The Moment of Truth — August 21, 1999

Manx Cheese

(Note: this did not air.)

To make a garden, a paradise, on a shattered desert of steel, where no lichen, nothing, not even rust, could grow, and over which the clouds never surrendered their bland, contourless, abominable slate gray, and where the weather never altered from a nauseating lukewarm stillness, where no sentient being could find himself without being wrenched into the most painful insanity – to make a peaceful garden here was the avowed desire of the inventors of Manx Cheese. The box it comes in is made of enameled tin, about the dimensions of a matchbox, is unexplainably pleasant to hold and, in a charming way, self-consciously quaint in appearance, being of a yellowish cream color bordered in burnt orange and gold with “Manx Cheese” embossed in slender, sweeping cursive letters of midnight blue; the obligatory skull and crossbones is relegated to the lower right-hand corner and does not detract from the little box’s tin charm; the opposite is true, actually. The elliptical cake of cork-hued Manx Cheese inside the box is to be savored in small bites with a glass of water. It has the texture of cheddar cheese and tastes mildly of almonds and black pepper. Afterwards one is reminded of, or sensorially nudged by, the scent of a warm breeze after rain on a day from a forgotten season of childhood. Not long afterward many thoughts and powerful sensations from the forgotten past are revealed again and again in the mind, but this admittedly may have nothing at all to do with the recipe of Manx Cheese. I strongly suggest surroundings of overwhelming natural beauty or desolation for the site of your “picnic”; the battle, the dance, the tension and interweaving that take place when nature and memory meet at their most powerful is an unparalleled thrill. A landscape of extreme technological destruction is also a fine choice. Really, any extreme environment will do as long as one remains reasonably well out of physical danger. Nudity is advised, because it is both sacred and profane. Purists feel that clarity of mind is of the essence, and their point is well made, as the inventors of the product have stated that their intent was that it not create some chemically induced euphoria, but rather that it leave the mind itself virtually unaffected and free to act as it would “in its ideal state,” if there is such a thing. At any rate, on the question of whether Manx Cheese should be accompanied by intoxicants, let experience and common sense be your guides. It was a pleasant sensation in the body that was the main concern of the product’s developers. A few minutes after eating it one is suffused with a brief but intense anxiety that gives way to delightful serenity, as with the initial effects of MDMA. Then there is a tingling in the skin (accompanied by an itching of the eyes and nostrils, which soon passes) until one’s skin feels as though it is being caressed soothingly from just below the surface. Soon the body is completely tranquil, pacified, its tensions relaxed, its hungers satisfied, its complaints placated. The mind (and its soul?) is now free to experience the horrible fear, the stabbing pain of implacable regrets, the awe at having lived life at the vertex of creation, the joyous sadness of absolute memory, the recognition that one is truly the locus of oneself, the brutal demarcation of the boundary between self and world – in short, the fierce, majestic force of death. Death occurs within sixty to ninety minutes.