Category Archives: Myopia

Contextual Messaging

Krank dowdnloads a clue.The New York Times ran a story called “The Then and Now of Memory” about research done by “scientists,” (which I gather to be the journalistic equivalent of “they” — as in the statement, “You know, Alfred, they say that if you rub a penny on a wart and forget about it for three days, it’ll clear your bursitis right up in a jiffy.”) The article describes human memory as a streaming video, which, I can only speak for myself, but what goes on in my upstairs does not resemble anything from a camcorder that anybody would ever watch on purpose. Just the same, the article tells me that “for the first time, scientists have recorded traces in the brain of that kind of contextual memory.” Now, do me a favor, while I wait, and click on that purple word “memory” and then come back here and let’s you and me talk.

Are you as confused as I am? I linked that word to the same 411 as the New York Times, which is an internal “overview” of what the hell are y’all talking about? A mental status test? Did that shed any light for you whatsoever on the article at hand or on what “they” mean by “contextual memory”? Is that kind of linking to something that looks like it might be relevant to something somebody once said in a dream to a Google spiderbot supposed to be helpful? No, sadly. I don’t think it’s really meant to be clicked. What hyperlinks are supposed to do is make the New York Times look authoritative. It is supposed to make the kind of “research” described in the article seem relevant and accessible.

My grandmother used to preface a lot of her stories with something like, “That must have been about the same time your daddy went and shot your momma…” and take off from there on a scenic tour of her own mental countryside. She was alone on that bus most of the time, just her and the Thorazine. The rest of us stood back and waved “Buh-bye, Gramma! Hope you recognize us when you get back!” Here lately, it seems more and more like I got my own ticket to ride, and with the New York Times for a travel guide, my driver’s liable to end up using a Google map generated from signals sent by electrodes attached to the brain of an epileptic patient. Since when, I might ask, is that “standard procedure in such cases?”


Like a Virgin with a Case of Gagaphilia

I must have a condition and don’t know what to call it, because–well, let’s just start with the side-effects of the medication to treat it and see if one of the pharmaceuticals can reverse-engineer me up something and convince a bunch of other people they need it, too. Just so the rich can get richer and me not feel so all alone.

Either skip over this part or read it real fast like they do:

sideeffectsmayincludecompulsiveleapingafterbandwagonshypercriticismhypo-criticismhyperventilationdecreasedtoleranceacrossabroadspectrumofalternatives inoneormoreofthefollowing:religiouspersuasionsexualorientationlifestylechoices definitionoffamilyvaluesstandardsofbeautyacceptablebehaviorandorintelligence excessiveblushingdecreasedperipheralvisionlongtermmemorylossaninabilityto proveBillO’Reillywrongdecreasedvocabularywarmongeringbleatingherdingde-creaseabilitytoseethecolorgrayreflexiveinvoluntaryandunconditionalpatriotism creationismhomeschoolinggatedcommunityhabitationandothermilderformsof

Here’s where I’m coming from and why I say they might ought to bury long-term memory loss in there as a side-effect, because it sounds like a bad thing. Right? Like ignorance is a side-effect of bliss. Only in reality, the side-effect, so-called, is the delivery mechanism of the cure for what ails you. Which is nothing other than the way things are. Or you believe deep-down they are. Which is not the same difference, except it might as well be, because just like between gravity and acceleration, common sense says there might actually be a difference, but try putting your finger on it.

You with me? Because don’t make me repeat myself.

I started off on a tangent, I know. It ain’t the first time and it won’t be the last. What I really want to talk about is three women. Starting with the one it is currently fashionable amongst people of a certain age bracket to despise.

If you guessed Lady Gaga, you are our grand prize winner today.

As I see it, Lady Gaga inspires one of two main things: blatant loathing or devotion. I don’t see many people on the fence about her. Reason being?

Hard to sit on barbwire.

Girls who grew up listening to contestant number two, Madonna, consider Gaga a knock-off. I will say this, she studied the playbook. That’s in Chapter One of the playbook. Study somebody else’s playbook before you go making up your own. The whole thing, I mean. Including Chapter Two, which is where most people give up or get it wrong, because Chapter Two is confusing. It starts off saying one thing and then switches it up on you. First it says, “Be your damn self.”

Since most of us do our reading on the subject of who to admire and emulate at something like, let’s just average it out and say thirteen, we think we know what “be yourself” means. It means everybody else. It’s pretty clear to me who you are, so it must be clear to you, too. Especially if you’re Madonna. She’s so clear-cut, it’s got to be easy to be her. So I’ll just do that. Or nowadays, because Madonna’s old and age makes you vague, I’ll be Lady Gaga.

Girls–yes, I’m talking to girls, but boys can chime in, too–girls get hung up on the second half of the chapter, which concludes the sentence, “Be your damn self,” this way: “by becoming someone else.”

That, in a nutshell–me being the nut, you might be inclined to say, but hear me out–is the formula for commercial success in the arts. And no, I am not sneering at commercial success in the arts. At least not until I get me some of it. But let me put the whole thing together, parts 1, 2 and 2a, 2b and 2c.

  1. Study somebody else’s playbook
  2. Be your damn self by adopting the persona of somebody else who a) is uber commercially successful and b) your audience is too young to remember, except c) as an icon of established and therefore irrelevant (to thirteen-year-olds) fame.

I’ll go ahead and give you part 3. Pretend that your real audience is adults. But that’s a sermon for another day.

Skip step one, though, and you don’t need the medication. You already have the side-effects. I’m going to say that again: Only a diligent historian knows how to behave according to her own true and original nature.

One more time. Repeat after me: Lady Gaga is an original.

She provokes damn near everybody one way or another, the way a sperm cell cleaves an egg, causing it to split, and split again, and go on splitting until the next new thing comes along and grows up too damn quick and probably starts having sex at too young an age all over again. By which time Lady Gaga will  have passed her prime in order to become an established cultural icon, having spawned a generation of brattling sheep imitators, one or two of whom will read the playbook and shock the moral pants off of the rest of you punks who will still be hung up on Lady Gaga in the year 2033.

Don’t blame me. I didn’t invent wrinkles. Much less the repetitive nature of history.

Take this back one more generation. Marilyn Monroe was every bit the quote-unquote slut in her day that Madonna was and Gaga is. And before her? I don’t know, Mae West? I don’t mean to imply that there can only be but one Whore of Babylon per generation, either, in a linear succession like Lady Di and the Queen of England and God save that Kate girl that married William.

All I’m saying is to know your history in order to get a handle on three things:

  • your own culture (which these days is porous as all hell)
  • how to keep it going
  • your role in it

Yes, your role, and that rhymes with soul, and that’s who you are behind the mask of what you do, and when I say rhymes, I mean aligns, not is.

Know the difference.

Shock and conquer.

Divide by awe.

That’s my sermon today. Next time up, I’ll get back to Jeannie Iverson. I got more to tell you about that girl.

Oh. One thing else. That condition I mentioned. That disorder. I’m thinking it might be a form of moral dyslexia, but if you got a better name for it, keep in mind that I do have the power to moderate your comments.

I’m just fucking with you. Go on ahead.

I’ll have the shepherd’s pie, please. Make mine to go.

Somebody asked me in an email, and I’m talking one of them chain mail kind that goes around every so often like a flu epidemic, so when I say somebody, God only knows, but that’s besides the point. Somebody asked me to try and remember the names of the ten richest people in the world.

I said, “Shit!”

I ain’t what they call a good test subject. I signed up for one of them Get Rich Taking Surveys At Home things and it felt like I was back in third grade again. “Just shut up and answer the damn question, Vanessa, or else go sit in the hall! Can you say ADHD?”

Right. Like they even knew how to spell ADHD when I was a kid. That’s what you call creative license on my part. My middle name is Ana, btw. That’s short for anachronism. BTW is short for Butt the Fuck out of my World, if you don’t like my big words. And anachronistic is just another way of saying my memory ain’t what it used to be and so I make shit up. That’s called fiction, in case you’re lacking a clue.

Where the fuck was I?

Oh. So I flunked out of get rich quick school, and this email begin to look like another one of them, except there wasn’t anyplace to put your credit card number, so I went on ahead and answered what I could. Top ten richest people in the world.

I put down Donald Trump, of course, and that’s as far as I got.

Next, they wanted to know the top ten quarterbacks to win the World Series, and all I know is Tom Brady, Tom Brady, Tom Brady. I used to live up there in Massachusetts, in case you didn’t know. I come back home, though, like a bad penny. Oh, and Peyton Manning. He’s the other one.

It went on like that. Top ten Oscars for Best Actor and what all. I said what about if I sent out my own goddamn test with questions that a person can fucking answer? Computer just looked at me like, Don’t be retarded, Vanessa. So I scrolled down to find out about how the world is supposed to end if I didn’t forward it to my top ten best enemies, and what caught my eye was the last question. It said, name ten people who have changed the course of your life.

I said, one, my dad, because he up and took off before I was born and didn’t get the chance to fuck me up as totally as he did my mom.

And two, her, because she died and left me to number three.

My grandma, for wandering off down in the canyon and slicing her wrists in the middle of a hailstorm.

I won’t say my half-sister, Sheila, because it wasn’t entirely her fault, except for marrying that son of a bitch that raped me, or tried to. So Leon, I hope you got plenty of marshmallows where you’re going.

And Patterson Price. What are we up to, five? Talk about changing the course of a girl’s life! That’s how I come to move up there to New England, because he convinced me I just had to run away with him and get knocked up and then everything else in life would magically work itself out, like how to keep his daddy from finding out about me and minor details like that.

So six. Whoever that was that Daddy Price hired to steal my baby, because if I ever see her face again, you can bet your ass, the course of my life will change all over afuckingain. I’ve been locked up before, and I would gladly take what comes.

What? Did you think this was supposed to be uplifting? Like I was going to end up with, last but not least, Jesus Christ for dying on the cross? Because let me tell you something. Nobody. But nobody. Ever done me a favor by dying.

I mean, consider the number of people been put to death and then they said, “Ooops!” All DNA means is Don’t Nobody Answer for it, anyway. Dead is dead, and each and every one of them died for somebody else’s sins. I ain’t seen a single church built and named after one of them. Never mind an entire religion. And what about the ones that got off? You and I both know the majority of them ain’t signed up yet for Rapists and Murderers Anonymous and got their hearts right with God just because somebody else got zapped on their behalf. Seriously?

If you asked me, human sacrifice ain’t exactly worked out the way it was supposed to, but Christianity sure-God is the best system anyone ever devised for the promulgation of evil. But hold your horses for just one minute, because I see where they are now cloning sheep with fifteen percent human genes for the purpose of organ harvesting, and I’ve got an idea for you.

Why not scramble up a team of geniuses to figure out which fifty-plus percent of the human genome is responsible for things like Hitler and Son of Sam and Jim Jones and my brother-in-law and splice that shit up with Mary Had a Little Lamb?

Then we can get clear about whether we’re living in Old Testament times or New.

Thank you very much, btw.

That was very theragoddamnpeutic!

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