The Others in our Heads

At a writing event the other day, someone read something out during which the main character licks their third left molar ‘and does all the other things we do when we’re uncomfortable’. As the rest of the paragraph washed over me, I automatically licked my own (having calculated at lightning speed which molar the author meant; third from left, third from right?) and observed several others around me discreetly trying the same. Yes, we all agreed in silence while not meeting each others’ eyes; this is what we do when we’re uncomfortable. We lick our third left molar.

Details make for good writing, which is all about truth, whichever brand of truth particularly on offer.

I looked up a book today after a personal recommendation (a book recommendation is a sort of gift; it should never be fobbed off lightly) and read some online reviews. The book had been shortlisted for a massive international prize. ‘Boring boring boring’ said one dissatisfied customer under a 1-star review (zero isn’t an option, as another reviewer noted) entitled ‘Stupefyingly boring’; she went on to announce that she ‘will never again buy novels about men living inside their own heads’. At this point, and after some other reviews (some adoring, some more mixed) mentioning themes of displacement and genre-defiance, I was positively salivating and I couldn’t order it fast enough. Continue reading

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Noting the Self: Vignettes on Many Floors

Maybe an entire life is just an embroidered patchwork – a technicoloured tapestry – rich with scattered notes to self.

First, accessibly, there are the piles on the bedroom floor; the visual to do lists, in 3d art installation. What else can two sealed bottles of rice bran oil mean, but that I intend to make a leave-in hair conditioner quite soon? What is a pile of 573 books by the bed if not a chartered foray into a future mindscape? A single coin, in the centre of the floor; a reminder to go to the bank. Some installations last longer than others, and are relegated to the periphery; placed one day, they are swept away the next. Yet I abhor clutter if the environment is one in which I am meant to be productive, and though a life well lived requires colour, I crave clear space. In reality, this just means things are pushed outwards. The centre stage of the carpet, if nothing else, is clear and capable.

Every thought has an action and reaction, and we are all in constant dialogue with ourselves. Forget Descartes; or at least, let’s modulate him: I am because I have ideas about the future, and think I’ll be in it. Continue reading