My neighborhood is cute. Little one-family houses with little yards all arrayed neatly along the six or so blocks of our “avenue”. My neighbors are friendly without being too. They’re definitely not New Yorkers but they don’t try to hug me either.
One evening, I tethered the hounds to the porch railing, strapped on my iPod, cracked open my colored pencil pouch, and started to draw the house across the street. Because, as George Mallory said of Everest, it was there.
As I say in the journal caption, I was listening to a dreadful story on a terrific podcast (RadioLab, actually, not TAL), and one part of my brain was listening intently to this story of a guy who corresponded with the man who raped and killed his daughter, while the other part drew every brick on my neighbor’s facade.
Now, do you remember the “Ludovico technique” in A Clockwork Orange where Alex is fed a drug that will make him nauseated by violence, strapped down and forced to watch a sadistic movie which is scored with something by Beethoven? Forever after, his beloved Ludwig Van makes him panicky and sick.
I guess my drawing/listening experience had a somewhat similar effect on me. My brain and all my senses were so wide open, so receptive, hungrily drinking in the details of my neighbor’s home while fixedly listening to this awful story. My eyes signals and ear signals somehow came together to create an utterly false experience, so now every time I walk out my front door, I feel a terrible pity for my neighbor and the ordeal he went through. Which he didn’t. Except in my journal.
They really should put a warning on this sort of story — “Listening to this broadcast while operating colored pencils and a fountain pen may cause a lingering sense of tragic empathy and melancholia.”
I’ve met the neighbor, by the way. Nice, cheerful guy and I don’t think he even has a daughter. At least not one that seems to be alive………..