A Cut-up Life By Manton Aughtney [PREVIOUS PAGE] [NEXT PAGE] [Texts Index]

Part 3: Just Sit Through Life's Video

Blurry lives in the Washington Hotel. It's your basic run down old dump of a Main Street hotel, but as I climb the worn wooden stairs with him up to his fifth floor room, he has nothing but positive things to say about it.

"Doesn't it smell great?" - he asks, presumably referring to the overpowering reek of disinfectant. He tells me about his neighbours. Mostly native Indians. He had his first chug of Lysol recently, this being the preferred drink of desperate alcoholics. His native friends laughed as he gagged on the stuff....

Blurry glorifies this life of destitution more than anyone I know. He claims that the aboriginal peoples have a more evolved culture, that European civilization is an abomination, a perverse freak of nature. There is some truth to this argument: the products of our glorious scientific revolution might well lead to our own destruction. But as I see it, it's too late to turn back now.

We sit in his room and work on collages with newspaper headlines. There are some really interesting ones in today's paper. Across the front page the phrase: "Street of Death" Tragedy is always the theme in any paper you care to read. It seems that THEY are dead set on convincing us that Life is Tragedy. On page 2 a human interest story reads:

"Burned Baby Won't Make It" Taken out of context these headlines are truly bizarre.

"THEY are force feeding us this crap to destroy our will to live." Blurry comments, while pasting a headline to a piece of paper.

"Well, I wouldn't say that THEY are doing it intentionally..." I respond, trying to steer us away from talk of Conspiracies.

I am working with a copy of the National Inquisitor, constructing new headlines from snippets of old ones. The results are even more sensational: "Hairy Woman Wife Killer!"

The afternoon passes slowly. Don shows up at around 2:30. He wants to go on an outdoor excursion, maybe take a bus up to Burnaby Mountain park. We both readily agree, having grown tired of clipping headlines.

From the top of the mountain we can see the whole of Vancouver down below: Roads radiating out of the central core. We stand looking, drawing all the usual comparisons: That the city is like a vast hive, the workers leaving to bring food and resources back to the Queen. That the roads are like arteries and veins and the traffic like blood cells flowing through them.

We wander around the perimeter of the park looking for a concealed area to smoke some hash. Don has brought his Bong (waterpipe) along with him and we don't want to use it in the open, (strange and conspicuous looking thing that it is).

Eventually we come to a narrow outcropping of land covered with dense bush and small trees, which lies on the other side of the safety fence. We sit cross legged on the precipice passing the Bong back and forth, water gurgling from inside it's belly, as we take heavy tokes. [The smoke, once fully drawn in, causes a tickling sensation and an intense desire to cough. Then follows the body's protest: a deep hacking expulsion of the foreign particles. But T.H.C. molecules have already begun their progression into the bloodstream and into the brain, switching on the lights in the right hemisphere, switching on the consoles in the control tower, the pilot reports over the intercom: "Ladies and gentlemen, we are now switching over to Theta State processing, if you direct your attention to the temporal lobe you will observe a distinct change in the pattern of electrical activity...]

My heart thumps at an accelerated pace. Suddenly I realize that only a few feet of mossy earth separates us from a drop of at least a hundred feet. As the hashish takes hold of my brain I am suddenly struck by an attack of vertigo. Moments before I had felt safe as anything.

"Holy! I just realized how dangerous this is!" I say, peering down into the gully below us.

"Your overreacting. Just cool it, relax." says Blurry, taking another hit off of the Bong.

Once thoroughly stoned, we meander through the park and onto the university campus. We somehow end up tramping through the bushes outside the science laboratories. In our heightened awareness, we are drawn to examining the flora and speculating aloud to each other on our observations:

"This thing about Order and Chaos..." Don knits his brow, straining to express some concept that is still only half formed in his mind.

"I look at these leaves and twigs that have fallen randomly on the ground, and it all seems meaningless. I mean obviously there are intricate patterns involved here. But maybe we are trained to look for meaning only in the highly stylized, ordered ways that we are taught in school. If you really took the time and just try to transcend your limited ways of seeing, maybe Nature will communicate with you."

As if to act on his realization, Don makes himself comfortable in a cross-legged position and stares at a fern. Meanwhile Blurry is examining a twig. He shows it to me, pointing to some green lichen or mould growing on it. A short distance away students are walking by on a footpath that leads to the parking lot. I become more conscious of their passing and notice that some of them are watching us.

I am struck with the realization that what we are doing might be construed as "not normal": Don sitting motionless like a Buddha, Blurry staring incredulously at a twig and pointing to it at the same time. But then I am angry at having become embarrassed. The students on the footpath probably could care less. And really, I should be spiritually developed enough by now not to give a shit what people think.

Daylight wanes, and we walk over to the pub. The place is quiet, most of the students having finished classes and gone home already. We wander into the basement section and sit down next to a big screen t.v., tuned to a music video station. We don't have television at the Space, so we are tripping out on the novelty of the thing. Blurry keeps on saying "wow", awed by quick moving imagery.

"What a bunch of idiots." - I say, this being my typical commentary on all rock videos.

We sit there in front of the big screen t.v. for a couple of hours, sipping beers and hurling insults at the defenceless images parading in front of us. The whole rock video thing just seems like a direct and personal affront to thinking people everywhere. Or rather T.V. in gerneral is the affront.When we moved into The Space, part of the agreement was that we would kick the T.V. habit. I suppose I was the most vehemently opposed to getting a television, laying out a whole paranoid scenario about how it sucked up human consciousness like a vacuum cleaner sucks up lint... And so we kicked the habit. But here we are in the pub, totally absorbed in what we alegedly hate.

Finally we manage to drag ourselves away from the video terminal. It has kept us captive for nearly four hours. We take a bus downtown. We get off on Main Street and walk through Gastown towards The Space.

Creative Writing with