Maximilian Van Duult
by Will Santino
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Noctambulating through the streets of London, an epiphany blossomed between his ears. Several or so days later, on the roof of Puddingsgate over several thimbles of grapejuice he explained his theory to Robert Hooke and Christopher Wren and the Reverend Wilkins, who, having read the Yellowist manifesto, was naked (Though his privates were covered thrion-style by a scallop shell and on his head he wore a silver wig). “The Jellyfish floating around in the Impossible Specimen’s brain must eat something, but what?”
“Not bread,” said Hooke, glumly.
“They eat our sense!” declared Van Duult. “We see, we hear, we taste, and touch, and smell, and these Faculties pour Sense into our brains, where it is consumed by the Jellyfish. They digest the sense, and excrete it. What is it then?”
“Bread?” said Hooke hopefully.
“Nonsense!” huffed Christopher Wren, building a church of cards.
“Exactly!” shouted Van Duult. “Non-sense!
“Not bread,” said Hooke, a dried plum of glum.
Van Duult continued. “And the Non-sense that they excrete is eventually processed by our brains. When, I ask, does the non-sense thunderwhistle through our minds?”
“Dispense with the Socratics,” said naked Wilkins.
Van Duult leaned forward and tapped his wisp-bound cranium with forefinger: “When we close our eyes each night: our dreams!”
Hooke called for more grapejuice
Van Duult named the jellyfish ‘Oneirozoans’, which means ‘dream-life’. As the sooty sky pinkblushed with wet clouds, and nets of birds were cast out over buildings and reeled back into trees, Maximilian Van Duult expanded upon his Theory.
VAN DUULT: Let us give to the Impossible Specimen the term ‘Endoneiric,’ meaning the oneirozoans live within its body. Thus appellated, we are obliged to wonder where our oneirozoans are. We dream, therefore we must have oneirozoans. Is my logic sound?
WILKINS: Hermetically sealed, good sir!
VAN DUULT: I propose that humans, indeed cats and dogs and even, mayhap, grasshoppers and dumbledores as well, are ‘exoneiric.’
HOOKE: Their dreams live outside their body?
VAN DUULT: Ah, but—the onierozoans live outside their body; yet they eat the intra-cranial sense, and must, too, excrete the Non-sense into our heads. Our dreams still take place within our skulls, when we fall sleep and all the Non-sense is cognized.
WREN: But how do the oneirozoans live outside our head yet eat and excrete within our brains?
VAN DUULT: The ‘Hydrodermis.’ Listen: oneirozoans are naturally Aqueous animals, but the brains of Mammals, and Lacertillians, and Birds—well, I don’t know about birds—have much less liquid than the brain of the Impossible Specimen, it being a life-long ocean-dweller. The oneirozoans developed a buoyant body of water, much larger than themselves, and, anchoring two long Tentacles in our brain, slip out of our ears, catch a draft or breeze and travel the high winds above us. Our sense is pulled up through one tentacle (thinner than a hair, impossible to see or feel!) into the body of the Oneirozoan where it goes through the proper alimentary process and then, having been digested into Non-sense, is evacuated down the other tentacle (finer than a cherub’s eyelash!), back into our heads, to become a detail of a dream. Fellows, consider the consequences! Ten or one-hundred Oneirozoans in their hydrodermii floating above a Doe or a Bear or a Wolf can hardly be noticed, perhaps a faint scrim of airbound moisture, but, but, but, the multitudinous and labyrinthine lives of Man necessitate an incredible amount of Onierozoans, an UNIMAGINABLE amount, great migrating masses, collections, cities in the sky—
WILKINS: God’s Wounds, Van Duult, you mean clouds!
They sat around their treestump table on the rooftop of Puddingsgate, staring at the sky: chiaroscuro cirrusings like fleets of ghostwhales beneath great stacked cliffsteppes of marblestone. All around, filling the sky, horses and tops and dragons and clock-hands and hourglasses and faces and all the undiscovered nouns of clouds.
“As a Murder is to a group of Crows, as a Pride is to a group of Lions, as a Laughter is to a group of dolphins, so Cloud is to Oneirozoans.”
“Clouds would not exist without our dreams,” says the Nude Reverend.
“Dreams would not exist without clouds.”
“Dreams and clouds,” says Hooke, beginning, for the fifth time that day, to cry, “they’re one and the same, inseparable.”
Maximilian Van Duult, listening to the who?who?who? of that owl-rich night, answers: “Nephoneirogenesis.”