|A Cut-up Life By Patrick McDermid||[PREVIOUS PAGE] [NEXT PAGE] [Texts Index]|
All these diverse "personality samples" share an element of
commonality: We are drawn together by our patterns of addiction. Personal
differences are laid to rest (at least temporarily) through the offering up of
substances to be abused: For example, this afternoon when Blurry unexpectedly
produces a baggy of psychedelic mushrooms, Grimm becomes at least tolerant of
Blurry's eccentricities, if not downright friendly.
Blurry makes an elaborate ceremony of brewing the mushrooms on the
stove and telling the tale of how he managed to procure this particular batch of
mind-altering fungi. He says he picked them from a farmer's field out by the
airport yesterday afternoon. Some cops were apparently eyeballing him from the
road and deliberating whether or not to cause a fuss. It's a sticky situation
with the 'shrooms in Vancouver. On the one hand the Authorities want to do their
part in the War on Drugs, but Mother Nature is being very unsympathetic to their
cause: The 'shrooms proliferate even on suburban families' lawns.
Finally Blurry serves up the mushroom tea. It's more like a soup, with big
chunks of gritty mushrooms floating around. Everybody partakes to some degree:
Grimm, Don, and I drink a couple of cups each, while Ronald and Michael, who both
more or less shun the use of psychedelics, have only a few sips.
We sit around and wait for the `psibes to take hold. We dither
around with the typewriter a bit, typing out a few lines each. Reading over the
page I detect the first signs that the collective Mind is mutating:
The evening wears on, and pretty soon I am developing a thirst. "It might be nice to have a little something to drink." I say. Moments later everyone is scrounging through their pockets for loose change, fishing out quarters and the odd crumpled one or two dollar bill, until finally we have pooled eight bucks or so, enough for two litres of wine (extra crude quality).
Since it was my idea to get some wine in the first place, I volunteer to hike to
the liquor store, which is within about half an hours' walking distance from the
Space. Don says he will come with me. In a strange flurry of exaggerated
movements we hastily put our coats on and march out the door,
driven by a sense of purpose into the mysteries of Outer Space.
The downtown streets are swept by a cool winter breeze. I feel
a mild buzzing in the back of my head as we start down the darkened streets
"I'm beginning to feel an overwhelming sense of well-being." Says Don.
"Yeah, me too. Obviously only artificial though."
"What's the difference between a real sense of well being and an artificially induced one?" asks Don.
Time collapses and we are suddenly walking through the streets
of Chinatown. On either side of us there are rows of crates containing
vegetables, seaweeds, dried fish, and large black eggs which appear to have been
buried since the dinosaur age. Roast ducks hang from hooks behind steamed glass
display windows, dripping brown juice. Fragments of Chinese phrases leap out at
us from clusters of evening shoppers.
Onwards through the mingling crowds... The scene changes now to Skid Row, where puffy-eyed natives stagger from bar to bar. We are assaulted by flickering neon signs on the store fronts of pawnbrokers, saloons and cheap motels. We can see into the interiors of decrepit cafes where bums are seated in ordered wooden booths staring blankly over their coffee cups.
Slowly the street scene begins to transform again and soon we are in Money World, the thriving economic centre of the city. Now the passers-by are clad in leather and furs, expensive perfumes waft in the wake of their passing. Trendoids strike fashion magazine poses as they stand waiting in line-ups outside of restaurants.
I am wholly absorbed in the clarity of this Vision. The street has become a vivid studio sound stage where everything is more emphasized, larger than life. Every mundane perception vibrates with Cosmic Meaning. As we approach the liquor store, we are intercepted by a group of bums looking for spare change.
"Back off. We barely got enough to buy a bottle for ourselves right now." says Don, tension in his voice.The disgruntled beggars move to let us by. Except one. And this guy is truly in Outer Space. He's a ranter, possibly into the delirium stage of alcohol withdrawal. In my abnormally receptive state of consciousness, I have no choice but to stop and listen to what he is saying:
"...And Castro is no fool." says the bum, staring directly into my eyes, "He has a Masters degree in Political Science. And he stood there in front of the twenty thousand troops, of which I was one. And he was talking about Stalin. And he says to us: `Stalin looked at the ceiling, and said to Illusion: `PORQUOI?'"
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