Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Somewhere around Barstow...

You knew it had to come to this. With all of the discussion of celebraties getting caught with caught in the snow storm (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4318898.stm), I've decided to have my own confession: I am addicted to caffeine. Now most of you will respond to this revelation with something along the lines of "no shit". But, to be honest, this is kind of news to me. Yeah, I'm grumpy if I don't get coffee right away, but before I left the states, I made a vow to myself that I would quit taking the drug except for recreationally. Granted, in my hurry to experience 'all things British' I have attempted to take up tea, but I've burned through dozens of tea spoons and still can't get that shit to melt?

Today, however was a revelation. I stupidly thought I was truly master of my domain and left the house without coffee (my mug was downstairs when I made breakfast, and I didn't want to go all the way back down there to get it; of course using one of the million other cups in the house is out of the question) thinking I'm in control, this is great. Well, 2 minutes into my day, I find myself impatient for my train downtown to arrive, so I decide to take the "alternate". Long story short, I got lost. Ever try to read a map of the london underground (http://www.afn.org/~alplatt/tube.html)? Try doing it tommorrow with out coffee. I kept looking at that thing, looking around, looking back, and I couldn't make heads or tails of it. It was just a big jumble of lines and words. I tried asking for help, but my mouth wouldn't find the words, and I couldn't understand the transit assistance anyway. I was forced to dig through the trash, sucking the remains of lattes from card board starbucks cups and was finnally reduced to a raving, long haired, wild-eyed lunatic camping out on the steps of the subway next to they guy with no shoes with my own sign: Need coffee please help, god bless. Finnally a social services worker brought me in from the cold, and took me back to her office so I could fill out the appropriate forms for assistance, and get a photo-id card. It was then, when her back was turned, I was able sneak a few sips of her coffee and slip out the window to get my own quad-shot. Once I was chalked-up to normal levels, everything was copacetic. I was back on top, in the groove, able to read the map and make it to my lecture with 20 minutes to spare. Life was once again good.

I had the shear pleasure to attend a talk given by an important academic on the relavance of the resurrgance of French Surrealists in post-modern urban spaces. I don't know what happened really; maybe it was the the second round of espressos (I actually forgot the first coffee of the day), or the beer I had in the elevator, but 15 minutes into the talk my jangled neurons were as effective as tofu while I tried to decipher what this person was saying. Perhaps its my own adherance to the Gonzo school of intelectual pontification, but I have real difficulties when people give public lectures under the assumption that theire audience is as well versed in the minutia of their subject matter as they are. The rub of enduring this intelectual circle jerk is not only did I have to sit through it, but I had to listen to comments such as "I find your work so enlightening and so relevent to my daily experience in modernity" and "truly fascinating, but have you considered how the post-modernists reacted to the egalitarian almost socialist constructs that arose in post-De Gual Paris?" Once the Vaseline got passed around, I made a speedy exit back to normalcy; the dazed expressions and the John Wayne limps of my collegues the next told me I was the lucky one.

Call it my youth or American Bravado, but I have a difficult time with people who define their world views based one of three 60's era french academics. I was once asked whether my work was informed by Foucault, Derrida or Baudrillard---hmmm lets see, the paranoid sado-masochist, the author of a 300,00 word polemic on why text is meaningless, or someone who believed reality doesn't exist. The only time Baudrillard ever made sense was after I put a half ounce of psilocybin fungus into my cherios. When I responded Gonzo, he just turned into a big freaking lizard and scuttled off. Serves him right; when he comes crawling back to the surface in 2 years the big world of post-modern urban---blahblah is comming back at him swinging a 1000 pound shithammer. I'd almost want to watch, but since I've yet to be paid, I really cannot afford new shoes.

I'm actually on half-strike right now since the University hasn't seen fit to release half of my pay cheque yet; while they're waiting for the EU to come up with a proper form I'm waiting to see how long my jar of Nutella will hold out. I'm down to my last 5 Power Bars that (thanks to certain Power Bar sponsered athletes and coaches) have kept me alive enough to spew this mindless drivel on to the page. Talk about mental masturbation. I really should be working, but being a professional, I do have my principles.

There is a sizeable young-street drug culture in London. Yesterday i saw a young girl going through the pains of heroin withdrawl on the side walk: tearing at her eyes, scratching at the concrete, a werewolf sounding a bit like Linda Blair; I mean really, she was in bad shape. Probably the worst part about it, is most walkers by probably didn't notice, much less give her a second thought, but being new, I paused wondering if I should call an ambulance or something. I was quickly admonished by this poor soul and now anxiously await the next full moon while soaking my leg in a bucket of H202.

This got me to wondering though. How far are we really from the bum on the street? A few bad years and couldn't we all find ourselves singing on the stairs to the subway? I passed another kid last sunday, a male this time, with a look of terror on his face knowing what he was about to experience as he came down. At first glance, the differences between us are night and day. On one hand there was an adict sitting on the street living the day to day between scores and on the other, a successful reasearch professional. Now factor how incapable of action I was before drinking four espressos, or the fact that I was drunk at the time, and I'm not too far from sitting down next to him and asking what he thought about Foucault.

What really disturbs me is perhaps we have missed the wave and that the high water mark is still just barely visible as we get sucked back into the depths--or maybe I should switch to Sanka---the horrors the horrors,


thanks for reading,
Ben

3 Comments:

Blogger Jed said...

Sanka! WTF. did't I teach you better than that. What are you, and astronaut now? You've got your head all up in those clouds anyway. Where do you find the time to write this much? But hell, you should write more of it, it is at least entertaining!

3:53 AM  
Anonymous Brother Nathan said...

"Intellectual circle jerk"...classic. I remember sitting through those types of lectures. Definately not as entertaining as getting a fire ball shot over your head!

6:02 AM  
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7:51 PM  

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