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08 mars 2007 @ 20:42
The Perils of Technology  
Dear Apperception,

I beg your apologies for not writing sooner -- my faint constitution, which as it is might be troubled by sudden changes in humidity, the excitation of the nerves, the presence of dander or soot, and of course my heliophobia (in the summer, I must often walk about town with a woman, holding her parasol aloft under the guise of chivalry, when really it is to escape the dreadful sun), has failed me once again, though in this case I might truthfully say that the incident did not stem from the various congenital afflictions for which I am well known. Allow me to explain.

I had been enjoying a late-summer morning on the balcony, reading the paper and finishing my tea, when in the society pages I read that an Elephant had been brought to the sea-shore. I had spotted one once, at the circus, though my view was so constricted by the hats of the matrons that I had never received a proper impression of these magnificent beasts of Black Africa, and needless to say I was resolved at that moment to go.

And it was there at the board-walk that I had my brush with Death. Mm. Mélingue and I must have spent three-quarters of an hour searching for the Elephant, and I naturally enough began to complain of the heat, when Mélingue suggested I try this new concoction to cool myself, an "ice cream". Have you heard of it? It is, I suppose, a sweetened milk or cheese of some sort which is cooled by some means, perhaps by electricity or by vapors, into a sort of slurry. I put the cream close to my mouth, and I was fascinated by how cold it felt against my sun-warmed lips -- what wizardry was this? But after this point my reason failed me. I couldn't quite tell if I were supposed to eat the stuff, as a cheese, or drink it like buttermilk... I guessed the latter, given its consistency, and the white cream down my throat created a most fantastic sensation.

But then I began to worry. The human body, the stasis of fluids and humors, indeed the very functioning of the heart, all depends upon a relatively even temperature of the tissues as it is found in Nature, with the various changes happening at the exterior (note how all our most vital organs are found the deepest within us, and the most extraneous parts on the perimeter), and I began to worry that this sudden disequilibrium would have grave consequences.

I contracted pleuropneumonia only days later. This "ice-cream", as far as I'm concerned, is -- along with the auto-mobile -- simply one more sign of a society in decay, of a people forced to amuse itself with deadly technological trivialities. It is dreadful.