Writing Prompt

At other times I find pages that I not only don’t remember having written, which in itself doesn’t astonish me, but that I don’t even remember having been capable of writing, which terrifies me.
—-Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

Newspaper taped to a window, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

Women Trampled as 26 Manhole Covers Burst

Shoppers Flee Terror-Stricken as Sky is Alight With Flame; Windows Shattered for Blocks

Hubert hated being the intern. Of course, he would be the one that the editor ordered back to the scene of the explosion, after all the excitement had died down, “Get the Hell back there and you count every one of those manholes!” the editor screamed, turning a deep shade of beet red. “I want to know if it was five or five hundred…. and be exact! And no Goddamn Lollygaggin’!”

Everyone in the newroom laughed at Hubert as he hung his head and slumped toward the door.

“Be sure and count them exact! Har! Har!” smirked Simpson from his typewriter. Hubert ignored him but glanced at the copy as he trudged by, “Injured, cut, and bloodstained…” was all he had typed.

What a crappy day – they would all be writing lurid copy while he was out counting manholes… getting them exact.

———–

“Seventeen, eighteen, nineteen….” Hubert counted as he walked along the street. He carried a small notepad and a pencil that he had pulled down from his hat, labelled “Daily Digest” after the paper he interned for.

“Hey, you! Are you a newspaperman?”

The loud, sharp, and unexpected voice broke his concentration, but he was able to scribble down a quick “19” before he forgot and had to start over.

“Not exactly,” Hubert started to reply, “I’m an inter….” Then he looked up to see what he was sure was the most beautiful woman he had seen in his life striding toward him. “Ummm, I’m the head reporter for the Daily Digest,” tapping his hat, “I’m down here to find out what happened today.”

(and at this point I had to go, maybe I’ll write more later)

Phosphorescent Squid

“The soft black talc blew through the streets like squid ink uncoiling along a sea floor and the cold crept down and the dark came early and the scavengers passing down the steep canyons with their torches trod silky holes in the drifted ash that closed behind them silently as eyes.”
—- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Dallas Zoo

There were some rare phosphorescent squid on display at the Dallas Zoo in the tunnel under the DART rail tracks. The poor creatures were hung on racks, strung up with monofilament fishline and flimsy hollow plastic poles. Their huge eyes, used to the inky blackness of the Stygian depths, stared featureless out at the crowd… at the children who screamed and taunted them.

“I WANT one Daddy!” they yelled. Apparently, desperate for funds in this day of official austerity, the zoo is actually hawking these fellows, to raise a needed buck or two.

The brats danced their frenzied waltz of greed in a rough circle around the squid while their procreators stood, horrified, trying to defend their wallets. I could bear no more of this scene and walked on to view some pachyderms.

Later in the day, as I was leaving, I spotted a limp, disconsolate squid being shoved into an open trunk door. It phosphorescent glow all but extinguished doomed to a long uncomfortable trip and a short demeaning captive life after.

I saluted the poor, hopeless beast and turned to board my train.

Crash

A car crash harnesses elements of eroticism, aggression, desire, speed, drama, kinesthetic factors, the stylizing of motion, consumer goods, status — all these in one event. I myself see the car crash as a tremendous sexual event really: a liberation of human and machine libido (if there is such a thing).
—-J. G. Ballard

Deep Ellum, Texas

I saw something very strange on the drive in to work today. To see something, anything, different along the route I drive every morning, have for well over three thousand times now, is strange in and of itself… to see something strange is double strange.

First, I remember moving to Texas. Like anyplace that is of itself, Texas has a few things to get used to – two driving things, for example.

First, people park facing the wrong way on residential streets all the time. Anywhere else – this will get you towed immediately… in Texas, it makes no difference – half the cars are on the left hand side.

Second, people run lights. I remember moving here, hitting a yellow and going, thinking to myself, “Wow, that was close, probably should have stopped.” Then I would look in my mirror and a half dozen cars would be running through after me.

The other side is when that light turns green, don’t jump out right away, wait for everyone to come to a stop.

At any rate, I was on my way to work (had some equipment to haul and was driving instead of riding my bike) and waiting at a long, busy red light… you know the one, the one at Grove and Centennial , with the McDonald’s and the Chilly Mart across from me. The light turned red as I arrived, so I was the first one in the ever-growing line, waiting for the light to change.

The cross light went from red to yellow to green and I looked up to make sure the traffic was stopped. A small black car was approaching on my left with a huge dumptruck behind. I assumed both would run through, so I waited. To my surprise, the small car braked hard and stopped at the light – I think there was a little brake squeal.

The truck behind didn’t expect him to stop, and plowed right into the rear of the car. It had one of those huge steel bumpers, set high, and completely smashed in the trunk of the car. There was that POP-Bang-Crunch of metal rending in a crash. The impact pushed the little car through the intersection like a pebble from a slingshot. As it passed in front of me, I thought, “Good, it is past the intersection, I can drive through, I won’t be late for work.”

Then came the strange part.

The car never stopped. It just kept on driving. Because I was first in line I could see around the bend to the right for quite a distance, maybe half a mile, and the car didn’t slow down – it simply sped away. I guess the high bumper on the truck smashed in the trunk without damaging the wheels or anything important, as far as moving goes.
The car disappeared around the curve and I turned back to see the truck – it didn’t have a scratch. That huge slab of rusty steel bumper looked indestructible. There was a surprisingly small amount of debris in the intersection… my light was green… I couldn’t think of any reason not to… so I drove through and went to work.

So why did the car drive away like that? The accident was 100% the fault of the truck and it was a commercial vehicle – basically, insurance would buy the guy a new car.

I can only think of a few possibilities.

One, the car was stolen… but I don’t think that would happen at that hour of the morning.

The most probable reason was the driver had warrants and didn’t want to deal with the cops.

Or maybe the driver was a complete idiot and didn’t realize the rear of his car was smashed in like that (doesn’t make sense, I know).

All in all, a pretty strange thing to watch on a morning commute.

The Effort of the Frogs

We may know that the work we continue to put off doing will be bad. Worse, however, is the work we never do. A work that’s finished is at least finished. It may be poor, but it exists, like the miserable plant in the lone flowerpot of my neighbour who’s crippled. That plant is her happiness, and sometimes it’s even mine. What I write, bad as it is, may provide some hurt or sad soul a few moments of distraction from something worse. That’s enough for me, or it isn’t enough, but it serves some purpose, and so it is with all of life.
—-Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

Frog Fountain, Dallas Arboretum

Day after day, the frogs threw out the water, tirelessly. Mostly for the amusement of children on hot summer days, the water still flowed on overcast afternoons when nobody was there to see it. Only on the rare forecast of freezing did the caretaker turn the brass valve that stopped the arching torrent. On those days, the frogs rested.

Trypophobia

Whenever we feel fear, it means we’re up against some kind of wall … on the other side of the wall is some kind of freedom.
—-Leo Babauta, A Guide to Fear Mastery

Lotus seed head, The Buddhist Center of Dallas – Watdallas

Does this photograph make you uneasy? Does your skin crawl?

Lookout, you might have Trypophobia… the mysterious “fear of holes”

I first heard of Trypophobia talking to a sculptor that I like and how the small holes in his work sometimes set off fear and revulsion in his wife. He even had a little monster head in a box named “Trypophobia.”

Of course, I had to do some web-searching and research. I discovered that the whole “fear of holes” thing is a product of the internet – a mental disease spread (and maybe caused) by people sharing images that made them uneasy. Sure enough, the more I looked at these things, the more uneasy I felt looking at them. I was acquiring my own fear of holes.

Luckily, I stopped looking and the unease went away.

There is some thought that Trypophobia is different than other phobias. The idea is that there is a natural reason behind the fear, that our ancestors had reasons to avoid animals that appeared this way — clusters of holes may cause fear because they share visual cues with animals or objects that humans learned to avoid as a matter of survival.

Is this true? Is Batman a Transvestite? Who knows.

It’s still sort of interesting, though.

from
Are You Afraid of Holes
Scientific American
By William Skaggs on March 1, 2014

In the early 2000s many Internet users bonded over their common aversion to pictures that showed clustered arrays of small holes, such as a beehive or even the popped bubbles on the uncooked top of a pancake. For almost a decade “trypophobia,” literally “fear of holes,” was nothing more than an Internet phenomenon, but finally researchers have found evidence of its validity and investigated its possible cause.

The story begins with the growth of online image sharing; soon many people realized they shared a revulsion that could reach the level of nausea to photographs of clusters of holes. The term “trypophobia” appears to have been coined by an unidentified Irish woman in a post on a Web forum in 2005. The idea went viral: self-identified trypophobics formed a Facebook group, created an eponymous Internet domain and posted informational YouTube videos. A Wikipedia article was repeatedly created and repeatedly deleted for lack of reliable sources.

Four years ago two psychologists at the University of Essex in England, Geoff Cole and Arnold Wilkins, decided to research the phenomenon. They showed a picture of a lotus seed head—anecdotally a potent trigger of the phobia—to 286 adults aged 18 to 55 years old. Eleven percent of men and 18 percent of women described the seed head as “uncomfortable or even repulsive to look at,” indicating a level of revulsion on par with phobia.

Cole and Wilkins theorized that the visual structure of the image causes at least part of the unease. They analyzed a set of aversion-inducing photographs and images of holes that did not trigger trypophobia and found that most of the disagreeable pictures shared an underlying mathematical structure that incorporates small, high-contrast features such as dots or stripes. This spectral pattern is seen in the skin coloration of many species of dangerous or poisonous animals; past studies have found that most people find this pattern uncomfortable to look at. Indeed, a variety of images taken from the Web site trypophobia.com produced discomfort in a group of 20 people who did not have the full-blown phobia.

Our Own Concept

“We never love anyone. What we love is the idea we have of someone. It’s our own concept—our own selves—that we love.”
—- Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

Dallas Arboretum

John (thinking to himself) There is nothing to take a picture of around here, especially with this camera. I can’t believe she gave me this thing, it’s got a crop sensor, every pro I’ve read about uses a full frame. And it’s red! What real photographer uses a red camera? Black is so much more professional. All these flowers? Might as well be a tourist with an old IPhone. All those awful colors. A real photographer wants dark and gritty. That’s what’s cool now.

I can’t believe how much it cost to park at this place. We could have stayed home and watched house flipping shows. The weather is so bad, overcast and cold. Who wants to be outside on a terrible day like this.

Jane (thinking to herself) He hasn’t looked at me all day, really looked. I gave him that camera, worked overtime for months to save enough for it. You’d think he’d take a picture of me. I’m wearing my Uggs – he loves it when I wear my Uggs… at least when I wear only my Uggs. Maybe that’s it. And my red scarf, the one that my aunt knitted for me. Wouldn’t it go well with the colorful flowers?

The flowers are so beautiful, especially all the tulips. They remind me of home.

I had hoped this would be a special trip. All he wants to do is to watch other people fix up houses on the television. And the weather is so beautiful, no burning Texas sun and it’s nice and cool. Who can resist a day like today?

Gears

“How in the hell could a man enjoy being awakened at 8:30 a.m. by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress, force-feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair, and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so? ”
—-Charles Bukowski, Factotum

Detail of Barbecue Trailer, Braindead Brewing, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Tx
(click to enlarge)

I was having a nightmare. It wasn’t a horrible nightmare – it wasn’t like I was battling with a giant Adenoid that was devouring London or anything like that – it was a simple nightmare of hopeless frustration, defeat and failure. To my horror, I sudden realized that it wasn’t a nightmare after all – that I had woken up hours before and was simply out and going through my normal day.