Musings

Palimpsest

“Having seen how lucidly and logically certain madmen justify their lunatic ideas to themselves and to others, I can never again be sure of the lucidness of my own lucidity.”
– from Fernando Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet, translated by Richard Zenith

Most mornings I wake up sure and convinced that I have just returned from the furthest end of the world or have been piloting an enormous jumbo jet whose underbelly, every time, just misses a pointy mountain crest. Some dream nights I lose my courage and am fleeing a gormless cookie monster. Thankfully those briefest of moments post rousing from the deep last bare picoseconds longer than those subatomic particles that have the briefest of lives. I guess the oddest part of waking up from any dream is the surreal and distinct feeling that one was bumped from one dream universe to another rather like electrons jumping between orbital states. Fifty picoseconds into the glorious morning and you’re relieved, “phew”, that WAS only a dream.  Thank God! I thought that demon was about to have my heart for lunch! Five minutes later and the mind is completely blank. Astonishing.

PS Tonight, I suppose I go to bed at my own peril.

Politics

Brainy Or What!

The brain is stupendously good at picking battles. Listen to this.

The sound of the news coming from the radio plucked me, against my will, from that calm sea of cataleptic forgetfulness we call sleep. Forgetfulness, some might say, is the wrong term for a state in which we spend up to a third of our brief lives comatosed like a patient about to undergo surgery and who’s just been injected with propofol or some other anaesthetic and asked to count slowly to ten. For even in this paralyzed state, eyes closed, we see the strangest apparitions, hear the scariest voices, confront our scatty demons and sometimes soar through the air or ocean wielding harmless battle axes against equally harmless bandits. Our brains, wired up with their one hundred trillion synapses or some such uncountable number, never to go to sleep!

“That is loud, I mean wtf on a Sunday morning. Now I can understand if the time was 10  o’clock”. I laid in bed and struggled to galvanize my feeble energies to go knock on my neighbour’s door and demand they turn the radio down.  I finally opened my eyes and turned to look at the clock and by gad it had just gone past 10 o’clock. Obviously this would not be worth retelling if this event happened every Sunday at the same time like clockwork but this, I swear, is the very first time I’ve been woken up in this fashion. Isn’t it amazing when our brains do this? We easily remember those countless times we go to bed thinking we really ought to wake up at six because [insert reason] and bam! at one minute to six we are wide awake. If this happens often enough we start to believe we are supermen eh, we think things and they come to pass. Just like they say in positive thinking circles or prosperity gospel sermons. Think and grow rich. It’s that easy.

Wait a minute. How come this never happens at bonus time? You can see the glum faces of colleagues as they come out of their reporting managers’ rooms after they’ve been recounted the same spiel as the year before: “You know with the economy as it is the company hasn’t done as well as we wanted BUT we really value your contribution and despite what’s happening in the business we’ve been able to find you a bonus of [.]” Like you, they probably did their best to mask the disappointment. All those neurons over the preceding days working up an expectation of a bonus large enough to pay off the mortgage or buy a Ferrari. Those neurons were wrong. They picked the wrong battle.