Saturday, July 19, 2008

Elsewhere is where I'd rather be...

I've just begun reading Thirteen by Sebastian Beaumont. In it, a guy's business goes bust and he mopes around for a while and then a friend makes him an offer:

'Don't you trust me?' he asked.

'Yes, but...'

'I know you. I respect you. I want the best for you. As you can't think of what to do, give me one reason why I shouldn't decide for you.'

I shrugged.

'Okay,' he said. Think about it. If you agree, I'll tell you to do something, and you must do it - unless you can think of a good reason not to. And "because I don't want to" isn't a good enough reason. You've go to be able to say, in all honest, that what I suggest would be damaging to you, psychologically. Only then will I let you off, and try to think of something else.'

I stared at him, breathless, because I knew he was serious, and breathless, too, because I was so tempted to take him up on his suggestion.

'Give me a year. A year,' he said. 'I'll give you my email address in California and you can send me regular bulletins. And any time you feel that you need to stop, then you must stop. But only if you need to. You'd have to define what you mean by "need," not me.'

I got up and went to have a piss, then went through to the kitchen to make us both coffee. In that short time, in just four or five minutes, I made my decision. Looking back on it, the way I jumped at his suggest was not because I thought he would solve my life for me: make me happy. If was just that things right then were so shit, that even if they remained shit after I'd started doing whatever it was that I'd agreed to do, at least they'd be no worse. And what bliss it would be to stop wondering, however briefly, what to do with myself.

My amateur psychologist side said, 'You're just refusing to take responsibility for your life.'

Well, alright, but this was at least finite.

One year.

One year.

'Okay,' I said when I came back into the room. 'I'll do it. I'll give you one year. When are you going to tell me what to do?'

'Now, if you like.'


He shifted slightly, as though uncomfortable, and took a sip of coffee before looking at me, watching for my reaction.

'Become a taxi driver,' he said. 'Working on a night shift.'

And so he makes this modern-day Faustian bargain and the number thirteen begins cropping up in all sorts of strange ways. Ominous chord. That's all I'm going to say. That and it's really fun.

Elsewhere on the web... Curious Expeditions had a post about pneumatic mail systems called Pneu Yourk, Pneu York - very cool stuff.

Photographer Denis Darzacq has done a series entitled Hyper set in France's supermarkets. These images mock the notion that buying any product will revolutionize your life. It's on view at Lens Culture - great site. It will revolutionize your life. Batteries not included. Check with your doctor if you have hypertension.

That'll do. Wherever you are stay cool and read with aplomb.

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