Friday, July 28, 2006

'Do you know what a hologram is, Welles?'

While digging up my old Goodspeed's catalogues earlier this week (they were in the delightful box housing the pamphlets of McSweeney's No. 4), I came across something I'd torn out of a financial-scheme promo booklet that had landed in the mail many years back. The photograph of the man holding the phone—and the dramatic pull quote—made this page a keeper.

Googling dredges up a few sources online that seem to reproduce the text from the original booklet. The Delta Deal is something that could have popped up in Charles Portis's Masters of Atlantis (or The Dog of the South, or Gringos—or even Norwood!). The names of the interlocutors in the initial, groundbreaking dialogue are ripe for parsing ("Jim Sloman" and "Welles Wilder"), as is Jim's provocative icebreaker: "Do you know what a hologram is, Welles?"

Ah—I can't resist—here's Welles's reply, followed by Jim's lucid metaphor . . . it's like reading the transcript to an infomercial . . . but somehow better. (Imagine that Midge and Dr. Symes of Dog are talking . . .*)

"Yes, a hologram is a projection in three dimensions."

"Right. Do you know how one is made?"


"A hologram is made by projecting laser light through a holographic negative—much like a photographic negative with normal lighting. However, if one looks at the holographic negative with normal lighting, it looks like mass confusion. When laser light is projected through the negative, then the three-dimensional hologram appears—the confusion is replaced by perfect order."

And here's another excerpt:

Jim replied that he could only show [the plan] to me if I came to Chicago. He insisted that it would certainly be worth a day of my time. I asked a few questions as to the nature of his trading method.

"Does it predict or follow market action?"


"Does it involve Fibonacci numbers?"


"Does it have anything to do with the works of Elliott or Gann?"


"Or Andrews or Dow or anybody else?"


"Is this a completely original discovery?"


At this point I was getting interested and the answer to my next question clinched it.

"Why do you want to show me your discovery?"

"I need a very large sum of money to begin another project."

"How will I know its value in order to make a decision?"

"Come to Chicago and I will show you. At that point you can decide whether or not you want to buy it."

*I seem to do this a lot. The very small number of books bearing the Portis byline has forced me to imagine his authorial presence in texts written by others.


Blogger Jenny D said...

I think we all could use the sentence "I need a very large sum of money to begin another project"!

That is a very crazy thing.

9:54 AM  

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