Thursday, February 25, 2010

office call at the mental hospital

I had a service-call at a mental facility, one of those privatized ones that are springing up all over the place. Their server was down and I had to replace a hard-drive and load the software right there on the premises, where they registered new patients.

They wheeled this guy in on a gurney, and to my horror, left him there, strapped down, right next to where I was working. "He's harmless" they told me. They just had to get his room ready.

There was a tube in his arm, maybe he was sedated. His left eye was cataract marble white. Grey beard stubble, and yellow buck teeth. For a crazy guy, his face was very serene. His voice was very weak, but over the hum of the server's fan, I could hear him speak. And this is what he said, as well as I can remember:

"Can I explain the hidden meaning in my heart, or make up something impressive if nothing is there? If I find nothing there, what then? Is there nothing there, or do I just fail to see it? What if there is nothing inside? What if there is nothing profound to be found? If I am simply a consumer, a bank account, getting and spending, filling the tank and burning it up, eating and sleeping and shitting and fucking—if that is all I am, then what? If I have nothing to say, if I am as pointless as I suspect, then what? There is nothing there except the remnants of syndicated network television, commercial jingles, pop music, and high school angst.

"Have the things I've seen and read and thought combined to form any worthwhile ideas? Are there any original ideas in my head? Am I an individual, of just one of billions, billions past and billions future, billions present, a monkey chasing bananas for no reason?

"But there is something. There is something in my stupid brain, this brain that has not existed before in the entire existence of the universe, this brain that will never exist again once I've shuffled the coil, this brain unique to all other brains, memories of every person I've ever met, every meal I've ever had, ever conversation, everything I've ever done, my idiosyncrasies, my thoughts, my opinions, which, through an incredible coincidence, are the only thoughts in this entire world that make perfect sense. There is some kernel of truth, not cynical, not witty or shocking, but something new and unheard of locked inside my noggin. What combination of thoughts will unlock the next thought?"

"Why are you here?" I asked. "What did you do?"

"I am a breaker of rules! I cannot accept pre-formed answers, handed down generation after generation. Capitalism has been around for thousands of years, but why do we rely on a system that was developed by primitive people? What system will come after this? Will chaos intervene, or will new thinking overcome bad habits of getting and spending, inclusion and rejection, the artificial need created on a planet that has room for all? When will artificial lines be erased? When will we see the humanity in those different from us? When will reason trump fear? When will courage trump ignorance?

"The present day requires present day ideas. Old men in expensive suits are relics. Greedy men are evil. The old ways of doing things are complete bullshit. Tradition is bullshit. Religion is bullshit. The two-party system is a lie. Capitalism is a lie. Jesus Christ is a lie. The United States is a lie. Nationalism is a lie. The public school system is a lie. The dollar is a lie. The President, Congress and Supreme Court are all lies.

I asked, "But what is true? What is truth?"

"The idea of 'truth' is a lie. Just because the word 'truth' exists in the English language does not mean that there exists a thing that corresponds to that word. The word 'dragon' exists, but that myth is not real. The same goes for the myth 'truth'. The same goes for the myth 'justice'.

"The monkeys in charge of the lesser monkeys don't care about 'truth' or 'justice'. All they care about are the bananas."

Then two orderlies came in, told him to shut up, and wheeled him into the hospital.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

FRAGMENT 20100218

She didn't suggest he keep a dream journal; she suggested he keep a fart journal. He thought this odd, coming from a school councilor. When he found out she had been fired for suggesting this to all the kids who came into her office, he had to find out why.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

#32 A LETTER MARKED "URGENT"

You marked your letter "Urgent,"
I have to disagree.
How urgent could a letter
That's marked "bulk-rate" really be?

#31 POEM 20100217

Humans came down from the trees
To worship gods upon their knees
And fashion swords and spread disease
And ferment beer and Gouda cheese.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

MY BARKING DOG

Whenever my dog barks, we get all agitated and get her inside right away because we don't want her bothering the neighbors. This is strange because our neighbors don't actually complain about the dog barking. Our one next-door neighbor did a couple of years ago, via email, but it wasn't a nasty email and since then they've gotten a dog themselves and are completely at ease about things, so there really is no trouble with the neighbors. The neighbor on the other side has three dogs and they make a racket sometimes but we don't get bent out of shape about them at all.

So I'm not sure why we get all agitated about the dog barking, but I'm the worst one of all about it. I curse the dog and swear that today will be the day I finally murder the dog, and I tell the dog that later on, if I remember, I will kill the dog with great brutality, but I never do; she is so cute I couldn't hurt a hair on her head.

There is a grade school behind our house and people walk back there sometimes and the dog completely loses her shit about it. She's part cocker-spaniel and part beagle. The beagle part of her apparently makes her louder than she should be. She raises quite a racket and we're so paranoid about disturbing the neighbors for no reason at all.

I can't wait for that dog to pass on naturally so I don't have to get off my fat ass anymore and let her in. Or let her out. Or let her in after she's out. Or let her out when she's in. Where the hell is she going anyway? Doesn’t she realize I'm watching TV / looking at Internets / reading / writing / playing video games?

Winter is worse because when she's out there barking, and refuses to come in when called, I have to haul my ass out there, sometimes barefoot, to get her back in. This is super-annoying. I swore before we got her we would never get a dog, but that was when the girls were in kindergarten or whatnot, and you can't tell kids that age you won't get them a dog because dogs are a pain in the ass.

But I love that dog. Every day I swear to her I will murder her, but she's just so cute. She's my little baby. God-damn friggin' dog.

MY STANCE ON CLIMATE CHANGE

Climate change is real. Climate change is good.

Let me explain. Humans are the only animals on earth that cause pollution.

The idea that humans are "special" and the planet exists for their use is false. The planet has no special purpose, and while it is at the moment hospitable for mammalian life, it does not have to stay this way. Scientists estimate that the earth is 4.5 billion years old. Humans have been around for only 200 thousand years.

Humans have noticed recently that by shitting in their own nest, they are at risk. They are not developed enough to change their behavior, and I say that this is a positive thing.

Why do humans care about this particular planet? There are many, many other planets out there. Humans have devised tools to help them peer into the heavens, and they know there must be millions of other planets out there in space. What makes Earth so special?

Oh yes, they LIVE there. Kind of selfish isn't it? Why don't they care about other planets as much as they care about their own? Self preservation. But let us say that they actually care about the planet. What would be the best way to save the planet?

Get rid of the problem. What is the problem? Humans, the only species that pollutes the planet.

What then, is the solution? Get rid of the humans. How could this be accomplished? War? That solution is unattractive because the winners would remain, and they in turn would breed and the whole thing would start over. Intentional spread of a deadly virus? Again this would not work, because self-preservation would cause those in power to exclude themselves from the purge.

The solution has already presented itself naturally. Pollution is the solution! What better way to rid the planet of what ails it (humans) than by causing the planet to become inhospitable to human life?

In conclusion: If you care about the planet, pollute as much as possible. Only through pollution can the planet shake off these pesky humans and start the healing process. Take long showers. Leave the lights on. Paper AND plastic. Drive everywhere. Buy whatever, and know that through consumption, you are saving the planet.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

#30 WE ARE TRAFFIC

We follow too close, we drive too slow.
We wait too long before we go.
We honk our horns at the slightest delay.
We do our best to ruin your day.

We have to get to work on time.
We're way too young or past our prime.
We chat and text and change CDs.
We hog the road and do as we please.

We travel with our blinker on.
We gawk when something has gone wrong.
We merge without the slightest care.
We didn't even see you there.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

# ON HUMAN CLONING

CELEBRITY CLONING

In the 1998 movie "The Parent Trap", Lindsay Lohan played twins, Hallie and Annie Parker, who conspire to get their divorced parents back together, or something. The plot really doesn't matter. It was a typical Disney movie, a remake of a 1961 film of the same name. Moviegoers assumed that camera special effects were used to show Lohan in two places at once on screen.

What the public did not know at the time was that Lohan was cloned to produce the movie. Celebrity cloning is commonplace, and there exists a standard Hollywood policy that, for ethical reasons, clones used in movies (as stunt doubles and for plotlines involving twins) are destroyed once production is complete. Lately clones have also been used in the post-production publicity blitzes that often take place after filming, where stars appear on several talk shows, becoming ubiquitous on the late-night and talk-show circuit in the weeks and days during the run up to the film's release.

There have been several cases where celebrity clones have managed to take the place of the original celebrities, assuming the lives of the actors they were created to replicate. When "Parent Trap" finished filming in the fall of 1997, movie producers and Clone Wranglers (CW on most film credits) mistakenly destroyed the original Lohan instead of her clone. This is just one example of cloning mistakes and missteps involving the cloning of actors, politicians, and professional athletes.

Cloning technology, while advanced enough to produce exact duplicates of celebrities and politicians, is not perfect. A clone's capacity for judgment, self preservation and shame deteriorates over time. This explains the bizarre and often self-destructive behavior of celebrities such as Lohan, Tom Cruise (cloned during the filming of Top Gun for a stunt double), Anne Heche, Mel Gibson, Michael Jackson, Tiger Woods (cloned to make time for endless commercials and golf) and Elvis Presley. Presley was the first celebrity to be cloned, for the purposes of filming movies simultaneously at the height of his popularity. It was his clone that served the brief stint in the US Army (1958-1960). Presley's clone was never destroyed, and it is rumored that his clone is buried at Graceland, and the original Elvis lived as a recluse in Florida until 2001.

There is also wide speculation that all celebrities involved in Scientology are clones who have disposed of their original selves and formed their own religion. In 1992, the Los Angeles district attorney David Segal attempted to open an investigation into these allegations, but the effort was halted after a suspicious automobile accident ended his life.

HUMAN CLONING FOR AVERAGE AMERICANS

Awareness about human cloning and its drawbacks may help people of all parts of society make informed decisions as human cloning becomes more affordable and commonplace. Monsanto and General Electric are said to be in works developing a consumer home-cloning kit. Are you ready to take on the responsibility of caring for and feeding your own doppelganger? Are you prepared to take the appropriate precautions to avoid being replaced by your clone, which will develop ambition and cunning comparable to your own? Are you willing to put up with the embarrassment your clone might cause as its judgment deteriorates and you get blamed for its increasingly erratic behavior?

If you have already been cloned, think for a minute. If you were a clone of yourself, where would you be most likely to bury your own body if you decided to kill your original self and hide the body? Now go to that spot and look around. If you find a grave already dug there, your clone may already be planning murder.

Cloning will be a part of the American experience in the near future. Start preparing today. Will you keep it in the spare bedroom or on a cot in the laundry room? Will it make passes at your spouse or significant other? Will it try to take your job? These are questions we should all be thinking about as human cloning is no longer science fiction, but science fact.

Monday, February 08, 2010

reading fail: wuthering heights

Wuthering Heights (Barnes & Noble Classics) Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë


My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Reading FAIL!

Again, I attempted to read a book that might appeal to women more than it would to men. Just like in Pride and Prejudice, this is just a series of scenes where characters visit each other and talk about their feelings. No lasers. No evisceration, no robots, spaceships, murders, action, supernatural tomfoolery, absurdity, irony, political theory, dystopian angst, hot chicks or laser battles.

I'm sure this is a fantastic novel, but for me, it is just boring. I might be a too immature for such highfalutin fare.

I'm proud to say I got halfway through it before it became a chore.

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I am the author of 5 books: Android Down, Firewood for Cannibals, The Cubicles of Madness, Robot Stories, and most recently, Various Meats and Cheeses. I live and write in Michigan. My website is at danmanning.com

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