Too Much on His Mind by Arthur C. Carey

Tell us what you thought of the August 2009 issue

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Post August 12, 2009, 05:17:53 AM

Too Much on His Mind by Arthur C. Carey


Because if this tale had ended any other way, I would have given the author an Encyclopedia Of My Mind.

The bad advice of the doctor was in fact, difficult to get through, and only works as a semi-parody to set up the finale. Studies are showing that the mind can either manipulate info, or store it, but neither to extremes at once very often.

Kim Peek, the inspiration for Rain Man, has one of the best memories in the world. But he pays the coin of processing. Many more of us are clever manipulators. But I for one get to relive everything new every five years because my memory is weaker than average. C'est la vie.

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Post August 14, 2009, 05:42:33 PM

My response to this one probably tells more about me...

Than it does about the story. I absolutely loved the first part. Very important issues about the nature of human consciousness (and sanity) were raised. I kept thinking about Van Gogh. And about William Blake's "Augeries of Innocence"

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

I wanted to see the story continue its serious tone, so I was left feeling unsatisfied when it turned comic/ironic at the end. However, short stories, by definition, have to tell a story. I guess of the three Heinlein story templates, I would have liked to have seen this one become "Boy Meets Girl", rather than "The Man Who Learned Better."

But then, that is just me. If I mentally excise the ending and consider the rest of the story, it is quite satisfying. And since the reader now has permission to create the text....

"Thus is revealed the total existence of writing: a text is made of multiple writings, drawn from many cultures and entering into mutual relations of dialogue, parody, contestation, but there is one place where this multiplicity is focused and that place is the reader, not, as was hitherto said, the author. The reader is the space on which all the quotations that make up a writing are inscribed without any of them being lost; a text’s unity lies not in its origin but in its destination. "

Roland Barthe "The Death of the Author"

http://evans-experientialism.freewebspa ... thes06.htm

Anyway, I like stories that make me think. Big thumbs up. Great use of description to "show" rather than "tell" the tale. Real talent here.
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Post August 17, 2009, 12:56:25 PM

Too Much on His Mind

Towards the end of this story, I thought it would become akin to “The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, at which point I would have been disappointed. However, the somewhat humorous/ironic ending provided was even more disappointing.
If the writing in the rest of the piece had been average or sub-par, the ending might have been excused, but the vocabulary, ideas, and questions raised in the main body of the story promise a exceptional ending – which was a promise unfilled. Perhaps the author could submit an alternative ending in the Forum, for those of us who feel cheated.
The meticulous detail in the first two dozen paragraphs is a nice mirror for the remembered details when Mr. Devlin verbalizes his tale of woe. Perhaps something radical could have been proposed for the patient – like completely covering his eyes and ears when he wanted ‘down time’ and reading facts before going onto ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire’. Another way to go might be to have the patient put into an isolation tank where he begins to go crazy remembering everything, before he finally begins to come out of it.
I’m working on a piece right now where I have 3 supercomputers that have merged into one, 130 years in the future, and they are on a journey to a nearby star. They can’t forget anything, and they can’t hide any thoughts from each other, and it eventually is going to make them crazy.
The 4th paragraph into the story, the receptionist says, “Doctor has been expecting you.” She probably meant to say “The doctor has been expecting you” or “Doctor Clevenger has been expecting you”.
Alternative ending? about it, Mr. Carey.

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Post August 17, 2009, 02:18:23 PM

Just a couple other things:

For my taste, POV was all over the place. I typically prefer a single POV or a clearly denoted change, eg, section break. I find it jarring to have it shift from paragraph to paragraph, but that's just my preference.

While we're told that Devlin does show signs of strain "like someone who hadn't slept well lately," I would think, given the overload and his fears, that he would be in a state of near incapacitation and that just getting to the dr's office would've required a monumental effort manifest in his physical bearing.

Devlin's recall of the temperature on the bank sign is not all that impressive, although the amount of time he had to wait for the light to change was :) … Further, I kind of think that his noticing the temperature drop in the office has more to do with a heightened sensory system than with memory.

I wasn't convinced that Devlin's case would strike Clevenger as so profitable a windfall.

Well written for the most part, but I didn't care for the title (yes, I'm picking a nit, and I too felt the ending was a let down.
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Post August 18, 2009, 11:38:34 AM

Too much on his mind

Okay, okay, okay. How about Mr. Devlin is put in an isolation tank and then, he is shown & read book-loads of facts & figures...and the Space Administration begins to use his brain as a mega computer because he can make decisions in half the time as a regular computer (which would be really fast) because he can pick up on patterns. And then he's ready to be shot into space, but NASA decides to just cut off his head, because the rest is just dead meat anyways... Believe me, I think about this stuff at 3 in the morning ... I need a life.

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