Sunday, January 20, 2008

You Are Special. You Want To Go To The Island. NOT!

Actually, some geeks are definitely special: the ones that are geeky about the same thing you are geeky about. (By 'you' I mean, of course, 'I'; but that's just by-the-by.) All other geeks are...well, just geeks. Weirdos with strange predilections and obsessions, who quite possibly go to bizarre conventions where other geeks like them hang out and talk shit about weird geeky stuff. That's in contrast to the Geeks-Like-Us; or maybe that should be Geeks'r'Us? Whatever. Geeks-Like-Us may be geeks, but we're not weird like that other lot. We talk cogently and earnestly about things that you'll only 'get' if you're a Geek-Like-Us. Hell, time for an acronym: GLU!

I belong to a few GLU groups. Jack Vance's writings...well, that goes without saying. How many people can quote lines from The Dying Earth stories, impromptu, and dropping Vancean profundities, aphorisms and notable utterances into apparently boring conversations; such a manner that those listening are stunned into stunned silence at first; which is often followed by all sorts of reactions, ranging from glazed-over eyes to defensive aggressiveness about one's strange conversationalisms.

Two other notable clubs I belong to are Firefly-Geeks and Blade Runner-Geeks. Among those of us who know things about these two foci of devotee-dom or geek-dom certain subtle signals are used to indicate to another member that onself, too, 'belongs' and 'understands'. These signals are difficult to quantify, but when they occur, they are instantly understood by another club member, while outsiders present wouldn't even know that there were signals. Obvious ones include mentioning the names of the objects of geek-devotion or maybe a choice quote that only the illuminati can possibly 'get'; whereupon, if they don't know you as a member of the geek-association already, there usually are covert, sometimes overt, regards of surprise. Often this is followed by conversation drifting into geek-subject territory, despite the presence of others who don't really give a crap, or else said topics will be postponed until later when these pesky surplus interlopers are out of the conversational loop.

And so it goes.

Well, for the Blade Runner geeks, how's this? The DVD set of Blade Runner: The Final Cut arrived at our current Australian mail-drop a few days ago, kindly forwarded by a friend in Dunedin, who rescued it from our almost-defunct address there before someone else could steal it.

And, no, it's not an aluminium--or as Amercians insist, for some bizarre reason or other, 'aluminum'--case, but just plastic. Inside are:

  • A cool magnetic photo holder with one of those it-moves-if-you-tilt-it pics of Deckard (Harrison Ford) leveling a gun.
  • A silver plastic replica of an origami unicorn (Yeah, you non-BladeRunner tards: that means nothing to you, right? Right? Well, that's because you just don't... Well, you're just not... Ahh, never mind. The unicorn ultimately lies at the heart of the story, or maybe it is the heart, because the unicorn is about memory, and what's real and what isn't, and what defines us as who we 'are'. Recently, homage was paid, yet again, to Blade Runner and these issues in the movie The Island.)
  • A small model of one of the flying vehicles of that dystopian future world.
  • A set of five DVDs: The Final Cut, previous theatrical and Director's Cut versions of the movie, plus lotsa extras.

I, who have compacted my DVD collection into wallets, disposing of cases, though keeping the inserts etc, will never inflict a similar fate upon this collection. I swear. It would be more than sacrilege. They'd have to invent a word to describe the heinousness of such an action.

Regarding the whole issue of memory and identity (something I recall only now as I write), I had an interesting episode the other day, during idly pondering the traffic flowing along below the balcony of the apartment we're renting at the moment. For 'memories' snuck into my thoughts; memories of events that were so inconsistent with everything that currently qualifies as the context of my life, that it jolted me into prodding at them and probing and finally extracting some salient contradictions that I could test against the flow of what else I remembered. I finally concluded that these 'memories' were surfacing snippets of dreams had either the previous night or maybe a night before. But they were so basically ordinary that they didn't actually stand out as dream-figments. They just didn't fit into the consistent pattern of life. Stuff in there simply could not have happened.

The matter is now confirmed, because by now I've actually forgotten just exactly what these memories had been; and I only remember the fact that they had been there. That's the way dream memories go; and with me demolishing their validity after a brief moment of identity-doubt--and, yes, there was that, because they were just 'there' and so strong that they really seemed to 'belong', and didn't appear like dream-intruders--they just went the way dreams usually go.

Still, for the person of imagination such episodes may well occasion speculations. I mean, there's always the Continuity Slip scenario.

Of course, that's fiction. And dreams are dreams, and memories are just memories.

'Just'?

Memories are usually recalled a stories or fragments of stories. The sum of these stories, as they change from time to time, defines 'us'. A wrapper around a core of identity that may or may not exist, and really just be the hollow center of gravity around which these stories circulate; and continue to do so until the day we die. Which means that death is, at its essence the cessation of internal-story telling. All of which makes life a very superficial affair, though there may be layers of circulating narratives; like ogres I guess. Which would draw some interesting parallels between this and, for example, what we call 'beauty'. For is not beauty entirely superficial? Yet, when you come to think about and remember the story-story, could it be conceivable that, admittedly layered, superficiality, that 'appearance', is actually the only 'substance' there is beyond the merely 'physical'?

And speaking of the cessation of stories and death. This morning on the way to work I happened to listen to a full replay of 'American Pie'. I don't know why, but as I was zooming along the highway, this time it sent shivers down my spine.

For those who don't know the song, here's the lyrics. Skip it if you must, but it doesn't come any scarier and multi-layered than that.

A long, long time ago...
I can still remember
How that music used to make me smile.
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And, maybe, they’d be happy for a while.

But february made me shiver
With every paper I’d deliver.
Bad news on the doorstep;
I couldn’t take one more step.

I can’t remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride,
But something touched me deep inside
The day the music died.

So bye-bye, miss american pie.
Drove my chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
And them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
Singin’, "this’ll be the day that I die.
"this’ll be the day that I die."

Did you write the book of love,
And do you have faith in God above,
If the Bible tells you so?
Do you believe in rock ’n roll,
Can music save your mortal soul,
And can you teach me how to dance real slow?

Well, I know that you’re in love with him
`cause I saw you dancin’ in the gym.
You both kicked off your shoes.
Man, I dig those rhythm and blues.

I was a lonely teenage broncin’ buck
With a pink carnation and a pickup truck,
But I knew I was out of luck
The day the music died.

I started singin’,
"bye-bye, miss american pie."
Drove my chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
Them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
And singin’, "this’ll be the day that I die.
"this’ll be the day that I die."

Now for ten years we’ve been on our own
And moss grows fat on a rollin’ stone,
But that’s not how it used to be.
When the jester sang for the king and queen,
In a coat he borrowed from james dean
And a voice that came from you and me,

Oh, and while the king was looking down,
The jester stole his thorny crown.
The courtroom was adjourned;
No verdict was returned.
And while lennon read a book of marx,
The quartet practiced in the park,
And we sang dirges in the dark
The day the music died.

We were singing,
"bye-bye, miss american pie."
Drove my chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
Them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
And singin’, "this’ll be the day that I die.
"this’ll be the day that I die."

Helter skelter in a summer swelter.
The birds flew off with a fallout shelter,
Eight miles high and falling fast.
It landed foul on the grass.
The players tried for a forward pass,
With the jester on the sidelines in a cast.

Now the half-time air was sweet perfume
While the sergeants played a marching tune.
We all got up to dance,
Oh, but we never got the chance!
`cause the players tried to take the field;
The marching band refused to yield.
Do you recall what was revealed
The day the music died?

We started singing,
"bye-bye, miss american pie."
Drove my chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
Them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
And singin’, "this’ll be the day that I die.
"this’ll be the day that I die."

Oh, and there we were all in one place,
A generation lost in space
With no time left to start again.
So come on: jack be nimble, jack be quick!
Jack flash sat on a candlestick
Cause fire is the devil’s only friend.

Oh, and as I watched him on the stage
My hands were clenched in fists of rage.
No angel born in hell
Could break that satan’s spell.
And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite,
I saw satan laughing with delight
The day the music died

He was singing,
"bye-bye, miss american pie."
Drove my chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
Them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
And singin’, "this’ll be the day that I die.
"this’ll be the day that I die."

I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news,
But she just smiled and turned away.
I went down to the sacred store
Where I’d heard the music years before,
But the man there said the music wouldn’t play.

And in the streets: the children screamed,
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed.
But not a word was spoken;
The church bells all were broken.
And the three men I admire most:
The father, son, and the holy ghost,
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died.

And they were singing,
"bye-bye, miss american pie."
Drove my chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
And them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
Singin’, "this’ll be the day that I die.
"this’ll be the day that I die."

They were singing,
"bye-bye, miss american pie."
Drove my chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
Them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
Singin’, "this’ll be the day that I die."

No comments: