Human Oddity

In response to Daily Post’s daily prompt: healthy. 

“Look at the signs and at billboards and at all the junk written along the American roads. Read the labels on our packages and the instructions on our toys, the claims on our medicines and the graffiti on our walls. Read the fillers, so rich in self-esteem, that come spilling out of your monthly statement from the electric company and the telephone company and the bank. Read menus and catalogues and second-class mail … Our daily landscape is thick with absurd messages and portents. Notice them. ”

On Writing Well, William Zinsser

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PC: MIA XING

I had the oddest “brain fart” today.

People say “brain fart” when your brain can’t remember something all of a sudden- cannot function at all, but I think it should rather mean when your brain cannot function from its usual perspective. It’s almost like your brain bounces away from its little corner, and looks at the world from a new angle for a fleeting moment, and everything feels sharply awkward but blurry at the same time (like when you just farted…).

Now that we’ve gotten the definition of the concept out of the way (or rather just my definition of the concept), I was in my Dad’s car, on my way to my swimming lesson, and checking social media on my phone.

Yes, and then i got my brain fart. By doing literally the most human-fun and banal thing, I acquired for a brief moment the perspective of an alien, a Star Beast, an animal, a tree, a what-ever-you-may-call-it,  sort of thing.

I was at the point where you’ve already visited all of your social media apps but you’re still bored, so you scroll up and down frantically. I was at that point, when I saw this BuzzfeedDIY post on Instagram with the caption:” Holy crap, mixing paint is so weirdly satisfying“. It had a video of four blobs of paint being mixed into one color. It was mesmerizing and indeed… satisfying. But it was when i thought of the Zinsser paragraph that my brain fart came along-

So here I was, sitting in a car which is a moving box machine thingy, driving down a road, looking at my phone, squandering my data by watching a video, and it’s not even a trailer or anything, it was a five-second thing of nothing but a spatula and some colors. Over and over.

You have to admit that the video has its charm, but on the other hand, Zinsser is right. Our daily landscape is “thick with” absurdness. On a scale from 1 to 10, our world is super weird.

Now I am sitting here writing my blog, while my mom rolls a peculiar structure of two metal balls on her face which makes one’s face thinner. That is the thingamabob’s sole purpose. This morning I was at a Japanese supermarket with my friend, and we were talking about a certain Japanese “sparkle pill” that makes your poop sparkly. That is the pill’s sole purpose. And there I was, using my data on a video of paint-mixing.

And if we narrow it down further, it is mostly the first-world quotidien landscape that is absurd. Imagine yourself being an alien who landed in Canada. You will hear people “freaking out” over a plant dying in an app; you will hear weird lyrics blasting out of cars…

Now, is that a good thing? Or should humans be blamed?

My other brain fart moment happened when I was about to get into the pool for my lesson. I was standing there, and I somehow suddenly managed to look at things from the perspective of a non-human animal or an alien.

The voices of people just fizzled into a blur that was so loud it felt like it was going to fade out. Like when a car is passing and it’s at the closest point to you and you can here the engine but then you know it’s about to fade away. The blue light from the pool gave the whole scene an even more alien-lab-ish tone. I was standing at one corner of the pool, and  it is just enthralling to think about there are these humans who pay to learn to be fishes. Not only that, they also invented this type of skin-tight clothing that makes you all smooth in the water.

It was very peculiar. But that brain-fart only lasted for 2 seconds. Then the nervousness in my stomach came back. The smell of chlorine came back. The realization that our coach is only 5 meters away from me came back. I got into the pool.

Now this whole brain-fart subject might sound very teenage-angsty to you, but it is true. When you suddenly pull yourself out of your everyday perspective somehow, you see how the human society is like a crazy kaleidoscope, where a paint-mixing video can go viral. It does not even matter where you find yourself. Even in the most mundane of places, if you think about how this all had to be invented by someone at some point in time, you feel a mixture of fear and awe.

And believe it or not, it is actually a conscious, healthy attempt, I think, to sometimes zoom out and be an alien for a second. When I was little I liked to do the exercise of convincing myself that a leaf of grass is a tree. It is the same thing for this brain-fart business. Pull yourself out and you realize maybe you were sad just for the sake of being sad- you don’t even remember why you were sad in the first place. Pull yourself out and you realize how your emotions often depend on a video of the most trifling of things.

Or sometimes, when you pull yourself out you would have faith in the human race again. At least when you thin about the wisdom of a swimsuit that you always took for granted, you have to feel like an awestruck alien.

As I grow up, brain-farts hit me less and less, so I suggest that you hold on to them too. And always think of how “Our daily landscape is thick with absurd messages and portents. Notice them. ”

 

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