Jane Selene Spooner: Semi-Aquatic Psychoanalyst (1946—1968?)

Jane S. Spooner is among the lesser known aberrancies of '60s science, no doubt due in part to how strangely short her career was to be cut. A promising young neurophysiologist, Spooner came to specialize on investigating animal — particularly Crocodilian — psychodynamics. By way of an anonymous contact, ASID received a (still partially encrypted) archive of her research on February 22nd 2022.

At one point a grad student under the now notorious John C. Lilly, inventor of the isolation tank and pioneer in the field of dolphin intelligence research, Jane Spooner had been tending to his 'Dolphinarium' before Margaret Howe Lovatt famously took her place. Based on what can be gathered from her notes, she resigned on her own terms following an epiphany regarding the Cetacean similarity to human neuro-architecture as indicative of “supreme neurosis rather than anything like real intelligence”. Whatever the conditions of her stepping back ultimately were, Lilly obviously felt it adequate to have all reference to Spooner stricken from the record, and would not once acknowledge her existence until his death in 2001.

Her subsequent research would see Lilly's methodology rigorously applied to crocodiles — “an opposite to the dolphin in so many ways that the fact almost appears as a communicative transmission from natural selection itself once it is sufficiently apprehended”. Referring to how the reptiles find themselves in a drastic contrast between long stretches of flatline catatonia and the sudden rushes of berserker brutality that intercut them, Spooner's findings zero in on the existence of “two measureless scales of time running in parallel”, “[r]eptilian existence [being] perhaps even most fundamentally characterized by layered scales”. Later experiments, converging upon the same telepathic aspirations as Lilly's would (whether by coincidence, espionage, or structural necessity is unknown), recognize an element of sacrifice in the attempt to share a mind with the anomalously small brain of crocodiles: “[t]hey are by far the most ill fitted lifeforms to try and establish a mental link with, it is resolutely futile, and so falls into the long tradition religious duty.” There are recurring attempts to connect this mystical aspect to the Egyptian crocodile god of primordially generative water and morally oblivious expenditure — Sobek — with Spooner concluding that she “got Nothing out of it”.

After this, the notes begin to read more and more like psychic auto-vivisection with Spooner identifying the split experience of crocodile-time with the rhythm of her own ventures into contemporaneous counterculture. “Most of my life is waiting for the next trip.” Fueled, as becomes vividly apparent, by copious amounts of LSD and an obsession with the philosophy of Georges Bataille, this culminates in something akin to a breakthrough: “I have never had a single personal problem with my mother, my real trauma is the asteroid that inflicted mammalien [sic] mothering upon this world in the first place. The evolutionary history of the neocortex is nothing other than the free reign of control-freak helicopter pampering. I long to return to that cold, reptilian mothership of bygone nights.” At the same time an undeniably disturbing current of erotic attraction to the animals develops in Spooner’s writing. Descriptions of crocodile leather at fetishistic length are frequent, and the surely fatal end of the 'consummate act' — should it be attempted — is cryptically suggested by her to constitute the ultimate sacrifice to Sobek.

Jane Spooner has, by all accounts, disappeared off the face of the Earth sometime shortly before 1969. Those few in the know, often on the more disreputable corners of the internet, have since seemingly insisted on spreading strange rumors regarding a connection of “Doc Croc” to the 'Sewer Alligator' urban legend in its various forms (accounts of which do in fact coincide with the rough time-frame of her going missing).