Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I'm A (Hopefully) Temporary Half-Wit

Lately I've had a terrible case of dingbat's disease, as I do occasionally. I get freaked out when I notice changes in my brain. I fear it won't go back to normal. A couple of times when I became burnt out at previous jobs, the gears on my brain got stripped and the Broca's Area in there became a wasteland. I was unable to create syntactically accurate sentences and my vocabulary shrank 35%.

This time it feels like a rehearsal for Alzheimer's disease.

It goes like this - I think of something I need to do, but by the time I've arrived where I need to be to do it I've forgotten what it was. While I'm there I get involved with something else, but don't finish it because I remember the first thing and stop to do that. Or I find myself on the couch thinking of two or three things to do, feeling helpless because I know I'll be lucky to keep my brain together long enough to complete one. The rest are going to get lost in my head. Kind of like the guy in Momento.

I have so many panicked thoughts of "Why am I here and what am I doing?" it causes a pall of general anxiety that hangs over the whole day.

Ironically, this is exactly how characters in a book I'm reading seem to feel. I've had Viriconium on my shopping list for a while but didn't order it until recently. It's got characters so old they can't remember who they are, or who've been reincarnated and have a hard time telling the past from the present. They live in a setting kind of like Tolkien's Middle Earth, only the landscape has a more psychedelic quality. The story is hypnotically told - a lot of sensual description, much of it related in words I've never seen before. That's fine; it just adds to the sense of mystery. There's a musical cadence to the prose, too.

Anyway I was thinking about how seductive this world is. A reader wants very badly to visit this place. But then I thought, what the fuck for? Never do these folks get to change clothes. It's not mentioned but they certainly have to hike out in the woods and shit in the cold. And catch, kill, and cook what they eat. Surely it would seem as much like drudgery to them as our lives do to us. The reason this world seems so appealing is that nobody complains about the weather or appears to suffer a lot of silly anxiety. If we kept those details out of a story of our world, this would seem like a lovely adventure too.

Last night I walked home under a cold gibbous moon softened by atmospheric mist. A breeze nudged overhead branches and rubbed the remaining oak leaves together like dry, restless hands, and the sound made the night feel colder than it really was. Hold on, when I take the time to think of my surroundings with that kind of language, the real world starts to be beautiful and wondrous too. It's like I fall into a numb dream and it all sucks, then I have to wake up and see how fantastic it really is. Sometimes that doesn't happen until years later. Hindsight glasses are cold comfort however.

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