Friday, November 19, 2010

The Useful Person

"Did you enjoy the trip to Brisbane?"

"It was good. The high point was when we were sitting in the waiting area for the CT scan thingy at the hospital and the old man was filling out the form and he asked me what the date was. And it was funny he asked me that because when he's at home he asks me what day it is every single day. Sometimes several times a day. In spite of the fact that the newspaper is always right there in front of him face up with the date prominent, he never bothers looking. Instead he asks me what day it is and I always lean across and say, 'The newspaper's here. What does it say?' And I point at the date and say, 'Oh look it's Thursday.' And he always says, 'Oh right,' and there we are, another conversation dealt with.

"So we're in the reception area in the hospital and he's there filling out his form and he asks me the date. The day is one thing and the date is another - I never know what the date is. So I ask the receptionist and she tells us and he writes it down. And it was good that that happened because otherwise the 12 hours I spent in the ambulance and standing around at the hospital would have been a complete waste of time with me as the most superfluous man in the world. As it was it was a good thing I was there since I saved him having to ask the receptionist himself.

"And not only that, what was really brilliant was how it cast my whole life into stark relief. What with all those hours sitting in the ambulance staring out the window (with barely five words of conversation during the whole trip) I came up with a one-page Robert Crumb cartoon that describes my life.

"It involves a man at an information window (that would be me) and on the glass it says 'Ask me what day it is'. And above the glass is a huge LED sign, it's like 2m across in bright red and it has the day and date on it - Thursday 18th November 2010. And anyway, I'm standing at the window and an old man comes up and says, 'What day is it?' and I point up at the big LED sign and say, 'If you look just above your head there, there's a big sign with the day and date on it and it says that today is Thursday.' 'Thanks very much,' says the man and shuffles off. And the next day he comes back and asks me what day it is and I point up at the sign, 'If you look just above your head...' etc. etc. And we repeat that over and over until the page is full and then in the last panel someone comes along and says, 'You're doing a great job. The old man is very lucky to have you.' "


nobody said...

No real need to comment boys and girls. Lately all manner of idiocies have been coming thick and fast and each distracting me no end. Here I couldn't help myself and self-indulgently wrote one of the distractions down. Feel free to think nothing of it.

BTW For those who are curious, the chap in the information booth is Vincent Cassel, once described as 'exactly that kind of cinematic French ugly', and otherwise my spooky doppelganger. When they make a movie of my life either he gets the part or the whole deal is off. In the meantime I rudely help myself to his image whenever I need a picture of me.

Anonymous said...

Back to square one on the gulf it appears.

It can't be fixed and the sea floor is irreparably damaged. Fresh oil still coming ashore. No gulf stream and water in the north atlantic is 10 degrees cooler. Welcome to the new ice age.

Otherwise how was your day?

Shrimper: They are killing everybody real slow.

kikz said...



Penny said...

One word:


Anonymous said...


I know, sometimes cognitive harmony can be a real pisser.

Edo said...

My friend cared for her elderly demented mother in her final days (or I should say years, such was her good care) who remarked on how the role reversal had changed from having been cared for by her mum, to being her mum's carer.
When I told my own mum of my friends' heroic efforts, she told me in no uncertain terms that I was NOT to do that should she go in the same way.
"just put me in a home"
My response, "OK".

That's not to say I would, but I acknowledged her request, and understood the reasons.

su said...

coming over with a pillow.
make of that what you will.
all is good.

P2P said...

by writing beautifully about difficult periods in life one gives them value in the present, future, and possibly forever.

slozo said...

Actually, Nobody, you could have answered differently . . .

"Today is Latvian Independence Day".

This would have invited some interesting conversation on the tiny, oft troubled republic on the Baltic Sea, and its storied history, of which most people know jack shit (which is why it would be interesting). You could talk about how they became independent, got invaded by the Russians BEFORE the Germans ever came close to them . . . talk about how brutal and murderous the Russkies were to them. Then talk about how the
Letts welcomed the Nazis at the time as liberators, and how they actually had a lot of jews in Latvia - many persecuted, a few in high places getting people killed.

And then when the war was about finished (WWII), the Russians came back and almost everyone knew that it was going to be the last chance to leave. Most realised that half of them were going to get sent to the gulag or killed (basically same thing), or have to spend the rest of your life under soul-crushing and perhaps fatal soviet rule.

So they all retreated to DP camps (displaced persons camps) in Germany with the retreating Nazis, and many got strafed by american bombers during that retreat because no one in war discriminated between soldiers and civilians then (as now for the most part). After a couple of years, many got to emigrate as refugees to England, to Canada and the USA.

But they all still celebrate Nov 18 as Independence Day, and celebrate that tiny country's valiant fight to self-determination outside of both German and Russian rule.

Well, anyways, that was one different way you could have handled the "what day is it?" question.

Maybe next time . . .


Dave Q. said...

Hey Nobody,

Funny you mention Crumb, as a friend and I have been revisiting his materials after decades away from them. We devoured everything he came out with, back in the day.

You are even more eclectic a person than I thought, given your reference to his work.

Anywayz, cheers to ya.


reenie said...

my life in a nut shell


love you nobody

nobody said...

Gosh what dreadful people frequent this blog. I say no need for comments and everyone comments.

Otherwise what lovely people drop in here. Too kind by half.

That being said, thanks Mick. That reading was shocking. You sure know how to bring a fellah back to earth. Between the micro and the macro is there anything that isn't fucked?


I don't know, I just seem incapable of keeping up now. Back when it was all new to me every new thing seemed to be possessed of tremendous import. Now my attitude is, 'sure of course'. Each new atrocity brings no new enlightenment, or surprise, or anything.

The Buddha would say: Of course, it's always been this way. So if I arrive at an understanding of that perhaps that's the best one can hope for? Hmm, where does such a line of thinking lead? Wherever it is I'm not going to follow it because I have a feeling that its end point involves me disappearing up my own arse.

And then there's P2P's idea which is very nice.

Hmm... here's a question (that may not be in anyone else's head but it's in mine): Do zen Buddhists make art? What is it?


Oh... how long was I away for? A couple of hours? Anyway, my desktop is full of things to read on the topic of zen and art. What I found is enough to humble a fellow. Or to make him think that studying a thing for years is bullshit. Especially when you're already in your late forties and with no money and no prospects. Fuck it, why can't I skive off to the bush, make art (somehow) and be instantly celebrated, paid large sums of money, and flown round the world, put up in great hotels, and given free dinners?

Oh wait, have I departed from Obi Wan Kenobi somewhat? Have I stopped making sense? Perhaps I should just stop. Thank God the library is about to close. Ciao ciao.

Anonymous said...


With regard to “What day is it?” you could always try the John Cleese approach of “I’ve already told you once” but being a forgetful type the joke would probably be lost on him. Or you could try “What day do you think it is?” and if he says he doesn’t know then say “Well then it doesn’t really matter does it?”
No, not very nice is it and all the old bugger wants is someone to talk to. I’ll tell you, he mightn’t know what day it is but I will bet he remembers scrumping apples as a kid or hitching a ride through town hanging on the tailgate of a lorry; did he have roller skates or a bike and where did he go? Why not ask him about such things; it would save an embarrassing 12 hours of silence in an ambulance. I guess we have all seen those who visit sick relatives in hospital and after two minutes they sit beside the bed with a bowed head and wait for the time bell to ring so they can get to hell out. Then there are those who can prattle on for hours to the unconscious. The human condition can be very strange. As for the question in hand, I think Slozo has it sewn up.

Teenagers are full of wonder and excitement at learning about life, then they grow up and become like the rest of us with sensation block.

I have heard art defined as anything you can sell. With that in mind why not make a few crude Abo clay pots or dorbed paintings and flog them to the unsuspecting tourists, it could be a new direction for you swt. I am sure you have heard the story about the two Zen Buddhists arguing over whether the flag on top of the monastery was flapping or whether it was the wind that was flapping. The Zen master was asked to decide and he answered that neither of them were right because it was their mind that was flapping. So there you have the voice of authority mate, I thought that reality was only for those who could not cope with drugs but apparently reality is an illusion. There is no Zionism; no evil empire; no cabal to take over the world just neurons firing away. Does that give you comfort? I think I have just taken you to the dark place you didn’t want to go. No don’t thank me, it isn’t necessary at all.

P2P said...

nobody, please do tell what you find about zen art, for even though I major in aesthetics I have no idea! the question never occurred to me either - and funnily, I've been studying buddhist psychology for some time now, so why not tie my two fields together through some eastern wisdom.

slozo, I recommend a book purge by a highly celebrated finnish author sofi oksanen. some info in here

A. Peasant said...

oh nobs. xo.

su said...

not for publication nobody......

something that i have been pondering over and wondering why there has been so little discussion on the following deaths

veriword - i kid you not is biopedu

su said...

yet another one "suicided".

Unknown said...

The moment evolution gave us the largest cranial compacity, we were doomed. its our brains that hinder our advancement, as if our existance couldn't get any more paridoxical. self-actualization people, its what seperates us from the rest. whollistically though, when we are all dead an gone, along with our ideals and ethics; some will have power and some will have none. Sysiphus knows the boulder will always be there, do we..

nobody said...

Thanks Jake, and you're entirely in the right of it of course.

Hmm... what happened at the end of Monkey (aka Journey to the West)? What with the nature of monkey being irrepressible, did he ever succeed?

Perhaps it doesn't matter if one succeeds or not? After all 'The Journey to the West' wasn't called 'The Arrival at the West'. Perhaps the rule is 'Whatever it is you're doing there's no point bitching'. Something I'd do well to pay attention to.