Monthly Archives: March 2014

Truth, Fiction, and Nostalgia

I am unfashionably late to shamelessly self-promote some new prose that has come out earlier this month in Literary Orphans. As you will see in the table of contents, pieces are listed with approximate read times…so don’t be a dick and spend two fucking minutes reading something I humbly proffer two minutes of my writing to you, dear Reader, for entertainment, for ponderment, and for didacticism.

The appearance of fiction in truth and truth in fiction is as elusive as the elctron—physicists now know that the atom isn’t an organized ball-and-orbit construct, that electrons are not like planets circling their proton/nutron sun. Instead, electrons are vibrations that exist in proximity to the components of the nucleus and can exist anywhere at any time. Their position can only be defined, in a particular space at a particular time, by observation—so that the electron is only in the ‘one-o’clock position’ (for lack of a better term) only for the split second that you are observing it there. When you are not observing it, the electron can be at any other position, and is impossible to predict.

 Truth and fiction have this same kind of quality. It is impossible to say whether something is truth or fiction, even if the storyteller insists on one or the other. Even the wildest science fiction stories are rooted in some fundamental truths we know about our lives, our society, or our physical universe. And even the truest of stories can be distorted by the nature of memory, or the perceptive filter through which humans perceive the world. What a wonderful paradigm.

 All of this is to say that there is truth in my fiction, and I won’t spoil it for you, besides to say that I do indeed have a first generation digital camera. It is big and bulky and takes terrible photos. Worst part is that I can’t even transfer photos off of it because the chip is old technology and would require hardware I no longer have. There are photos trapped on that camera…photos of a special time and a special place, and special people who are there, pixelated on a one-inch screen.

 The photos are trapped, but the memories are captured. It’s tragic and joyous at the same time, and damnit if it doesn’t so happen that every now and then when I’m alone and drunk I will pull out the camera, reload the AA batteries and flip through those photos. I am terribly nostalgic like that.

 And hence: “Moments of Momentos”, which appears in Issue 11 (the Lennon issue) of Literary Orphans.

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So There We Were On the Side of the Road

There is about a six hundred kilometre gap between the place where I pay my taxes and the place where my soul resides, if I were to have a soul, which I know I do because I greet it everytime I pass the gates of Jasper National Park.

 

Not to get deep or anything. I’ve had a fever for the past week and as per usual, my perception is distorted. Fevers tend to do this to me, which I assume happens to everyone, because of terms like ‘fever dreams’. But no one talks about fever dreams. It must take a real intimate bond to share the reveries that despotic brain-boiling viruses submit the body into—a bond that I can’t even share with myself, because even when I think, post-fever, about anything I had been so deeply embroiled in during my illness, I can recall nothing.

 

But when I’m in the throes of fever the terror is all too real. I have Proustian memories tinged with Thompsonesque loathing and Burroughsish plot lines. I can remember things I had not thought of in decades. I re-experience events that I had completely forgotten about. It’s like viral fevers activate my memory lobe, which is already fairly active. And  when I’m not catatonic with fatigue and waves of vivid memories, I fall into a sweaty sleep that seems as surreal (but acute) as an acid trip—except that I remember these with alarming accuracy, unlike the fever dreams. (It probably doesn’t help that when I am in the depths of sickness I am dosed with dextromethropan hydrochloride-laced medicines to help me breathe.)

 

The term ‘fever dreams’ does not do the waking daydreams justice, though—sometimes English is such a powerful language with no force—‘fuck’ is its greatest acheivement, and it is considered bad form to use it freely—and even though German usually has the granduer of introducing long-winded words for academics to throw around and pine for how beautifully intranslatable they are, I will go further and shit all over their tongues. I call these hyper-intense, fever-induced trips through memory carfie (from the Spanish, carcel de fiebre, or fever prison, which is much more attuned to how I feel about the whole situation, and doesn’t sound beautiful or musical, it sounds just as awkward and ugly and stupid as it is).

 

But carfie or not, I had a trip to Jasper planned. The eastern slopes of the Rockies are one of my favourite places in the little bit of world I have experienced, and are a prime location to celebrate both the spring equinox and an early birthday.

 

It’s a six hour drive. I have done it handfuls of times. But, you see, we have a 2000 sedan with 325,000 km on the odometer and a crack in the oil pan, so our method of transport wasn’t reliable by any stretch. It doesn’t help that after fourteen winters of ice, gravel, and broken pavement, the ball joint of the front passenger side creaks every time you turn the wheel more than ninety degrees. It’s a bad omen, and sounds like the car cries a little bit every time you change directions.

 

A hundred and twenty-five kilometres down a highway lightly dusted with snow and well-padded with ice is a great time to grab the wheel tight—which was great, because it was just then that the ball joint decided to crack in two and send the passenger wheel off into the ditch. The front axel dipped and threw up sparks as the car skidded around and around and nearly got pummeled into oncoming traffic by the loaded semi who had been tailgating me, waiting to pass.

 

So there we were on the side of the road—but wait—this never happened—I’m sitting back home eyeing the piece of shit car in the driveway right now—but we did go to the mountains, that was true—and the ball joint is creaky—but—

 

Fucking carfies, man. One minute you’re careening around the corner in a deathrace with the barricade of a bridge, and the next you’re in Batman pyjamas realizing the mug you’re drinking from has been out of tea for a long time.

 

Time for a Nyquil nightcap…washed down with NeoCitran…I mean, it’s been years since I experienced my ninth birthday, and the time is probably ripe to re-experience those hours with the linguist who spent weeks trying to get me to pronounce L’s properly when I was five…“But how would you sing la-la-la-la?” “Ya-ya-ya-ya-ya”…She would be so disappointed in how much I mumble now…I wonder if she would enjoy my new word…And I wonder if that guy who robbed me on the bus when I was fourteen still has my hash pipe?

Reach Out

He’s reaching out as far as his virtual arms will go. Every social media platform, dock, station and page, every identity that personifies the man, the complex organ that touches a glass screen and makes huge worlds inside his own head. He is far from home, he is far from himself, he is distant from friends. There is no easy way out.

 

But he looks

For every nook

Every tranny moment

Goes both ways

Sucks and spits

Bursts into a torrent

A drenching storm

And electrocutes him

With little winces

In the glass screen glow.

 

The music cuts in The music cuts out

The speakers are broke

The piggy bank’s broke

The banks are broke

The government is broke—

 

The landscape is too flat It stretches away from him—

It makes him nervous—

That he might—

Fall off the curve of the earth and disappear into space—

For now

there is enough space.

There are enough kilometres

to build three european countries

with their own crooked economies

and their country songs

and nationalist dreams

and jobs and money.

 

For now he is here for the income,

here for the step away from the city cesspools, where his soul shimmered in murky back alley puddles,

and held its breath in tunnels, rode the rails with nowhere to go, overpaying for a coffee for the sheer novelty of sitting amongst brokers whose butchered latte machiato crème supreme will ruin the stockmarket for another day.

 

Commodities will fall, the crops will be worthless,

farmers will eat their hats and fill newspapers, and the crisis will see

paranoid herds selling out their local grocery store in fear.

 

Everything becomes processed, everything mechanized,

every last morsel is sanitized.

Bleached so it strips our intestine and burns our blood

and we too become sanitized from the face of Gaia.

Gone so Gaia’s face can heal

and meet the middle of the sun

with a bare stone.

So that no life suffers through

atomic annihilation.

 

All of this comes into his head, sitting on a quiet wood deck, the giant prairie cloud panorama wrapping around his head, playing out evaporated and condensed epics. Giants in the sky. Giants in the mind. They’re tiny on the glass screen, but they are all there.

 

He can reach out and touch them. There. There. There.