austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

A certain rhythm that you can't control

[ And a happy International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day, all! ipstp somewhere for details. ]

There's nothing to get a brilliant idea quite like having a sleepless night, or just a great idea while trying to sleep. Just think of that doctor or maybe it was a chemist who was thinking about some biochemical thing, and one night he woke up with a great idea and wrote it down. The next morning, he seemed to have written down some random squiggles around the double-boxed word ``steening''. But the next night he had the same idea and went right to the laboratory, started an experiment, and by dawn had done work that would win the Nobel Prize In Medicine Or Maybe It Was Chemistry.

Unfortunately we can't all do that, since his idea was ``go right to the laboratory and do work that'll win the Nobel Prize In Medicine Or Maybe It Was Chemistry now that you've got this great story about how you thought to do it''. Since this was a brilliant idea, now that everybody knows it, it's obvious, which is a shame, but isn't creating an idea so brilliant that it's obvious to everybody the greatest thought a thinker can think? And if you get that one figured out we've got some fine paradoxes about whether events can happen and if they can, then why they never do in those story strips bulking out the comics page.

Important to having this brilliant idea is not sleeping through it, which you would think would be for obvious reasons. Actually it's for subtle reasons. One thing to check is that the mattress isn't quite comfortable, say because it has a broken coil or it's resting in an angry dinosaur's mouth or something like that. This way no matter how hard you try sleeping through your idea you'll wake up for it since the alternative is wondering whether the dinosaur is a meat-eater.

If it isn't, you'll wonder whether it knows you're made of meat. Few great ideas have come from people wondering if they're being eaten by confused vegetarian dinosaurs. Most of the ideas that do amount to ``Ow!'', but there is a school of thought which holds to ``why am I covered in soy sauce?'' and then, belatedly, ``hey, is that the same soy they use to make tofu?''. No: tofu is a solid, mostly, while soy sauce is a liquid. Clearly they use different soy.

Still, no sense relying entirely on the mattress waking you up. You should set the cats to misbehave at the right time to catch you mid-brilliant-thought. If they don't know when that is perhaps you can use those potoroos for the purpose of keeping you restless. Remember, they've got to have come from somewhere and you don't remember provoking them. They must want something. That should keep you half-awake long enough to bolt upright and ask, ``Why must ice cream?'' That's an excellent start, but it's unfortunately the entire thought. Still, at least this is building the habit.

Now you should be able to think lazily about just breathing and drifting into and out of sleep, and scootching over so you don't feel the worst of the dinosaur teeth in your side. It's just about now, in that twilight state, that your mind should hit on something distresses: those ``Recent YouTube Video Searches'' shown on the iPad you rubbed at Best Buy? They were all deliberately sought out by people who live in your community. That should keep you up, fretting and miserable, which isn't getting you anywhere. Carry on back to calm, until you realize the answer to the ice cream question, which you scribble down on a miniature Post-it Note that's been sitting beside the alarm clock for years for just this sort of emergency.

Your answer to ``Why must ice cream?'' turns out to have been ``Continental sweatpants''. Maybe it would have helped to have a particular question you needed insight into. This answer was probably meant for someone who needs a fashionable pair of extremely stretchy pants. And yet, since we could all use that, it's bound to lead the right person to fame and fortune. Are you that person? Beats me. Sleep on it.

Trivia: On publication in 1623 the First Folio of Shakespeare's plays sold for £ 1, bound in calfskin. Unbound copies were available cheaper. Source: Shakespeare: The World As Stage, Bill Bryson.

Currently Reading: Will In The World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare, Stephen Greenblatt.


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