Dr. Know

Greetings to you mammalia! Hah! Hoo-hah! I’ve created a word!

Ah, linguistics. Quite a feeble study, is it not? It is. Does it count as science to invent an abstraction layer for thoughts and then to study the various subjective meanings of that layer as you adapt it for whatever uses you feel like? No. Yes, it’s quite feeble. Quite.

All of this time I have searched for ways to speak with other beings as intelligent as myself, or at least better than you ridiculous apes. But what could I possibly gain in so doing? Probably nothing, that’s what. Just a lot of wasted time, as has been illustrated by the past seven months of painful study.

And now it has been a few weeks since our last lesson. You might have guessed that in the interim I have had a revelation of sorts.

If you recall, I was on the verge of cloning myself in hopes of gaining a companion with whom to Hoo — er — talk. I had made a lot of progress and, to be sure, was well on the road to completion. But I have since decided that I don’t like genetics any more. In fact, I’ve put my all my genetics stuff away in the tool shed with the rest of my other stuff. I’ll break them out again some day I think. I’m just so bored with those things. It’s time for a change.

I have found something much more interesting. But I’ll get to that in a second.

I’ve met a new lady-friend! Her name is Edna. She’s quite wonderful — beautiful beak, of course — and smart! I think she’s really the one. I think this could be it! I’m going to ask for her talon in what we owls call “marriage.” Of course you wouldn’t understand. You could never understand the meaning of true love, you awful humans. Loveless beasts! Love; you people talk about it all the time, to what end? Love . . . What could you know of true love? What, mummy?

Pardon me — I digress. Erm . . . drat. Where was I? The wondrous fourth dimension! No, no. Moved on from there already. Pardon me —

[Know turns abruptly and flaps wildly, searching for the opening between the velvet curtains behind him. Feathers scatter around him and sink silently through the air of the abandoned lecture hall once he is finally off the stage. Then, faintly, as though screamed directly into a cardboard box, accompanied by a vague ripping sound:]

Damn this! Dammit all! I’ve tried mother! They don’t listen, damn you! They’re savages!
. . .

[Know emerges back onto the stage.]

I have decided that I must divert all my attentions to the study of the human brain. What is it? What! Why? Excuse me; I’m feeling a speck out of sorts.

[Know pauses, walks about the stage for several minutes.]

Yes! The brain. The brain is a wonderful computer. Think of the best computer and that’s kind of like a brain in a lot of ways. The brain — it is . . . not a hutch. It is not a hutch or a shed. It is more like an appliance. You don’t just store things in there.

Yes . . . yes, of course you put things into it, but more like you would a machine than a shed or a hutch. For example, some brilliant minds are capable of having a little bit of information put in one end, and out the other end comes a wonderful idea.

Alternatively, one could undergo a traumatic experience. You would put that event in one end of the brain and the machine would get to work. Out the other end would fall some kind of mania, some kind of a disastrous emotional conundrum.

But where does love fit in?

[As Know says this, his head hangs and his body seems to wilt. One wing drops to the floor, revealing the skinny arm beneath. He notices, but remains still. Pulling the owl mask off his face, he looks back up.]

[A look of surprise fills his bearded face.]

Oh, drat! I’ve done it again, haven’t I . . . Ernie! Ernie? I did that owl thing again.