Messrs. Heartless and Brainless…my brain and my heart are my temples…- Dalai Lama
He plunged the dreadful steel deep into the bone beneath his breast as he began a scream that rang intermittently during the entire period of the incision. I marvel that it rings not in my ears still, so excruciatingly piercing was the sound. His breast bone thus divided in two, with his bare hands and a mighty crunch, he wrenched open his rib cage. Pausing for a moment to regain his composure, he reached into his left side and ripped out the red mass that was his beating heart which he tossed into a bucket a yard away. He then reached down at his side and picked up an object – a mechanical device which was to replace his heart. Attaching it to the loose ends of his arteries and veins and fixing it into place in the vacant hole; he pushed back his ribs to close the cage and began the slow process of stitching his flesh back together.
A whirring noise leads my eyes to a spot a few yards to the left of our hero. There lay an identical man performing equally elementarysurgery upon his person! Only in this case, a circular saw was his instrument and his head was the organ. Sawing open the top of his skull, he proceeded to scoop out, with his hands, the white matter that served for his brain, leaving the mass in a heap beside him. Reaching for a round ball of steel by his side, he plunked the inert object in the vacant hole and replacing the top of his skull, began the slow process of stitching his flesh back together.
Thus were Messrs. Heartless and Brainless otherwise known as Mr. H and Mr. B respectively created.
The next time I see my men, they have regained full physical recovery from their self-inflicted pains. Curious to see what effects their surgery has imposed on their characters, I disguise myself as a homeless beggar on a pavement and observe them from a distance as they make their way down a crowded street.
Heartless Mr H., slightly robotic of gait, greets friend and foe with a solemn indifferent nod of his head. Where there are words exchanged, little is their number and emotionless they fall from his lips. To be more explicit, I must admit I find it hard to tell his friend from his foe. This is odd behaviour and odder still is this! He comes across his brother, sister, ma and pa and the same passionless treatment he reserves for them, skipping away as though they were nothing more than mere acquaintances.
Not for him are the wild expressions of joy at the sight of loved ones which brainless Mr B. wholesomely delivers as he bounds down the street. Not for him are the hearty high-fives to his pals dealt with gusto nor are for him the vehement insults Mr B. dishes out to those enemies that cross his path. Not for him is the domestic bliss of a wife and children which Mr B. appears to cherish above all else.
And try as I might, I can’t see much of Mr B.! In a tight knit circle around him are immediate members of his family, strapped to him like planets to a star. Further afield orbit his friends and acquaintances in successive rings, close enough to present an impenetrable barrier to any stranger.
In this manner, the throng passed by me as I furtively tried in vain to catch the eye of Mr B. My attention, however, was soon diverted to the source of the shadow that now enveloped me. Shielding my view of the aforementioned party of people is Mr H., and it is immediately apparent that I am his interest for his eyes are fixed intently on mine. He hands me a quantity of pound coins and after wishing me well he ambles off on his way. My eyes follow this solitary figure down the street, occasionally pausing to bestow the act of charity I had benefited upon any poor soul he came across but never staying too long to develop an attachment to the benefactors.
Switching my focus now to Mr B. and company, I notice the party has come to a halt a few hundred yards from where I lay and a celebration of sorts has broken out with Mr B., whom I can still hardly see, the master of ceremonies. It appears the merrymaking is due to the length and duration of his progress down the street. His journey now at an end, he plans to stay put whilst enjoying its fruits.
My eyes drift back to Mr H. who, in contrast, keeps on walking, doling out coins to each and every destitute he comes across and treating friend and foe, acquaintance and stranger with the same deference. His path stretches out in front of him, long and full of uncertainty. But still he keeps on walking, walking until he is but a speck, walking until I can see the speck no more.
Mulling over the events here described, I reach the conclusion that it is the heart which wills a ‘self-centric’ view of the world – the ‘other’ orbiting the ‘self’ in neatly arranged orbits. The brain, on the other hand, wills a ‘other-centric’ view in which the protagonist travels in a far-flung orbit with the rest of the world at its centre.
Life as we now know it has become a struggle between these two contrasting views and peaceful is the man who is able to achieve equilibrium between both.