Category Archives: Wtf did I just read?

Explaining the gap in your resume

A tornado of biblical proportions tore through the geographical region wherein I resided and flatlined the local economy, possibly for decades to come. During the initial stages, a ragtag band of survivors and I traversed the surprisingly reforested ruins of the civilization that once thrived there, until we finally found sanctuary hundreds of miles away. After that, we staged several rescue expeditions into the disaster area to save as many as could be saved. It took a while, but we eventually managed to save enough to ensure that there will be some semblance of an organized societal presence in the area during our lifetime

Oh yeah I logged into Final Fantasy 14 and then time had passed, it was weird

My cat took possession of my arm every time I attempted to apply for a job. No matter how much I tried to lure, cajole or otherwise distract my feline companion, it found a way to circle back to the activity of embracing my arm such that any and all computer use became a spectator sport at best. As a result, we spent a good couple of months bonding with each other, and I am pretty sure it is Christian canon that we will go to heaven together when the time comes

So I had just been laid off from my last job – pandemic economic downturn, you know – and decided that the thing to do was to commence a tremendous eat and then sleep as if the concept had just been invented. Thus, I got myself one of those pizzas that is also a kebab that is also a salad that also a serving of French fries. Eating it always puts me to solid sleep, and so it did this time around as well. As I woke up, a stranger asked me for a password (turns out it was “nostalgia”), and then we had to explore something called the Zone where all signs were in Russian, except those small yellow triangular ones with three circle bits on them, which I assume mean the same thing in all languages

Here’s the thing. I’m going to assume that you are relatively averse to lying. Not in a deontological sense of considering it wrong to lie under literally every circumstance, but in the slightly less severe way of having a general intuition that lying is to be avoided if possible. A little white lie every once in a while doesn’t hurt anybody, but it’s not a virtue to go out seeking opportunities to commit such minor falsities. Just be honest whenever possible, and leave it at that. In this case, however, it comes down to circumstances that are so convoluted, bogged down in context and mired in accumulated semiotics that any partial account will by necessity become a falsehood in some way or other. Seeing that we are both committed to telling the truth whenever possible, we are by circumstance both inclined towards just leaving this blank space alone and moving on to more pressing matters

You know how the I Ching has 64 different moods a situation can be in, and how it is important to match your own mood with that of the situation’s? Anyway, turns out I had stumbled into a massive case of mood 12, stagnation, such that there were no leaving or entering. Nothing changed, nothing grew, nothing became either more or less of itself, the passage of time just progressed with everything else at a standstill. Turns out the mood was so bad that my going to work didn’t even register with my employer, so I can’t readily put it on my resume. Which is why there is a gap there

Okay, you’re not gonna believe this. When the pandemic hit, I was in Australia. Yes, I know that it did not strike all at once, and that its arrival was a prolonged fact spanning many months. However, I was in Australia, and just as I was about to go home, they instituted a national quarantine. This meant that no one who wasn’t a citizen could get in, and most people who were citizens couldn’t get in either. It also meant that no one could get out, which meant I was stuck down under. Seeing as my previous employment contract did not include global pandemics as a valid reason not to come to work, that was that

Every time I woke up, it was the same day all over again. No matter what I did, no matter how I tried to vary the time loop, no matter how many times I failed whatever untold objective the gods of time had set for me, I always returned to the same point in space and time. After coming to terms with the situation, I used my newfound powers of consequenceless repetition to learn more about myself and my peers. I also learned five new languages, visited every restaurant in the city, figured out you can get into just about any building if you have a hardhat and a clipboard, and read enough books that I could probably write master’s theses in four different subjects. For some reason, one day, the time loop broke, and it was several months later. Anyway, the restaurant owners somehow wizened up and now I have to pay them all back

Directions for punks and other lost souls

Once you are on the road, continue on it until it terminates. Turn left, past the wind turbines, then left again at the church. Continue until you see the cows grazing in the oak forest, then make a right. The path will continue for some time through the wilderness, but you’ll know when you’ve arrived.

From the library, walk left. Follow main street past the first square, then walk down through the graveyard until you reach the river. Cross it, walk right, then left through the tunnel. Up the stairs, then follow the street perpendicular to the rails. Walk along it until you get to the pizza place we were at; bonus points if you pick up a bite whilst there

There is a red Christmas half-dome in the plaza. Look for the bus stops, then cross the street in that direction. Shortcut through the alley past the big supermarket, then left until you hit the park. Follow the river until you hit the stadium. Navigate the parking lot and hope it’s not game day. Enter the burg place and ask for a sundance special; eventually, one of the bewildered employees will figure out it’s you. Follow any further instructions given. If they give you a burger, eat it

In the tax office, go to the third floor. Take a number, then a seat, then hand in the document. Wait for the inscrutable process of bureaucracy to commence, then thank them politely and accept the new document they hand you. Leave the building, walk across the street and enter the police station. Wait your turn, then hand over the document. Say you’re aware that this kind of thing usually arrive through the mail, but that you noticed that the building was right there and that you figured you’d save everyone some time. Insist, but do not argue. At length, you will be given a new document. Walk back to the tax office, put the document in the inbox, and stand clear of the invisible blast radius

Walk across campus, past the library, past the music building. Either walk the bike path around the new residential area or brave its labyrinthine interior. Once on the other side, cross the road and keep walking until the city abruptly ends. Find the nature trail and follow it, turn left at the parking lot. Find the cabin, then keep walking until you reach the sea. The three cats will eye you suspiciously, but pay them no mind. The mermaid will expect you

Step off the trolley after three stations. Steer clear of the dog park, however enticing its invitations. Take a moment to appreciate the subtle splendor of urban decay; the locals will understand the gesture and route around you. There is a set of stairs across the plaza. Do not be deterred by the fact that no one seems to use them or acknowledge their existence. Keep walking. Whatever you do, keep walking. If it seems to know your name, run. The decay only sets in if you remain in place. Keep walking

The escalation of feline ontology

Cats

The baseline, the definition, the foundation. This is where it begins, grammatically and ontologically. We have introduced the category of cats, and the possibility of cats existing in some form. By familiarizing ourselves with the Platonic ideal of cats – the form of Cat – we prepare ourselves for the potentiality of there, at some point and at some time, being one or more cats. It all begins here, with a good Idea. Alas, like all good ideas, they only exist for as long as we keep them in mind

Cats are

This is it. we have reached the point of facticity. Cats – the category whose potential existence was introduced above – are now actual. They exist. They have made the transition from merely being a good Idea to being actual physical objects in the world. The addition of an “are” (is, be) might seem trivial, but it is a difference that makes a difference. Unlike ideas – however good – these actual things exist independently of the act of being perceived

Cats are very

At this stage, having established the reality of cats, we can move on to become more specific, defining the various aspects of actually existing cats. “Very” is a good word for cats, seeing as they seldom contend themselves with mere existence. They exist, thus they insist. Whatever the situation is, cats, in their veracity, will inevitably impose themselves on it

Cats are very real

QED

Preliminary notes on the five categories into which all things can be sorted

Bears: at no point subtle, at all times very intent on what they are doing. Big, loud, affectionate and overbearing. Sometimes, brute forcing it is the only option

Birds: first impressions and associative lines of flight. Lateral leaps and bounds and flights of fancy. For whenever a quick getaway is required, and at times the cause of their necessity

Cats: head, tail, paw, paw, paw, paw, floof. Will never be anything but itself, but will sometimes body slam into you as a sign of affection. Can not be forced into anything

Snakes: logistics, trains, tenacity. Seeing it through from one end to another. Leave no aspect undone. Will out-endure you when necessary, and become intensely inert when circumstances allow

Spiders: weavers of webs and masters of endlessly intricate devices producing relentlessly specific things. Small and interconnected is beautiful

Prefiguring in medias res

“You can’t just start things off right smack in the middle. Readers won’t have context for what they’re seeing, and thus become confused. Whatever literary effect you’re trying to achieve will be lost on them, both in the initial confusion and in the latter stages of having stopped reading”

“So what you are saying is, Tolkien style worldbuilding through the most literal historical exposition possible?”

“Gods no. Books should be brave enough to begin somewhere after the literal creation of the world”

“That sounds very much like a middle to me”

“You know what I mean”

“How about endings?”

“Oh, you definitely should not end before”

Zarathustra on podcasting

The goal, of course, was to produce a text such that no part of it could be understood out of context. Each and every sentence would have some idiosyncratic characteristic or other, making it context-dependent in such a way that any attempt at quotation would require extensive explication. Or, if this could not be achieved, it would refer to some component of the sentences prior or afterwards, making quotations an effort in ever grander parameters of inclusion, until it all simply became too much. Better yet, these semantic interlinks could transcend mere adjacency and refer back to some passage many lines or pages ago, necessitating an even further scope of hermeneutic inclusion for those in search of a quote. The goal, thus, was an impenetrable fortress of words flowing over the reader, either like a revelation unfolding one interconnected line at a time, or like a comforting glossolalia whose beginnings and ends were as arbitrary as the particulars contained therein

Recipe for new dreams, v1.1

Go to new places

Go to old places

Go to familiar places and explore the overlooked nooks and crannies

Go to unfamiliar places and make them familiar

Walk every street in your city

Take different routes home every day

Pop into a shop just to see what’s inside

Find out what’s on the other side of that bridge

Pick a book at random and start reading

Meet new people

Meet old people

Ponder where your habits are taking you

Get new habits

Eat a new food every month

Ask him out

Ask her out

Become friends with all the neighborhood cats

Take a train to somewhere you’ve never been before and just walk around

Buy groceries from different stores each week

Read

Write

Open that book that’s been in your bookcase for years

Ask someone for a music recommendation, then download their discography

See what there is to see

Cook food with your friends

Leave nothing undone

Do it now

A comprehensive list of things Meat Loaf would do for love (and some he will not)

Will do:

run right into hell and back

pray for silence

pray for soul

pray to the god of sex and drums and rock ‘n’ roll

raise me up

help me down

get me right out of this godforsaken town

make it all a little less cold

cater to every fantasy I got

hose me down with holy water, if I get too hot

take me places I’ve never known

 

Will not:

lie to you (and that’s a fact)

forget the way you feel right now

do it better than I do it with you

screw around

Speedy scene transitions for writers in a hurry

There is now a door in the closet. Don’t ask

The protagonist entered a mansion through the wrong door. They are promptly sent on a deep expedition to the asteroid belt beyond Mars until things cool off

One of the protagonists notices a rock that doesn’t look like normal rocks. This is what they do now

The chorus comments that something is amiss

Eagles

After glancing a painting, the protagonist suddenly remembered with unusual vividness and verbosity that one time when

A presumably benevolent forest bard barges into the situation and recites poetry for a while

As they carefully opened the outer door, they found out they were not on a space ship after all

Following the dictum that it is better to rule in hell than serve in heaven, we went

As the music started to play, everything faded away

He awoke. This surprised him to a great extent

As she awoke, she noticed the dinosaur was still there

As the bear creatures carried me away,

Among the great certainties of space travel, was the fact that space elevators take a long time

The drugs kicked in faster than I thought

While the invention of teleportation sure sped things up, it was considered polite to ask first

Computer, end program

A new character enters from stage left. They bring news

The cat escaped. We followed

The need to soliloquy suddenly grips one of the usually silent characters

There is one new notification

This snowball has more gravity than it should have

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Thus, we suddenly found ourselves in

Snake magic. Why did it have to be snake magic

Having thus closed the book, she sighed

Expelliarmus

A small clockwork device lay on the floor. As I cautiously picked it up, it started to whir and rotate in an ever faster manner

Let me tell you one thing: budget cuts sure shift things around

We fell. It took a while

Have you heard about the Kenosha Kid?

It was at that moment my spider sense started tingling

Everything is almost ready to go. There’s just one thing left

No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory – this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, contingent, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy? I sensed that it was connected with the taste of the tea and the cake, but that it infinitely transcended those savours, could, no, indeed, be of the same nature. Whence did it come? What did it mean? How could I seize and apprehend it?…And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before mass), when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom , my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane. The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it. And all from my cup of tea.

All the king’s horses

The book rewarded rereading. In fact, it managed to become an entirely new story upon every subsequent reread, each time from a new point of view. Or, sometimes, from a point of view so thoroughly redefined as to become a new character, for all intents and purposes

Most stopped at their fifth or sixth reread, not because of a sense of having understood it all, but because things ended in a nice place this way. Some, however, had pushed the boundaries and were now at their nineteenth successful redefinition of the narrative, each reread as dramatic as the last one. When asked, however, their responses were either vague or incomprehensible; it is unclear whether this stems from a fear of spoilers, or the impossibility of communicating their understanding to those not already in the know

In an interview, a daring journalist once asked the author how he managed to accomplish this feat of literary polysemy. The author had only shrugged and replied that he only wanted to write a story about someone walking their dog, with some strange happenings along the way. The response from the fanbase was immediate and surprisingly coherent:

The dog? The dog! The dog! The dog? The dog!