I don’t doubt that more can be said on the effects of drinking fourteen pints of pineapple juice. That I am the man to say these things must, however, be questioned. Pioneering volunteer I may have been – pioneering scientist I am not. What goes on in one’s mind during such an experience can be explained, to some extent, in layman’s terms. This I have attempted to do. But the whole thing goes deeper than this. A mind is a complex thing, as well you know – and knowledge of its inner workings are, I fear, far beyond the knowledge of a literary critic (or this one, at least). I was the guinea pig, granted, but this was Emmanuel Yile’s experiment. I left it to him to put my pineapple-induced adventuring into some sort of scientific perspective.
That he didn’t do this wasn’t exactly his fault. He intended, no doubt, to expand upon his pineapple theories. I say this with some misgivings – in truth, I’m not sure the experiment went quite as well as he expected. How so I cannot say; it’s just that he didn’t seem, to my mind, entirely pleased with the results. The effects took a while to wear off, so I can’t say for sure, but if my wife is anything to go by (and she usually is), Yile was far from excited by all that had occurred. He wasn’t downcast, exactly – but then neither was he elated. And Yile was, as previously noted, a naturally enthusiastic man. One expected it of him. Anything else and you’d be concerned.
Why wasn’t he happy? I’m not sure. I don’t know what his expectations were. He had always said that he thought the pineapple-fuelled participant would experience a ‘different state of mind’. This I did. But was it different enough? Yile didn’t appear to think so – but then what did he know? He was taking my word, and my actions, for it. And I was, in my way, perfectly enthusiastic – so why wasn’t he? Had he expected me to shoot off like a rocket; to cavort around the Scottish streets like some lunatic, stripping off my clothes and squealing like a frightened piglet on speed?
I don’t know. I don’t quite know what he expected – nor do I know, for sure, what he made of it. In short, I know very little. And I cannot say whether this is because there was very little to know, or because there was a lot which was not said. In either case, very little is all I ever shall know, for now I know that Yile will never say all that he might, or might not, have said. And this is because Yile, Emmanuel Yile, he of the sturdy and sumptuous shoulders, is dead.
You could say that, were Yile alive, the mysterious properties of the pineapple would have been revealed to all, once and for all. You could also say that, were Yile alive, we’d be just as ignorant as we always were – and happily so. Yile’s genius was, I confess, of the uncertain sort. He seemed as though he possessed a wonderful mind – but did he?
His death doesn’t really answer the question. He killed himself, of course. I say ‘of course’ – not because it was inevitable, but because it wasn’t exactly surprising either. Had it been obvious, I would have done something to stop it. I might have answered that phone call in the middle in the night. I might have replied to that e-mail a little sooner. As it was, I didn’t, because I didn’t know that the man’s life was hanging on the line – though, in retrospect, it doesn’t shock me to know that it was. Emmanuel Yile was never quite of this world, and it doesn’t feel strange to think that he isn’t still in it.
The sordid facts are as follows. About two months after the great pineapple experiment, Yile was found dead in a bath of pink water. He’d slit his wrists, they thought at first, though it soon transpired that he had, in fact, drowned – in cranberry juice. You might argue that he was experimenting until the end. Or you might just say that he was deliberately killing himself in a suitably peculiar way. Read it as you will. I shall say no more on this.
As for the pineapples, however, a few closing words – for this was not an episode I should wish, for whatever reason, to pass over without due comment. The fact is, I experienced something very interesting that day. I delved beneath the veneer of ordinary existence and left my dirty fingerprints on the doorknob of deeper understanding. Can one keep quiet about such a thing? One cannot. Anything that teaches one to read in another way; that gives one a different perspective on Art, oh so precious Art, should never be sneered at.
On the other hand, what to do with it? Is there any sense in recommending that other readers should follow me down the road of copious pineapple-juice consumption? Was it really worth it?
To put it simply; in the right spirit, and under proper conditions, I should not dare to turn my nose up at anything which leads one to a new perspective; to a fresh way of looking, not just at the world, but – more importantly – at text: at the book, that holiest of objects, that most beautiful of earthly things: our saviour. It isn’t for everyone, perhaps, but I speak as a critic – and we, of all people, should take every care never to rest on our laurels. There is never one way to experience something: there are a myriad ways of viewing this world of ours – and we’d be fools to overlook any way of thinking, however strange it seems, and however unhealthy it may turn out to be. In short: drink away (but I wouldn’t go so far as fourteen pints, unless you want to embarrass yourself in a public park).