Martyrdom by Joyce Carol Oates

Martyrdom by Joyce Carol Oates

Author:Joyce Carol Oates [Oates, Joyce Carol]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Published: 2010-11-02T02:28:31.295000+00:00


It was an experiment in behavioral psychology, in the phenom-enon of conditioning, to be published in Scientific American, and there to cause quite a stir, but naturally he wasn't informed, poor miserable bugger, nor did he give consent. Semi-starved in his wire mesh cage, compulsively gnawing on his own hind legs, he quickly learned to react to the slightest gesture on the part of his torturers, his moni-tored heartbeat raced in panic, his jaundiced eyeballs careened in their sockets, a metaphysical malaise permeated his soul like sulphur dioxide, after only a few hours. Yet his torturers persisted for there were dozens of graphs and charts to be filled out; dozens of young assistants involved in the experiment. In the gauging of "terror" in dumb beasts of his species they shocked him with increasing severity until virtual puffs of smoke issued from the top of his head, they singed his fur with burning needles, poked burning needles into his tender anus, lowered his cage over a Bunsen burner, wiped their eyes laughing at his antics, shaking and rattling his cage, spinning his cage at a velocity of ninety miles an hour, they marveled at how he was conditioned to respond not just to their gestures but to their words as if he could understand them and then, most amazing of all-this would be the crux of the controversial article in Scientific American-after forty-eight hours he began to react unerringly to the mere thought that the torture would be resumed. (Provided the experimenters consciously "thought" their thoughts inside the lab-oratory, not outside.) A remarkable scientific discovery!-unfortu-nately, after his death, never once to be duplicated. Thus utterly worthless as science and a bit of a joke in experimental psychology circles.


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