When I was in third grade, I took part in a reading competition. Everyone was asked to bring a book they really liked and read it for the audience. We were then told who had won, without getting any feedback. I lost, and asked one of the teachers what was wrong with my reading. She told me that the book had been too dark. I was in third grade, but I knew that that was unjust.
The book was about a young boy’s experiences on a slave ship from Africa to the Americas. I cannot remember the title, but I know that I had found it in the school’s library. It was red, with a black and white print of a slave ship on it.
Last year someone broke my jaw bone. Initially I laughed the encounter off, but as the headaches set in and I looked at myself in the mirror, I realized that something was off. My head had a dent approximately where the left temple was. That unsettled me enough that I took a few pain pills and a taxi to the hospital. The nurses told me it was probably nothing, the CT scan told me my jaw bone was fractured. I spent a few hours in the hospital, then they swiped my insurance card and I paid five bucks. Universal healthcare is communism.
I went through the encounter of that night a lot; I replayed it in my head over and over again, sometimes full of vengeful thoughts, sometimes searching for some sort of lesson, or maybe closure. Sometimes there is no lesson, but eventually closure came over me, like a sun that sets painfully slowly.
This essay is art if I say so.
This essay is so if I say art.
This art if I so is say essay.
Writing has always been cathartic for me, more so than programming. I’m not a terribly talented writer, but I’m dedicated to the craft. That’s sometimes true for programming as well, although I’m not as dedicated to the final product. I’m not a great editor for my own code. Sometimes I cut corners. Don’t tell anyone.
Call it pragmatism. But there are no excuses here, in my editor. In software there almost always are. Everything is terrible and leaky and I feel like I’m really working as a drainer in a particularly bad part of town in a town that has no good parts. Ever feel that way?
I’m the only smoker in this group of computational artists. That’s weird to me. Maybe I have a weird view into the European art bohème, but all of my artsy friends smoke. Cigarettes are very cheap around here. We run on fumes. Good joke, everyone laughs.
The days get ever shorter. Soon there will be no light, and christmas will come to consume us all. There will be trees—trees, I tell you! And maybe, if you make it out alive, there will be light again. And there will still be trees, and they will be naked, and people won’t see them. What I’m saying is that winters are very moody.
The book had a lasting impact on me. That boy’s story stays with me even today, even as I can’t recall its title, or quote anything from it. Sometimes those kinds of influences are subliminal, ethereal, and you don’t think about them in years. What I do remember is that I was the only kid who wasn’t encouraged, in one way or another, to read. All of the other kids came with their parents, and I don’t think they were enjoying themselves very much.