Five Minute Lottery

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: & / Personal / Writing / Letters /

an email to my son
who already knows that I wrote fiction as my primary ambition from 1948 to 1990 without ever getting any of it published. I figured that was enough and turned exclusively to the kind of writing you see at and Macroinformation: which further earns me not one cent. But I’m a writer. That’s what I said I’d do. That’s what I do do. Paying me isn’t up to me: beyond half a century of rejected submissions.

Used to be I’d think of story ideas and think maybe I’d remember them someday when I was being less lazy, less cautious, suffering less accedia. Most of those where lost as ideas by my twenties. Then I’d scribble or type very brief notes. The Model [First Week] had been mentally filed and had had fulcra jotted well before I actually sat down and typed “All right, What’s next?”

This past decade-point-three I’d commenced no fiction. King was the last “finished”; Primitive Access was the last with any kind of a complex beginning begun. These days I do keep a data base in which I jot story notes: most of that impulse gets siphoned off into expository or satirical ideas for Essays, narratives, instead of woven fictions.

But a story formed itself in my mind at breakfast that I think I’ll share with you, scribbling an email first, then moving it to the db.

The Five Minute Lottery of One Thousand Cuts

You know my shtick about law and enforcement and perceptual thresholds: action triggers. I last articulated it after seeing Minority Report. The cops predict a murder at an address at a time. They’re there. They watch idly as the husband goes to work, as the wife prepares for a lover, as the lover arrives, as the two go to the master bedroom, as the husband comes home for his whatever he forgot, as the husband practically pukes and wets himself as the wife and lover go at it. Nothing is a crime here until the husband picks up a scissors and stabs somebody. Now the police move in and arrest him.

The cops watch the capitalist cheat the laborers, then move in when the laborers freak out. The cops watch citizens abused by banks, then move in only when the cheated john goes berserk …

So this idea is about the absurdity of human justice and about thresholds: thresholds of perception and of action.

The monthly (or weekly: any period) lottery picks a name from the hat, the tumbler, the randomly sorted data base. That citizen is IT.
Five minutes later the lottery picks another name.

Citizen 2 comes forward.
Five minutes later the lottery picks one of a thousand cuts from the Chinese torture manual. Citizen 2 applies that cut to Citizen 1.

Five minutes later the lottery picks another citizen. Citizen 3 comes forward. Five minutes later the lottery picks another of the thousand cuts from the Chinese torture manual. Citizen 3 applies that cut to Citizen 1.

Now I assume that “1000” in the torture is like 40 in the bible or a million today: a symbol for a large number. Maybe citizen 1 dies at cut #994. Citizen 995 who applied cut 994 is then arrested, and tried: for homicide. Lawyers can argue that it was really Citizen 994 or Citizen 993 who’s the actual killer. No matter: the convicted could then become the next citizen #1 and the lottery could skip that selection and go right to choosing the citizen who’ll apply cut #1.

Does the manual actually have exactly 1000 cuts prescribed?
In The Journeyer, Jennings depicts the torturer with a lottery bowl: in the bowl is one cut which will kill whether delivered first, eightieth, or one thousandth. Jennings finally shows that the torturer knows exactly where that slip is at all times and can pick it from the bowl at will.

That’s neat because the hero who arrives to rescue his beloved just too late then applies the cuts to the torturer, leaving the last till last.

I know my son can decypher some of my abbreviated references, see the flower in my two-letter symbols. The random visitor will need to work, probably won’t; the fan will be rewarded: with understanding.


About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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