In Camera

Posted in Essay, Literary by Arasmus on February 25, 2009

For now, it is not important why I am in a wooden crate in a warehouse on the outskirts of Toronto. And you should not let your curiosity fool you into thinking that the series of events that led me to being in this situation is anything other than banal and commonplace. Some of your assumptions you can rely on. This voice is the voice of a fully grown man and not some art-school experiment where you have to appreciate the inner monologue of a mangosteen. You may also rely on the assumption that this event is happening today and that by crate I mean a wooden box of cuboid form of the type in which you might expect to find the Ark of the Covenant. With those three confirmed assumptions and the aforementioned geographic location, everyone will understand how you thought that this was about a curled-up man in a box in Canada. Within that frame, all that matters are my thoughts. It may seem a little brusque to say so, but without wanting to seem any more rude than necessary, let me remind you that there are other boxes.

One of the obvious luxuries of being in a crate is that it affords a perfect theatre in which to enjoy one’s own thoughts. Some people said that cinema was finished once the VCR came out. Now we live in the age of the video and yet cinema thrives. Only mice realize that cinema is a ritual and the screen an inter-ontological elevator of uncertain direction. When four or five people stop in the street to stare at something, say the ever-increasing shadow cast by a suicidal piano, they are soon joined by several more and several more etc. Evolution has schooled us to obtain information as soon as possible, which is why we have rubber necks. Imagine then how that little nubbin deep in our brain reacts to a room of two or three hundred people voluntarily placing themselves in a darkened space, all looking forward, in the same direction, at a single screen. That act is cinema, or mass. In both cases, this ritual tells that primordial nubbin, one single, urgent, undistracted message; God is going to come out of that wall. You see this effect most noticeably in children. With adults it is tempered only slightly by the fact that when it comes to dates, no one can stand you up like God. Hence the crate.

I imagine that all across the United States, in the various technology companies that we have come to think of as secular-Santas, engineers and pre-postal employees in white coats and nipple-rings are trying to develop a single storage solution in which one can keep all of one’s movies, photos, music, and experiences. I already have one of these devices attached to the end of my rubbery neck. It is divided into sections with a common motherboard. The first section contains recordings of everything that I have ever known. A red admiral butterfly caught flapping in a spider-web in the dark wooden corner above my cot as a baby and the sound of that desperate flapping. My first taste of sushi and how the term “raw fish” kept flashing in front of my mind’s eye in the most gag-inducing incarnations of the serif font. Then there is my imagination, part two. It uses a fair amount of the data contained in memory but either augments or synthesizes it to such a degree that it can create images and feelings about things I have never known.

When I am in a wooden crate . . . I should tell you that this is not the first time. (Door-to-door its difficult to find a more economical way to see the world.) When I am in a wooden crate, I spend much of my time imagining because its simply fantastic. Nobody says fantastic anymore because its become too fantastic but for me fantastic will always be fantastic. A whole host of new scenery, sights, sounds, sensations and all filmed superbly, just so, as I would like to be able to do myself; though the time to devote to acquiring that skill has to date eluded me.

Normally at this point I would be naked. Liberally? No . . . urgently. Yes. Applying sun-block in one of either two states of mind; rushing to get it done as fast as possible and consequently missing a spot or, channeling the conscientiousness of a Swiss watch-maker to ensure that I cover those awfully painful spots I previously missed. Its such a pain because its so predictable – down to having to wash your hands because they become so slippery, down to the high likelihood that the molecules in the cheap soap will be too large to get under the film of the cream so that in the end you are just wiping it off on the towel. Guilt, sun-glasses, sandals and out the door. Panic and pants. Relief. I now avoid all that.

Google Software Update is about to be installed. Accept and Install. Loading myplaces.kml. Adding overlays. Toronto. Latitude 43.655830 degrees, Longitude -79.459649, Elevation 101 meters. But in my mind; Lembongan, Bali, Latitude -8.693265, Longitude 115.435745, Elevation 2 meters. Beach. Sometimes, especially when I am alone on a beach, I imagine that I have a personal relationship with the Gods. The Gods are usually Greek, and tall, and on their way to a party at which I will be discussed in passing. I am Achilles and I have been brought to this table of sand and sea, as one does with a hero now and again. Alone on a beach, or in a box, it is easier to imagine one’s own importance. The sea hypnotizes me, swinging the pendulum of the tide back and forth in my ears. Everything melts. Quiet. Warm gentle sun. The Gods are telling me something but I am so out of it. I am lost, drifting in a quiet womb in which time is marked only by the rhythms of my mother’s beating heart. Deus ex machina, ex ante.


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