furia furialog · Every Noise at Once · New Particles · The War Against Silence · Aedliga (songs) · photography · other things · contact
21 June 2005 to 26 May 2005
From being anomalous and anonymous, we have gone to being obvious and implored. Bali is both stunning and desperate in nearly every frame. "Will you come back to Bali?" is the fourth question everyone asks us, and we've barely even arrived. Tropical aquariums are now ruined for me, wider roads now enchanted. An oceanside palace for 4 in Pemuteran costs more than a bed-size room in Shinjuku, but only by about $4. Which is about 50 cents for each form in which I ate bananas.  

The geckos and B and I all send our love.
Hi from the other side of the planet. So many people, so many noodles, so few days. Tokyo is just like San Francisco if we let ourselves be in New York, and just like Mars when I try to pretend I'm Martian. This morning I told a woman I needed to read the drink list and she moved a tray off of it, so apparently my Japanese isn't entirely useless. But I recognize three kanji in ten, understand one whole warning sign in twenty, and almost never have any idea what people are saying to me unless I could have deduced it from context anyway.  

Totally cool.
For the record, just a few hours before I leave on the longest trip I've yet taken:  

My biggest fear is that Tokyo won't feel strange enough.
it was that night on the phone
you said "let's kill the mod revival"
to some applause, and then you paused
as if almost to say "I love you"

- Tullycraft: "Polaroids From Mars" (from Disenchanted Hearts Unite)  

Staying alive is retaining the willingness and ability to surmise, in every tiny pause, that something amazing is yearning to happen.
the brilliant green: Rainy days never stays (album mix) (1.8M mp3)  

In anticipation of my imminent first visit to Japan, one of my very favorite frothy Japanese pop songs.

Candlemass: Black Dwarf (2.6M mp3)  

Thanks to innovative Swedish mathematical transforms, we can now interpolate the true Black Sabbath of which the Ozzy and Dio versions were merely dimensional corruptions.
"This email is intended for Mr Glen MacDonald (I hope that this is the correct spelling of your name)", it begins, which sounds more than a little like it will go on to hope that my day is filled with great blessings and explain that intimate trust will be placed in me to assist with the liberation of his late father's fortune from rebel banking purgatory in Liberia or Togo or somewhere.  

But no, it's actually an otherwise entirely earnest email about my music-review column. Hopes notwithstanding, though, "Glen MacDonald" is not the correct spelling of my name. Even leaving aside the ambiguous interaction of correctness and capitalization, my first name has two "n"s, and my surname has only one "a". If you only knew my name from hearing it said aloud, you'd have no way at all to know "Glen" from "glenn", and no better than even odds at distinguishing "MacDonald" from "mcdonald". But this writer, preemptively apologetic in case they've tragically guessed incorrectly, is writing to me at an email address published at the bottom of issues of my column. For those of you who do not happen to have committed the TWAS footer format to memory, it looks like this:  

Copyright © 1995-2005, glenn mcdonald
Feedback to: twas@furia.com

So not only was the correct spelling of my name displayed a tiny fraction of an inch away from the email address which this writer has transcribed correctly, but presumably this is how they have any idea what my name is in order to be in what they think is a position to guess at its spelling.  

I point this out not in anger but in fascination. This writer has looked directly at the correct spelling of my name, and by the time they have switched screens to start typing a note to me, they not only have already lost track of the spelling, but even have lost track of why. They have probably, and if so almost involuntarily, processed the image "glenn mcdonald" into existing memory schema for "Glen" and "MacDonald". These schema not only encode those particular primary spellings, but also contain metadata for uncertainty (thus the awareness of doubt) and probably even the related implicit assumption that the values were initialized from hearing, rather than sight. Our perceptions of the world are so influenced by our expectations and prior experiences that much of the time it's arguably misleading to say that we are seeing at all. Our eyes are receiving light, but our brains are matching patterns. I suspect that for all practical purposes, the writer has physically seen my name in precise letters, but mentally experienced hearing it in ambiguous syllables.  

We see things not as they are, but as we are. Actually, it's worse than that. Except in the rarest of moments when we are super-humanly self-aware, we experience not what is, but what we have been. And thus perhaps the strangest inescapable truth: the key to clearer awareness of the world is more comprehensive awareness of self.
Site contents published by glenn mcdonald under a Creative Commons BY/NC/ND License except where otherwise noted.