More brain squirming fiction by John Owen.
According to DSM-IV’s diagnostic criteria for a spiritual emergency, a delusion is a “false personal belief based on incorrect inference about external reality and firmly sustained despite what everyone else believes…or evidence to the contrary.”
Recently Lane felt the need to let himself relax more. He’d been really stressed lately with all the pressures on the Dreyfuss account, and frankly he’d begun to spend too much time dwelling on how little of his old personality was left. Lane was pretty well set for the year financially so he could afford to be spontaneous, but could he remember how? His friends, reveling in their certainty that they knew what was best for him, insisted he take some time off, escape the city, break his routine, maybe even have a fling. Did they detect something?
So Lane allowed himself to become a little random. He stopped shaving and by the third day had broken his own eleven year record for beard growth. He practiced his Johnny Depp stubble smirks in the mirror. As he watched himself it occurred to him that he wasn’t merely impersonating Depp but expressing an attitude he himself had and had quashed thousands of times on the job. He stared at his mouth, thought it beautiful and whispered, “I can outsmirk you, punk.” Lane imagines Depp having the same thought whenever assaulted by the paparazzi and notes that comparing himself to the star pleases him.
You know how it is… somehow the little day to day distractions and procrastinations, somehow they all clump together and start to weigh you down? Lane was devoting more and more thought to the idea that the only true vacation was a moral one, a quest towards enlightenment without the snazzy ego enhancers. ‘They were only souvenirs you used to display yourself to your social circle anyway.’
He researched the smaller luxuries first. Not flossing, not recycling, not watching fat intake. He saw a pair of absolutely hideous polyester maroon plaid bell bottoms in the E.V. one day and bought them in 12 seconds flat, grinning all the way back to his apartment. ‘Never wore ‘em once but that’s fine, that’s not the point… Allowing one’s self to become open, to not resist the onslaught of constant distraction, indeed to embody that very chaos…’ Lane’s diatribes had become tedious save for one technicality: nobody actually ever heard them for Lane now talked only to himself - 24 hours a day.
More ideas were really entering Lane’s head these days. There weren’t enough hours in the day for keeping the systematic journals of his thoughts, sketches, dreams, and of course the lists. A guilty pleasure was The Shitlist: a collection of
Men Who Need To Be Hurt & Why
Bruce Willis that Smirk
Andy Rooney that Whine
Ron Jeremy that Swine!
Clarence Thomas Liar
Pauly Shore Weasel
Regis Philbin Perkiness!
Phil Collins Cloying
Gilbert Gottfried Annoying
Michael Medved Obsequious Wimp
Rush Limbaugh ‘Buffoon-slash-Blimp’
Cutting little pictures out of magazines, continuously taping PBS and CNN shows, labeling and filing the little pictures and cases of tapes are tedious, time consuming affairs. They consumed the bulk of his day and since Lane was easily bored, he soon fell way behind in his cataloguing. How could that compare to the spontaneity of sitting down at the Mac and dashing off an essay comparing the intertwining helical parabolas of the soaring guitar solos of some band on Sub Pop to seasonal rainfall statistics in the Portland, Seattle, Puget Sound area spiced up with sensational case histories of despondent teenager Prozac nightmares?
Lane had discovered one of life’s karmic ironies: SELFISHNESS IS MORAL. The ticket for that swinging singles cruise his friends had pitched in for resurfaced one day; its window of validity had lapsed four months ago. Lane thought, ‘That was when I was Depp,’ and sauntered over to the Big Board. On his living room wall he’d mounted a 6 by 8 foot piece of white plexi, basically a timeline of the events in Lane’s life since he’d begun to take time off. Since Lane had actually done very little (those friends who bought the ticket had long since ceased to call) it was more a diary of his attitudes, obsessions, pet hates, etc., divided into periods Lane cleverly named with song titles from his favorite CD’s. Lane entered ‘Tkt Fnd’ on the board in grease pencil, then slouched on the sofa and checked the ticket’s price: $2,168. That afternoon Lane wrote an essay to his friends (exactly 2168 words: he used Word Count… under Tools) as to how much more valuable his current research was than any vacation. Upon completion he felt he’d more than validated their friendship. He then entered the essay’s title, Friendship: A Renewable Resource, on the Big Board. It never occurred to him to actually mail the letter or ring the old friends up. ‘Too busy, they’d understand.’
Convinced that his highly evolved self-awareness was one of the foundations of success, Lane initiated a new set of practices. He stopped paying rent and utility bills. This was blood money anyway and the bastards could just try and get him. Once the phone and cable TV were shut off he felt a lot better. ‘Maybe they’re not so bad, if you send them the right signals, they’ll eventually come round to your way of thinking.’
"The sleep of reason
brings forth monsters."