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Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Cartoon Revolt. By John von Daler

                   The silence was overwhelming. The idea of going deaf had always terrified me, but this was worse: being able to hear, but without having the slightest sound to hear. The world had evidently been sound-proofed. At any rate no one could detect the slightest reverberation: not the scruff of a shoe, nor a stifled burp, nor a window closing, nor water boiling. The sounds had been replaced with small signs on which the relevant phonetic depictions had been printed. We might as well have been locked inside four solid walls lined with acoustic tiles.

                 Sights had changed too. Now, when people spoke, weird bubbles came out of their mouths and shot up into the air. No one seemed to be bothered by the mechanics of the process. They continued living, as if being real but in some way a part in a cartoon was the way they always had lived. Just to prevent the damned hologram from flying out from between my teeth, I stopped saying anything at all. But others spoke and spoke.
                Reading real speech can be nauseating. The hmms and uhs and tsks and oos clutter up your vision and eventually frustrate your understanding so that in a #cartoon world you have to ask people to stand very still while they talk in order to get some idea of what their gabbering entails. When written speech pops out of your compatriots' mouths in unwieldy hologram bubbles, you can be sorely taken aback.
                So it was a few months after the Cartoon Revolution that I met a former girl friend. Her looks had always pleased me. Her dresses rippled around her body like the last bubbles of an incoming wave on the rounded edge of a beach. It was her talk that had prevented me from wanting to be with her more. She had a way with words - a long way.
                Today she was obviously burdened with the bubbles. As I approached her a huge one popped out of her mouth as she started one of her spiels:
                "Hmm?! Sooooo...You... ah....nice to see....How ya been....ah...doing!? Of course I ah hmmm naa been certainly adoing much ah the same, I say ah same, I mean ... ah of course job...but in private, priiiivate(!) I still, uuuhhh...well ya know, ya kind of..."
                As I stopped reading her huge bubble, I turned my gaze downward in hopes of reliving the peaceful sight of her lithe shape enhanced by the subtleties of silk and cotton. Perhaps I already had been agitated by her words; now for some reason I could see nothing curved or soft or flowing about her attirement. In fact for the first time since Cartoonism I realized that she, I, and everything around us were two-dimensional. We were flat. This flatness was deceptive because it kept itself turned in our direction: trying to approach something to have a look behind it just made it recede. Even looking over my own shoulder was impossible. Flatness just sidled easily into place, exuding the appearance of roundness and deceiving the eye wherever I turned.
                I broke off our "conversation" and hurried back to my home. It was at that moment in my own livingroom that I initiated the three-dimensional sabotage, since call "The Cartoon Revolt". Looking into our medicine cabinet, which now opened in sheets like the pages of a homemade, hand-flicked movie, I found an old syringe that once had been used by a visiting diabetic. I did what one in three dimensions never should do: I filled it with air. Then I stuck the end into my own finger and patiently pumped the invisible dimension under my own skin. As my body slowly took on the third dimension I also began to hear again. The feeling was like thrusting my head through the surface of the sea after having been submerged for months. I literally gasped for air.
                So it was that I started my nightly raids, sneaking out among the flat surfaces, which still were dancing like foolish, artificial dervishes. I would find some unsuspecting person or object and with my little syringe stick it full of the third dimension. I could only do one foray each night and then hurry back to my home, the inside of which now was as three dimensional as Orson Welles in a bath. Within its walls I could settle down by the CD player just to listen to sounds, sounds, sounds. Of course this stopped when they caught me.
                Now I sit like some modern Gulliver in this two-dimensional jail waiting for my one-dimensional trial, while my three dimensions surge and pound and expand. I do not really think that they are going to be able to keep me here much longer - and when I do escape they will never take me alive. They can call it "The Cartoon Revolt" or whatever. I plan to escape completely into the next dimension.

Perhaps you enjoy reading my writing?
Then try reading my book.
In Copenhagen:
In the USA:
In Vermont:
Norwich Bookstore
Or try your usual bookseller.


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