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You Can't Fool the Fat Man Fat man's face, with knowing eyes, done in crayon.

Nondream automatic drawing, erasable crayon, 8 x 11", 1994? by Chris Wayan

The title's from an old Randy Newman song, but I was really thinking of the brilliant fat man in a science fiction story I read as a kid: "Gulf" by Robert Heinlein. His fat man, "Kettle Belly" Baldwin, invented a language only prodigies can speak in which every sound's a word and every "word" is a sentence... taught it to a secret group of geniuses and tried to save this self-destructive world--in his irritable, irritating, patronizing, elitist Heinlein way.

I didn't buy it fully--I felt way more egalitarian than Heinlein--but the story was an intentional antidote to the egghead-hating spirit of the times. Which still haven't changed, here in the States at least.

Curiously, the Fat Man's super-language, that only geniuses could speak, inspired me years later to invent a super-compressed private shorthand that really had some of its characteristics. I had a nosy girlfriend at the time who would get mad at me for dreaming wrong, so I used it to write my dreams.

Pretty soon that script started showing up in my dreams, as dream-language! Even if my conscious mind couldn't be the Fat Man, couldn't be superhuman, my unconscious had no trouble...

Ironic, since there's a theory out there (spread mostly by Stephen La Berge and the Lucidity Institute, I think) that dreams can't display text reliably, so that writing and numbers looked at again will usually change or be unreadable. I find the opposite is true; writing and numbers are unusually memorable in my dreams, acting as "anchors" that help me recall other more nebulous things; and my secret writing is quite legible.



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