said Oswald
"Secondly, we have already established that you have an unresolved Oedipus
complex and-" "IÕm not absolutely certain that I understand what it is to
have an Ôunresolved Oedipus complexÕ," Oswald interrupted.
"I apologize for not clarifying my psychological terms for you. An Oedipus
complex, as you are probably aware, is a normal childhood phenomena. Because
of the childÕs natural love for his mother, he views his father as being in
competition with him for that love, and, as a result, develops a hatred of
him. The complex is usually resolved by the childÕs development of a
Ôcastration complex.Õ Two primary reasons contribute to this: first the
child is frequently scolded for touching his genital area, and, secondly he
may see a naked girl and believe that she has been punished for the same
crime, by having the offending organ amputated. In his irrational fear of
castration, the boy tries to compensate by ridding himself of all thoughts
of hatred by repression, and attempts to love his father. Naturally, this is
a drastically simplified explanation of a complicated process. Do you
understand now?" asked Dr. Zeis. "Yes. You believe that I did not suffer
from this . . . uhh . . . "
"Castration complex?" offered the doctor. "ThatÕs it," said Oswald, "and
therefore I never overcame the sense of competition with my father."
"Yes," confirmed the psychologist, "thatÕs it in a nutshell. You see, you
were never really around your parents when you were a child, and because
they spent so little time with you, they were loathe to scold you. Also you
said yourself that you frequently suffered comparison with your father when
you were a child, and this served to enhance the sense of competition. So
now I am attempting to suggest a therapy that will aid you in overcoming
your dysfunction." "But how will helping Alexander accomplish anything?"
asked Oswald dubiously.
"The only way to triumph over the problem is to consciously avoid behaviour
that it causes. And the scenario you have just presented to me involving
your friend, Mr. Atreides, is just such behaviour." explained the doctor.
"You mean to say that I am merely acting under a compulsion when I refuse to
aid Alexander?" asked Oswald dubiously. The doctor nodded. "But wouldnÕt you
do the same thing if a friend of yours stabbed you in the back like he has
done to me? and stolen my dream?" asked Oswald.
"I anticipated this objection." said the doctor complacently. "That is why I
have a third reason. Ask yourself, if you were in his position would you
have acted similarly?"
"Well . . . " hesitated Oswald.
"You see that such behaviour is common in the business world, and you would
probably have done the same had the roles been reversed." said the doctor
triumphantly. "What you must realize is that all these years of competition
have made you unable to accept defeat. The only way you can accept losing to
Mr. Atreides without causing yourself considerable mental anguish, is by
being a factor in his destruction, taking your revenge."
"I still donÕt know," said Oswald doubtfully, "I canÕt-" The sound of a
telephone ringing broke into the conversation. A look of anger passed across
the doctorÕs face as he stood up to answer it.
"I apologize Mr. Reussi," he said. "I thought I told my receptionist to hold
all my calls." "No need to apologize," said Oswald, pulling a handsized,
rectangular object from his pocket. "I believe itÕs my phone." He unfolded
the phone and extended a concealed antenna. "Yes?" he said tersely, and
listened for a few seconds, his face growing taut. "Are you sure?" he asked.
After listening for a few more seconds, he folded the phone back up and
folded the antenna.
"That was a friend of mine," he explained, "Robert Patrolo, telling me that
his company was just taken over by Trojan. HectorÕs first move upon gaining
control was to have him removed from the chairmanship. Hector knew that
would get me." He remained seated for a few seconds and then stood up,
pulling on his jacket.
"I believe you are right doctor." he said. "I am going to help Mr. Atreides;
and when we succeed IÕm going to throw Hector out like a dog." and so
saying, he left the room. The doctor sat down again. He wondered over the
manÕs motives, and came to the conclusion that he had not accomplished very
much. All Reussi was doing was transferring his wrath from Mr. Atreides to
"Ah well," he thought, "I shall have to try a different approach next week."
He pressed the stop button on his tape recorder.
The Director returned to the stage and signaled for the tape to be stopped.
"I believe, gentlemen, that you are all aware of the profane theories of
Sigmund Freud?" he glance around the auditorium observing their nods.
"Well, for the first time, we are able to see those fanciful theories in
actual application, rather than in text. The members of the Censor Society
have graciously permitted us to listen to this recording in order to allow
us to see the depths to which rationality can plunge. We must remember, as
we attempt to rebuild our society, that the only way is GodÕs way, as
specifically set out in our sacred Books. I hope that you have gleaned the
dire lesson that this recording has to offer. We must, at all costs, avoid
the unplumbable depths of depravity to which the Nuclear Age descended, and
construct our Society in accordance with the decrees of God. Praise God!"
The audience rose and emphatically returned his farewell, well aware that
they were being closely observed, and that any failure could result in the
severest consequences.
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