Tokyo Damage Report

THREE LEVITATING VIGNETTES


 

I’m sitting in a swamp trying to think up a punchline for my new Star Trek joke. The premise of the joke is a dying Kirk trying to convince Spock to levitate him out of trouble. There’s a metronome inside the swamp somewhere and I have to make William Shatner’s dramatic pauses be on the beat. "Spock!..(tick).. SSSpock! (tick) " etc. Then I’m in this posh clothing store wearing this very thick, uncomfortable gray wool suit, over a turtleneck with no tie, so I look like Jesse Jackson, and I’m in a hurry trying to find a tie but the clerks are too busy to help. So I have to run, tieless, out onto the stage of this big auditorium- banquet hall, where my dad is addressing heads of the Fortune 500 companies. But my dad’s a crappy speaker so he’s lost the crowd, and there’s only approximately Fortune 100 left. (looking out from the wings, I see the oversized, comb-over head of renowned plastic surgeon Larry Schoenrock in the crowd), and here I am, running out late, trying to button my tieless suit, and on top of it all, I’ve totally forgotten my punchline. I’m totally bombing, just stammering, "Spock!…. SSSpock!"

Then the scene mercifully shifts to Paris, where I’m on the big canal there, the
Champs D-Elessys or whatever, and I’m sitting on the bank and reading Lacan. He’s written a book in 6 parts. At the end of each chapter, he tries to put his abstract psychoanalytical theories in a physical form so you can have an analogy that you can touch. The physical form of his theories is a series of white plastic tubes about 3 feet in length, covered with tinfoil, and one inside the other so they telescope out when you blow in one end. It’s like a kids’ science project. At the far end is a red rectangular shape that’s all wrinkly looking and made of an unknown material. It has one paper clip bent into it which hooks it to the last plastic tube, and a bent nail coming out the left of it and another paper clip coming out the right of it. The materials and precise bends of the paperclips are, of course, metaphors for the workings of the human mind and therefore must be done in exactly such and such a way. The deal is, how well you build your gizmo is an indicator of how well you’ve understood the theories in the book.

By the time you finish the 6th and final chapter, you should theoretically be able to blow hard enough the last telescoping tube flies out at exactly 160 kilometers per hour and carries the red gizmo with it, and the nail and bent paperclip can snag faraway items for you from across the French canal! So the test at the end of the first chapter is to blow into the telescope and I do and nothing happens. I persevere , reading chapter 2 in way too much of a hurry cus I want to get to the ‘experiment’ at the end, but surprisingly do much better here, managing to eject the tube by blowing , and it levitates far out into the Champs Elessys. But it’s only chapter 2 so it didn’t have the red doohicky on the end of it yet.

The scene shifts to this huge, animated mall, the kind with big walls of stores on either side and this hundred-foot-tall, but roofed, empty corridor for pedestrians in the middle. This mall is full of over-saturated colors and is animated like the Simpsons, but with these weird perspectives and camera angles that that show would never have. It’s like the ‘camera’ is inside a bobbing helium balloon, shooting crazy worm’s eye views and then unsteadily climbing up to dizzying heights to look down. Mister Burns up to no good: He’s trying to delude Bart into thinking ….something , probably that Bart is 100 feet tall. but somehow it backfires so that Mister Burns winds up deluded, thinking he (Burns) is 100 feet tall. Actually he’s inside of a hot-air balloon, or a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade-like balloon. The balloon is actually 100 feet tall but Burns is confusing himself with the balloon, and he’s deliriously yelling, look at me, I’m so tall! I’m floating! HAHAAHAHA! And Smithers is helplessly running around on the ground telling him to stop and that he’s in great danger. The weird thing is, once Burns gets deluded the camera moves inside the balloon and is bobbing lazily, looking up at Mister Burns floating and yelling. So it’s never clear exactly whose shape the balloon is! It’s clearly some Simpsons character but the POV is always inside.

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