Wednesday, November 08, 2006

... books, film, and a disturbing thought

"as i was travelling to st ives..."

actually, i wasn't. i was travelling home, my seventy-odd minute commute from work suburb to home suburb. i changed trains more than i needed to, and one of my change point was at town hall. i was waiting for my connecting train (due in about ten minute) and i saw a woman reading mona lisa overdrive (by william gibson) in the exact same edition as i have. gibson's novels were one of the reasons i wanted to become a writer; they encouraged my experiments in role-playing games; they were a complete world of escape - they are a complete world of escape. a future (in the cyberspace novels and short stories, at least) extrapolated from a past that didn't quite happen, where the usa had kind of ceased to exist and the soviet bloc had managed to survive the cold war. (gibson ruminates on this in an introduction to an anniversary edition of neuromancer.) i love seeing people read gibson's work, and mona lisa overdrive was a great way to end the cyberspace trilogy. go check him out for yourself.

as i was nearing my destination, a woman sitting across the vestibule from me was reading a book by ann patchett called truth and beauty. it seemed an interesting enough title to me, although what actually caught my attention was a brief smile as our eyes met when i was looking around the train. in sydney, i've noticed, not many people are willing to lock eyes with strangers much less start conversations with them - melbourne's seeming friendliness from my point of view stems in large part from a very positive experience of this kind of thing during my stays in melbourne.

stopping off at a couple of friends' house on my way home, i borrowed one of the books on the bookshelf there: prozac nation. i finally finished dan brown's digital fortress today, and read deception point last week. neither of them filled me with much excitement and to be honest i found them to be a bit east to guess what was going to happen. matthew reilly without the excitement.

i watched a movie tonight called mozart and the whale. the characters are mostly people with a variety of mental illnesses and disorders, and the leads (played very well by radha mitchell and josh hartnett) both have asperger's syndrome. i found myself sympathising with the characters a little too much for comfort.

it made me revisit a recurring... nightmare (?daymare?) where i find that everything i think i know is true turns out to be a hallucination. the kind of solipsistic dystopia the philip k. dick wrote so compellingly, where i wake up on day and find out that all the people i know don't know me at all, have never met me, call and have me arrested. all the phone numbers i have in my phone are disconnected, all the addresses wrong, all the photographs someone else's. a more horrific version of this is that i don't know that i'm crazy; like someone with the kind of aphasia (a kind of brain trauma, i think) that sees them speak volubly, not realising that between their brain forming the words and their mouth speaking them a disconnect has occurred and they have become completely unintelligible to anyone listening to them, i don't know that i'm not intereacting correctly with the world - like the tarot deck's fool, walking along the cliff's edge, utterly insouciant or unknowing of the danger nearby...


At November 08, 2006 12:53 pm , Blogger Julie said...

Doesn't your awareness that you might be crazy mean that you're not?

At November 08, 2006 1:53 pm , Anonymous swellen said...

Is it that people in Sydney don't make eye contact, or women don't make eye contact? Generally, we women are a little fearful that a friendly nod will end in some unfriendly harrassment; and the fact that a person looks safe is no guarantee that they're not a nutter. It's a sad state of affairs... my advice is, continue to smile and nod, because there needs to be more of that... but keep your hands in full view at all times and don't sit down next to a woman who's sitting alone unless there are no other seats left.

At November 08, 2006 8:22 pm , Anonymous sylv said...

I agree with Swellen. Meanwhile, I'm also awaiting the full work of your nightmare. It'd make for great reading.

At November 08, 2006 9:41 pm , Blogger dr maya vale said...

fwiw, i didn't actually smile or nod, i was just doing the look-around-the-train thing that you do when you're not actually reading anything. i think it's people in general.

At November 08, 2006 10:54 pm , Anonymous swellen said...

Ah, well, I can't comment on whether it's everyone or whether Melbournians are friendlier, since I'm living in Melbourne but from Sydney AND I'm a woman... I don't make eye contact with anyone! ;)


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