Is it warm in there?
(This was done for the portfolio)
So I was sitting on my bed watching The Departed which it’s a good film DiCaprio’s shown himself in recent years to be a talented actor really not deserving of the kind of savagery he received in some quarters after Titanic. I was a little way into the film and I thought about John who having felt he was unable to finish work on his model airplane had decided to become a televangelist, I told him at the time I thought there was a sort of logical gap there, he didn’t make any meaningful response. I returned to watching the film avidly. The Boston cityscape presented itself to me like pine needles biting through damp soil, it had a beauty all of its own which I wouldn’t want to see changed.
I heard a knock and opened my door to find a wooden doll around knee height looking at me, it said I’m the doll Descartes constructed and sent to a friend overseas via a ship. I said I thought that story was apocryphal it said no I said okay. What can I do for you?
The doll clicked its clockwork and smiled and said I need you to write my story. I was confused and I sat down making sure my bathrobe was still covering me as the doll looked strikingly like a little girl.
I said what story?
She said everything I’ve done in the past four centuries almost.
I said won’t that be pretty long?
She said I spent a lot of it in the ocean without much happening. You can kind of compress that part.
I said that wouldn’t compromise the overall vision of the piece?
She said no because if I was interested in making readers on some level experience the sheer monotony of being stuck at the bottom of the ocean not knowing whether you’re even moving let alone how far you are from land then yeah it might be useful and also if I wanted my readers to be aware that they were reading a story by making it painfully obvious that I was using a particular storytelling technique to remind them they were reading a story then I might do it. However my concerns in the text aren’t so much with the medium itself but more with the ability of the inanimate to really experience and the extent of humanity.
I said surely the self-reflexive aspect’s unavoidable what with giving a voice to an inanimate object modelled on a feminine form nonetheless no doubt making you in some ways a perfect other, even a subaltern?
She said thinking about the voice in any story necessitates thinking about the story itself as a form and as an object, that’s always been the case it’s just that it’s not my main concern and I’d rather it wasn’t my story’s primary action.
I said that’s understandable but given the importance of your voice to the story why do you want me to write it isn’t that pseudo-colonial?
She said I’m a doll, my fingers and hands don’t work that well.
I said ok but why me?
She said you have nothing better to do. Which I felt was offensive but fair. I sat wrapped in my bathrobe and watched the corner of the screen as the needles stood proud. Look, see them shining with that precious urban rot.
She said your old flat was nicer.
I said I had to move out.
She said do you call her?
I said I think we both feel there’s too much in the way.
She said well you should at least buy some new shirts.
And down on the street, a thousand gasps froze in the morning air, that morning air; doesn’t it make you feel alive?