26 August 2006


Or, as the wife and I are affectionately calling it, "Auto-Suprematism."

Ah, what one does with a wee bit of code at two in the morning.

[I suggest clicking the unmute button in the lower-right corner to engage the eerie self-composing soundtrack.]

16 August 2006


OnClipEvent (load) {
  if (_root.consciousness_status == awake){
  } else if (_root.consciousness_status == asleep){

For the past few days it has been difficult to speak, or write, or, in fact, to communicate in any normal, narrative manner. You see, I have succumbed to the lure of code, of information architecture, of interactive structures, and logical processes, and it is beginning to take its toll on my linguistic processing. This is nothing new for me, I tend to slip all too easily into code view; I actually begin to perceive the world around me in terms of code relationships:

if (this._x > _root.me.x) {
  _root.me._x += 1;

Sometimes, when things get really bad, and the code swirls behind my eyes – though in a way entirely dissimilar from anything to do with The Matrix – I actually dream code. Many a night, when in the depths of a project and its usually attending semi-insomnia, I have been awakened by an elegant phrase or structure that somehow comes to me in the midst of a dream. I know that sometimes I find these fragments as part of the dream – on a scrap of paper or written on a blackboard within the dream itself – but sometimes, I believe, I actually dream in code.

It is not that I am a particularly expert programmer – I probably shouldn’t even apply that word to myself. I mean, I do quite well at what I do, but let’s face it, I am an artist and not a computer scientist – though I am currently striking out on a path to close that gap. But, to return to the point, I am, in fact, enamored with this linguistic slippage that I so often experience in the early stages of a new project. The standard syntactic and grammatical structures of the English language cease to function as they should and are replaced by logical arrays, variable structures, and objects to be dealt with independently of the content they may contain. It feels as though I am experiencing the world anew, or one that generally resides a few inches to the left of the one I have around me when Strunk and White are looking over my shoulder.

This, as you may well imagine, can be quite disconcerting for the wife, as I stand in the center of a room after a prolonged bout of scripting with a vaguely glassy look glazing my eyes only able to muster a semi-slackjawed nod of comprehension in response to the words she speaks to me:

If (_root.brain == codey) {

Luckily, this state does not commonly last very long, though it seems to be a necessary part of my working process. Usually a gentle reminder from the wife that the world is there is sufficient to bring me back to proper linguistic functionality, though occasionally a mild smack to the back of the head is required before I reluctantly leave my happy little geek cocoon:

if (_root.brain == codey && _root.thewife == waiting) {
} else if (_root.brain == codey && _root.thewife == still_waiting) {

13 August 2006


I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking lately.

Sometimes it has been of rather mundane things, you know, those constant little thoughts that populate one’s daily headspace. You know, those microscopic thoughts that barely register as thoughts at all, but occupy so much of one’s mental activity: the endless pondering of which socks to wear, the age-old debate of Lapsong versus Irish Breakfast, and, as always, the near perpetual struggle over whether one really need watch one more re-run episode of Benson.

But, more recently, I have been occupying myself with those self-perpetuating processes of thinking about thinking, or, perhaps more accurately, thinking about what I probably ought to be thinking about, i.e. those large, nagging questions that surround one’s existence and one’s general interaction with the world. Though perhaps that may be an overstatement; I am not quite sure if I am getting around to those truly monumental metaphysical inquiries – the “What is the point of life?” questions. I am more in mid-grade existential mode – let’s call it Kafka instead of Sartre – with those persistent and, at times, pernicious questions along the lines of “Who am I?” and/or “What do I do now?’

Though, to be perfectly honest, I fear I may all too often come up just short of even these moderately existential considerations. As I said, I seem to be thinking about thinking about these things, but seem to constantly pull up just short of anything one could call genuinely productive thought; it is not so much an interuptus, but more of a self-reflective [or perhaps reflexive] performance anxiety.

When I was younger [“so much younger than today”] this thinking about thinking seemed so much easier. The tried and true “frame a question and then set about thinking about it” method felt rather comfortable and did its job quite well. These days the very framing of a question presents heretofore inconceivably problematic issues. The contingencies, considerations, and complications mount in gathering piles filling every corner of my thought-space with ever-increasing mounds of ifs, buts, and maybes.

And even when one [the rhetorical abstraction shifting between I and one has been noted and ignored; let’s all assume that I am talking of general thoughts about thinking and that I, your dear, beloved author has never had a doubt in his life.] gets pasts out of the rubbish heaps of conditionals in the corners, the central spaces of the questions themselves presents a far more complicated topography [or perhaps topology] than I – I mean one – was usually accustomed to, not a claustrophobic immobility of thought, a closing down of mental directions, but an endless vista of imaginative potential, a conceptual agoraphobia if you will.

Thus one ends up nervously shuttling between those corners with the still burgeoning piles of conditional clauses and vast badlands surrounding the central themes and one’s best intentions of getting down to the task at hand of thinking.

And then there are the distractions. Don’t get me started about the distractions. I am not kidding, don’t, because I’ll never get back on track if you do. Damn it, now it’s too late now, so I might as well write about the distractions since the thought of them has already become yet another distraction.

So, as I was saying, the distractions. They are not so bad when they merely pull one away from that at best semi-productive cogitation, but their truly insidious process is to integrate themselves into what one thought was a possibly meaningful line of thought, an overheard word or an image flashed upon a nearby screen that carefully ingratiates itself only to wend its way toward a more central position, all the time shoving aside all matters of significance until one finds oneself squarely in the middle of those thoughts about the relative merits of argyle versus striped socks, engrossed in the paper-thin plot the day’s eighth episode of Benson on TVLand, waiting for the kettle to boil once again, packet of tea ready at hand.

Thus, as I said at the beginning, I have been thinking a lot. I could probably use a break, but that is easier said than done once one gets started. If anyone wants to take over for me for a while, that would probably be greatly appreciated, because somebody has to do it, and, for the time being, I seem to be the only one in my head willing to take on this particular task.

So, alas, I should probably get back to it. I think I see a nasty cluster of what-ifs gathering around the corner that really ought to be seen to before they get out of control and decide to stampede.

06 August 2006


[Click images above to enlarge, thus making them legible.]

04 August 2006


03 August 2006


01 August 2006


I am simultaneously afraid of and infatuated with county fairs – actually, state fairs as well. It is a subtle balance that some internal mechanism of my mind has developed that manifests itself as a careful construction of desire. It is a relationship that does not draw me to chase county fairs across the region, but instead brings me to one, and only one, each year for a self-conscious embrace of back-lot carnival rides – the cast-offs from more legitimate amusement parks – paper plates full of anything breaded, fried, or drenched in cheese, and the glorious, senseless destruction of junkers amateurly decorated for their one-night-only orgy of demolition.

Each time I go to a fair I have to remind myself to flip that mental switch that allows me to tolerate these things: the people, the touching of things, the wafting odors, the hair, the fashion, the giant hunks of flesh – both those being sold at makeshift counters and those protruding from amidst the all-too-skimpy articles of clothing Americans feel compelled to wear to the county fair.

I am not even sure where this switch came from, but every time, as the wife and I drive up to the parking area adjacent to whichever fair we are attending, I am glad it is there. It allows me to somehow put aside all of my normal anxieties – many of which have been carefully cultivated over the past few decades – and indulge myself in that uniquely pitiable excess of the fair, though by the end of the day those same concerns – headlined by the desire for quiet, sanitary conditions – return once again, leaving that switch inoperable for another year.

While there, I revel in the absurdity of the event, of being a thirty-three year old man gleefully smashing onto others from within the confines of my bumper car, of racing my wife to the bottom of a forty foot tall slide, each of us seated upon an old burlap sack, of actually touching vegetables so profoundly deep-fried that there aren’t napkins enough at the fairgrounds to blot up all the grease, of sitting, packed in with several thousand strangers, to watch one van actually pop another van’s radiator in a head-on collision that spews steaming coolant ten yards in every direction.

But, once nighttime falls, the glory dulls and the draw of a shower and clean clothing seems irresistible, the guilty pleasure, satisfied, seems now mostly sad. And, as I drove home Sunday night, I was left with the more somber reflections of the day, this time with an odd inclination to give personification to the spectacle, an endeavor that led me to wonder what it must be like to be a demolition derby automobile.

Have I never mentioned this tendency I have to personify things, to regard the objects around me as though they were sentient? It is a practice that has been with me since childhood; it was this, I believe, that led me, when I was small, to wish to grow up to be a fire truck – though perhaps it was the other way round, and the wish led to the inclination to personify.

But, anyway, the life of a demolition derby car seems a rather sad life to me, for a brief period exhilarating, though filled with the knowledge that you were considered unworthy for anything other than a suicide mission. I feel bad for these cars, for the lives they must have once led but have been stripped of for our amusement, for the thrill-seeking pleasure of their drivers. In fact, it is this pathos that seems to be the core of the county fair, that not quite significant quality of everything there, the flimsy show at being valuable like the paint job on those derby cars that in advance anticipates its imminent demise.

Hence, as I washed off the day’s worth of grime from our day at the fair, the usual post-indulgence sadness washed over me. Perhaps it was all the empty calories consumed while walking up and down the alleys of cheap carnival games, or the memory of how easily the gutted cars crumpled in on themselves that left me feeling uncertain, awkward, both thankful that that is not my world, my life, and at the same time feeling guilty for the condescension.

That is the guilty pleasure of the county fair for me, to dip my toe in another world to allow myself to feel all the more elevated for not being part of the unwashed many, to hold intact for another year that boundary between the shiny fire truck and those ill-decorated automobiles relegated to the demolition derby.