Reading Chekhov

by Jeff Oaks

Scientists have recently found that reading Chekhov
will increase “your social skills, your empathy, your ability
to read someone else’s body language” and so get

the jump on their desires. Soon of course the military
will be folding Gooseberries into its regularly scheduled
bootcamp activities so our troops can know what the enemy

wants and get there before them. Similar tests
are going on right now around the benefits of star-gazing
in the middle of the night, dipping your feet in cool water

on hot days, learning to draw hands with charcoal.
“The whole art world, it turns out,” says one researcher,
“turns out to be astonishingly full of techniques for

controlling the minds and bodies of others. We need
to weaponize all of that as quickly as possible to protect
our national security. Believe me, the Chinese are already

learning to read our citizens, and who knows how far
certain countries in the Middle East are willing to take their
thousands of years of literacy in order to gain a tactical

advantage? We didn’t even recognize its power ourselves until
it turned out Dr. Smith who liked to disappear for hours one day
came back with an answer to a question that had honestly

been slowing us down for months. Later, when he became project
manager, we began to study his techniques. He smiled 30 percent
more than anyone else. His vocabulary was 40 percent more

enriched. He could stand around in silence. He touched
his head 10 percent of the time, his right leg 15 percent.
He rubbed the back of his neck twice an hour on average.

But the Chekhov discovery was a real breakthrough. Dr. Smith
said even he hadn’t realized what had happened. One day he’d
just been bored of the newspaper and the next day he’d solved

a big problem we’d been having with our bombs.”