Our Full Potential
by Deva Eveland, 3.49am July 10th 2022
—Men do not relish having their noses sliced off. When it comes their turn, they go limp, they hide, they make all kinds of trouble, and even after the procedure is over they are quite difficult to govern. Now, Bradley’s steam powered machine is a thing to behold. I myself have witnessed it running on two occasions. When operated by a properly trained team that knows how to calibrate the belting, it can process up to 100 per hour, and I see no reason why that number could not be doubled with a modification to the cleaning system of the blades. There have also been some recent proposals to introduce anesthesia, but no matter how you slice it (sorry for the pun, gentlemen), the deployment of Bradley’s machine is not a truly scientific solution. Indeed, it constitutes little more than a fresh coat of paint and some ribbons slapped on the method of going house-to-house with sabers and bayonets. Given the scale of the crisis, the so-called generals’ solution was understandable at the time. I do not fault them for trying it, not one whit. After all, we are confronted with the very question that defines our age, perhaps the most consequential ever asked by man: How can we stop people from smelling flowers?
Given the gravity of this commission to which we are charged, we can and must try every tool of policy, science, and industry to bring about the end goal. Were it the case that routine nasal castration worked, I don’t think anyone in this room would object. I certainly wouldn’t.
–On what grounds do you object then, sir, if not morality?
–On scientific ones, sir. I am coming to it.
–Well come to it quickly then.
–The problem not being simple, nor is the solution. But I shall do my best. To put it plainly, people can still smell after their noses have been cut off. Here in the halls of government, well-barricaded against pollen and without a flower in sight, it is not obvious. But I guarantee that if you ventured out into the countryside (as I have), you would soon chance upon fields where noseless men and women loiter idly about smelling flowers. In fact, I have here a report compiled by Libnus and Blaut documenting conditions in the eastern counties where Bradley’s machine has been deployed extensively. Their findings indicate, quite contrary to what we might expect, that in the wake of our nasal castration campaigns, flower smelling has actually increased many times over. Why? Well, the women are unlovely to look upon, and therefore unmarriageable. The men likewise slump their shoulders, bereft of their manly fortitude. Alienated from the civilizing influence of society, their spirits broken, they turn in desperation to smelling flowers for solace in even greater numbers than before.
—Libnus and Blaut are radical socialists!
—Preposterous! How can men smell without noses?
—The eradication of all flower species is the only viable solution!
—Gentlemen, please. You’ll each have your turn, but first allow me mine. The flower smelling crisis is indeed at a boiling point, but that makes it all the more necessary that we approach it with calm deliberation. Now it is true that Libnus and Blaut hold unorthodox political beliefs, but it is not those which I draw upon, but rather their sociological research, which is quite sound. As for the points you raise about flower eradication and the nature of human olfaction, I shall answer each of them in turn. Indeed, they are interrelated problems and I have considered both in my own solution. Where shall I start? The flowers, I suppose.
Now, Mr. Brinton raises a valid point. If we cannot stop people from smelling flowers, might we instead eradicate the flowers themselves? There has been some success in this regard. I applaud Mr. Brinton’s decision to raze the National Botanical Gardens. The criminalization of private gardens is likewise key to our struggle. And of course, we should continue sending to the gallows anyone caught growing, transporting, or selling flower bulbs. However, that isn’t enough. The problem is that flowers are quite fecund. They reproduce through mysterious means, and it is nearly impossible to trace the migratory patterns of the pollen. Smell is of course theoretically the most effective method of discovering where flowers are hidden, yet this only exacerbates the problem. As we’ve seen, Mr. Brinton’s protégé Mr. Satchner put not inconsiderable effort into the training of hounds for this purpose. What was the result? Well, our canine friends lost all interest in anything except smelling flowers. I do not think even Mr. Brinton would dispute that because a dog’s olfaction is many times greater than that of a human, they have recently suffered even more severe reactions upon exposure to floral bouquets—feinting spells, incontinence, paroxysms, even. It is said that when the intoxicated aroma was removed, they turned snarling on their handlers and attacked them.
—That may be so, but we have under development a new scheme involving bees—
—Yes, and you’ll have the opportunity to present it when it is your turn, sir. For though I am referring to your efforts in order to establish a proper context, it is still in fact my turn. Anyway, bees are neither here nor there, and the evidence has swayed me that they shall soon be altogether extinct, for flowers mean to enslave men as the new carriers of pollen.
To return the question of how humans may smell without noses, it is really quite simple: I have discovered the existence of two small bulbs along the frontal lobe. These twin bilaterally symmetrical ovoid structures govern all olfaction. To wit, we smell with our brains. Gentleman, I have dissected frogs, mice, tarsiers and antelope. All of them possess olfactory bulbs. However, there is a key difference between the olfactory powers of man and beast, a dividing line which I have come to believe holds the answer of what it means to be human. For centuries, philosophers have wondered wherein lies man’s soul—
—Please sir, come to the point.
—Very well. What we find is that in humans this organ is greatly diminished. It is in fact vestigial. The world of beasts is dominated by powerful odors: They mark their territory with urine, excrete musks when lust drives them to breed, sniff at the air for signs of danger or follow the scent of blood for miles. We humans do not act that way. The reason is that our olfactory bulbs have shrunken as the brain itself expands to fill up more room within the skull. Thus, we erect great towers, devise clever machines, and compose delicate works of music and literature which require the intellect. Consequently, the earth’s fauna may be divided into two categories, osmatic and non-osmatic. We comprise the only non-osmatic species, for we are of mind. Every other thing that creeps upon the earth is osmatic, ruled by brute instinct.
At least, that is the natural order of things. But nowadays, it is all topsy turvy. Look about you. There is no one to smelt iron, for the factory workers would rather waste their days smelling flowers than labor. Barge loads of grain sit rotting in the harbor, while the starving dockworkers sit smelling flowers rather than lift a finger to unload the sustenance that would feed them. To understand the nature of this peril, I must turn to the notes of Mr. Finch on my left, who has graciously ceded his speaking time that I might extend my own.
—Is that within the rules?
—It is, continue sir.
—I intend to, as is my right. Mr. Finch, who has recently returned from our South Seas colonies, has catalogued botanical monstrosities with direct bearing on our situation. I read directly from his diary:
“Laying aside my books and following instead my nose, I happened to chance upon an unparalleled specimen of the vegetable world. O the fragrance! O the sight of the thing! Even now, I can scarce describe it, so much does it exceed every flower I have seen or heard of. The petals are pink, each perhaps the size of dove’s wingspan. It’s shape one can only describe as vulgar. This prurient appearance is heightened by the whitish sap dripping from its feminine folds. Astoundingly, flies buzzed about it as bees might buzz about an ordinary flower. Venturing closer, the odor grew more sickly. I noted bits of carrion clinging to the leaves, which had attracted beetles and a small forest crab. For some time I stood with a handkerchief over my nose and mouth, marveling at the thing. Then I apprehended that there might be a small creature imprisoned within it. Drawing my hunting knife, I gingerly folded back one of the flower petals, expecting to find some half-digested shrew or lizard, trapped in the cup of the flower like a fetus in a womb. There was none. Instead, I saw the stamen, a striking replica of the male anatomy. Yet this protuberance sprung up from the folds of the flower, as though it were a wax mannequin representing some hermaphroditic medical oddity. I dropped the knife in surprise. Now much closer, I realized that the “meat” stuck to the leaves was but a scrap of shriveled petal. Yet the carrion beetles, deceived by the awful odor, still picked it at it with great interest. Of all I had witnessed, this realization was the most disquieting. For carnivorous plants are common enough in the islands, but a flower which produces the odor of death in lieu of fragrant perfumes is a true abomination. O to think, that a flower would seduce flies by such deceitful means. I followed the wanderings of a fly, its diminutive legs encrusted with pollen, and it led me straight to another flower of the same species. Tis a pity those plants smelled so strongly, or I would have cut one down to take back as a sample.”
—There you have it gentlemen. Flowers not only enslave bees as pollinators, but also flies, beetles, crabs. And in our nation, men. For while the rest of you have kept yourselves very well ensconced behind these walls drawing up policies, I have been crisscrossing the countryside observing the extent of the catastrophe which has befallen us. What I have seen are mobs of idle men and women, wandering aimlessly between flower patches. Their hair is uncombed and their faces smeared with pollen. To the extent that they can talk at all, they mumble dreamily about the colors and shapes of the petals, comparing them that they might know which produce the most pleasing odors. They follow their noses you see, not their intellects. As they do not bother to feed themselves, so far as I can tell, they shall soon all die. Hence, it was not murder when I captured a few to dissect. What I found was exactly what I expected—namely that the olfactory bulb was quite pronounced. They have, gentlemen, become osmatic, and therefore no longer to be considered as members of our own species.
—But why did you not also succumb to the flowers’ perfume?
—Do you see this cup of tea in my hand? Observe, as I hold up to my nose. My nostrils perceive that is hot, but they do not smell it. In fact, I can barely taste it. However, I know well that it is a concoction of 30% bokerish, 45% rusk, and 25% kaolin, since this mixture was approved in October of last year as a substitution for the flower-based chamomile we had previously drunk. And as I know it intellectually, there is no need to smell it. Indeed, my powers of apprehension have grown considerably as my brain has expanded to fill the space within my skull previously occupied by (vestigial) olfactory bulbs. Their removal was not difficult. I dare say, of any organ within the brain case it is the least difficult, since the nasal passage leads directly to it. As the ancient Egyptians embalmers knew, a long hook inserted through the nose is an excellent method of avoiding cosmetic damage to the face. Nasal castration you see, need not be a barbaric, disfiguring ordeal. Indeed, it is a civilizing procedure. I experimented on some osmatics first to perfect the technique, but it was easy enough. This then, is a solution that not only rescues mankind, but lifts him up to the next stage of perfection, and I urge you to at once adopt is as a universal measure. We shall not only be non-osmatic, we shall be more. At last, we shall realize our full potential as a post-osmatic species. I yield the floor.