2000 Notebook: Transition XXI
19 June 2000
A Manifesto to Ignore
It seems that everyone is issuing manifestos these days. I usually find these pronouncements annoying, but I actually enjoyed today’s communiqué from “the precise yellow spiders.”

    We are the precise yellow spiders who built your refrigerators. We made them from the very eggs now inside them, for there is nothing that gives cabbage new vision like the plaintive humming of twelve sterile chicken foetuses symmetrically aligned in a perfect two by six matrix. Their seventeen chants carpet the reeking plastic. The single note of each frivolous dirge combines with the freon in a frenzy of drunken passion. The amusing sentiments of trillions upon trillions of chickens have made the exosphere unbearable even to the normally placid explorers whose ménage à trois sensibilities ripple with infirmity under the fluorocarbons’ spine-wrenching manifesto: “We are but we never were and we shall never be.” We are the gleeful yellow spiders who built your refrigerators; we have you where you are.

There are no eggs in any of the laboratory’s refrigerators. As usual, I ignored the dispatch.

20 June 2000
Janey’s Synaesthesia
Janey called; she told me that she’s experiencing mild synaesthesia after being involved in a minor car accident. I didn’t know what to say. I can never think of the right way to respond to a suffering friend, especially when I’ve never even heard of the ailment.

It turns out that Janey has a great condition: having synaesthesia means she hears colors! She told me that life is much more interesting after the accident. Different colors generate very different sounds that are never predictable. For example, Janey says this afternoon’s red sounds completely different from this morning’s red sounds.

I told Janey I thought the noise would get annoying after a couple of days, but she said it’s rather relaxing—like pleasant, ambient, background music. She added that when she wants silence, she simply closes her eyes.

I’m glad to hear that Janey’s enjoying her unusual medical condition. After all the suffering various diseases have inflicted on so many of my friends, I’m relieved to hear that Janey is enjoying her unusual condition.

21 June 2000
Horse and Tractor Dances
When I was in England a couple of months ago, I overheard a couple on the subway discussing “horse ballet.”

Horse ballet?! I assumed I was slurring my hearing, perhaps on account of the Newcastle Brown Ale fumes. (That sort of thing happens all the time.)

Later, though, I heard a story on the British Broadcasting Network about horse ballets. It turns out that horse ballets are enjoying a revival. These equestrian dances were quite the thing a century or two ago, and now someone had decided to revive this venerable medium.

I didn’t think much about it. After all, how many synapses can—or should—one dedicate to contemplating horse ballets?

And then, today, I heard another strange headline on the radio, something about a tractor square dance. I was tempted to disregard the story, but then reconsidered. If horses can perform a ballet, does it not follow that tractors can do the square dance?

Most of us have been living in large cities for most of our lives. For generations, even. I think we are, for the most part, out of touch with goings on in the countryside. Whether or not that’s a bad thing, I really couldn’t say.

22 June 2000
My Electronic Memories
This is a sentence from my recent correspondence:

“We’ve seen this before; here’s what I wrote to you on 24 August 1990 ...”

I used to joke that my computer is the brain I never had. Lately, though, that doesn’t seem so funny, not that it ever did. I find myself increasingly reliant on this computer-based notebook to remember things I’ve done and said over the years.

Imagine that, relegating important parts of one’s memory to a plethora of electromagnetic devices. My computer is the memory I’ll never have and/or will always have.

I’m not particularly concerned about ceding some of my biological functions to machines. Even though computers are notoriously unreliable, I’m not particularly worried. I have copies of everything I’ve done on several computers around the world; only a nuclear war could erase everything simultaneously. Even in the unlikely event I survived such a maelstrom, I think my radioactive amnesia would be the least of my worries.

23 June 2000
The Aesthetic Limitations of Potholders
Victor and I usually talk about one of two things: toys or aesthetics. I’d prefer to discuss toys and aesthetics simultaneously, but it’s usually been one or the other.

Anyway, today Victor opined that the creative potential of any medium may be determined by its ability to produce mediocre pieces. Take pot holders, for example. There’s very little aesthetic difference between a good potholder and a bad one. On the other hand, paintings range from stunningly brilliant to painfully mediocre.

I’m not sure if Victor is correct, but at least it’s an interesting proposition. It wasn’t one of our more rewarding aesthetic discussions, but at least the exchange never involved a single reference to the subtle differences between different guitars. (When it comes to discussing toys, nothing is more boring than talking about someone else’s playthings.)

24 June 2000
Kinky Newspaper Delivery Motions
I received an astonishing message in today’s mail from Cees van Woudenberg, the managing director of KLM (Kinky Love Motions) Airlines.

    Dear Mr. Rinehart,

    I was upset to read the disturbing account of your unpleasant experience in the toilets of our Platinum Premier Executive Lounge [Rich Bastards Club]. I note, with concern, that you made no mention of the gravity-driven delivery of a newspaper.

    Our records show that we were experiencing severe delays in obtaining copies of the International Herald Tribune on 25 May. I am pleased to report that we have since signed a new distribution arrangement with the New Orleans Times-Picayune that should guarantee your reading pleasure in future visits to our Platinum Premier Executive Lounge toilets.

    Yours Sincerely,

    Cees van Woudenberg

I’m not convinced that a copy of the New Orleans Times-Picayune falling from the ceiling would enhance my toilet experience in any way. Instead, I fear being smacked on the head with a stack of fifty “gravity-driven” newspapers. Since the Rich Bastards Club toilet seat cleaning contraption does little more than create an unpleasantly damp surface on which to sit, I can’t imagine the ridiculously complex newspaper dispenser would be any more reliable.

Having pooh-poohed Dutch technology, I will nevertheless admit that I was grateful to receive Cees van Woudenberg’s letter. The next time I’m in the Rich Bastards Club and find an overflowing toilet clogged with copies of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, I’ll know what happened.

25 June 2000
Questioning Pride Day?
When I dropped by Rainbow Grocery today to grab a bottle of wine, I discovered that the store was closed. The employees at the worker-owned coöperative left a sign on the door explaining why I’d have to go elsewhere for my provisions.

“Rainbow will be closed on Sunday, June 25th, in honor of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transponder, and Questioning ‘Pride Day’”

Since I spend a great deal of time in San Francisco, I’m aware that different people enjoy a wide variety of sexual practices and preferences. I thought I was vaguely familiar with most of the different categories, but I’m sure I never heard of “questioning” until today.

Does “questioning” mean none of the above, some of the above, or all of the above? Perhaps questioning is a good thing, e.g., Albert Einstein’s observation that, “The important thing is not to stop questioning.” Or, does questioning one’s sexuality indicate a complete lack of even the most basic self-knowledge?

This was all too much to think about on a lovely Sunday afternoon, especially without anything to drink.

26 June 2000
Anything Goes With Legs
I listened to an interesting piece on Cole Porter today. He was a prolific composer who kept cranking out work, even after a 1937 horse riding accident that fractured both of his legs. He kept writing through thirty painful operations.

The operations weren’t successful; doctors amputated one of Porter’s legs in 1958. After that, Porter never created another thing before he died in 1964.

Is it possible that Porter’s leg was the secret of his creativity? That’s a ridiculous suggestion, but I like it. From now one, when anyone raises the ludicrous question of where creativity comes from, I’ll simply answer, “The legs. Obviously.”

Anyone who tries to rebut my argument won’t have a leg on which to stand!

27 June 2000
Inspiration Deficit Disorder
I tried to think this morning, but nothing happened. I drank some more strong coffee, but still nothing happened. I ate a lovely spicy burrito for lunch, but still couldn’t detect any brain activity. Even a beer didn’t help.

I’m not a hypochondriac, but by the late afternoon I was so concerned that I visited my doctor. She gave me a battery of tests, then shook her head. (I can’t believe my doctor wasn’t admonished to never shake her head in front of a patient.)

“I’m afraid you have Inspiration Deficit Disorder,” she announced.

“Is that serious?” I asked.

“Well, yes and no,” she replied. “We don’t know what causes it, and we don’t know what the cure is. The good news is that it’s not debilitating.”

“What do you mean it’s not debilitating,” I protested, “I can’t think. How am I supposed to work?”

“Don’t take yourself too seriously,” she advised. “Lots of people work without thinking; maybe you should give it a try.”

And that was the end of the visit. I think I must have annoyed her; she didn’t even give me any placebos.

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©2000 David Glenn Rinehart