Ahh, the power of the Mind.
My roommate Gerry had a headache for three days. On the third day, he walked into the kitchen and declared, “The Mind is stronger than the body.” He then started to whistle and to putter around with the dishes in the sink.
“I have decided not to have a headache,” he said. “I have decided that I will make my headache go away, solely by using the power of the Mind.”
That afternoon, I went down to the studio to work on the Spinoza CD. Some of the songs that will be on the disc: “Blood Count,” “Bloody Pile Of Bones,” “Killed By Another Inmate,” “The Door to Nowhere.” These are just working titles, mind you. I had gotten quite cocky over the weekend because I’d been playing bass a lot and my tendinitis hadn’t been a factor. Things were looking good for finishing the CD in time for the show on Thursday. Unfortunately, that all changed on Monday afternoon.
Blade Runner is a movie where Rutger Hauer plays an android who is about to die. There’s a scene near the end of the movie where his hand starts to clench up involuntarily. If you’ve seen the movie, that’s how my right hand was starting to feel after a few hours of jamming on the bass.
Rutger becomes quite upset and drives a nail through his hand to keep it open. I stopped short of that, but I did shake it around quite a bit. Then I sat down on the studio couch and chewed on a thumb tack for a while.
What to do? I sat there and tried to focus the power of my Mind to come up with a solution. I suppose I could sequence all the basslines on a Yamaha tone generator. But then it wouldn’t be Spinoza… it would be A/V… or something equally wussy.
I decided to put off the whole “record a CD in three days” idea and save my hands for the show on Thursday. I wound up just sitting in the studio and surfing the net for three hours. It can be hard to snap out of a mood like that. I spent a long time reading lowbrow.com, clicking “reload” with my left hand on the mouse:
“It might have cost me over $30, but I spend yesterday afternoon at the local internet cafe, submitting my ex’s primary email to every spam/porn/list site I could find. His work email, too.
Once in a while I found a good porn one, though, and kept it to myself.
Fuck him, let him get his own good porn.”
Finally I had to pull away from the computer because I was getting square eyes.
“My hand feels fine,” I said out loud. I would get back to work. All things can be overcome with the power of the Mind, I told myself.
I fired up the Spinoza sessions on the digital audio workstation. This brief moment of optimism came to end when the smell of frying electronics reached my nose. I was presented with a sound that was much worse than silence. One of the studio’s main amplifiers had chosen this moment to self-destruct.
I went through the whole “music hates me, life has no meaning” thing again and then I just sat there in the control room for a while longer and strummed on my unplugged bass.
I was still thinking about Blade Runner. The androids were very realistic-looking. Some of them had been implanted with other people’s memories, so that the androids themselves were fooled into thinking they were human. The Mind must be a very powerful thing indeed, if it can fool a person into thinking he’s another person, when he’s not even a person at all.
The androids in Blade Runner have special powers. When I was a kid, the one super power I always wished I possessed was the ability to levitate.
I used to work at it for hours. I would try my hardest to harness the power of the Mind, but the best I could do would be to hover three or four inches off the ground, never for more than fifteen seconds at a time. My fears and insecurities always stood in the way of achieving full levitation.
Only in my dreams would I be truly free. I would crash through the living room window, thrash madly through the tops of trees, and soar off into the night.
In sleep, the Mind is free to roam without limitation. The same insecurities that prevented me from levitating would eventually contribute to the sleeping disorder of my early twenties.
She sits down beside me at the bar. She doesn’t say, “Are you a Scorpio? You’ve got to be a Scorpio.”
Instead, she looks at me and says, “Do you believe in the power of the Mind?”
I look at her, and I notice that she is hovering a couple of inches above her bar stool.)
In those days, I must have been afraid of the Mind’s dream-freedom. So I would doze off and abruptly stop breathing in my sleep, until life choked itself back into me. Turns out this was happening twenty or thirty times a night.
There was no rest in those days. There were no dreams, no nightly spectacle of the Mind in full flight through the rarefied air. The earth alone bore my weight, six feet above my inevitable resting place.
Sometimes I walk to the top of Citadel Hill and look out over downtown Halifax. I want to float upwards, two hundred feet above the clock tower. I’m sure that if I could see the whole city at once, I could hold all of Halifax in my Mind.
I once read somewhere that there is a theoretical limit to the height of creatures on this earth. It has to do with the volume-to-mass ratio of bones. If you created a scale model of a human that was two hundred feet tall, its bones would have to be of such a massive circumference that the body would collapse under the weight. All you would be left with was a bloody pile of bones.
I’ve stood on the Halifax Commons and watched hot air balloons as they deflated. What if my Mind was the size of one of those balloons? Would that be enough to hold up a two-hundred-foot tall body, with its roving eye and supreme view of everything?
Would a Mind the size of a hot-air balloon be enough to levitate a six-foot tall body to a comparable height?
Steve Fossett was the name of an American millionaire who tried to be the first person to fly solo around the world in a hot air balloon. His attempt was thwarted when he crash-landed in Hampton, New Brunswick, not far from where I grew up.
“The most embarrassing day of my life,” said Fossett.
Perhaps my childhood levitation problems may be attributed to New Brunswick’s stronger gravitational pull. I’m still feeling it, even as far away as Halifax. It prompted me to get a beginner’s driver’s license last week, at the age of thirty-one. In six months, I can take the road test. Hmm… work hard for six months… buy a car…
(The woman at the counter took my picture and showed it to me and I was surprised at how tired I looked. But she screwed up printing the license, and I had to go through the procedure again. With the benefit of a second chance I resolved to look a little perkier in the photo. The picture popped up on her computer screen; the phrase “grinning like an idiot” comes to mind.)
There’s a famous line in Blade Runner where Rutger’s character says, “I want more life, fucker.” I was thinking this is also what it might say on my gravestone.
On second thought, my gravestone will probably just say “Fucker.”