Posts Tagged ‘writing

21
Jan
12

Our Bodies

Our bodies are pretty special. They know things we don’t. They know how to die.

There’s this thing called the instinctive drowning response. It’s what your body does when you’re drowning. Your eyes glaze over, you stop making any noise, your motions slow, and you try and lie on your back in the water. It’s so… quiet. Isn’t that lovely?

Think about how we picture drowning. Think of how we imagine it to be a process of thrashing wildly against the water, how we see a person desperately fighting for life. No, that’s not how it works. Our bodies feel us beginning to die, and they relax. They let go of the world and gently push our consciousness from its control over them. No, hush little one, our bodies tell us, don’t be afraid. This is natural. It’s time, don’t panic. It’s ok.

Pain is unpleasant, but it’s removed from the process of dying itself. People who bleed to death are sedated by their bodies as they approach death. Everything slows down and fades, and their bodies guide them softly to sleep. Our bodies know.

I nearly died once. I had a massive blood clot in my lungs. My heart accelerated to over two hundred and fifty beats per minute, my vision blurred out and I felt as though I was on fire, desperate for air. And as it continued and the oxygen concentration in my blood fell and fell, I felt myself beginning to slip away. Oh, I thought clumsily, I’m dying.

And… it was ok. My consciousness began to slowly step backward from my mind, and instead of the panic which had gone before I began to feel the greatest peace and the most boundless freedom.  It was the middle of the night when it happened, and my brother happened to be going to bed and was on the landing as I’d called out. If he hadn’t been there I would’ve had no way to summon help because my body had stopped me speaking. Hush, little one. Don’t be afraid.

And you know what? There’s a part of me that resents that he heard me. What causes us to die might be painful or scary, but dying isn’t. It’s a release. Our bodies are pretty special. They know this. They know how to die. And after what happened, I do too. It’s ok.

Advertisements
04
Jan
12

If I’m Here (But Not Really)

I’m sorry if I’m not really here

(though I am here, it’s just perspective and

you never did like that nuanced shit);

it’s just that I’m there again when I see

that look in your eyes.

 

I don’t like being the one in the wrong,

so I’ll pretend you’re right about all this

and that it doesn’t matter. Yes

it’s some sick, wasted and empty fantasy

(I want to say it isn’t but I’m too tired to

argue anymore)

and yes,

here I am again putting myself at the centre of it all

(it’s not you that says that, just a voice in my head).

 

I don’t want to be a burden,

you don’t deserve it and I

might have done the same in your position

(I wouldn’t)

so let’s draw a line under it

and I’ll be there to support your future.

 

What we had was special, and you’re right

let’s keep it together

and learn

and grow.

I can adjust. I’ll see it your way (if only

because my way blinds me) and

we’ll be just like we were before.

 

But if you notice that I’m acting

or that my responses are mechanical or

I speak with a hard edge you didn’t hear before;

if I’m here with you but not really,

and you wonder why as I am myself muffled through

a layer of crepe paper

then it’s because when I see that look in your eyes

I am there again and

if I’m here but not really

I’m (not)

sorry.

21
Oct
11

My Life in Hallelujahs

Three singers. Three versions. One song: Hallelujah. One life: mine. I am Tom, and this is my life in Hallelujahs.

Hallelujah One: The Fourth, the Fifth.

It was 2002 and I was fifteen when it started. I was an awkward kid; clever enough to succeed but lazy enough not to try, funny enough to get along with most everyone, shy enough to not get very close to anyone. If you asked me now how I looked then I’d be far kinder than if you’d have asked me at the time. That’s a battle I’ve since won; as the infamous warbler Gloria Gaynor once wrote, I am who I am.

The summer was unremarkable in reality, but I remember it being long and hot, a shimmering heat haze hanging over the days and nights of my school holidays. Year 10 was over, in September I would be in Year 11. The shit was going to get real: my GCSEs would be upon me, the culmination of those long years in schooling. What would I receive in GCSE Food Technology? This question and more bubbled in my febrile adolescent mind. Oh, and I was pretty sure I was gay.

I mean, I had resolved already that I must be bi. Boys were rather too attractive for me to pretend to myself that I was straight. A couple of childhood crushes on girls I’d known were the last bastion of what I thought would be a normal life, and I clung to them. The memories of the crushes that is, I didn’t cling to the girls — not least of all for legal reasons.

One morning during that summer, that last bastion was overwhelmed and swept away for ever. There was a boy in one of my classes, one of my friends, and I had a dream about him. I don’t even remember what the dream was — nothing sexy — but when I woke up on that humid summer’s morning I knew two things clearly. Firstly, I was gay. It was just that simple. The clarity was uplifting. The second was, I was in love with my friend. My straight friend. Ah, shit.

Rufus Wainwright’s Hallelujah was the soundtrack to my teenaged angst. And as the years passed, and I lost contact with the boy I had loved, it came to signify that pain that nobody forgets, ever — their first lost love.

She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah Two: The Minor Fall

I drifted. I dropped out of sixth form college, graduating with such impressive grades as an E in AS level psychology. I was unemployed for a long time, then I got a job I hated. And I was so, so unhappy.

I was a failure. That kid in those school photos, when did he die and what was this shell he’d left behind? Nothing mattered to me. I went to sleep at 7am and woke up at 4pm, I spent my time floating around on the internet in a state of perpetual angry boredom. I stopped seeing my friends, didn’t care about myself.

I resented everything I was missing out on, blamed myself for the lack of experiences and fed that back into even more introverted sadness and alienation. As my life went from bad to worse so any solution seemed to slide further beyond my grasp.

I felt bad, still feel bad, for the people I worked with. I wish I hadn’t been such an unpleasant person to be with back then. I was missing not just my love, but love itself. Was this what life was? I briefly tried a course of anti-depressants but they achieved nothing so I never got the prescription refilled. My life was broken and I hated not just living it but myself too, with a passion I’ve rarely felt for anything else since.

I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah Three: The Major Lift

I had to escape from the jaws of the steel trap which held me fast. I left my job, took better care of myself. It was… easy. Why did it take that long? I got back into my writing, found new ways to express myself, new things to do and see.

I’m not fixed. I never will be: I have bipolar disorder, I’ll always be prone to depression. And love, love is still my eternal tormentor. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt it truly. Was it real love, that tearing, soaring, terrible, beautiful thing I felt when I was young? Probably not, I’d say now, probably some adolescent approximation of an emotion which I feel continues to elude me. But that’s ok.

See, I haven’t overcome all my neuroses. I’ve just accepted them, accepted myself. I’m far from perfect, but really, what’s it to ya?

And even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

17
Aug
11

The Little Lighthouse

There was once a bay with a great many sharp rocks lurking around its entrance, and many ships were lost upon them. And so the local town decided to build a lighthouse of stone and wood and place it on the cliffs to guide vessels to the harbour during storms.

It was not a mighty thing as the town was very poor, and the lighthouse knew that many of the ships scorned it for being so small and having such a puny light.

“The great lighthouses can be seen for dozens of miles,” they would scoff, “you are of use only to ships wishing to enter this bay, your glow is so minor.”

The little lighthouse was sad, for it did not have control over how tall it was built or how brightly its light shone. It would tell the ships so, but they were not interested to hear it speak. As the years went by, the little lighthouse by the bay grew used to being laughed at by the ships that went by.

“They are right to tease,” the little lighthouse would think, “as I am so small and my light is so dim.”

The seasons and the years came and went, with the little lighthouse standing on the cliff with its light burning for the ships that sailed past. Then one winter night a terrible storm blew up, and wind and rain lashed the ships and sent them scurrying into the bay for shelter with the little lighthouse to guide them.

The heavens raged and the little lighthouse was glad that all the ships were safely in his bay for he did not wish them harm.

“Be careful that the wind does not blow out your light,” jeered one of the ships. “He is quite safe, for the wind only blows over the tallest lighthouses and he is very small,” another joined in.

Then the little lighthouse saw, out at sea, a ship being tossed by the waves. It was a very fine ship indeed, with tall masts and a proud hull.

“Oh no,” thought the little lighthouse, “it shall surely be dashed against the rocks and lost!” And so the little lighthouse called out, expecting no reply as ships never listened to what the little lighthouse had to say.

“Be careful mighty ship!” The little lighthouse called urgently, “You are headed for the rocks!”

To the little lighthouse’s amazement the mighty ship changed its course and began to head for the bay. As it passed him, the mighty ship said:

“Thank you little lighthouse.”

Well, the little lighthouse was astonished. For a ship to talk to him! And not just any, but one so mighty as this!

The mighty ship continued to speak with the little lighthouse throughout the dark night. It had only praise for him and his light.

“Do not be sad, little lighthouse,” the mighty ship counselled, “you are as tall as you need to be and your light does its work well.”

The little lighthouse was very sad when the mighty ship left the bay when the dawn broke and the storm subsided, for he felt he would never see the mighty ship again.

And indeed he did not, for several years at least. The town grew as the little lighthouse brought ships safely to shore. More storms came and went, and the ships went on taunting the little lighthouse when they passed. But the little lighthouse never forgot the words of the mighty ship.

“They are unkind,” the little lighthouse thought, “but I do not care. I am as tall as I need to be and my light does its work well.”

Then one spring day the little lighthouse was delighted to hear the voice of the mighty ship again, greeting him as it sailed by and told him it was carrying new goods and would be visiting the little lighthouse regularly. The little lighthouse was overjoyed, and the two talked often throughout the long summer.

“I am glad to know you,” the little lighthouse said to the mighty ship.

“And I you, little lighthouse,” the mighty ship replied.

The mighty ship’s visit were frequent, and the little lighthouse would spend much of its time scanning the ocean for the mighty ship. So much time that it scarcely noticed the dockers loading the cargo of the mighty ship into carts, nor those carts carrying stone and wood along the cliffs at the far side of the bay.

The autumn came and it happened that the mighty ship took a different path out of the harbour after one of its visits. The little lighthouse watched the mighty ship as it left, and his eye fell upon the cliff at the far side of the bay.

There, nearly built, was another lighthouse! It was tall, at least twice as high as the little lighthouse and he supposed its light would be very bright indeed. The little lighthouse realised at last that the mighty ship was carrying the materials for the new lighthouse, and he was sad and angry.

“I thought the mighty ship cared for me!” The little lighthouse sobbed, “But he brings stone and wood for that other lighthouse which will be taller than I and shine far brighter than I.”

The little lighthouse thought and thought as the weeks went by, for he knew that the mighty ship would soon return with more cargo and that the lighthouse across the bay was so near to completion that it would surely be the last delivery the mighty ship would need to make.

The autumn was at its close when the mighty ship did return, heavy in the water with its holds bulging with goods. The sky was black with dark clouds, and wind and rain lashed at the mighty ship as it rounded the cove and saw the familiar light of the little lighthouse on top of the cliff.

The mighty ship began to enter the bay, when suddenly the guiding light of the little lighthouse disappeared.

“Little lighthouse! Little lighthouse! Your light has gone out and I need help or I will surely crash onto the rocks!” The mighty ship called out.

But the little lighthouse said nothing, did nothing. It heard the mighty ship continue to call for help, and then it heard a roaring, splintering crunch as the mighty ship crashed onto the rocks.

Then the little lighthouse turned its light back on, and saw the mighty ship laying on its side, its belly torn open, waves beating across its decks. Its tall masts were broken and its proud hull was shattered. Immediately the little lighthouse began to regret what it had done.

“Oh mighty ship! I am sorry! But how could you bring the stone and wood to build a new lighthouse to replace me? I thought we were friends!” The little lighthouse cried.

“Friends, little lighthouse?” Groaned the mighty ship, “You are a lighthouse and I am a ship. We could never have been friends. You did your work well and I did mine.”

The little lighthouse understood.

“I am sorry, mighty ship,” the little lighthouse said.

“I know, little lighthouse,” the mighty ship replied with a sigh. “I know.”

In the morning the townsfolk saw the mighty ship wrecked upon the rocks at the foot of the cliff below the little lighthouse. How foolish the mighty ship must have been to crash onto the rocks with the lighthouse there to guide it! And how angry they were that now there was no ship large enough to carry the goods needed to finish their new lighthouse.

But, they thought, it was not worth the expense of chartering a new large ship to bring the goods they needed. They had the little lighthouse after all, which had always done its work well.

29
Apr
11

It’s Not My Story: Narrative Restriction in Interactive Media

This, clearly, is the ponciest title I have yet used in any blog post. What it really means is that for the next sixteen paragraphs, I’m going to be ruminating on how, contrary to superficial expectation, taking away freedom in immersive interactive media can result in greater investment from the media’s consumer, not less.

Books are kinda neat. I want to set out my stall right here at the start. I like books. Films too. I like books and I like films. If you asked me whether it was true that I liked those things, I would tell you that it was and I would be telling the truth. There, I’ve said it. Now we’re clear. But they’re a bit old-hat, aren’t they?

You just sort of sit there and look at them. Do you know what else you sit there and look at? Paint drying, minute hands on clocks in waiting rooms, the bleak abyss behind the eyes of the human resources drone delivering corporate training. Isn’t it more fun when you’ve got something to do; isn’t it more fun when you’re actively participating in something? Because they’re static, because they don’t react to the person consuming them, aren’t films, aren’t books a bit… boring?

Interactivity, now that’s fun. I’m not just participating in somebody else’s story, I’m helping to tell it — I’m telling my own. Home story-telling is killing books. And which medium best encapsulates the paradigm of user-driven narrative? Why it’s video games, of course.

I once shot a man in a video game just to watch him die. And as he collapsed into a ragdoll physics-enabled heap at my feet, I was glad. I was glad because I had wanted to kill him, and I had been able to. I can do anything, man. Move over Ian Banks, I’m the one behind the typewriter now. That character is annoying, much better that he should die painfully.

You hear a lot about freedom. Politicians talk about it as though it’s a physical product to be consumed, controlled and exported; games designers trumpet how Super Manshooter IV will have “unparalleled levels of player freedom”; the Earth rotates about its axis unperturbed. Freedom’s fun you see, freedom’s where it’s at.

How many amazing video gaming moments have only been possible due to the freedom of the player to make decisions? Save the world from the oblivion gates, or don’t. Shoot the krogran or talk him around. Take the road less travelled, or follow the crowd. It’s your choice, your experience. You’re not just an observer at somebody else’s show, you’re the main event at your own. Freedom feels good, man.

Sniper scopeFreedom isn’t free though. Cohesiveness is usually the first casualty of introducing more narrative interaction. Emergent narratives most often lack the finesse and flow of experiences which, if not linear, are at least guided by immutable narrative guidelines. If it has a good story, you can pretty much guarantee the freedom in your favourite non-linear videogame is just an illusion; if you want a good story then you need to have the bumper rails up on the player’s freedom.

In truth I have always been opposed to it. I’ve always wanted freedom. I’ve always seen the merits of my being able to construct my own story, let my own imagination loose. I have found the trend towards highly scripted corridor shooters to be tiring and sad. I’m a virtual book-burner, me.

Something happened recently to make me put my flaming torch down though, and that something was indie read-em-up Don’t Take It Personally Babe, It’s Just Not Your Story. Placing you into the position of a frustrated and damaged man who becomes a teacher after an early mid-life crisis, it’s more of an interactive novel than a game. Even the term ‘interactive’ might be misapplied here.

You might not agree with many of the actions your character takes, or the things he says. He’s morally questionable at least, falling in love with one of his fifteen year old students and manoeuvering two students into a gay relationship with each other. You can’t make your character behave in the way that you want; you can’t in any way construct your own narrative. That’s part of the conceit of the game though: it’s just not your story.

And you know, it’s captivating. I found myself utterly absorbed in the game’s narrative, more than I’ve been in any game’s for years. There’s a theory applied to roleplaying games called GNS Theory, which assigns motivations to players. There are gamists who enjoy the mechanics of a situation (“I rolled a 20! I get a critical hit!”), narrativists who participate in the construction of a strong narrative behind their characters and the events of the game, and simulationists who revel in the sense of place, and are likely to consider their character in third person and ruminate on how their character would react, as though it were a separate entity rather than being under the player’s direct control. It’s Just Not Your Story is a simulationist’s dream.

More broadly though, I found it interesting how easily I overcame the barrier presented by my innate attraction towards a freer narrative. Once I’d accepted the loss of control I found I could access a whole new level of imaginative interaction. Why was my character behaving in this way? This became the area I could improvise within and think about.

For games which uphold the consequences of the player’s actions (so not Super Manshooter III, where if a squadmate dies then you have to restart from a checkpoint) it has become gaming gospel that the only way a player can have freedom in the narrative is by allowing them to do anything. There are many worthy games which allow the player to do this, and they are not per se bad games. Games can have a strong narrative without diminishing player investment if the story they present is interesting enough to convince the player to get on board.

One of my favourite authors, when questioned when a particular character in the novel series he writes will die, answered “at the dramatically appropriate moment of course”. That’s what you lose with unrestricted narratives.

Freedom can be slavery, slavery can be freedom. Let’s see more exciting, enthralling and engaging games where the narrative rules the roost. Let’s see developers who are brave enough to challenge established notions of videogame plotting and who are inventive enough to rediscover what books have always known. Let’s see freedom dethroned and story regaining its rightful place in interactive media.

The king is dead. Long live the king.

05
Feb
11

testament, part four

It should be my moment of triumph, but as I stand above him I know that it is not yet time to finish what he began all those years ago when he left me for dead in those damn caves on Corfun III; it is not yet time to kill him. There would be no revenge in this, no satisfaction in snuffing out this pathetic life of his. I see him laid there — Colbert — all wrapped up in tubes and wires, placid and lost to the world. I see him, and as my hand closes around his throat I feel… I feel nothing.

To kill him now, what would that achieve? Would my great victory be to release him from his bed-ridden comatose existence? A victory for whom I wonder. I release his throat and snort in frustration, my vocoders translating the sound as a harsh atonal chirp of noise. All these years focussing only on killing him, just to find death itself may have beaten me to the punch.

A nurse enters the room. I continue the pretence which secured my entrance into the hospital facility – a maintenance technician, here to check the equipment. I shoo her away with repurposed irritation, griping that her presence will offend the machine spirit of the ventilator. She leaves, unaware of how close she had come to my simply killing her. It would be a complication, however, that I can ill-afford.

Events on this planet several years ago led to a full Inquisitorial blockade, which has only been degrading bit by bit as vessels from the flotilla are gradually released of their obligation. Arriving here was difficult. I did not wish the deaths that occured, but they were necessary and I do not regret them. It has been so long since I felt regret that I wonder whether that emotion is still within my capacity. Perhaps it is a weakness of the flesh I have cast away and replaced with the cold hard steel of logic and reason.

Such ruminations are a waste of my time. I must decide what to do. I know only one thing: destroying this pathetic creature would be no vengeance at all. If only he were alive, if only he were in his prime… then I could triumph. To reduce him from what he once was, to smash his potential as he did mine, that is my goal. And it is not yet beyond my reach.

I have always had experience in the ways of the flesh. Since I went rogue I have worked alongside many of the Magos Biologis, or extracted their knowledge through other means; I am a skilled physician should I choose to be. If these incompetent and fleshy medicae here in this hospital have failed to heal him, that is no discouragement to me. I will save him. I will save him so that  I can destroy him.

I examine his charts. Multiple gunshot wounds. Three bullets entered his chest, two of them exiting neatly after puncturing his right lung. The third fragmented, spraying his chest cavity with shrapnel. I run a quick scan with my auspex. This was a grave wound and has had a lasting impact unlike the previous two. His heart is scarred and beats limply. If I had an upper lip, it would be curling now in a derisive sneer at the weakness of biological constructs.

That it beats at all is thanks wholly to the actions of the medicae who directed Colbert’s care and restarted his damaged heart. Too late. I direct my auspex scanner up and run its cool blue beam over his face, his eyes taped shut to protect them from drying out. I see cellular death in the brainstem. His coma will never end; his damaged brain unable to keep him conscious, his damaged heart keeping him bed-bound forever even if he were somehow to awaken. It is beyond Imperial medical skill to heal him.

Beyond Imperial medical skill. Yet not beyond the capabilities of medicine. So much of our knowledge has been lost, and so much has been put aside, ruled unacceptable by quill-pushing know-nothings who value inky-fingered superstition above quantifiable benefit. However that which has been lost can be found, and the edicts which stand in the way of progress can be ignored, defied, destroyed.

Xenobactia novavitauctus is an interesting organism. I take the phial containing it from within a secure compartment inside my chest plate and tilt the cloudly purple liquid from one side to the other, watching as the agitation and heat from my fingers awakens the dormant bacteria within the suspension. The fluid turns clear as they consume the nutrients. An interesting organism. It mimics the tissue surrounding  it, in every way appearing identical. If placed on scratched skin they will become as skin cells, a liver will yield liver cells, and so on.

However much of a miracle it may seem, there is a down side. The novavitauctus organism will only mimic the surrounding tissue. In fact it is an alien which enjoys a symbiotic relationship with its host. Once introduced, the organism will remain there until its host dies, always appearing and functioning as ordinary tissue, but never losing its identity as an alien organism. And this minor drawback caused led to its use being denounced as a sacriledge against the Imperium, a defilement of the image of the God-Emperor. How petty.

I extend a filament mechadendrite, first drawing up half the phial into an injector chamber, then guiding the mechadendrite into Colbert’s face. I enter behind his eye, being careful to avoid damaging his eye, and micro-scourges activate as I burrow through his eye socket to access his brain. Snaking around important structures, and ploughing through unimportant ones, I direct the mechadendrite to his brain stem. Using my auspex to pinpoint the appropriate location, I again use the filament to oblate the damaged brain tissue, before I release a cloud of the novavitauctus suspension onto the site of the injury.

I need to work quickly. In approximately ten minutes, the organism will have bonded with the surrounding tissue well enough for Colbert to regain consciousness. Before he does, I must repair his heart; there will be no joy in hunting a cripple. I remove the filament from his head, knowing the vague ache in his eye socket will most likely simply be dismissed as a headache. Even if it isn’t, the organism itself is invisible to scans.

I lift his arm and detach an IV line, silencing the monitoring machine’s alarms with a whispered command in binary. Its machine spirit cowers before my will. Using the catheter in his arm, I again extend the filament and run it down his vein, towards his heart. A quick application there too of the organism and I know that he will recover, in time, to full health. As my mechadendrite retreats from his body, I use it to nick the inside of his vein and I catalogue the tissue sample. Undoubtedly this will come in useful some day.

“Time to wake up now, Bradly Colbert,” I tell his sleeping form as I walk around his bed and place something on his nightstand so that it will be the first thing he sees on awakening. “Time for you to wake up. The game has started.”

I place on the nightstand a gold sovereign coin I acquired on Corfun III. It is blackened and scorched by the flames which almost crippled me. I glance at him again as I leave. I will enjoy this. He will awaken tainted, just the thing he turned against me for… and he won’t know it. I can almost taste the irony. I open the door and walk out.

“And, Colbert, it is your move.”

23
Jan
11

Shoes

Don’t worry. Everything’s fine. Nothing is spoiled. Hey, I like your shoes. Are they real leather? Where did you buy them? Were they expensive?

Haha, you bet I might buy myself some! Shopping’s cool; I like to own things. They’re mine. Nobody else owns me. Plus I’m expressing myself. I’m chequered, all green and blue squares… smooth. Did I tell you I have an iPod? It’s because music is, like, my life. All Time Low are my favourite band. Their lyrics really speak to me, because I’m different too in the same ways their others fans are. Plus their lead singer has, like, really pretty eyes.

I was watching the news yesterday. Er, I mean not by choice obviously. Someone put it on and I ended up seeing it. How about that murder case? Isn’t it, like, a sad indictment of our society… or whatever. I don’t care about anything, man.  I maintain an ironic detachment. Caring is so 1990s.

Yeah, that flood’s all sad and whatever, it’s probably global warming or something maybe. Thanks Al Gore. I am an environmentalist.  I say I recycle but secretly I only do it if it requires literally zero percent more effort than just chucking stuff in a normal bin.

My hair straighteners cost me £120. I bought them because I want to dishevel my hair in a tidy way; I put a lot of effort into making it look like I haven’t put any effort in. Sometimes I carefully cultivate stubble of the right length and in the right places to suggest a disregard for convention. It’s so important not to look like you’re trying.

£120 sounds like a lot, but they’re a good brand. Brands are cool. They let you associate yourself with a set of images without actually having to justify that association. Little icons, all clean lines and blocks of colour; I pay for personality to conceal the one I have but don’t want to show.  I have some Ralph Lauren cologne because I’m classy. You don’t want to, like, be an advertising billboard though. It is important to be discrete. One of my Ben Sherman shirts has no branding on the outside at all. I paid £60 for it. I wear my anti-consumerist brand on my sleeve.

A person should be judged by the things they own and the things they lead others to think they think. I act like I am who I want you to think I am; thinking makes it so. I’m an actor. You write the lines by expecting, and I deliver them to satisfy.

I’m a real person. I buy things and they validate me; I tell myself when to stop being me because I know what you want to hear. I have all the things that I know make me happy; I am happy.

This blog post has been ironic and sarcastic. Phew, bullet dodged. Everything’s fine. Nothing is spoiled.