16 September 2015


The image that I tried to position directly below is a photograph of a disc that I rented from the library. I checked out a full season of a TV series, which consisted of a set of eight DVDs: I watched the first couple, but then the third disc began to skip; so I got angry and pressed the “eject” button on my DVD player and took the disc and whipped it across the room. The disc then broke.

Dear diary,

Each individual human is like a fingerprint or a snowflake: no two are alike; but if you look down from a bird’s-eye view upon cities filled with humans, it is impossible to distinguish one person from another; they all congeal into a single, seething mass of flesh—like Narcissus gazing into a pond, mankind mirrors the deity. This is what enraged God about Sodom and Gomorrah. It resulted in more than 7,000 years of bad luck.

I have nothing more to say here now, so I’ll just tell three events from tonight’s bike ride.

The first event was that a bus stopped right in front of me, and more than ten people came out and crowded the path where I was trying to ride, and I almost crashed into one woman who was walking in a zigzag fashion like she was dodging bullets in slow-mo.

The second event was that I rounded a bend and startled a couple of young people who were kissing: I felt bad about this and wanted to tell them that I approve of their good work, but instead I just raced away quickly.

The third event was as follows. On the corner of a street that I always pass coming home, there’s a house with a large green yard. Over the last week, I’ve noticed that people have been building a fence around this yard—every day a little more of the fence has gotten built. Today the entire fence was at last completed: a bicyclist can no longer see any part of the yard from the street. So, tonight, as I passed, I wondered why there were clouds of thick smoke billowing out of the fence. My guess is that the owners of the place were performing human sacrifices. I don’t say this just to give my report a wacky punchline: I really do believe that those people are religious.

Now let me try to think of something different to talk about…

The acronym ACE stands for American Cinema Editors. It’s an honorary society. Its members get to attach those three letters to their name, as a title; so, when I myself become a member, I will write “Bryan Ray, ACE” in permanent ink on all of my toys. I often daydream about becoming an editor. Not a magazine editor but an editor of movies and television.

But I have an annoying personality; so I know that if I became a genuine professional, after finishing a job, I will always pronounce that phrase “I edited it” robotically and stilted, because those last three syllables can be wrenched into a type of stable, verbal glitch: when handing the finished stack of film canisters to the director, I’ll announce with sincerity, “Here: I ed-did-did-did.”

And if I were asked to start on a new job, I would augment the phrase “no problem” in a similar way—for the word problem in Esperanto is problemo, whose letter “e” I would change to “o” so that all of the vowels are uniform and pronounced the same as the “o” in that first word “no”—thus, like “edited it,” my other catchphrase would be similarly robotic and staid: “No pro-blo-mo.”

Now here is a text message that someone sent me on Friday:

Sorry for the late notice but this weekend actually works if it works for you.

And here is the reply that I sent to the sender of that message:

The plain truth is that I thought I’d be relieved to get the book project out of my system; but, after finishing, I’ve felt nothing but disgust for any activity other than biking and reading… I say this to stress that my absence has nothing to do with you… I keep thinking that my negativity is just a phase that will eventually pass; that’s why I try to remain optimistic (about meeting up) whenever we talk.

I continue to update this weblog, being driven by the thought that someone might read its words. Placebos have always worked well with me, because I was blessed with a sky-high level of naivety.

Keeping an online diary versus writing in a private, physical codex is like the difference between practicing a stand-up comedy routine alone in front of the mirror, and practicing the same routine before a live audience. But I guess that even an imaginary audience can provoke a dilettante to improve his material: the secret ingredient is anxiety—if you can drum it up for nothing, it’s like tax-free energy.

There’s a saying: Easy come, easy go. Terror is like a weed among feelings: it grows quickly and in abundance, whether one wants it to or not; and it’s very difficult to uproot. The more distinguished feelings are like flowers that wither too quickly; but fear always overstays its welcome. (Is fear ever welcome?)

Let’s say that you’re a graceful creature with soft, tawny fur. Let’s say that you see a vicious predator racing toward you. Let’s say that you are allowed to choose between two fates:

  • Choice A is to let the fangs of this predator bite you to death.
  • Choice B is to flood your soul with nervousness in order to speed your escape.

My guess is that you would choose death-by-fangs, in order to avoid having to endure the effects of anxiety; because you understand the amplitude of time, and you know that death is but a sleep and a forgetting. (I take that first clause from Whitman and the second from Wordsworth; but in the latter I swapped death for birth: a neat trick that I learned from watching God.) Some scientists might label your attitude decadent; but I prefer those who call it sophisticated.


Here is a very short reading of another Emily Dickinson poem:


Qualo Infinity said...

Dear Bicycle Sleuth, Please investigate those human sacrifices and get back with us. We haven't seen the Higgins family in over a week, and they usually come for tea. Sincerely, The General Public.

Bryan Ray said...

Dear General Public, I am so glad that you all sent me this suggestion: it resulted in my company Bicycle Sleuth International being able to straighten out more than 1,400 previously unsolved mysteries. The Higgins family was one of them—it turns out that they have been drinking tea at the house with the new fence around its yard; and so have 1,399 other families. Sincerely, Bryan Ray, CEO, Bicycle Sleuth International


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