In Chapter 7 we have the narrator’s Nepalese trek with Magenta. The two are immersed in the area’s poverty and abundant spiritual expression. They pray.
The reader is struck by the condition of region’s poor, who beg or scratch a living out of filth at the foot of Mount Everest. It stands in breathtaking contrast to the scenes at Harvard and Berlin, and helps us to understand “the breadth of the human condition.”
It is in this setting that Leonard and Magenta discuss what seems to be one of the Rose’s themes: “Big Pharma’s, shall we say...special initiatives.” Magenta reveals the Six’s interest in “[d]rug design of compounds significantly influencing learning and memory. And libido.” They are concerned with the potential impact of widespread availability and even weaponization.
“’What of the military aspects?’ [asked Leonard]
‘The Polish writer Stanislaw Lern described an aerosol of Theologine, a hypothetical substance promoting religiousity. Whole villages prayed, prostrated themselves, self-flagellated . . . . The other Lem scenario concerned a theoretical compound that stimulated ardor. Entire neighborhoods engaged in frantic sexuality, mass orgies, indescribable lasciviousness.’
‘That’s highly improbable in reality.’
‘Not so. We now see the advent of agonists for the melatonin receptor. They induce lordosis, presentation for copulation, in females across the mammalia from mice to horses, and in microgram range doses. Experimental drugs for female sexual dysfunctional pose a threat.’
‘Rampant abuse, offshore manufacture, internet sales, chronic overdoses, prostitution, child abuse, date rape....’”
Can you imagine? The reader is left with the above hint, but a fumbling internet search by this layperson did not yield corroboration of such research.
Leonard and Magenta then encounter one of the book’s most memorable characters, a tormented waif. “We saw across the alley a small, very dark and ragged Nepalese girl with bare feet, wearing only a dirty flour sack with holes for arms, and carrying a toy pail of gravel. She was being verbally abused by a thin, evil-looking Hindu vendor. Her hair was matted with excrement; a trickle of blood trailed down her leg.” The description of this girl’s plight is utterly heartbreaking and I have not read any other work that confronts suffering so head-on.
Happily, the heros take it upon themselves pluck this helpless girl from her filthy circumstance and deliver her into the loving arms of an elderly couple who had lost their entire family.
Afterward, Magenta says, “[w]e feel society would best be served, not so much by a pill for intellect or sexuality, but by one for compassion. A medicine for altruism. Perhaps we have one.”
Edited by Sidestreet, 13 January 2017 - 05:58 AM.