Digital Ischemia

29/09/2018

Take and Give part 3/3

A surreal adventure through loose-wire interpretations of retinal blobs
continues from part 2

I have stumbled upon the Machiavelli behind the machinery, the stage manager, the master bungler. The Wizard of Oats. I have even challenged him. He wanted to be found.
“They were like spoor through the kitchen.”
“You had a lot.”
“Staple. Long life.”
“Yours or the oats’?” Smart. I like him. He puzzles me.

What to ask first? The exhumed prima donna? Obviously a mother metaphor. Father and the buns; enough said. The cancerous housing situation? Hackneyed satire on humanity’s avarice? Lost interest in that habitat. The illusion of reality? Who cares? Ah, but all my valued possessions are still unaccounted for.

While I’ve been metaphorically mulling, my host has brought us to another, much smaller, footbridge. He breaks into my thought maelstrom.
“I’ve decluttered you.”
“You’ve de…materialised me.”
“You still want them?”
“Yes!?” Is he going to try to buy me off with Turkish delight now?
“No.” He can read my thought maelstrom.
“You gave me a new phone, then you ate it.”
“A small lapse.”
“The giving or the guzzling?”
He moves on, ignoring my apparently amateur question. How about something more fundamental: what’s the point?

Tucked in beneath the footbridge, beside a pallet of firewood, Mr Oats wrestles a tarpaulin. I expect an indignant troll or other claimant to emerge at any moment. He triumphantly reveals the smallest vehicle I’ve seen. It could technically fit a person, rather like a kayak, but it won’t carry your groceries, let alone your lifetime’s hech. Of course: we’re living lightly now. Except. Smugly I point out its obvious flaw.
“They’ll spot that in about five satellite refreshes.” ‘They’ being the long overdue archetypal baddies. The small, mildly menacing ones, clad helpfully in black. The Marketeers of the Materialistic.

Mr Oats is disappointed—no, hurt at my distrust. At my not buying wholesale into his illusion. I don’t feel obligated to loyalty since he still hasn’t explained any of his tremendous liberties taken. I push on.
“You know how they scan the country: massive scale blocks then recursively finer resolution until they’re examining your tile grouting.” Hyperbolae always wins.
“They don’t know what they’re looking for.”
“No, but as soon as it moves they’ll lock on to it like any predator.” I’m right into my case now, regardless of destination. However, there’s one feature I haven’t given due attention, probably because he’s only just manifested it: he lovingly polishes its shiny red nose cone. How drearily phallic. But a point of sorts.
“Not if we’re above the satellite.”
Clever. Notwithstanding the directional ambiguity of such domains.

The pod—boarding feels rather like squirming into a broad bean pod—has a comfortingly stretch-to-fit interior as well as a furry lining. Take-off has the standard discomforting sudden loss of stability and, well, ground. We birl up into the air and take a final impression of terra firma, including the once again diminishing aspect of my house. The rapidly receding landscape features pass through aboriginal dot art stage in an instant then coalesce into smudge.

The ride smooths and my giddiness subsides. Satisfyingly we jump by the trumped satellite, mentally giving it two rods. Like the beans, we’re travelling in tandem: my benefactor’s legs are hugging my hips. I just begin to enjoy the sensation of animal warmth within the vegetable habitat before he begins a series of interstellar leaps and bounds, like the pronking of gazelles.

I feel oddly unconcerned by the loss of everything familiar to me. My wonder at the unfamiliar settles; analysis resumes.
“You’re showing me how small and insignificant my world is?”
“I’m showing you what you can do.”
If not limited by attachment to the familiar? Silence. That exquisite potential on the cusp of supreme wisdom. That moment of joyous expectation. That vacuum of answers which always precedes…

I wake reluctantly and disappointingly back in this mundane bed. With the nagging idea that spilled oats is some sort of ghastly smut.

END

Confession: three dreams bodged together like a cut-and-shut. Excellent image creativity—nice to see my porridge supper penetrating—but narratively utter nonsense. If I don’t get these scenes out of my head, and stretched into some loosely cohesive narrative shape, I fear descending into a tedious parody of Lewis Carroll.

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28/09/2018

Take and Give part 2/3

A surreal adventure through loose-wire interpretations of retinal blobs
continues from part 1

A bigger problem looms: what is the number for non-emergency type police? I mean it’s definitely not an emergency. Even if there is stuff going on as I speak. Nefarious stuff. But no life is under threat. Actually, it all seems very amateur, but I need my documents, all the helpful notes I’ve made in the past for exactly this sort of… Well, not exactly; I didn’t foresee anything like this sort of half-baked theatre.

Just do something. I tap hopefully at the pristine screen and hear a solicitous voice, a not very distant voice. I launch in.
“Hello. I need the number for non-emergencies. A burglary. I can’t remember if it’s 111 or 101 or… All I know is it’s not 999, which isn’t 999 anymore either, because now it’s 911 or 211 or… No, apparently I don’t know that either.” I had all this stuff carefully noted, as I have already whinged. In my mobile, now missing, and beside the house phone, now severed.

But my rambling serves a dual purpose. I let the cheery chap fake away at his helpfulness as I prowl through my no-longer-my-own house. Who are all these extras? Where are they coming from? Where is the swelling space coming from? Seemingly the bungled burglary comes with gratis gratuitous extension into TV chat show set. In the greatly enlarged living room I round a freakishly smooth, new plasterboard curvature and literally bump into a rather short guy chattering into a black phone – an obvious sign that he’s one of the baddies. Actually having the very helpful unhelpful conversation I’ve been having.

With a frisson of delight I loom over him. He senses the shadow, looks up and squeaks. To his credit, he abandons the failed deception and stammers about there being no time to explain as ‘she’ is due on set. The set: that explains the giant toilet bowls that facilitated my slumber in the hall. Actually two enamelled hemispherical seating efforts – part of a nineteen-sixties white plastic delusion to facilitate the ‘star’ feeling less of a relic. Are we to be graced with the towering narcissistic ego of a wicked witch, clumsily ensorcelling all these drones?

Here indeed she is: descending an ostentatious and ego-flattering shiny white staircase from what used to be my neighbours’ conservatory. I wonder if they’ve noticed. I recognise the actor but don’t show it. She looks ravenous for recognition as she grasps at her ebbing celebrity. I’m allergic to obsequiousness. My eyes are intolerant to the shimmering albedo. I reverse out of the snow palace and skid through the kitchen. That floor really needs swept. The back door is the first available exit for fresh air to quell my nausea.

The modest garden as was, now immodest grounds, has been somewhat remodelled. I head along a broad stone bridge’s parapet, which also seems to be a busy public walkway linking distant parts of the vast estate. A bench made from springy wood calls to me. I settle down to close my dazzled eyes, foutering with my fancy phone for an exact music track. Of course all my favourites are pre-loaded. I get the right track, but the wrong volume. As the sound quietens and my frazzled ears relax, I become aware of a nearby phone conversation.

A guy behind me is speaking to the ambulance service about some healthy eating campaign. I suppose ambulances like to be pre-empted, and I applaud the apparent promotion of oats, although I cynically doubt the usual ‘wonder panacea’ label.

He seems to be aiming for: “I always have sixty grams of porridge oats to start the day.” He tries to be brisk and businesslike in supplying his quote, but keeps being interrupted by the other party. I wonder what distinguishes him to contribute. I open my eyes hoping to identify him but focusing is hard work and I’m distracted by someone further away. Still so easily misdirected.

I believe I recognise a girl standing by a chemist about fifty metres away. That used to be my patio. Such amenities in my locale. She beckons me. As I approach she flattens to a cardboard cut-out, swaying in the light breeze. Another mere extra. Drat. My legs are already propelling me back to my perch.

I admit I’m curious about Mr Oats. Gratifyingly he hails me.
“Do you have a magnifying glass?”
Not the personal recognition I hoped for. Still, unperturbed by this unusual request, I expect my new swank multi-application phone device has one on the back. As I unfold what is actually a sheet of silver plastic foil with hexagonal wires through it, I quip about the overheard conversation.
“Will there be any more hilarious oat-related stories?”
He chuckles momentarily, takes my phone and its flapping foil strip, and puts the lot in his mouth.
I complain. “Hey! My phone does not contain any oats!” I know I can wear him down with persistent escalating wacky. “You could at least sort the kitchen cabinets. They’re disgraceful. I mean they were before, but this business has mangled them beautifully.”
He continues silently masticating my shiny new technology.

With a heroic gulp he swallows the device and peripherals and sheepishly admits. “It was the oats, wasn’t it?” The fluke-filled freight truck of figuring-out runs into my forehead.

…concludes at part 3

27/09/2018

Take and Give part 1/3

A surreal adventure through loose-wire interpretations of retinal blobs

I wake reluctantly and unusually close to the carpet. After the standard three seconds of empty innocence, my memory throws in a disturbance: I was awoken during the night by a noise, but I suppressed my irrational fears of gremlins. I’d come back late, but early: supposed to be away at a conference, which had been underwhelming so I’d left, so I’d arrived, tired. Apparently so tired that I fell asleep on the hall carpet between two giant’s fish farm wellies, or enormous toilet bowls, or plant pots. Unlikely.

I sense a movement beyond the window. Someone is darting around the house. I lurch up to investigate, peering through successive windows, and catch sight of a colleague emerging from a rose bush. Shaken not scarred. Has he been changing his clothes? Unlikely.

I stagger into the living room. Something not right. Everything not right. Empty. All my furniture, clutter, cables, all gone. Carpet and dust and disoriented woodlice still present. More of them than I usually see.

I step back in shock and into the hall. Father heaves into view, in familiar piqued-by-puzzlement mode.
“Why is my room empty?”
“Probably because you don’t live here anymore.” But that’s the wrong question and answer.

My next concern is the kitchen: similarly stripped of all moveables. Counters that have not been clear for fifteen years seem pitted with archaeological depressions. Cupboards suddenly unburdened have distorted horribly in trying to return to neutral shape and position.

Father is unusually astute: he draws my attention to the tiles behind one strip of counter. Some of it isn’t tiles: it’s vinyl printed as tiles, poorly stuck on and peeling off. He also points out the new horizontal, being ten degrees adrift from the old conventional. Its cause is below in the floorboards: also decidedly off course and diverging from their neighbours. The floor is strewn with sawdust or wood chips. Or breakfast cereal. He pronounces with deductive relish.
“Somebody’s had this whole thing out and put it back badly.”

With a delayed but inevitable anxiety spike, I realise that the absence of furniture and everything on it or in it means all my personal stuff too: my phone, my documents, my collection of toothbrushes designed for the dentally anxious. I reach into my pocket and in bafflement pull out a brand new mobile phone. Seriously future new. Advanced beyond shop new. Not mine. I turn back to Father with curious relief.
“This is not just a bungled burglary; someone is trying to give us something.”

A rustle emanates from the bathroom. Yes, what about the bathroom? En route, a hubbub in the living room attracts my eyes. An auditorium of chairs is arranged and an audience of strangers files in. All actors or strays off the street I’m sure. Two-dimensional figures.

The bathroom no longer has a ceiling. Murky figures scrabble in the rafters, pulling cables and curious twinkling electronicary into the gloom. All part of the deception, the ‘behind-the-scenes’ machinery. I manage momentary eye-contact with one goblin who acknowledges a shared conspiracy: we all know it; the veil is pretty tattered. We’re playing along just for… What?

With a jolt I realise that was merely a diversion. There are still people scurrying past the windows. I must investigate that as well, in due course. The living room is the key: the audience has swelled considerably, probably due to the gargantuan gluttony of pink-iced buns heaped upon a fairy table at one side. Father enquires after the flavour, slavering over the promise of cinnamon or vanilla.
I reply firmly, “pink,” declining to be drawn into complicity in this sideshow. But he is lost to my cause, weaving hypoglycaemically toward the bait.

Enough. I go to the phone on the kitchen wall. No longer on the kitchen wall. Still present, surprisingly, but no longer attached to anything. I bet I know where the cable is now: trailed along the loft for some mischievous purpose. Perhaps I can use my ultra-new mobile phone, assuming it has phone functions, if I can work them out. But it will be monitored by whoever gave me it, won’t it? Who did put it in my pocket? Have I been violated?!

…continues at part 2

25/09/2018

Oddbodanov 17: The Town Hall, Brno

Mr Oddbodanov: The Wandering of a Little Soul begins at postcard 1
An inert protagonist modelled on Goncharov’s Oblomov sends surreal intimate postcards of unrequited attention from the Brno landmarks of Janáček’s Sinfonietta

September 25, 13:00
Most dear Ryksa-Euphorbia,
I cannot go on. I am sure you suspect by now. I never did travel to Brno. Never quite got started. We meant to go together. I suppose I hoped we might yet, even in our imaginations. Fitness in mind as well as body! You see, I too hear the festival, the same one you hear, year after year after our year, although I try to drown it out with old records. I have always been close to you, especially since old elephant-ears RIP packed his celestial trunk. Would you like to have tea? Ginger biscuits are on offer.
Yours in ever hopeful anticipation, Strachan a.k.a. Bert, No.4 Flat 2 (by the funfair)

END

24/09/2018

Oddbodanov 16: The Town Hall, Brno

Mr Oddbodanov: The Wandering of a Little Soul begins at postcard 1
An inert protagonist modelled on Goncharov’s Oblomov sends surreal intimate postcards of unrequited attention from the Brno landmarks of Janáček’s Sinfonietta

September 24
Dear Mr Oddbodanov—Dear Strachan,
How peculiar! When I read your evocative (I cannot define your ‘erocative’ but I feel we’re on firm ground with evocative) description the merest hint of a memory flashed before my eyes… Have we indeed met before or is this merely your flattery and flash deceit? The husband RIP warned about your type. Sign, phone or letter… Those words play tricks in my head.
Yours, quite possibly, if I may take the liberty, Euphoryksa(!)

…concludes at postcard 17

23/09/2018

Oddbodanov 15: The Town Hall, Brno

Mr Oddbodanov: The Wandering of a Little Soul begins at postcard 1
An inert protagonist modelled on Goncharov’s Oblomov sends surreal intimate postcards of unrequited attention from the Brno landmarks of Janáček’s Sinfonietta

September 23, 16:00
Ryksa, my inspiration, my muse,
At this town hall a concert is to be held next Thursday evening. I wonder, may I be so bold as to invite you to join me? Vividly I remember the love of Czech music we shared. But I confess my motivation is sheer selfishness: to have you with me would increase my enjoyment of such a performance twelvefold. And think what envy I should excite—gosh it’s hot in here—in my fellow audience members to have you on my arm. Do you still prefer a gin and hot chocolate with sprinkles?
Yours, always entirely yours, even while you were with another, Strachan

…continues at postcard 16

Oddbodanov 14: The Town Hall, Brno

Mr Oddbodanov: The Wandering of a Little Soul begins at postcard 1
An inert protagonist modelled on Goncharov’s Oblomov sends surreal intimate postcards of unrequited attention from the Brno landmarks of Janáček’s Sinfonietta

Rubbish pencil sketch of Stará radnice (Town Hall), Brno

September 23, 11:45
My dearest Ryksa,
At last I find cultural solace: a gallery of most arresting art works – I find particularly engaging some semi-abstract historical impressions of the city. Very evocative (EVOCATIVE – in case my scrawl appears like erocative and suggests suggestiveness) personal postcards. Which brings us to vacations! Surely you remember? The sun, the sand, the sea, the sickness and diarrhoea we shared after the unpleasant iced cream? At the last farewell you begged me, “keep in touch – sign, phone or letter!” And after all, here I am, only fifty years later!
Yours, ever constant in my adoration, Strachan

…continues at postcard 15

Oddbodanov 13: The Street Leading to the Castle

Mr Oddbodanov: The Wandering of a Little Soul begins at postcard 1
An inert protagonist modelled on Goncharov’s Oblomov sends surreal intimate postcards of unrequited attention from the Brno landmarks of Janáček’s Sinfonietta

September 23
Dear Mr Oddbodanov,
What a relief to hear you have escaped the clutches of the ‘other’ Ryksa! I did not sleep last night for the most horrid visions of you entering the crypt with no intention of exiting. I shudder yet. I imagined you prone among the bones, ossifying. There is so much to live for! I am convinced. Even though I know nothing about you. Meanwhile I have unearthed my Brno A-Z (I don’t know why I have it) and stuck pins in you! I shall track your exploits if you continue to honour me with such scintillating instalments.
Yours in curious delight, Ephy

…continues at postcard 14

22/09/2018

Oddbodanov 12: The Street Leading to the Castle

Mr Oddbodanov: The Wandering of a Little Soul begins at postcard 1
An inert protagonist modelled on Goncharov’s Oblomov sends surreal intimate postcards of unrequited attention from the Brno landmarks of Janáček’s Sinfonietta

September 22 P.M.
Dear Mr Oddbodanov,
Thank you for your latest postcards. On reflection, I see you were not in any real peril, but such drama! I admit I find these revelations increasingly captivating and eagerly anticipate your next cultural episode. I maintain that I have never made your acquaintance, but that’s no reason to be ungracious. I am however somewhat disturbed by your gravitation toward religiositiness. Any such inclinations are a non-starter as far as my esteem is concerned. However I am fond of a toffee and find myself lightly amused by your jape. It reminds me—but I have not space here for idle nostalgia.
Yours otherwise favourably, Euphorbia etc.

…continues at postcard 13

Oddbodanov 11: The Street Leading to the Castle

Mr Oddbodanov: The Wandering of a Little Soul begins at postcard 1
An inert protagonist modelled on Goncharov’s Oblomov sends surreal intimate postcards of unrequited attention from the Brno landmarks of Janáček’s Sinfonietta

Rubbish pencil sketch of Gorazdova Street, Brno

September 22, 09:30
Dearest Ryksa-Euphorbia,
Heartfelt gratitude for all your notes which have caught up with me at my lodgings in the cabbage cellar. I savour one with every meal – a word with every exquisite leaf (or vice versa)!
Between meals I bravely venture out. I loathe the busy streets. I have no chance to admire the architectural grooves and ledges or the characteristic orange roof tiles. I am bustled and birled and so often carried along contrary to my will and intended direction! How I wish you were at my side, dearest Ryksa. I should be delighted to go wherever you propelled me.
Yours lovingly from unexpected places, Strachan Scrachich

…continues at postcard 12

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