Archive for July, 2006


July 27, 2006

As he arrived at his apartment, he decided he would look again at the list he had made up when he started his journal, the list of plug in benefits that he would have to find some compensation for. He pushed open the door, stepped in from the hall and paused. He stared out into the gloom of the room. The blond color of the hardwood floor seemed to rise up from the boards in order to choke him. He let the keys become heavy dangling in his hand as he gently shoved the heavy wooden door shut,over the uneven bulking door sill. This is where the Brian DePalma camera would rush up into his face from across the room. But nothing happened. He dropped his keys on the mail table next to the door.

He went to his bedroom. There was the journal, on the nightstand next to the bed. Sublimating off of it was the smell of leather, the memory of a farm which has been bottled, and the cap has been left off. It was the same leather smell that chokes you when you go into a western wear clothing store, but here it just made him wonder where it was coming from until he realized oh yea, its the book.

He toppled forward onto the bed, lying on his stomach, reaching out across to the nightstand which was on the other side away from the door. A breeze blew in from the window slightly open above the head of the twin bed. He stretched out to grab the journal and, propping himself on his elbows, he opened the book on the bed and looked down into it.

He opened to the first page, where he had listed the functions or benefits of plugging in that he thought he would have to find some replacement or substitute for: memory recording, the first entry, had been crossed out with the words “this journal” next to it. Next was a list:

  • memory intake
  • empathy exercise

Underneath that he had written some ideas, repeating the entries from above in an expanded list:

  • memory intake
    • novels
    • movies?

Of course he often compared the perfect memory, for which he searched in every plug in, to the perfect novel. He thought that novels could come closest to recreating the total mental engagement of memory surfing. Movies, on the other hand, didn’t quite cut it. They seemed artificial to him. While watching them he could always step outside of them, as it were. Only occasionally and in a roundabout way did a movie have something of the same impact of a book. If he were still thinking about a movie days after seeing it, then he had to admit that it had snuck up on him, and it represented genuine experience.



July 25, 2006

George finally noticed that all is not well with Stephen. George had been been into the middle of the room while telling his stories. Now that came to a break in his breathless, interminable narrative, he glanced at Stephen – he glanced, but then held the glance. Stephen did not look good. He wasn’t holding his latte anymore – his hands were in his pockets. He sat slumped so that his waist was at the edge of his chair. That can’t be comfortable, thought George. His face was droopy. George noticed an uneven shave. The hair was unkempt, the eyes red-rimmed. George almost thought he could see a yellow crust along the edges of the inside of the eyes.

“Are you okay? You don’t look so good.”

“Wha, me? Yeah, I’m ok.” Stephen darted his eyes back at George, suspecting he suspected. But what could he suspect? What have I done wrong? I mean, aside from lying. Why am I lying anyhow? Is it so wrong? It is wrong enough to me that I want to keep it a secret? I no longer remember why it must be secret, but I cannot betray myself, whatever self it was of mine that thought it dangerous enough to hide. What can he suspect? Fuck him. He can accuse me of no crime. He can only be offended, and end our friendship, our little association. To call it a friendship. Friends with this little gnome! Fuck him.

Ok, I’m getting a little carried away. I got to pull myself back into this conversation, or he will suspect something. What does he suspect? He examined George more closely. George was a rising column of smoke. George’s eyes were two marbles rolling on top of a sliding wooden board. “I’m just tired,” Stephen said. “It’s been a long day.”

George remained silent and still for a few more moments. “Okay,” he finally said. George accepted Steve’s or reticence. “Maybe you should head home and get some sleep?”

Stephen put his lower lip between his teeth. He thought for a second. “Yeah. Yeah, maybe I should.” He pulled his waist to the back of the chair, pulled his feet in so his knees formed right angles, and put his hands on them. He turned to George to say goodbye. George was staring at him. Obviously the room of George’s mind had been painted with doubt. “Well, I’ll see you.” Stephen said as he picked up his bag.

“See you later. Take care.” George continued to stare, swiveling his head to follow Stephen out the door.

Steve stopped outside, once the door had closed behind him, and took a breath. “Well, that went really fuckin’ well,” he said out loud. He started trudging back toward the train station. Looks like I need to rethink this charade strategy. I’m obviously not very good at it. Ah, what to do, what to do.

Plugin recap part 3

July 23, 2006

“OK, so I was saying how the first two memories weren’t connected, there was no ‘pivot’?”

Steve brought his cup up to his lips, scowled slightly in reflex as he took a sip, and nodded as he licked foam off his lips. He looked George in the eyes.

“Well there was a transition to this next memory. Children. Children were the fulcrum against which the lever turns. The …corner, around which the memory journey turns. The …baton, passed from one relay runner to the next. Children are the passkey, the seal that you press into the clay to open the ancient trick door and move from one stone chamber to the next in the buried tomb. Yeah, this was one of those memories where you feel like you’re going deeper into a labyrinth, like you’re being allowed to see more of the secret that you never suspected and the beginning of which was just revealed to you.”

“I know what you mean. It feels like a part of a long chain leading to some secret mystery, like the initiations of an ancient Greek religion, or like the steps of a complex mathematical theorem. It feels like a step from link to another in the middle of a long chain – but I’ve only ever had that feeling between two memories – the series is never longer than that.”

“Yeah, it’s unfortunate.” George nodded wistfully, putting enough front and back motion into it that he looked a little like a rooster. “So, in this transition. I seemed to move out of the teacher and into one of the young children in the class, leaping from one body to another like a panther ghost of possession. And then the world dissolves and reforms, like the reflection in a pond reacting to a nearby splash by shimmering out of coherence and then back in again, but the reflected image has been replaced by another.

“And I find myself feeling ..a bit of whimsy. I’m a slightly younger child, a toddler, and I’m on the back of a black stuffed animal, an ant, and in a shallow pit of plastic red balls. I lean forward, moving my hands across the black felt on top of the head, cupping the curve of the head in my hands, then grabbing the drooping, passive antennae, made simply of strips of felt, and raising my hands to let the strips run through my fists. Then I roll off to drop myself into the plastic balls, squealing with delight. I have a vague sense of another stuffed animal nearby, a ladybug with its cloth blanket wings twisted and draped over its head.

“And then that seemed to fade, like the light after a very strong flash in your eyes, and I began to seep into another memory. I was sitting at a table, a kitchen table of blond wood. I was looking down at my pale arms, placed resting deliberately straight out in front of me ending in fists trying not to be clenched. I was incandescent with rage. I could feel the anger building up in a gigantic wave from somewhere behind the small of my back. A wave growing fast enough to be stop-motion, massive before it strikes the inside of my forehead. And strikes, and strikes. A wave that doesn’t crash, but keeps growing, streaming from a source inexhaustible. This anger was so overwhelming I could do nothing to express it: no lashing out, no growling, I could only sit there and let it wash over me, and stare at my hands on the kitchen table. Eventually I did get up, I could only move in a straight line, past the person at whom I was angry, out the side door of the kitchen into an alley next to the house. I turned toward the street and went walking in the cool evening air.”

Plug in recap, continued

July 20, 2006

“Okay. in the next one  I was a kindergarten teacher. The press-board bookshelves. The low tables, child-sized chairs stacked in leaning towers along the wall. Differently colored carpets overlapping each other to cover the entire floor. The children gathered into a group sitting cross-legged in the middle of the floor as I carried a book from my desk in the corner of the room.

“Wait. what was the transition?”

“The transition. Right. Let me see… .I don’t remember specifically. It was so distinct from the other one, there was no transition to speak of. If I can’t remember it perhaps there was none at all. There was definitely none of the kind where some particular idea of sense data acts a pivot, around which your entire consciousness turns, rounding a corner into another street, as it were. I think it must have been one of those where one memory ends, and you almost come completely out of the session – you find yourself looking at the cover of the berth, and start to notice the small tears in the vinyl coverings of the cushioned interior, then you sink back into the swirling numbness before a new memory begins. I think I remember that happening tonight, though it may not have been between these two memories.”

“Okay. Anyway.”

“Right. Anyway. I start reading the book. And it’s in some Scandinavian language. You know, all these freaky vowels with slashes through them and dots here and there. And I can hear myself reading it. I was really fascinated by the sound of it. And seeing the words while hearing myself read it gave me some clues into what might be the structure of it. There were three sentences, one right after the other, which were each a single word – but the word was at least eight syllables long. And the first six or so syllables were the same each time, just the end of the word – the last two to four syllables – was different. So, obviously, an inflected language. But besides stuff like that, I had no idea what I was saying, or rather what this person was reading.

“So this was a big contrast to the other memory. This was purely sensory. It had no associated thoughts – no abstractions hanging off of or above it. Just sights, sounds,”


“Yeah, I guess so. The carpet. The book.”

“Oh. Have you read Saul Bellow?” George shook his head with a half-interested smile. “I think it was in Humboldt’s Gift, he has a line about the ‘cloud of gases that collect above any group of small children’ or something like that.”

“Oh.” George kept his smile while his face fell half way. “I don’t remember anything like that in this memory.”

Plug in recap

July 12, 2006

“So, how was it tonight”, George asked.

Pathetic, thought Steve. “How was it tonight?” Pathetic. A sour expression crawled up the back of Steve’s face. Everything about this man sickens me this evening. Everything about this place we’re in sickens me. Everything about me sickens me this evening. “How Was it tonight?” It was pointless. It was a lie. It wasn’t. It didn’t exist. How was it. Jesus.

Steve shrugged, and looked away. “I don’t know. It was rough.” He sighed. “I don’t know if I can describe it. It was difficult. I felt like I was flying through fog. I didn’t feel like I could grab hold of any memories. Like if I reached out to what looked like a good one, and my hand would go through it, like a wisp of cloud,” Steve looked past George at nothing. “Coiling in turbulence around my wrist, and dissolving before it reached my elbow.”

Another sigh. “I’m tired too. Somehow it was exhausting. I don’t think I have the energy to really talk about it, to be honest.”

George nodded. “Well, can I tell you about what I saw? You don’t mind?” Steve raised his fingers and tipped his head, an assent. “I actually had a pretty good night.”

“One of the first ones, I was like a big shot in some office. There was a lot of vague interaction with a lot of people who were really serious, earnest is the word I want. I could feel a lot of pressure, a lot stress, and it actually felt like it had built up over several weeks – like I had just come in at the tail end of it, or in the middle of it, but the stress had that kind of _flavor_, you know, that it was something that had built up over several weeks. And I remember thinking, as me, in the berth, not as the guy in the memory, ‘wow this guy thinks he’s hot shit.’ And at the end of it somehow it became apparent that the business was rubber stamps.”

Steve’s eyebrows went up. “Ok?”

“Rubber stamps?”

“I’m sure at one time they wre important.”

“Okay. At one time. Since the memory servers were in operation?”

“Okay, there’s your stress then. The market’s gotta be shrinking.”

“Well, yeah, you’re right. I guess that’s true. That would explain the stress. I just thought it was funny that he though he was such hot shit, that everybody was so earnest, over rubber stamps. Anyway. That one wasn’t a lot of detail. I had a general idea of the features of the office, but it was mostly situational: relationships and plans. I didn’t even have a good sense of what the other people in the office looked like. But I was very clear on what their relationship was to me, or the guy whose memory it was.”