"We had the idea while working as underpaid technicians--" Chapman explained.
"-- temporarily straitened circumstances --" Keats interpolated.
"-- in Professor Hertz's laboratory."
"Helmholtz!" corrected Keats.
"Gesundheit!" said Chapman. "We honestly have no idea how it works. The circuit diagrams just flashed into our heads whenever we stood close enough to the Bezold Ætheric Resonator, as if transmitted by reverse-propagating tachyon leakage from the Riddled Time Machine, an unforeseen design flaw which will not be noticed until 2017."
"Imagine the implications for practical philosophy," said Keats, "of sharing another person's experiences! Instead of wondering 'How can anyone possibly believe such piffle?', you can find out, with Science!"
Completing his inspection, Nietzsche returned to the front of the curious contrivance. "All I see is the reflection of an owl. How do I know that this isn't just a Candid Camera-Obscura Eulenspiegel prank?" His mustache was quivering with indignant skepticism.
"That is just the default setting from the previous use," Keats explained. "My colleague has tuned it to strigid wavelengths, the better to experience the perceptual world of owls."
"The time is ripe for a parallel version of 'An Incident at Owl Creek Bridge', as written from the owls' perspective," said Chapman.
Nietzsche was not entirely convinced. "This whole business of seeing through someone else's eyes sounds suspiciously akin to the plot of a R. A. Lafferty story."
"There is the Mother Superior of the nearby nunnery," Nietzsche conceded. "Her air of confidence annoys me. I would love to know whether she is deluded, or sincere. Or both."
"We shall show you how to tune the machine, and then return tomorrow," said Chapman. "You can have all the time you need to explore the workings of her mind."
---------------------------------------------------The sight that met the poets' eyes the morning after was not a pretty one. Nietzsche's apartment appeared to have been the scene of a literary skirmish. Manuscripts were crumpled and torn, books were strewn; ink had been hurled as if in self-defense or an attempt at concealment. The philosopher himself was not immediately in evidence. He was eventually discovered in a closet, gibbering, and cowering from some imagined scrutiny. Evidently the experiment with the Dream Machine had not been a huge success.
"When you gaze long into the Abbess," Keats noted, "the Abbess also gazes into you."