Saturday, April 25, 2009

Ramblings of a Mutant Grey Cell

"The only horrible thing in the world is ennui, Dorian. That is the one sin for which there is no forgiveness."
-Oscar Wilde

Boredom is fascinating.

I’ve claimed to have been suffering from acute boredom on numerous occasions. But even in these moments, I’ve never been listless.

Just languid.

Today’s a perfect evening to be bored.

Daytime activities had caused sensory overload, leading to semi-shutdown.

A bug just destroyed my concentration. I detest bugs. Their presence necessitates violence and the squashing causes a disgusting squelchy sound which puts my dinner at risk of being summarily ejected.

So, I stuff my index fingers into my ears and gently tread on the creature.

I could get back to my subject, but the icy cold blast of the air conditioner is directed to the back of my head.

Having decided I was bored, and that nothing short of a natural disaster would rouse me, I was just about to convince myself to go to sleep, when I had the proverbial ‘Eureka’ moment.

I’d decided to analyze why I was bored.

But I was stalled by the snappy retorts my mind generated as a particularly insipid song came on.

Honey honey, how you thrill me, ah-hah, honey honey

(Think Monroe clones. Cabaret dancers. War Paint)
Honey honey, nearly kill me, ah-hah, honey honey

(Why didn’t he???)
I’d heard about you before

(And you’re still here?)
I wanted to know some more

(Did you have a deathwish?)
And now I know what they mean, youre a love machine

(So was Rasputin)
Oh, you make me dizzy
(Nauseous would be appropriate)

Honey honey, let me feel it, ah-hah, honey honey

Honey honey, dont conceal it, ah-hah, honey honey

(Pure cunning)
The way that you kiss goodnight

(the way that you kiss me goodnight)

The way that you hold me tight

(the way that youre holding me tight)

I feel like I wanna sing when you do your thing

(Why am I still listening?)
I dont wanna hurt you, baby, I dont wanna see you cry

So stay on the ground, girl, you better not get too high

(Very High School Musical 2)

But Im gonna stick to you, boy, youll never get rid of me

Theres no other place in this world where I rather would be

(How about good old Bedlam)

Honey honey, touch me, baby, ah-hah, honey honey

Honey honey, hold me, baby, ah-hah, honey honey

(thoughts have been censored)
You look like a movie star

(Plastic Surgery)
But I know just who you are

(I know just who you are)

(Thank God)
And, honey, to say the least, youre a dog-gone beast


So stay on the ground, girl, you better not get too high

(Brilliant comeback)
Theres no other place in this world where I rather would be
(After all that you know?)
Honey honey, how you thrill me, ah-hah, honey honey

Honey honey, nearly kill me, ah-hah, honey honey

I heard about you beforeI wanted to know some more

And now I know what they mean, youre a love machine(fade)


Inspiration struck in the form of Google. I google everything. Including my own name.

Till last month it would display my school post.

Now. Nothing.

But I still do it.


There’s something to short sentences, they seem to have that ‘I’m-so-cool-I-don’t-need-to-be-verbose’ thing about them.

The first result (as it usually is these days) was an article on Wikipedia.

Apparently, the word boredom was first used by Charles Dickens in Bleak House. The book just went up a few notches in my estimation.
Further persual revealed that there are three types of boredom:

(a) times when we are prevented from engaging in something
(b) when we are forced to engage in some unwanted activity
(c) when we are simply unable, for no apparent reason, to maintain engagement in any activity or spectacle

No offence to existential psychologists, but any layman could have told me that. This killed any further interest in this particular article, until my gritty eyes zeroed in on the words- BOREDOM PRONESS SCALE.

But it wasn’t hyperlinked, so my spurt of humor turned tail and ran.

Backspace to search results. The very next result led me to a rather juveniele site boredom dash busters dot com.

It offers a wide range of ‘engaging’ games. Games. To BUST boredom.

For example:

Bathroom Habits Survey A funny, interesting survey of about how different people go to the bathroom. Find out what strange habits other people have when going pee or poop.

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You? - A personality test that matches you with a popular fantasy or science fiction character.

Clean your screen with The Slurps Hey does your computer screen get dirty? Why not get a Chihuahua that will clean it for you. Also there are terriors and poodles for your cell phones.

Name Decoder - Find out what's inside your name.

Budapest Defenders - This is fun for hours. shoot and kill the incoming units before they hit their destination. –

School Wars - Realtime Strategy Game - Fight for turf, grow your gang and knock out the other gangs. –

Juggler - Move your mouse to catch the balls as they fall. Much easier then trying to juggle for real. –

The idea of performing a jig on my temporarily straight jacketed intelligence for the sake of dispelling boredom seems harsh, not to mention disloyal.

So I backed up hastily. Not that any of these boredom busters could’ve charmed me into lingering.

The loading of the page had an inverse effect on my already dwindling curiosity.

A huge yawn was in order.

A vicious bid at scrolling brought me to the bottom of the page, where I found searches related to boredom.

Very reluctantly, I clicked on ‘things to do when you’re bored’ and then hit back almost immediately.

The book results for my search was a lot more intriguing.

Boredom - by Alberto Moravia, Angus Davidson, William Weaver - 340 pages
Boredom: The Literary History of a State of Mind - by Patricia Ann Meyer Spacks - 316 pages
A Philosophy of Boredom - by Lars Fr H Svendsen, John Irons - 180 pages

The second book seemed promising. Literary history of a state of mind.
The description stated- This book offers a witty explanation of why boredom both haunts and motivates the literary imagination.

Is that why I’m still bothering? Is boredom the aphrodisiac of wannabe literary paragons? Is it a state of overwhelmingly latent creativity?

I was wondering whether I was making sense. Unconsciously, I’d bothered the ‘shift’ key one too many times and sticky keys came on.

It’s a sign.

I should let boredom go. Let sleeping dogs lie.

But searches related to boredom grabbed my eyeballs again.

One said ‘boredom cures’.
Does that mean boredom cures something or does that mean cures for boredom?

It’s sad we’re past the days when Wren and Martin lorded over grammar and punctuation. Such quirky conclusions would never have occasion to emerge.

I vowed that I’d ditch my dalliance with boredom. I’d just check ‘things to go when you’re bored.’ That and no more.

I skipped the first few and clicked on geocities.

Had I possessed a weaker constitution, I would’ve dropped dead. Because pity for the people involved would’ve robbed me of lifeblood/ lifeforce take your pick.

And I don’t even have a piece of clothing spotted with Caesar’s blood to sustain me.

So I’m giving up.

But I did learn something very important.

Not really.

I’m just being ostentatious and portentous to add glitter to the end credits.

The best cure to boredom, or listlessness, or black humor, or towering rage is Google.

I can practically hear my search engine sing:

If you change your mind,

Im the first in line

Honey Im still free

Take a chance on me

If you need me, let me know, gonna be around

If youve got no place to go, if youre feeling down

If youre all alone when the pretty birds have flown

Honey Im still free

Take a chance on me

Gonna do my very best and it aint no lie

If you put me to the test, if you let me try

Take a chance on me

(thats all I ask of you honey)

I'd have felt better about this post had it been conceived during the witching hour.

But no such luck.

I need to find a four leaved clover.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Getting Drunk on Non-Alcoholic Beverages:A Thought Experiment

The only thought experiment I truly pursued was Scott Adams’ God’s Debris. Intriguing piece of work.

But it has nothing to do with my own thought experiment, except perhaps with the part where I filch a part of the book’s name in order to add character to my title. It’s strange really how hard I find it to name a piece. I’ve been known (to no one but myself) to give up writing about something simply because I was too exhausted by my efforts to think.

But as an author in my Grade 12 English textbook said- ‘Not even a stuka bomber can distract me.’

Research on moral development for my psychology project led to an interesting quote by Mark Twain (who does have a penchant for saying what all of us think, but are too afraid to say) - “Morals are an acquirement- like music, like a foreign language, like piety, poker, paralysis- no man is born with them.”

Wise words.

And in general societal terms I am amoral when it comes to alcohol. (I also enjoy passive smoking. Especially because Papa’s brand of tobacco had an alluring woodsy flavor that borders on being vanilla, but just stops short)

For the following reason.

I always found Dad’s after work relaxation techniques incredibly fascinating. Apart from everything else, it included cleaning and tending to his innumerable (beloved) pipes and nursing his drink.

As opposed to the genial, boisterous and generally exuberant atmosphere in our residence, evenings at a friend’s house were rather somber, where family members tread carefully once the head of the household returned from work. He was irritable, snappy and quick to offence.

He didn’t drink or smoke.

Now in no way am I saying that only alcohol engenders good humor. But my six year old mind fell back on age old tactics of associated learning and I deduced that a reasonable dose of ethanol worked wonders for a man’s temperament.

I have never felt any pangs to consume alcohol. I like being in control and my eighteen year old brain is acquainted with the not-so-rosy effects of alcohol on the human nervous system.

But the idea of intoxication is captivating. On paper, the idea starts off innocently enough, a series of very innocuous changes such as lowering one’s guard, feeling limber, happy, sappy……………..

But more often than not, the likes of Captain Haddock loom large in my field of vision.

The imaginary visuals of lifting a cut glass specimen does seem supremely exotic. A realistic view is usually obliterated by more exquisite frames from black and white movies where a fair maiden with white gloves that went past her elbows and satin heels would delicately help herself to some champagne from a flute that is a refractive wonder. It enables the man with a smirk and slicked back hair leaning lazily against a piece of exquisite furniture to single out the aforementioned woman.

There’s something truly decadent and hedonistic about enjoying the dizzying range of effects of alcohol. Not all. Just the first few. Because excesses lead to hangovers. And hangover’s a bitch.

So they say.

And I’m rather inclined to believe it.

I’d honestly hoped my very limited exposure to the substance would clear away some of these concepts or misconceptions whichever may be the case, that plagued my highly alert mind.

The occasional ministrations of cognac with hot water and lemon drove away any traces of a troublesome bout of cold. But first hand experience of drunkenness still eludes me.

But I did almost discover that one can feel high simply by a thought experiment.

It started by choosing a goblet as the desired glassware for consuming chocolate flavored soy milk. And the choice of music included- Bubbly (Colbie Caliet- do not attempt unless you can stomach a healthy shot of estrogen), Wicked Little High (Bird York), Life Could be a Dream (the Crew Cuts), The Boxer (Simon and Garfunkel ), Thank you for the music (ABBA), Across the Universe and Norwegian Wood (The Beatles, the latter even refers to wine), Changing partners (Patti Paige), anything by Cliff Richards and DEBUSSY!

There’s no physical resemblance between wine (good or bad, red or white) and chocolate milk (soy or otherwise).

One is red, or crimson or some equally seductive color or some precarious shade dallying between transparent and yellow and the other is a colloidal brown (and the heavier chocolate particles tend to sediment and sink to the bottom of the glass).

So looking at the liquid will not evoke any revelation.

But the fact that you’re holding that delicate bit of glassware and not a sturdy glass that would suffer endless punishment alters the way one treats the beverage, no matter what it may be.

Run your finger along the luscious curves of the goblet and then along the fragile stem and the entire perception of the resident liquid changes. The pace, the enjoyment and the consideration that is extended to the chosen drink is also affected simply by a modification in perception and approach to consumption.

By the time the play list ran its course, drinking chocolate milk had definitely turned into a heady experience as opposed to a routine action aimed at further solidification of bones.

Another incapacitating cold brought on another occasion to consume alcohol, even if the quantity was purely medicinal. The timing too was perfect. Three weeks before my exams. What better time to drown in the smooth, golden depths of cognac.

A carefully measured amount was poured into the snifter. Warm water was added and so were lemon drops. I nursed the infusion till it was stone cold, hoping that I’d performed all the motions a seasoned drinker (drunk???) would perform, ranging from sniffing to twirling and swallowing with a studied look of pure bliss on my face.

And I honestly do believe that I felt as though my joints were greased by the time night fell. I almost believed that my head swam. I almost believed that my eyes were going wonky.

The latest in the series of my experiments was drinking Sprite in a beer mug. I persisted with the slow and steady form of consumption even after the fizz had performed a speedy defection. I even hunched over the mug trying to summon dejection from somewhere near my big toe to fit the desciprtion of a generic beer guzzler.

Alfred Doolittle’s rendition of ‘With a lil’ bit o’ luck’ seemed to be the perfect accompaniment. So did Stereophincs’ bartender and the thief.

I’m not the only person who felt this way apparently. Jug Suraiya had written a rather foggy short story called- A Tika for Jung Bahadur, in which a very sorry excuse of a director sits drinking plain soda in a bar, hoping that observers would think of it as vodka and tonic.

The illusion does last.

It does.

Until even the average experimenter discovers that his/her cognitive skills are as active as ever.

CONCLUSION- It’s simply too much hard work to evoke intoxication. I managed to enjoy and spice up the consumption of the mundane, but I came no closer to getting drunk. I merely suffered from exquisite delusions of grandeur, until I lost the zeal to keep up the pretense.

Until I fence with the real thing, I’ll just stay high on life. Or the weather. The shapes in the cloud. Birdsong. Book dust (I’m certain it’s as potent as cocaine). Unfermented grape juice.

I (don’t quote) warble-
“The Lord above made liquor for temptationTo see if man could turn away from sin
The Lord above made liquor for temptation -
With a little bit of luck,
With a little bit of luck
When temptation comes you'll give right in………”