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  Original Music 2010

Non-Popcorn Arm

  Non-Popcorn Arm

2 minutes 57 seconds| The title issues from words uttered by my girlfriend, although their occasion was unrelated to music. She also provided the title for a color pencil work on paper called Gasoline Glove Double Hat.

Time stamp: 9/28/10

Novel Icon Novel-in-Progress, excerpt 21| Later that same day Howard shows up at the tower, and Lowell reprimands him for his lax attitude about log entries, especially as movement among the mannequins in 1136 appears to be happening during his shift. The fellow observer, however, suspects larger forces are at play:

Howard assessment was less sanguine. He launched drearily into a jeremiad. “You live long enough, repeat the same routines enough—doesn’t it all become a dream? Am I even awake now? Are you in my dream or am I in yours? Perhaps we are both dreams of the fellow on the couch.”

Lowell glanced at the cardboard mattress tucked between filing cabinets. “Is this a question you seriously want answered?”

“Isn’t that what death is?” the sage ruminated. “A grinding down until everything loses its flavor, smell, color, spirit? When there’s no sensate difference between waking and dreaming, a line is eroded. With all those peeping-tom windows over there, who’s to say what’s real? We’re paid to keep track of scantily clad mannequins in an uninhabited building, but aren’t we the guinea pigs?”

“Guinea pigs for whom? The Koreans or our employers? Or do you think they’re in cahoots?”

Howard stuck to generalities. “In sitting here, an obligation is met—a pledge is honored. It’s like I’m holding up the wall for an hour, or keeping some malignancy, some wasting disease, at bay.”

“What would this malignancy be?” the friend pried.

“If the impediment could be named, it would be the worst version of ourselves.”

“Ourselves?”

“Myself.” The judge refined the accusing term. “This worst version is someone who insists nothing has value, yet keeps showing up in the doorway like Hamlet’s player queen, protesting too much, but clearly not even convincing herself lest she would soon bore of her exercise out of an excess of contentment.”

“Perhaps habit keeps you in that seat.”

“Habits are names given to motives by default,” advanced the expiator, “where they are otherwise implacable to reason. The business of atonement is an untidy affair for the over-thinker: A lot of dead air, and knowing one doesn’t measure up in noticing so much dead air.”

“If not for ADD, you’d be an ascetic.”

The Lakota native did not disallow the comparison.

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