PAUL K LYONS
JOURNAL - 1985 - JANUARY
Saturday 5 January 1985
I went to the library to research possible postgraduate courses in cognitive science, artificial intelligence, evolution - those sorts of things. Sussex University seemed to be the most clued up. I'll ring them Monday and ask for some bumpf. I get terribly excited reading about Mind.
Bel and I were walking towards the High Road along Willesden Lane, early in the morning of her birthday. I was on my way to work, she to go home. I told her about the character, who I thought rather sad, that had converted his never-sold-a-thing junk shop to a junk food restaurant with a multitude of garish signs and a strip of lit pink. He opens the restaurant early in the morning and stays open till late at night, seven days a week, I told her, and I've never seen a single person in there. On hearing this, she left my side and ran back to the restaurant. I continued on my way to work. When I rang her later in the day she told me the proprietor had been on the phone when she entered. She waited some minutes before realising she didn't really have time to wait much longer, and left. The proprietor then ran out after her entreating her to come back, but she ran away!
I learn that my sister Melanie is to marry Julian Bull in September; and that my brother, Julian, and Julian Bull are going to work for Mr A Lyons.
It's a full moon tonight.
Sunday 13 January
I sit on the toilet crapping and take my first look at a book borrowed from the library. 'The Self and its Brain' by Karl Popper and John Eccles. In less than a page they have put me off completely: 'Human beings are irreplaceable; and in being irreplaceable they are clearly very different from machines.' This is an emotional argument not a scientific one. Popper and Eccles are dualists, pluralists. They will not leave hold of the idea that the mind is something special.
My mind is full of Brazil - I can hardly contain it. There is no desire to go anywhere, see anybody, do anything. R rings and tells me last night they had some friends of Caroline's for dinner, this night they're going to a drinks thingy and tomorrow with Richard and Tina they're going to Essex to see Richard's brother. Me, I stay in the entire weekend reading about the mind-brain problem. But I am not unhappy, just scared. Where will I live? what will I do in the evenings? how will I get contacts? how will I get a computer there? which computer will I buy and where? where and how will I receive telexes? and how will I get paid and how will I get the money in Brazil?
A court is about to pronounce judgement on who a baby, recently born to a surrogate mother managed by an agency, belongs to. I don't think there is a problem among the parties concerned. The surrogate mother got £6,500, or an agency got the same, and the infertile wife will get her baby. But the courts stepped in and made the baby a ward of court. There is no doubt that there are complex issues at stake: freedom of action, morality, ethics of society, emotions of children. Overall, it seems to me that if both buyer and seller can agree terms then there is no justifiable reason why they shouldn't be allowed to continue. OK, a human life is at stake, and the notion of trading a human life is something of an anathema to many people. However, humans have children not in a state of reproductive altruism but because they want them. It is they, the parents, that give them life and guide them into humans (even if this can be done in their absence). Consequently, if a couple are childless through infertility they should not be hindered from this form of surrogate parenthood. Other complexities arise if the real mother decides to keep the baby, if the baby is born deformed, and so on. But these are debates to be solved over time once surrogatehood is established; they are solvable problems, though not easy, the stuff of human relations which our courts have dealt with for centuries. I do not see the need for state interference because I can see no detrimental effect to society over the long term.
Rob told me a curious story last night. A boy in Libya was bicycling through a storm when a bolt of lightning hit him. He was taken to the hospital and recovered quickly. Riding his bicycle home he was struck by lightning a second time, and killed.
Saturday 26 January
I am beginning to live in a permanent state of arousal - so many things to do and so little time to do them in. This last week my priority was to get the visa application in to the Brazil embassy. Mrs Mildred Korngold, secretary to Dr I P Moutin, the press attache, was very helpful, except her helpfulness didn't help me. In order to get a press visa, I had to provide a letter of introduction from my company, a letter from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and one from myself. It was the F&C office letter that provided problems. The first certificate I got (which took two hours to get and cost me £9 from Petty France) was not what the embassy wanted. So this meant a trip to Westminster, to the Foreign Office press office, having ascertained I could get what I needed so long as I showed them a letter from my boss, Jim Trotter, confirming that I was who I said was. So much of this was circuitous. Then I bicycled through the cold and wet to the FO and hung around for maybe an hour. There was a flap on connected with a 'New Statesman' article. It meant this chap had to fly around all the departments trying to pull together a cohesive story, but he duly processed me a letter. Later I discovered he'd made it out in Trotter's name! Then, after all that, by the time I got to the embassy with the right papers it was Thursday and the diplomatic bag (weekly) had gone Wednesday night.
And that same day I cycled twice to Phillips for the book auction there. Once with Barbara trying to find some horticultural books, then once to bid for lot 203 which was 30 odd books on London and estimated at £50-70. However it went for £280, so I wasted that cycle ride too. I had but enough energy to watch the third part of the appalling TV serial 'The Price' with Judy and Rob.
I meet Marilla twice a week for Brazilian conversation. Tomorrow Alice's brother Armando comes to talk with me and hopefully I can get in touch with Judy's friend Livia. However, I still haven't found a teacher who I could pay for daily lessons.
New York, Washington and Houston all call me. Peter Savage offers to sell me his Kaypro computer, while Trotter tries to squeeze a few hundred dollars out of MacAndrew for me to buy a computer. But he also plays hard to get over our coming deal re gas and chemicals coverage. Meanwhile, Ryser puts the shits up me by advising me my only strings are 'Nucleonics Week' and 'International Management'. Then Charlie revives my flagging spirits by telling me about the wealth of possibilities and backing it up with names and places, and also by defining for me more exactly who is doing what there. There's a lot of ground I must cover before I leave London.
Paul K Lyons
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