"Brain in A Vat" by Rob Doyle (2012, 2 pages)
Not long ago I read and posted on all of the short stories in a brilliant anthology 30 Under 30: A Selection of Short Stories by Thirty Young Irish Writers, edited by Elizabeth Reapy and published by Doire Press.
When I completed the posting on all the stories I came to the conclusion that if I followed the writing career of these writers not only would I read a lot of great literature I would increase my understanding of the Irish literary world and the ways in which writers develop. Two of the writers featured in the collection, Alice Walsh and Michael Naugten Shanks are the editor and assistant editor of an online literary journal, The Bohemyth, I follow and I was delighted to see that Joe Jennings, whose story "Bus Stop" really intrigued me with its dark beauty had a story in the current edition.
My main purpose in writing this post is to make my readers aware of The Bohemyth so they will not miss out on some great short and flash fiction, personal essays and photography. I also wanted to record in my reading journal my thoughts on Joe Jennings fascinating story. As a bonus there was another very interesting work of flash fiction by a new to me writer, also from Ireland, Rob Doyle. There is a longer story by Alice Walsh I will post on next week.
Joe Jennings was born in Galway, Ireland in 1987. He graduated from the National University of Ireland with and MA in Writing in 2010. His work has appeared in Word Legs and the anthology I mentioned at the start of this post.
"Brain in a Vat" by Rob Doyle was a very funny satire of the kind of issues discussed in contemporary philosophy classes. When I saw the main personage in the story was a professor Moore I thought of that paradigmatic analytic philosophy prefessor, G. E. Moore. (I know I am dating myself and I have no idea if Doyle had this in his mind or not but it made reading the story more enjoyable for me.) Toward the end of his long academic career Professor Moore decided that he was actually a brain in a vat. His colleagues tried to tell him this was just a rhetorical concept used for the purposes of debate but no amount of talk will change Moore's mind. The reaction of the other professors is hilarious and I will not spoil the experience of reading it for you. There is a thematic link between this and Jennings' story.
Born in Dublin in 1982, Rob Doyle holds a First Class Honours degree in Philosophy and an MPhil in Psychoanalysis from Trinity College Dublin. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in The Stinging Fly, The Dublin Review, The Battered Suitcase, ESC, and Penduline. He is the author of a novel, Here are the Young Men, currently being considered for publication. Since university, he has lived abroad: in Asia, South America, Sicily, San Francisco, and London. He teaches philosophy and English.
Here is the link to The Bohemyth. I expect to be reading a lot of great works in its pages.