Archive for January 2010
A sizable percentage of the patrons one night are working behind the bar the next night. And vice versa.
He dreams of getting mugged, missing appointments, fighting with someone and hurting them quite badly at first but by the end getting severely injured himself, being told off by both adults and children, getting caught in compromising positions, walking around with his fly open, and forgetting what he was going to say at a key moment.
Secular society’s lack of any viable purification rituals leaves everything up to the dream, and dreams don’t really work, not like that.
Full force, he suddenly sees it: the animal strangeness of spending an entire Saturday sitting at the kitchen table, typing revisions into a piece that was begun in 2000. Others are walking and looking, soon they’ll be eating and drinking. He, on the other hand, is in keystroke dialogue with a younger version of himself at once cleaner and less intelligent but somehow braver for it.
A cat drips from a bush out back and scatters towards home. Back at the table, state-sponsored classical music trickles out of his laptop’s speakers.
The structural stress of his line of work is abstract but profound – at once ridiculous and, unfortunately, utterly real. Everything else follows, as if fatally, when one takes it too seriously. That is to say, when one takes it at all.
Another word for confession is anti-theodicy. Justify the ways of man to God. But then there’s the problem of prepositioning, of answers without questions, and ultimately of authorship.
He thinks of Satan and his real thoughts after the Fall. But who put the thought in my head? Who made the drive that drove the thought? Did He who made the lamb make me?
A realist in the fullest sense of the word, he knows that the real reason Satan’s story starts, if it were real, is not because non serviam ex nihilo’d itself into his horny head, but because he was the sort of guy who wanted something absolutely fucking amazing to happen every single night. Only this time it did.
The conceit of this virtual world is that you fly from place to place. There are resorts and shopping malls, sectors devoted to polymorphous sex and others where you can worship the god (or gods) of your choice. Condominium complexes range around amusement parks and zoos full of dinosaurs – a entire world where adult infantility reigns supreme beyond the darkest (brightest?) dreams of Houllebecq.
At first the flying goes fine – he is soaring about a zone of chain restaurants, then a meticulously reconstructed Mayan temple. But soon enough, as he heads out over a beach where thousands of volleyball teams are holding a massive double-elimination tournament in the nude, he starts to slow down. He slows down… or the frame rate of the world he is in slows down. He seems to hang in place for seconds at a time and then lurch a few meters forward. Eventually he comes to a complete halt, his eyes locked on nothing but the sun and the deep blue sky.
He hasn’t the bandwidth for this sort of thing, he lives too far from the central servers.
He is co-teaching a seminar with one of his colleagues. Just before the session is about to begin, she asks him to produce his handouts, the images that he has chosen to distribute. But he only has one copy with him, and so he lies and says that he had thought he would show them a Powerpoint presentation (he never does Powerpoint presentations) but there is no computer in the room. He even takes a memory stick out of his pocket to underscore the point.
She scolds him – It’s your job to check the room before you teach. You know that. Look at the copies that I’ve made. You can’t just pass around a single copy of the images – there are thirty students in the class! He responds, first, by saying that no, yes, he’ll just pass around the single copy that he brought, he’s done that sort of thing before and its fine, and next by standing up and walking out of the room. On his way out, he tells her he is going to make copies. But then he calls her a foul name just loud enough for the students, now starting to fill the room, to hear.
He leaves the building and goes to the Modern Language Association conference, which as it happens is being held this year at the nearby State Fairground. Offseason rates. Tents, corn dog stands, beer stands, hay… After some time wandering around with a pack of friends, academics acting like Nebraska teenagers, he realizes that he’s past due to go back and finish the seminar. It’s a three hour seminar, and he had planned upon leaving to return after the break at the middle. But now there are only thirty minutes left…
As he flies through the air, over the tents and attractions, and then sparse winter forest, he thinks to himself that this is the first time he has ever flown in a dream and that he’s not sure he really knows how to do it, feels safe doing it. He clips branches and flies slower than he might, and when he has made it back to the classroom he discovers that everyone – his colleague, the students – is already gone.