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Monday, May 19, 2008

The Air Loom 

I have often thought that religion and politics are the two fields most likely to serve as catalysts for mental illness, and having read lots of blogs and comments on political and religious matters, I'm now thoroughly convinced of it.

Of course the first case history of a psychiatric patient was that of James Tilly Matthews, who was perfectly normal until the subject of politics came up. Then he would let loose with bizarre rants. Curiously, according to Wikipedia ...

Matthews believed that a gang of criminals and spies skilled in "pneumatic chemistry" had taken up residence at London Wall in Moorfields (close to Bethlem) and were tormenting him by means of rays emitted by a machine called the "Air Loom". The torments induced by the rays included "Lobster-cracking", during which the circulation of the blood was prevented by a magnetic field; "Stomach-skinning"; and "Apoplexy-working with the nutmeg grater" which involved the introduction of fluids into the skull. His persecutors bore such names as "the Middleman" (who operated the Air Loom), "the Glove Woman" and "Sir Archy" (who acted as "repeaters" or "active worriers" to enhance Matthews' torment or record the machine's activities) and their leader, a man called "Bill, or the King".

It all seems familiar somehow.



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Watching TV is a good way to tear yourself away from the computer.