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Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Muzak of My Mind

I used to have ideas. Developed thoughts. Cogent arguments. I could appreciate nuance, complexity. Somewhere along the line, however, I seem to have misplaced my faculties. I can't blame drugs. (My wife won't let me do them.) I can't blame TV for sucking out my soul. (We don't have one.) I would love to blame my children. They're small, loud, exhausting creatures with fixations on Bionicles and goats. What's more, if I stuck by that thesis, at 2 and 6 they're incapable of refuting it online. But somehow I suspect that even without their influence, my mental state would still be approaching that of a long-time whippet abuser. This is how bad it is: I can't even get through the fucking new Harry Potter book, something designed to slide behind your eyes, skim the surface of your brain and slip out your ear like butter coated in Astroglide. Comic books, which used to be a pleasant hobby and respite from Melville and Dos Passos novels, now take every last ounce of willpower I have to get through 22 whole pages of steroid-enraged man-boys slapping each other. I find myself renting less movies to play on the computer and more TV shows, mostly because they're shorter. I could say that I work hard, I have chores to do and kids to raise, so of course I'm going to have less time and concentration than I did in college, or when my wife and I had all day to kill and no one to answer to but each other. But that explanation provides no entertainment value. So I've got other theories:

1. My natural laziness has asserted itself, thoroughly beating down my intellectual curiosity and analytical abilities. Back at school, Dave and I had a sign over the door that said "Work Less". We cultivated an aura as a joke which I basically live for real now.

2. Lead poisoning. We really need to get those windowsills repainted. Sure, I don't remember eating any paint chips, but might that itself not be evidence? I have a hard time remembering anything older than about three months ago.

3. Excessive masturbation. There must be some side-effects, right? It can't be all good.

4. This goddamn Internet. It's a wonderful, revolutionary tool that happens to combine the worst elements of drugs, TV and screaming pre-schoolers all in one. I essentially spend all day at work staring into a glorified remote control unit. "I really need to finish up the Flubberdubber File, but hey, let's see if there's any new entertainment news at Reuters! Has myDD broken down new polling data from an Idaho state senate race? Maybe there's a new review of the Spoon record I haven't read yet. Wow, look at those people making each other mad on that message board. Oh, look, it's 5 o'clock."

I think the real answer has more to do with the reason why my ass is just a little flabbier and my stomach just a little paunchier than it was 10 years ago: lack of exercise. My dad has a serious heart condition, and because it worries me, I love to give him shit about his activity level. Get off the couch. Take a walk. Well, annoying son, heal thyself. All my atrophied brain needs is a disciplined mental exercise regimen, and that's what this here blog is for. By the time I'm done building this mountain of judgments with Dave, Hil, etc., I'll be able to pull train cars and kill old Nazis with the power of my mind. And you can say you were there back when I was a dissapated moron.

Typing is exercise? I'm confused.
Writing is exercise for thinking. All I ever write anymore are things like "Buy one, get one for half price" and it has taken a toll on my mind. So I find myself thinking other peoples' thoughts--Gilliard, Billmon, Kos, etc. I'd like to come up with some of my own again.
Well, the San Diego perspective would be that you need exercise (preferably something where you learn a skill and improve over time, thus challenging the muscle memory and coordination part of your brain) and quality sleep - which means to bed by 10pm! That is my judgment and my mom-in-training opinion. But I hear you about the Internet. It frightens me how short my attention span is when I'm on the computer.
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