Do you remember the image, I think it was of Winnie the Pooh, or at least I want that to be its origin, of fluff inside one’s head? That, being “a bear of very little brain”, white fluffy stuffing might fill the remaining void between the ears. This is how my brain feels today: fragments of brain-stuffing scattered like the eviscerated innards of a dog’s plush chew toy across the floor of my mind.
In addition to the quote above from Great Expectations by Mr. Charles Dickens (someone who I only lately understood to be a satirist of the dark and stormy kind, like Chekov, Waugh, Vonnegut or Adams), calling to me from my note book are the following scribblings: “god bless you Dana Carvey” (my own random wandering sentiment); “Engineered Insanity” (unknown origin); and “the poem is full of DIRTY thinking” (something I heard Cecilia Vicuña say recently, but which my brain processed as if Richard Foreman was saying it in his ‘god voice’ and I was sitting in the dark in the old Ontological Theater).
Is it weird I wonder, to imagine, some day far in the future, during my funeral, a person might be impressed upon to play Mr. Carvey’s Choppin Broccoli? Does such a choice reflect too much the tragic absurdity of human existence? What if it were the orchestral version? Would it undermine the civilized solemness with which our white anglo-saxon culture approaches such occasions. “Life is no way to treat a human,” Vonnegut once wrote. If you listen closely to the lyrics, Choppin Broccoli is a rather tragic song actually, riddled with a kind of subtle dismay at the banality of existence. And yet it sends the four-year-old in my brain into a fit of irrecoverable giggles every time I return to it after long gaps of time. Boredom, terror, boredom, giggles, boredom, cotton-candy fog…the screen is rapidly evolving to satisfy our monkey brain’s root desires for sex and death — all they need to do is figure out a way to make it produce salt, sugar, fat and water, and we will want for nothing… when the screen achieves this, will broccoli still contain such joy? will dirty poetry still be possible? how will we engineer sanity? will we have the breath in which to get our thoughts “well together” before they are again “dispersed in all directions by one stray thought”* like Madeleine Albright’s billiard ball diplomacy** metaphor? or will we persist in a thoughtless pot of honey?
*these last two quotes are also from Dickens’ Great Expectations
**this Albright reference is from her interview with Tommy Vietor on Pod Save the World on 11 April 2018, worth a listen if you too are into that sort of stuff