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A couple came up to the checkout with a quarter-cartful. As they unloaded their stuff they were texting one another seriously. I could see that that was happening. And this is how it went.
Chips. She. She. She.
Ice cream. He?!?!
Potatoes. She (sigh!)
Chewing gum. He???
She turned off her machine and walked away.
He? He? He? He?
I said, "You want some bags?"
He said, "Do you text? What's your number?"
"Don't got one," I lied.
This is a very hard moment for me.
This man here, though I never met him, had been touched by my work. He had been spurred to action by my work in ways which I myself never had the courage to be.
James Lee. You have honoured me and my film An Inconvenient Truth to such a degree I feel like giving him my Nobel Prize.
I was theory, he was practice.
I was nouns, he was verbs.
I was the tune; he, the song.
Just knowing I had touched a life so deeply, so thoroughly, well, I'm speechless.
WHAT I HEAR AT WORK
Clothes. Food. Food. Clothes. Clothes. Bit of work. Safety. Food. Food. Clothes. Clichés. Clothes. Men! Pregnancy. Twilight. Food. Safety. Celebrities. Bit of work. Food. Clooney. Clichés. Doctors. Clothes. Celebrities. Food. Pregnancy. Twilight. Food. Clothes. Clothes. Food. Men! Food. Safety. Clothes. Clothes. Food. Food. Clothes. Clothes. Food. Clichés. Food. Art. Clothes. Clothes. Safety. Food. Culture. Food. Clothes. Doctors. Celebrities. Clothes. Food. Doctors. Clooney. Bit of work. Clothes. Pregnancy. Clothes. Clichés. Safety. Men! Food. Food. Books. Clothes. Bit of work. Celebrities. Clooney. Clichés. Twilight. Food. Safety. Food. Clothes.
(Not my immediate circle, but the circle around us.)
VIS1103H Theory of Waste Creation
This course examines simultaneously the theory and practice of the creation of worthless objects from valuable materials. Students must take expensive things which will be then assembled in a thoroughly wasteful method into
of neither value nor interest. The other half of the course concerns the theory of the mutations and permutations available to the contemporary practitioners of the institutional grant. Marks will be rewarded based on the uselessness of the finished work plus a silly examination which will be marked by weight according to a bell curve with slightness considered as final worthiness.
Everything I ever needed to know:
SPELLING All words are written precisely as they sound.
MATHEMATICS The square root of 2,548 is 22.
LITERATURE The Taming of the Shrew is an allegory with birds.
HISTORY George Washington was named after George Washington Carver.
GEOGRAPHY Iceland is the capital of Greenland.
MUSIC Most popular music have five flats. (Key of C-flat.)
PHYSICS There are five states of nature--solid, liquid, plasma, gas, glass.
SEXUAL EDUCATION If you don't have a condom, shelf paper can be substituted.
CHEMISTRY You can mix anything with anything.
ART The Mona Lisa was painted by Picasso.
A couple years ago I got to see some old report cards of mine. My parents had been hanging on to them. The teachers in those days wrote real comments, and one particular comment was repeated year after year after year. All the teachers wrote to this effect: 'He's always in
such a rush
.' Those precise words were repeated again and again:
such a rush
. After laughing about it, I realized this has been my manner since. I rush through things. They can never be too immediate. I take it to be a blessing, not a curse. You like it?
TEACHER OF GRADE THREE Welcome back to school, children. I hope you all had a pleasant summer. Before we begin our learning, we have to elect someone. We have to elect the student who will vomit unexpectedly some time this year, because that's what's expected of you, being in grade three.
ANONYMOUS KID Oh, let's go with Suzy. She's the smartest!
ANOTHER ANONYMOUS KID Billy's really fat. I nominate Billy!
TEACHER Any other nominations? Suzy, Billy? Would either of you like to say a few words?
BILLY I promise to puke big.
SUZY I'll be sooooooo embarrassed!
TEACHER Let's vote!
The Sorrows of Young Werther
became a keynote text in the Romantic movement, but modernism revolted against the Romantics. Today, out postmodernism revolts against that revolt, so much so that Werther's suicide is seen as noble, heroic even, once again. These texts matter today. Mr. Mohamed, what are your plans for the future?
MR. MOHAMED I'm going to be a suicide bomber.
PROFESSOR How wonderful! You're going to the head of the class!
MR. MOHAMED Thank you, John Allemang!
(cf. John Allemang, "Can the liberal arts cure jihadists?"
Globe and Mail
, September 4, 2010, accessed September 8, 2010. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/can-the-liberal-arts-cure-jihadists/article1695629/.)
Our high school was deathly afraid of being thought "weird," so we reduced it to a bland stereotype typical of all high schools. We have cliques such as the "jocks," "nerds," and "beautiful people." We had "druggies" and we had "brainiacs." We would concentrate our attentions on only one team per semester, and if we won we were elated and if we lost we considered lessons learned. Our principal was stern but he had a heart of gold. Some teachers were fucking around with other teachers and everyone knew. The head janitor was alcoholic. There was nothing "weird" about it.
SOCRATES Can you explain to me how you have come to understand anamnesia?
PLATE Socrates, firstly, though a convoluted path of self-examination we have determined that Darren will be played by two actors, the Dicks York and Sargent. Secondly, this means there pre-exists a form we can call 'Darrenness.' But how I precisely came to know this, I do not understand.
SOCRATES Isn't it plain to see?
SOCRATES It starts with an E.
SOCRATES No, no. Education!
PLATO Ah! Through self-examination we can come to know everything. Teachers are not necessary. Socrates?
OVERHEARD AT 444 FRONT--BOOK REVIEW SECTION
"Reginald, look. Yet another smashing book for us to review."
"Egads, how is it possible? Why o why is every book sent to us for consideration so fantastic?"
"Maybe we have simply the luckiest Book Review section in all of Christendom."
"That simply must be the reason, Terence. All these wonderful, wonderful memoirs and stuff. So insightful. So wonderful!"
"And nothing terribly taxing, either."
"They all make me feel like a normal person."
"Shall I see you at Babs' party this eve?"
Mais oui, naturalement.
I've a smashing new frock, and divine footwear!"
Here there are no lights; here there are no 'photons.' Ink from side to side, up and down, and up and down. Reach out your hand--there's nothing there. Close your eyes of it makes you feel safer. Nothing here, nothing's ever been here. Can you remember light? Can you feel it on your face? It's getting colder all right. But your feet are touching something groundlike, aren't they? They're not? It's like outer space. Or swimming in ink or oil. Things move slowly here. Maybe nothing actually happens here. Maybe it's just you and the blackness, no scene divisions.
NOT IN TEAM
Last time I was on a team.
Kickball, grade six.
The team I was on was ahead.
By three runs.
And it started to rain.
Everyone ran to the school except for me.
I decided to do some Charlie Brown clowning.
I fell on my knees in the rain and pounded the ground.
"Why??" I cried. "For the love of God, we were winning!!"
Maybe I went on too long....
When I went into the school, the teacher grabbed me and shook me. "Don't ever do that again!"
Since that time....
There is no J in TEAM.
THE VIRGIN WHORE (φάρμακον)
She stands high up atop a white pillar with the wind blowing through his diaphanous white curing dress, and beneath I can see the green poison running from her vagina. She has claws she's torn men apart with, attached to alabaster and innocent digits. What am I saying, she's never been touched, never never, and her sulphurous breath and syphilitic gums make it so. She creeps through the night offering the cure of herself--you can even lose your lunch, she'll like it!--, and still she's there, sitting in the next desk, offering you poisons.
I wanted to be judged by my peers so I got out my ouija board.
MELVILLE YOU SHOULD BE USING FAR LONGER SENTENCES.
JOYCE YOU SKIMP ADJECTIVES USE MORE MANY MORE.
BEETHOVEN DONT HOLD BACK YOUR EMOTIONS SO MUCH.
VAN GOGH YOU DONT MENTION COLOURS ENOUGH.
TOLSTOY DESCRIBE THINGS MORE STRANGELY.
WAYNE HOLD BACK ON ALL THE SWAGGER PILGRIM.
PROUST I AGREE WITH MELVILLE MUCH LONGER SENTENCES.
DICKENS YOURE NOT DESCRIBING THINGS ENOUGH.
HITCHCOCK YOU BLOW SUSPENSE TOO EASILY.
ZOLA YOU SHOULD TIE THINGS TOGETHER BROAD CANVAS.
HOMER YOURE NEGLECTING RHYTHM.
SHAKSPEARE YOURE PERFECT KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.
Then she came to a crossroads. She looked to her left. All was dark down there, with a future unknown. She looked to her right. Darkness, no idea what was there beyond the blackness. She looked straight ahead. Again, nothing but inky blackness. What could be down there? She looked behind her. Clarity as far as the eye could see. She turned again, and wondered which way to go. She tossed a docecahedron that had colours on its pentagons to choose, and that toss made her go left. One hundred feet later, she came to another crossroads.
The leaves are wetly going to change again,
The kerchiefs of the trees will drop, awaiting
A gatherer who'll kiss away the sprain;
And snow will make their boughs look perspirating
As winter ends and buds erect their heads
Through summer's glory til at once again
The bonds dissolve and tumble into beds:
And once again the seasonal remains.
You're wearing something new today, I see,
And yet persistent you're beneath the leaves;
For there beneath there's still a constancy,
No matter what a picnic could percieve.
You perfectly can never disappear:
And thus I navigate your Earth and Year.
-Mr. President, you have to look at this graph.
-What is it?
-It's our deficit.
-It's how much we owe, kind of.
-Now look. It goes up and up, from left to right, which is only natural. But here, in the last month, look at what happened.
-What is it?
-The line actually started going back to the
-We're increasing our deficit
-We've spent so much we're
defying the arrow of time.
-Hey, spending's good.
-We seem to have thrown out all laws of physics with our debt.
-Debt's good, right?
LECTURE BY WILBUR
He had a full house for his lecture. He trotted out and sat on a wooden stool under a spotlight. Such a performance! He looked from person to person. Behind him came up the signs. "SOME PIG." "GREAT PIG." "THERE'S NOTHING BUT THE NOW." "WE MAKE WHAT WE DESIRE, OUR DESIRES MAKE." "GREAT PIG." You could hear a pin drop. "TRANSCENDING SPACE AND TIME IS DONE ETERNALLY." "FABULOUS PIG." "THIS IS A GIFT." "GOD PIG." "LET US PERCEIVE THE THINGS WE CAN SEE." "THE WIRES ARE HUMMING." Admission was fifty bucks--but it was well worth it.
We've been forced to publish two editions of every book. How silly.
There's the regular book, then there's one for the intellectually disabled. (They used to be called dummies.)
So there was a charter case, and now we're publishing two of everything. Even with stuff like
There's the regular version, then the version that's even more idiotic.
Books in foreign languages were pretty much banned because those foreigners have different laws and won't do what we tell them.
And translations? They're completely impossible.
I hear someone who's really
stupid thinks the stupid books need their own stupid books.
AND YOU STOP
And you stop.
You pulse falls.
Your blood pressure falls too.
Everything is silent around you.
It's like you're in an anechoic chamber--though you can barely remember what such a thing is or was.
You can hear your heart beating. It's the only sound you can hear.
Except for your thoughts.
"I used to know what it was. I was once a child. I must have once been a child. I must have come from somewhere. I think I know there's such a thing as a life. I think I've gone through stages. Are there more?"
Continuing directly on the preceding sonnet and expanding on the final line, the poet compares the beloved's opinion of himself to the courtly dilemma of a "conquering hero" who has returned from Ireland in disgrace. Probably inspired by the Earl of Essex in 1601, the second quatrain reflects this most strongly ("north-light's expeditions," cf. MM IV.2.32). Verbal echoes can be found in stanza 2 of AS, as well as day 6 story 4 of Boccacio. Finally it must be noted that this sonnet was considered so inflammatory it was not included in Malone. Booth devotes a sub-chapter to it.
Tuesday night I noticed a pain in my side. It was worser last night, and today I'm in a noticable amount of pain.
I looked up some anatomy charts. It might be my liver, or it could bbe my colon, or maybe it's just muscular.
I hope it goes away. I don't know anything about doctors. I don't even know if I have anything of an Ontario Health Card.
I wouldn't be terribly surprised if this spells the end of me. All my hard livin' had to catch up with me sooner or later.
Ivan Ilyich has crossed my mind.
LETTER FROM MED SCHOOL
Dear mom and dad,
Having a wonderful time here at Med School. I've made alot of friends, and they're all so smart! I'm in the 'mad' stream, and you wouldn't believe the shenanigans we all get up to! I'll tell you in person all about it. Anyhoo, I'm aceing Laughter 101. Evaluation: "He cackles so madly, I can't imagine a dowager unshocked by his crazy atheism." (My vicious hand-rubbing needs work, though.) My hair and nails are growing long, which is nice. I'm currently menacing not one but
fiancées! Thanks for the socks!
The party of the first part's parts are departing from the party. In part, the parts apart impart a partial person. The departure of the partial parts, part by part, to particles,
is a department apart, departing to the ramparts of the other part of the bipartite world--the parts being the life-part and the death-part. Partly, the parts, as I've imparted, depart apart or as copartners of their departure. Some parts come apart and depart in parts partially. (Microparticles depart as partlets particularly.) The party's partiers depart; apartness is not overparticular; it's like The Farewell Symphony. Partially.
Rubella, the measles, then mumps, then pinkeye and tonsilitis and appendicitis; a broken bone, a broken arm, skinned knees, black eyes; menarche, orgasm, hair; autism;
Early onset diabetes, then multiple sclerosis, then corns and blisters and warts and acne; then smokers' cough and athletes' foot and fertilization and pregnancy and miscarriage, abortion, childbirth;
Then dim eyes and cloudy hearing and carpal tunnel syndrome and hysterical nightmares and insomnia, then lithium and prozac and barbituates; then hair loss, then impotence and libido loss;
Arthritis, glaucoma, indigestion, insensitivity, late diabetes, cirosis, blindness, deafness, depression, terror, massive organ failure and cancer.
It was just toe surgery, so I wanted to watch.
A local anaesthetic plus a couple convex mirrors made it all possible.
The doctors cut into the skin around the nail first, and underneath, slowly, with small blades.
They'd dab off the blood every minute or so.
A small sucking sound accompanied the nail's liberation.
They pulled out a tool. It looked like an adjustable pencil sharpener.
They set it to a gauge and put it over the toe. Then they started turning.
Flat ribbons of flesh twisted away.
Took more force when they hit bone.
I love elective surgery.
-Nothing. Go on.
-Boy with leukemia. Ten years old.
-What's the case number again?
-I don't like all those nines.
-Sure. 999. I don't like it. But, tell me more.
-The treatment's not prohibitively expensive.
-There's a good chance of a complete recovery.
-But all those nines are, I don't know, bad luck.
-Because ... they're like sixes upside down?
-Partially. It's creepy, that's all.
-I know what you mean. But still. He's ten.
-I can't approve of the treatment.
-I respect your medical opinion.
-Okay. Treatment withheld.
Drs. playing Dr.
-This examination should take about fifteen minutes.
-Take your time.
-Take off all your clothes except for your underwear.
-I'm going to test your reflexes now.
-Did you feel that?
-The location is very innervated, yes.
-Can you feel this?
-I should check your tonsils now.
-Heart rate and blood pressure are up.
-I think it's time to introduce the cannula.
-Very good, doctor. Can I assist?
-Slowly ... inserting the ... cannula....
The Scientific Viewpoint
I got a phone call from Dr. Dawkins. My results were in. I went to see him.
He said, "We've got the results from the x-rays and the blood tests and all those other tests you had. It seems you're suffering from a kind of massive organ failure. You're simply riddled with cancers. Your abdominal features are jellifying at a terrific rate. It's going up your spine, and it'll hit your brain soon. You have six weeks to live, give or take one. But really, don't take it too badly. It's not the end of the world."
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