Wednesday, December 21, 2011

2011.12.21 — Some fushigi* — Shameless, Cabinetry and Philip K. Dick's Stigmata and Adjustment

Each of the *fushigi in this blog began so small that I didn't blog them at the time of their occurrence. Rather, I noted them with pen and paper and waited to see if enough small one's warranted an amalgamated blog. And, after the third one linked to an event today, here they are.

The first one began on the morning of December 12. I was doing something I have never done before, nor ever really expected to do. (And hope not to do again.) My wife decided she wanted to have some cabinets installed in our laundry room. She's only recently begun to web surf and so after a struggle to find cabinetry places on the web using Google she asked me to see what I could find.
So there I was, Googling for cabinets instead of doing the morning chores I had been earlier assigned to do. This search turned out to be an oddly difficult web quest and relatively boring. And it took far far longer than I'd wanted and put my start to the day behind.

That evening I experienced the smallest of small fushigis after I turned on the TV to watch something that had yet to start. I flipped around the stations to kill the few minutes and stumbled into an episode of the Showtime series (being broadcast on HBO-Canada)
Shameless. This show had been suggested to me by BY, one of the TV-watchers at work when it started in January this year. Thus I came to pause on it to give it a quick look. The episode was about halfway through when I began to watch and saw almost immediately the character Frank Gallagher, played by William H. Macy, working at a
cabinet manufacturing plant. Serious? When was the last time you saw someone on TV working in a cabinet manufacturing factory?

The next one started five days later, when I wrote some Haiku-like things as part of a Haiku game-chain in the WSSCC group in the Goodreads word lovers' social networking site. This is what I wrote as my continuation of M's theme about how a gravesite became a hangout for drunks and harlots. (M's pair of Haiku have an extremely clever play on words.) On the 17th I wrote the following doggerel:
A harlot, one day,
saw fresh blood on the grave stone
seeping from two cracks.

She screamed in delight
for she knew this smoker's grave
was now stigmata

and that unlike pee
would de-stigmatize their squat
to bring Facebook fame.

She took a picture
of the miracle in stone.
So a Saint was made.
The Stigmatization of St. Francis
Certainly not great poetry! But fun. I have no idea why 'stigmata' came into my head for this, but once there I wanted to play with it.

Today I visited Renaissance Books and was greeted by J with a big smile.

'I have a Christmas surprise for you,' he said to me. 'Follow me.'

He led me into the basement and then into a 'staff only' section. He reached up to the top shelf and voilà, there were Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman's two volume The Political Economy of Human Rights. This was very exciting to me, as my Chomsky collection is now big enough that stumbling into new-to-me-books by him is getting harder and harder to do. Well, this find completed my set, as I already had volume I but not volume II.

But that isn't the fushigi, but is what lead to it. On top of the book shelf, just to the left of the Chomsky volumes, were three Sci-Fi paperbacks by Philip K. Dick. What first struck me funny about that is that I had watched a movie two days ago, more or less by accident, called The Adjustment Bureau with Matt Damon and Emily Blunt. It is an adaptation of the Dick short story The Adjustment Team that I was not familiar with so that when I turned it on I had no idea what the movie was
about beyond the cryptic cable TV description. It wasn't until the closing credits that I saw it having been inspired by the Dick story and had that feeling of 'Of course that was! It felt like a PKD story!'

So, that, and the fact that as a teen I loved PKD, made these books stand out, initially. Well, because of the movie and my misspent youth, I asked J if I could look at these. He commented that PKD was becoming really popular lately, again, and that he had set these aside to take them upstairs. 'These are PBOs,' he said. 'Paperback originals, and so are quite expensive.' They looked like old acid paper degraded paperbacks to me, but he commented that they were worth about twenty to thirty dollars each.
But the one that stood out to me, and which I was willing to buy, was The 3
Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.

What a convoluted fushigi! J commented that he thought he had a non-PBO copy of Stigmata, which it turns out he did. So I bought it.

And now I will toss in for bad measure two of the oddest of the odd things. I am quite sure they do not even qualify as near fushigi, but I'll throw them in anyway. Well, the first is an obvious one, but was the last thing that came to mind. And that is that the concept of 'The Adjustment Bureau' provides an explanation for the existence of fushigi! (The mind is a funny thing that I didn't even think of that while watching the movie!)

And the second one also relates to some doggerel I wrote, called 'Rock Sun Paint,' for a photographic poetry prompt-blog called Houseboat—photo #5. (I was invited to join this blog via one of the Goodreads groups with which I am a member.) The poems that were created by the other participants are excellent! I highly recommend this blog if you enjoy poetry and photography. Anyway, here's what I wrote:
Rock Sun Paint

I can see the stone walls are old,
despite efforts to paint them
with the saturated youthfulness
of blue, white and ochre.

In the blink of an eye
nature will chip this façade.
The kiss of colour will be etched away
under the brutal barrage
of the sun's stone-cracking light,
which reveals itself in harsh shadows
and the brilliance of blue,
white and ochre.

Faded stone cobbles
wind through doorways and spaces,
unpainted, unmasked, tired.
Their purpose is obscured
by an inevitability denied
by the foolish who walk
this path with bared heads,
as if doing so could mock
as myth the diurnal sun.

I tap my watch, what time is it?
The battery is dead, is what I think.
I cannot know the truth,
that its silica-inspired movement,
abashed by this painted timelessness,
simply stopped, unmasked
by blue, white and ochre.
Before this poem made it to publication it went through a vigorous critique/revision process, during which one of the members wondered at what I meant by 'with bared heads.' I explained "As to 'bared' head … it is [a] metaphor for thinking the head (mind) has the power to ignore nature's energy." Well, in a kind of fushigi irony, the 'adjustment agents' (aka angels) of 'The Adjustment Bureau' require hats in order to allow them access to warping space/time and allow them to move god-like through the world. I find that reversal brings a smile to my face.

After posting this — and I mean immediately after posting this, I turned away from the computer to watch some TV. The movie station was running a movie called Shelter with Julianne Moore. No sooner had I sat down than a man, with multiple-personalities, I think, is being questioned about a male body found in his home that had had a stylized cross cut into his back. Stigmata, of sorts?

Addendum #2
Okay, life is TOO strange. On another TV-station tonight, Showcase, the movie Minority Report with Tom Cruise is being broadcast. 'Minority Report' is, of course, a movie adaptation of the PKD short story The Minority Report.

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