July 17, 2006

CARING

You are reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveller. You are also eating a salubrious clementine. The first chapter is permeated with the scent of frying onions. This is to be expected, as the novel was borrowed from the library. Eventually you realise that, befitting a novel of such ambition and some might say pretension, that you are bored. Bored to distraction.

You put down Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveller, and begin considering the nature of boredom. It is the brain's natural, neutral state, you conclude. However, it also gives rise to a certain anxiety – a restless desire to occupy oneself with other things. God, you must be bored. Bored stiff! What do you do?

If you decide to put out the cigarette, get out of bed and go for a walk, then carry on reading (duh).

If you decide to do something else, then stop being a rotter and write your own story.

So you have decided to go for a walk. I'm glad. Far be it from me, the author, to presume anything about your mental state. Indeed, I the author would like to suggest that I'm not your therapist, and I'm honestly disinterested in your mental state, bored or otherwise. In fact, let's change perspective. You are not going for a walk. You are reading about me going for a walk. There, isn't that more sensible.

I venture some way into the campus grounds and find a small pond, at which I smoke a cigarette and feel like a Jedi. I come up with a very profound story about a samurai in the moment before I flick the butt into the water, and then I wonder if the air trapped in the filter will cause the butt to float or perhaps sink more slowly – and in that moment, the story is lost forever.

Inclined to adventure, I decide to head towards the campus lake, which is not in point of fact a lake but a river corridor. This involves traversing a car park and then a short stretch of unlit woodland. Remembering my druid training, I shapeshift into a bear. Doing so gives me a 180% increase in armour class and renders me immune to polymorph effects, two things which prove useless in this case, so I shapeshift back into an English Literature student.

As an interlude, Lord Byron would travel with a bear at all times. Historians have suggested a causal link between this and his club foot. This would make more sense if bears were small, more the size of a large badger or dog.

I enter the realm of the waterfowl, where geese prowl the shitheaped gravel paths looking for violence and a quick fuck. They will not challenge my druidic might, providing that I take care not to enter their threat radius. I walk further along the bank of the lake, sorry river corridor, passing under electric lights until I reach a dark cranny near a bin.

The Night Elven blood in my veins allows me to meld with the shadows, becoming invisible to the gaze of any passing security officer or goose enthusiast. I use this stealthy cover to light up a drugs joint. Dave Brubeck's Take Five plays softly in the background as I pull on the business end, one of the few compositions in the jazz idiom to be set to a 5:4 rhythm.

As I inhale the dope fumes, heat–sensitive nanites stored in the barrel of the device begin to activate, streaming past my lips, into my lungs and throughout my bloodstream, bolstering my considerable bionic abilities. I know that the slightest twitch of my right foot could send me hurling into the night sky, screaming like a demented firecracker.

Eventually, the feeling settles, and I park my cheeks on a bench. I remember fondly how the loss of short–term memory caused by such crazy drugs caused me to believe I had teleported from one riverside bench to another, when in fact I had merely forgotten I had walked between them. Mad days.

Joseph Watson's autobiography Unusual Events is published by Phoenix.


- 3 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Glad to see the book has had SOME kind of effect.

    18 Jul 2006, 11:10

  2. katy

    like it a lot. you share many of my reactions to this book, but then have done something positive artful with them. congrats. missing u.

    19 Jul 2006, 20:33

  3. Joe

    hug

    21 Jul 2006, 13:31


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