Interview With A Weed-Person

The weed people first came to public attention in William Hope Hodgson’s 1907 book The Boats Of The ‘Glen Carrig’. They lived at the time exclusively in a silent, weed-choked sea in the land of lonesomeness, and were described by Hodgson thus:

We each of us stared down upon a most unearthly sight; for the valley all beneath us was a-swarm with moving creatures, white and unwholesome in the moonlight, and their movements were somewhat like the movements of monstrous slugs; though the things themselves had no resemblance to such in their contours; but minded me of naked humans, very fleshy and crawling upon their stomachs; yet their movements lacked not a surprising rapidity. . . these things below us had each two short and stumpy arms; but the ends appeared divided into hateful and wriggling masses of small tentacles, which slid hither and thither as the creatures moved about the bottom of the valley; and at their hinder ends, where they should have grown feet, there seemed other flickering bunches. . .

Now it is scarcely possible to convey the extraordinary disgust which the sight of these human slugs bred in me; nor, could I, do I think I would; for were I successful, then would others be like to retch even as I did, the spasm coming on without premonition, and born of very horror. And then, suddenly, even as I stared, sick with loathing and apprehension, there came into view, not a fathom below my feet, a face like to the face which had peered up into my own on that night, as we drifted beside the weed-continent. At that, I could have screamed, had I been in less terror; for the great eyes, so big as crown pieces, the bill like to an inverted parrot’s, and the slug-like undulating of its white and slimy body, bred in me the dumbness of one mortally stricken.

In the century since Hodgson’s encounter, the weed people have become familiar figures to us, though it is fair to say there has been no lessening in the visceral horror their appearance provokes in even the strongest of constitutions. Thus it was that, when I arrived for my appointment with a weed person at a swish metropolitan hotel, and it wriggled into view, a spasm came upon me without premonition, and I would have retched, had there been a bucket, and had it not been such an unforgivable social gaffe. As it was, I managed to swallow a mouthful of sick, and I took my seat opposite the white and unwholesome being, and proceeded with the interview.

Q – Thank you very much for agreeing to meet me for what, I think, will be deemed an historic interview. You are, of course, the first weed person ever to subject yourself to a no-holds-barred, warts-and-all Q and A session.

A – [Silence]

Q – I suppose the first thing to ask you is how you feel when the initial reaction you are greeted with is invariably one of vomiting, loathing, and horror?

A – [Silence]

Q – It is interesting that Hodgson says you are eerily silent even when attacking sailors. You seem to be silent now. I hope that doesn’t mean you’re going to attack me!

A – Oh no, don’t worry your little human head about that. I think in the past hundred years we have learned some manners.

Q – Yes, that is what I was given to understand. May I ask what prompted that change, from hideous silent savagery to, shall I say, impeccable drawing-room punctilio?

A – It’s a good question. There are two factors to take into account. First of all, it’s important to understand just how lonesome and silent and terrifying was the weed-continent that was our only home. Since the diaspora, as we learned about other parts of the globe, less lonesome and silent and terrifying, we have embraced civilisation, at least to some extent.

Second, we cannot underestimate the profound effect on us when we discovered Wilhelm Reich’s orgone accumulator boxes. I well remember my first session. I sat in a prototype copper Faraday cage filled with SAPA-bion cultures, naked, for five hours. When my eyes slowly adapted to the darkness, the room appeared grey-blue, with fog-like formations and bluish dots and lines of light. Violet light phenomena seemed to emanate from the walls. My mind seemed to be unfurling. I admit that when I closed my eyes, the surging and seething continued, which would suggest I was hallucinating, but I convinced myself the visions were real because they seemed to get larger and more intense when I held a magnifying glass to my eyes, and darkened when I put on a pair of sunglasses. I started to see a blue vapour emanating from my body. I was radiating at the tendrils, at the penis. Madame Curie may have died of it, but I would not go to pieces. I was radiating. I realised I had orgastic potency.

Q – And you persuaded your fellow weed-people to become Reichians?

A – Yes, that’s right. We were initially fascinated by his soup-making activities of the early 1930s.

Q – Soup?

A – Reich experimented with a powerful microscope to examine the vegetative currents he had observed emanating from his analysands. He threw meat, potatoes, vegetables of all kinds, milk and eggs into a pot, which he filled with water. He cooked the mixture for half an hour, took a sample, and hurried with it to the microscope. He then stared at it for up to six hours at a time, hypnotized by the kaleidoscopic patterns on which he gazed. He saw minuscule blue vesicles breaking off, slowly clustering together, and pulsating. They looked to Reich like pseudo-amoebas, and though he admitted he had only limited knowledge of protozoology, and deliberately refrained from reading the literature so he could remain unbiased in his observations, he became convinced he had discovered a hitherto unnoticed life form that existed in nature and possessed its own generative power. He was seeing nothing less than the first steps in the origin of life.

Q – In a bowl of soup?

A – Yes! And this vital force was his first inkling of orgone energy. From there he went on to construct the boxes in which so many people sat, for so many hours, to usher in a new free world of unrestrained orgasmic release. Not just Beat poets and Norman Mailer and Germaine Greer and Sean Connery, but, I am proud to say, all of us weed-people.

Q – And as a result, you no longer attack people?

A – Well, we have not yet managed wholly to overcome our atavistic impulses. From time to time we gather in a hideous slithering slimy silent mass, imagining we are back among the weeds and, yes, we do launch ghastly attacks upon you puny humans.

Q – Oo-er!

A – [Eerie silence.]

Parts of the above were adapted from Adventures In The Orgasmatron : Wilhelm Reich And The Invention Of Sex by Christopher Turner ( 2011)

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