Monday, July 30, 2007

the pressure, the present, the past and the sun

to name a sensibility, to draw its contours and to recount its history, requires a deep sympathy modified by revulsion.
- susan sontag, notes on camp

- kanye west, golddigger

1. the pressure
SO JUST IN case you were wondering i was in a supermarket a couple days ago. i was standing in line for the checkout. there was an old lady in front of me. she had a lot of stuff sitting on the little conveyor belt that conveys stuff to the cashier. she was making conversation with the cashier. she'd left her trolley so it blocked my way. i looked at it for a while and started putting things on the conveyor belt.

i got a pressure-cooker for my birthday last year but i didn't use it until recently. now i like it a lot. lots of the things i was putting on the conveyor belt are things which work well in pressure cookers. i had turnips and swedes, for example. i am trying to learn to cook more like a peasant. this is part of me trying to unlearn my assumption that i will one day be rich. i may be rich one day, true, but (a) i'm not rich yet and (b) i'm more likely to be rich one day if i stop living like someone who is already rich.

just in case you were wondering.

the old lady wandered up to the trolley and grabbed it.

'oh here i am getting in everybody's way again,' she said. 'i'm really very clumsy, you know.'

what a sweet old lady, i thought to myself. i stopped putting stuff on the conveyor belt because there was no room for it. i was so hungry. the old lady was back with the cashier, still making conversation.

'so we're just waiting for the dog to hurry up and die, really,' she said. 'we want to go on holiday but we can't go until the dog dies. we've been waiting and waiting!'

i was waiting and waiting too. i was really very very hungry. i looked at the old lady's stuff. a lot of it was food but i didn't eat any of it even though i was hungry. i looked at my stuff. a lot of it was food but i didn't eat it cos i hadn't paid for it yet. that's how capitalism works: it doesn't matter how hungry you are, what matters is who owns the food. the supermarket still owned the food i was looking at so i didn't eat it.

2. the present
THE OLD LADY wandered back and looked at the conveyor belt.

'oh here's my stuff getting in everybody's way, too!' she said. she looked at it for a little bit and i looked at her. i didn't see what she could do, except for one of those movements that are all subtitles. you know, like when you're in an elevator and someone gets in and you sway very slightly back. you're not actually giving them any more room in real terms, but there are subtitles that say 'i acknowledge that another human being has entered a space i once occupied alone'. it's a funny kind of politeness cos it achieves nothing other than politeness, unlike, say, giving someone a seat you were sitting in.

anyway: be quiet! i'm trying to tell a story!

the old lady looked at things a little more and then slid half her stuff so it was closer to the cashier. the side effect of this was to make it impossible for the cashier to move the conveyor belt for a while.

what an annoying old lady, i thought. i'm glad i don't live with her. i started thinking about writing a story (this one, as it happens) and then i felt just like harvey pekar in american splendor [sic]. harvey pekar was stuck in a supermarket queue behind a little old lady one time and he got so frustrated he went home and turned it into art. he pulled out some paper and wrote a script for a comic about being stuck behind a little old lady in a supermarket queue. he couldn't draw for shit so he just drew stick figures.

there's a lesson in that, or there was a lesson in it for me, anyways, which is this: your life doesn't have to be anything other than what it is right now to be turned into art. that's a lesson about the present: the present, whatever it is, can be transformed into art.

3. the past
ANYWAY, I LEARNT something similar once about the past. but first: we have a new puppy at our house.

he is very small and very cute. i fought against it but it seems that now his name is going to be woobah poonie. it's a pity. he is too small to take for walks outside so i take him for walks inside instead. i walk to the kitchen and he bumbles along beside me. i walk back and he bumbles back.

he has a little mat to shit and piss on. it's impregnated with pheromones to encourage little dogs to shit and piss on it. he has managed to shit and piss in almost every room of the house now. once he even shat up against a cupboard, leaving tiny shits drooling from the panelling. he's never yet even once shat or pissed on the little mat of pheromones.

despite this, ZOMFG HE IS SOOOOOO CUTE!!1!! LOLLZ!!11!

anyway: the past: so when i was younger i used to play in bands in adelaide a lot and so did this guy ben winch. he stopped playing in bands and started writing novels. i read the second one. it was called 'my boyfriend's father'. i admired it because it was about the kind of life i had as a late teen: listening to the cure and living in the suburbs of adelaide and not doing much else except rocking out a lil bit sometimes.

maybe i am kind of slow but it had never occurred to me before that you could just write a novel set in the world i grew up in. it seemed too ordinary. i felt like a fish reading a novel about water.

unfortunately there was a suicide in the book. fictional suicides are kind of like real suicides, i reckon: more likely than not a failure of imagination. it's an easy way to invest a book with the inexplicable and its power: the power of silence, of not talking to anyone who loves you anymore, the power of not letting yourself be understood.

anyway: the lesson: whatever past you have is ok. you can make it into art too. you don't need to be from anywhere exotic. and everywhere exotic is boringly familiar to at least some of the folks who live there.

4. the sun
SO HOW ARE you guys going at being happy when you can't see the sun? i'm still learning how to do that trick. i haven't seen the sun much recently and i haven't been very happy either. it's a pity not being happy cos life is fleeting and all.

nonetheless: i hope all of you are happy. and for those of you who aren't: remember: the sun will be back soon. maybe til then we can carry a tiny version of it somewhere behind our ribs. just for a little tiny while until we can see the big sun again.

love and kisses to all


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