December 1st, 1998. 9.44pm
What did you learn from your time in the solitary cell of your mind?
—Belle & Sebastian
It's unfortunate that I have become obsessed with Belle & Sebastian
after their once-in-a-lifetime tour of the U.S.
Today my friend Leah, who was my roommate freshman year, told me
that there are people who keep diaries on the net. And you can log
into them every day. You can read about the daily existence of people
you have never met and will never meet and in whose lives, under
ordinary circumstances, you would have relatively little interest.
This is the essence of technology today. It is like pornography. We
are terribly interested in the naked souls of perfectly ordinary people,
not because they are souls but because they are naked. I think this
explains the—to me at least—utterly mystifying activity known as
"surfing." The point of surfing is not that one is interested. Surfing
has relatively little to do with the surfer. It is entirely about
the net. I did not spend a solid three hours of my life reading the transcripts of the
Tripp tapes because I actually gave a shit about Linda Tripp or Monica
Lewinsky. I read them because they were there. And because curiosity
is the overriding instinct of mankind.
Curiosity is what comes out of the great vacuum of the mind.
It is what emerges when the brain goes into a standstill, switches
into neutral. Hum hum hum, hums the brain, edging closer and
closer into the Plant Kingdom. It hums slower and slower. Hum,
huum, huuum, hmmmm. And then comes instinct. Instinct says to
itself, Oh shit. The brain is becoming a vegetable. So it
fixes itself ruthlessly on whatever is readily at hand, be it
the Tripp Tapes,
Inane Quotes (yes, I have
submitted, so shush your mouth),
Great Art, or even,
yes, reading about the long and illustrious history of
The Princeton Campüs
Club on its small but equally illustrious homepage.
Hello. Hi there world. What the fuck am I doing. I have an exam
tomorrow. Thank you Andrew Szegedy-Maszak. Thank you for giving us
an exam on December 2nd. And thank you, God, for allowing me to
forget, until now, that I have to go up to fricking PRB and print out
Traffic Logs. Yeah my life. Yeah.
Speaking of my life, and speaking of online diaries, here is what
happens to me on an average Monday or Wednesday:
8.00am - Alarm goes off
8.02am - I reach the state of consciousness necessary for pressing the
snooze button, which is incidentally, on the off chance that there
was any confusion, the antepenultimate invention of the devil.
8.11am - Alarm goes off again.
8.20am - Alarm goes off again.
8.29am - Alarm goes off again.
8.38am - Alarm goes off again.
8.47am - I get up and check my email. Yeah Convoy. Yeah the illusion
8.53am - I go take a shower. I meet Tristan in the common room. His
hair is sticking straight up in the air. We grunt amiably in each
other's general direction.
9.10am - I come back, dripping wet, to find my alarm going off again.
(Sorry Jane.) I get dressed.
9.50am - I trek off to class, cigarette in one hand, Diet Coke in the
other. Nectar and Ambrosia are actually, technically, ancient
Mycaenean words meaning nicotine and caffeine.
10.00am - Mythology. Hi there Andrew Szegedy-Maszak. Hi there. Mmm.
I finish my Diet Coke by 10.50, when...
10.50am - I stop by Campüs on my way to Soc and pick up a glass of
Diet Coke. This makes me late. I walk down Prospect Street. I have
my second cigarette of the day.
11.04am - I arrive at Soc. I try to be unobtrusive, but unfortunately,
the professor is my preceptor. She knows who I am. C'est la vie.
11.50am - I like Viviana Zelizer because she lets us out on time.
11.55am - Lunch. Yeah lunch.
12.30am - Third cigarette, usually with Nick.
See. It's only noon and you're already bored. But you're reading,
aren't you. There's something gross about that. You don't even know
who Nick and Tristan are. Most likely, anyway. For all you know,
Tristan is my brother and Nick is my boyfriend. Maybe Tristan is
my boyfriend and Nick is my brother. Maybe the names Nick and Tristan
are only pseudonyms for someone else. Possibly they are the same person,
or each amalgamations of many others. "Nick" being the name assigned to
the collective with which I have my noon cigarette. All these little
innuendoes. And still my life which is of paramount importance to me
is of none at all to you. But you are reading. If you let your eyes
unfocus the screen turns to diagonal patterns of black and white. If
you let your eyes unfocus you will realize that it is the white which
stands out, the background and not the letters.
This is worth consideration.