The Immortal Harold Somaman -- What Keeps Him Going?

            He began in his own time an ordinary boy, a bit precocious, a bit intellectual, but of average disposition.  Unselfconscious.

            It just shows, one never can tell.

            How would one guess that Harold Somaman might evolve to the point that he could, by means of conscious movements mistaken for exotic patterns of stretching, influence the unseen quantum flux network that held the pattern of his body, and by doing so, maintain his physical body at a kind of dynamic equilibrium.  Said another way, Harold Somaman had arrested his aging process through a kind of psychokinesis.

            At least that’s how the public understood it.

            People saw in him a strange case of mind over body, like firewalkers or the Shaolin monks whose mastery of Kung Fu and of breaking bricks and sticks is legendary, or as an Olympian of longevity.  They saw him as the exception – one of the few chosen who could “do it.”  He was regarded as a genetic anomaly, an oddity.

            That, of course, was not his opinion, and he regarded people who held such views as of a “tabloid mentality,” their explanation for his longevity, hilarious.  He sometimes jokingly referred to himself as a mutant, but as far as he was concerned, anyone could do what he had done, if they did what he did.  It just might take them a while to realize it.

            Quantum flux network?  Psychokinesis?  Leave to these people to love ten-dollar words.

            Well, once he came to public attention in the local papers, the tabloid reporters and scientists followed.  Both interviewed him.  The tabloid reports had at least got it less wrong, writing about the mind-body connection, even if they had made it sound like something from outer space.  The scientists immediately had wanted to explain it all in terms of hormones and genetics, and keep the mind out of it, thank you very much.

            They studied him.

            In the neuro-physics laboratory, they’d measured his neural conductance in different parts of his body, they’d had him CAT scanned, PET scanned, electromagnetically mapped, x-rayed and MRI’d, and taken his temperature over a forty-eight hour period.  The verdict?  He was healthy -- as healthy as a thirty year old.  He was, at that time one hundred eighty three.  He looked good, but his face looked a little older than thirty.

            At the medical lab, they had drawn blood and wanted urine, semen and stool samples.  But he had another engagement.  “I’m in a hurry,” he had said.  “Here, take my shorts.”

            At the psych lab, they’d recorded his brain waves while they attempted to get him to get a match box to slide across the table.  They tested him with ESP cards.  He’d told them, “That’s not my thing,” but research grants being what they are, they insisted.  They said, “We’ve heard you have psychokinetic abilities.  We’d very much like to see.”  “It’s a different kind of psychokinesis,” he said.  They wouldn’t listen.  After four hours of countless cups of coffee in a glass observation booth, during which time they became increasingly nervous, fidgety and bad-tempered, they finally gave up.

            Then he told them, his type of psychokinesis came from a higher integration of mind and body, and that it basically affected his biological processes, his mental functioning, and the results of his actions.  That didn’t mean he could slide a matchbox across a table or cause apples to bounce, spoons to bend or watches to stop and start.  He couldn’t influence slot machines or cause red traffic lights to turn green -- well, not usually.  It meant that, by means of a combination of intention and actions of a specific type, he could energetically enhance his body’s functional blueprint at the level of physiology – his nervous system, his muscular system, his sensory awareness, his circulatory system – he could get them all to function more efficiently.  He also explained that, because he was functioning more efficiently, he exhibited a higher than average creative capacity.  This intrigued them.  Finally, he said, it made him smarter.  They looked at him dubiously.

            So, then, they start asking questions about what he means by “mind-body connection” and he says, “Can we talk?” and they say, “Yes, of course,” thinking he’s about to give them some answers at last.   And, he says, “That’s it.”  And they say, “That’s it?  What?”  “The mind-body connection,” he says.  “What is?” they ask.  “Talking,” he says.  This stops them.  He says, “You guys always make everything so complicated.”  He looks at them looking at him and starts to laugh and laugh.  He spends the rest of the afternoon explaining the mind-body connection using terms he’d read in a tabloid article about him.  Soon, they’re nodding, yes, yes.

            Now, in the biomechanics lab, they weigh him, test his strength and endurance, and measure his bone density and body fat composition.  He puts up with it all patiently.

            In the biomechanics lab, they’re going to do some before-and-after studies.  Somaman is going to demonstrate some of the mind-body movement processes that he says are his means of arresting the aging process.  He’s going to demonstrate them while under measurement.  They’re going to get video of the whole thing.

            This time, the physics boys are in on the game.  They bring devices for magnetic flux measurements, temperature measurement at a distance, a mass densitometer, infrared and ultraviolet cameras, and a scale to measure his weight in case he starts to levitate -- very sophisticated.  These guys have seen Ghostbusters and they know what they’re doing.

            So, Somaman starts, a slow, twisting standing movement, first one way and then the other.  Then, he starts twisting his arms as he turns.  His arms and shoulders roll forward and backward along his sides in a twisting movement.  Then, he starts to turn his head along with his torso, as if looking over each of his shoulders.  Then, he starts to turn his eyes in the direction of his twist.  So, he’s doing this kind of dramatic super-twisting movement side to side, and now he starts moving his lower jaw side to side with each turn, opposite to the direction of his eyes.  He stops and holds his position in an extreme turn and switches his eyes and jaw from side to side.  Now, he’s starting to look really crazy.  Then, his spine straightens, a bit, and he seems to get taller.  The scientists stiffen in their chairs and their eyes widen.

            Meanwhile, the guys at the EMG readout are going crazy with the data that are coming in about the pattern of his muscle firings.

            Somaman starts to breath loudly.  An exhalation, and silence, then an inhalation, and again, silence.  Again and again, six times, and then a long silence.

            One of the guys catches a look at the expression on Somaman’s face and says in a low voice, “My God! Do you see that?!”

            Suddenly, a light seems to flare around Somaman, or rather, his features seem to be etched in sharp relief and suffused by a radiating hard light of no particular color, other than the color of Harold Somaman himself, only brighter.  Even the air around him seems to shine.

            He begins to untwist and face forward, again, in slow motion, and as he does, he begins to straighten, to get even more erect.  He ends with arms outstretched wide, palms forward, legs together.  He looks like a caduceus, the winged medical emblem.  Light still shines from around him, but it is fading with a kind of fizzing quality that leaves him illuminated only by the laboratory lighting.

            Without a word, he starts again, this time in the opposite direction.

            When the light has faded a second time, he smiles softly and says, “How was that?”

           “’What was that?’ is more like it,” says one of lab techs, quietly.

            One of the computers beeps.

            A couple of the others in the room, dressed in white coats, close their mouths and resume looking at their computer screens and start tapping some keys.

           “Look at this,” says the EEG tech.  “All four patterns at once.”

           “Look at that symmetry,” says someone else.

           “It spikes and then it all goes to near zero,” says a third.

           “Where is it, now?”

           They look up to see him looking at them with a bemused expression on his face.  "Looking at the instant replay?" he asks.

           They look back to the monitor.

           “Delta and alpha.  Look at the amplitude. ”


           “What happened with the EMG data?” someone asks.

           “We’re converting it for visual display.  Over there.”

           Now, Somaman is getting interested, so he asks, “May I see?”

           “You’ll have to stand until we get that sensor-suit off.”

           “That’s ok.”  He comes over.

           An image comes up on the monitor, not this time Harold Somaman, but a kind of transparent figure in three dimensions.  As it starts to move, it moves like Harold Somaman.  Bands of light start moving through it in synch with the movements, connecting his torso and limbs.  They extend and retract themselves from the center of his belly to his fingertips and feet, which glow brightly, getting brighter and dimmer with movement.  At the moment of his greatest turn, they shine brightest, connecting his feet, through his calves and thighs, to his pelvis, up through the chest, with a kind of spiral shape lit up in the shoulders and arms and a twist through the spine, neck and head.  Some are brighter than others, and they’re all lit up when the breathing movement starts.

           The breathing movement looks like a pumping action in which the figure’s whole torso expands and contracts, with a light brightening and dimming at the bottom of the pelvic region.  As it continues, the figure straightens a bit and seems to shift its balance just a little, and then the pumping breathing stops, and a small streak of light passes from the mouth down to the center of the torso.  The light at the bottom of the torso is very bright, then suddenly dims as a light at the center of the torso brightens.   Suddenly, all the lit areas come to equal intensity.

           “That’s just the EMG,” someone says.

           “What do you mean?” someone asks.

           “Look at the playback of the magnetic densitometer readings.”

           The magnetic densitometer is a measurer of magnetic field strength and field size.  It’s an indicator of changes of electrical activity in his nervous system and the magnetic field around his body.

           “Put it up, split screen.”

           The monitor display divides in two, showing another figure at the side of the first.

           “Start it over.”

           Playback begins, and this time, when the figure lit up at left, a sudden flare expands to surround the figure at right, looking like a slightly irregular plum shape made of shimmering lines of light with a core of light at the center of the figure.

           The figure at left is holding very still in a twisted position.  As it starts to untwist and face forward, the plum shape surrounding the figure at right flares even larger and brighter and then, as it brightens more, the figure inside it disappears inside the brightness.  The irregularities in the plum of light start to fill up and even out.

           At last, when the figure at left faces forward, the light pervading the figure at right fades at the edges and subsides to a glow.  The figure stands very still in the pose of the caduceus.  Playback ends.

           “Pretty fancy,” says Harold Somaman.

           Nobody says anything.

           “Well, got your data?” he asks.  “May I go?”

           “Wait a minute.”  One of the techs taps some keys.  “Let me check.  OK, everybody?”

           Voices respond one by one in the affirmative.

           Somaman peels off the sensor suit and drapes it over a chair, then heads out the door.

           “Where’re you going?” someone calls out.

           He turns and smiles over his shoulder, “I’ve got a date.  See ya later, boys.”  He winks and walks out, leaving the door slowly sighing closed behind him.

© Lawrence Gold  5/15/2011 6:20 PM

Facets of Superman
exercises like the one described here

1 comment:

  1. Wow!

    A few weeks ago I came up with the name "Thoma So Man" (open to change if a better one came along) for a comic strip or comicbook that would feature a character basically like the one you've outlined here.

    How neat is THAT?!