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Dr Alistair Brown | Associate lecturer in English Literature; researching video games and literature

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Through exploring the psychopathology of Capgras syndrome, in which a patient mistakes a loved one for an imposter, The Echo Maker offers a sustained meditation on the ways in which we project our own problems onto other people. As a reflection on the mysteries of consciousness, the novel offers some interesting if not especially new insights into the fuzzy boundaries between scientific and literary interpretations of the mind. Read more


Stay of Execution

Monday, May 17, 2010

So there I was, about to begin invigilating my first exam of the current season when the strangest thing happened. The students had filed into their room, and were sat itchily at their desks. I had read out the starting script, and asked if everything was OK. With two minutes to go to the due start time, I stood at the front, looking up at the large analogue clock on the wall. These couple of minutes must go achingly slowly for the students, and it always feels awkward for me too: they are in the room, so why not let them begin?

The clock gradually ticked round. With a minute to go, I announced that the exam would start at 9:30 by the room clock, and finish at 11:30. The seconds passed by. Thirty. Forty. Then, at ten seconds to the start time of this exam - indeed, the whole whole exam season - the minute hand stuttered forwards, then back, then forwards, and then stopped entirely. Of course the faces, whose eyes were glued to that clock face, burst into laughter. At best, was this a perfectly ill-timed metaphor? At worst, was this an ill omen? Either way, it offered a mere stay of execution. The laughter died, I checked my watch, and the exam began.

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Posted by Alistair at 12:21 pm

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