Participation Mystique Number Five: Implants

Participation Mystique: Number Five


My first familiarity with the implant scheme came after overhearing a colleague at the copy machine down the hall from my office. I was hired to be a visiting lecturer in the philosophy department.  The department had lost their Schopenhauer expert and although I am an anthropologist, I was first received notoriety for my book, An Exegesis of Shopenhaur’s Position on Marriage With Special Attention to its Meaning for Women. Schoepenhaur had famously declared against marriage for himself with the comment, “Marrying means to halve one’s rights and double one’s duties.” If this were true for a man, how much more true for a woman who had no rights at the time. I argue, in the book, that marriage destroys any chance for women’s rights and piles duties on that cannot in any case be escaped. I openly wondered whether there were any advantages at all in the married state. The book proposed social arrangements between men and women that could not be called reformist. My thesis was decried by the so-called women’s movement of the period. The criticism of these relatively conservative legions (who supported a status quo with the goal of inserting more females into columns of capitalists, politicians, and other oppressors) helped to bring publicity to my book and sales were good.

In any case, here was I teaching Schopenhauer, listening in on the morning small talk among colleagues, and forever wondering about whether a malignant will was in charge of their daily drivel. This particular colleague, often copying tests at the last minute before her first class, complained about a sudden knee pain. She put it down to jogging or maybe a hike up Mt. Eleanor. In any case, in a week or two, she reported, again over the copy machine, that she had been informed that she needed surgery to repair a tear in her meniscus. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to anyone at the time, the copy machine had been tinkered with. It released gases that sedated anyone who regularly used it. The sedation enabled aliens to control the content of lectures as well as the comments the sedatees made in faculty meetings. If one goes back into the archives of the college, one will note that faculty meetings stopped making sense in about 1982, the year the new copy machines were installed in most of the buildings on campus. One will also note that sudden injuries and surgeries, especially on knees, began to be common.  Relatively fit people, still only in early middle age, were in and out of hospitals from that time on until the early 2000s. Of course, each of them became more and more impotent in the classrooms and became so irascible that they started a union. But it was not only the campus that began to change. Persons in the  surrounding community were plagued by back problems. Hospitals sprang up where none had been and large orthopedic practices opened for business. Though no one knew at the time, these surgeons happily opened back after back for the purpose of implanting radio receivers that would allow the transmission of alien commands.

The aliens had set up a post in the middle of a basalt gravel pit on a rural hillside in the adjoining county. An innocent seeming antenna was installed on top of a small shack, a structure no bigger than a fishing hut used in upper midwestern America for ice fishing. It was, and was intended to be, inconspicuous. However, I had, often late at night, occasion to drive a road that passes the gravel pit. I frequently noticed that not only were lights on inside the hut, but there were sometimes strong lights projecting from its roof up into the sky. Only after several years of careful sleuthing did I finally catch them at it. Ships as big as football fields hovered in the clouds above (they came only on cloudy nights, presumably to hide their presence from anyone who might be out in the early dark hours of the morning) and projected earthward what appeared to be strings of many colors. These were caught up by the antenna on the roof of the hut and then seemed to streak down that antenna into the hut itself. Bursts of orange and gold and blue and green and colors I could not name illuminated the small hut (in which there were no beings that I could discern) and then dissolved into a steady beam that seemed to gather more and more energy and then resolve itself into a ball that was absorbed by something, perhaps a transmitter, in the building. It was after years of noting times of these projections that I was able to see that these nocturnal visitations to the gravel pit corresponded with shopping sprees in local malls.

As I watched, read, followed and otherwise tracked the transmissions of the alien craft, I realized that implants in knees and backs were just the tip of the iceberg. Alien directed orthopedic surgeons and obstetrician had been recruited to implant receivers in every orifice that they could possibly make an excuse for entering. Meanwhile, women’s health specialists and even the National Institutes of Health changed recommendations for evaluations and examinations and legions of women, at least those with insurances that had cunningly been made to cover a new range of procedures, trotted in for appointments and left with urges they had never had before.

If one looks at the shopping behaviors of women from the 1950s on, it is clear that implanted desires outstripped good sense. Objects never heard of became necessities in every American household. A woman hither to most careful with the family budget began to crave dishwashers and garbage disposals and then foreign made coffee makers and grinders. Once the desire for coffee makers seemed fulfilled, new one cup makers became a rage as did machines the served only to heat and foam milk, something no one knew was needed in order to enjoy a morning beverage before.  Refrigerators became almost human in their ability to create ice, chop salads, and wrap and store a variety of meats. Kitchen range/ovens were now able to mix and bake breads with the flip of a switch. Toasters, toaster ovens, and hot pots came in a variety of matching colors. Homes could be programmed from long distances to turn up heat, cook a meal, and welcome you at your door with a martini and a robotic dog. All of these desires resulted in purchases that caused the national debt to climb and  enslaved the population. No one could imagine ever being free of payments. But the transmitters urged them on, issued more credit cards, and initiated more and more desire. Only a few remained debt free and these hid themselves in back woods. They tried to stay “off the grid” , avoid doctors, and tear up credit cards. They found each other as they could and amused themselves with reruns and contra dancing. They didn’t know about the aliens, but they did know something was back assward.

This is the current state of things. There is no turning back. The ships are waiting, full of immigrants who know how to sew and weld and plant crops and harvest and shovel driveways and fix cars. They all have chainsaws. The ships are just above the clouds, waiting for the inevitable calling in of all loans, depletion of social security, and aging of the resident population. They are waiting.


About Llyn De Danaan

LLyn De Danaan is an anthropologist and author. She writes fiction and nonfiction. Katie Gale: A Coast Salish Woman's Life on Oyster Bay was published by the University of Nebraska Press. She is currently a speaker for Humanities Washington.
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