I am sitting at his desk.
As part of my mourning, I got high and saw Back to the Future 1 in HD on the 40″ TV he left me. Hey doc? Doc! Hello! Anybody home? You probably also saw it multiple as a child, and we probably both preferred the follow-up because of the fascinating future it depicted. But the first one was really much better than I had expected, I really enjoyed the repetitions of small parts of the story — the disgusting Boss-man Biff knocking on the head of 1980’s loser George McFly (Michael J. Fox’s character Marty’s father), and then later in the film, when Marty goes back to the fifties, he finds that his dad went to high school with Biff, who also then knocked on his head with a closed fist. Developmental psychology of Hollywood. And the hero of the future who fixes everything all by himself, using the supposedly yet unknown technology of skateboarding to solve the problems of his somewhat unhappy family:
There is also a scene in which the same-aged father and son McFly are talking, Marty trying to influence George. They are hanging up laundry round the back of his father’s family house, and the 80’s youth gives girl advice to his own girl incompetent father. I thougt it could be interesting to think about what kind of advice I would give him. Maybe it could also be interesting for you: What advice would you give your own parents, could you travel back in time and hang out with them around the time they met?
I would tell him to use some of the money he inherited from his foster father to try out different counselors until he found one he liked, and to be honest in front of him or her. I would have liked to go to New York with him, to stay there for the last month of some summer. I would have liked to have gone to a Pink Floyd concert with him. I would tell him to begin drawing the same things again and again, and to think about how to make art with a social dimension. To become good at drawing in order to teach others to draw. I would probably have become annoyed at his blind openness to *higher levels*, and his lack of criticism in his thoughts. I would tell him to stop drinking so much. Not because he drank too much, but because of the way he behaved when drunk. I would make an effort to question him and to listen.
My parents divorced when I was about 10, two years later my father was in treatment for cancer. A tumor in his cheek, maybe also something in his throat. I will probably find out in going through his papers. I remember the first time I was made aware that something was not as it should be. I was sitting at my computer, in the living room of his and my apartment, headphones on, playing Descent.
For some reason the sound was not on, but I was wearing the headphones anyway. He was talking to a friend on the phone, saying something like: Yes, it’s terrible. No, I haven’t told [my name] yet. I was terrified and remember the feeling stir in my back and spine.
I remember him, a while later, telling me that he had a 50% chance of survival. I think I was twelve but might be corrected in this later on. I remember lying in bed, him standing by my bedside, telling me: The doctors say I have a 50% chance of survival.
I remember lying in my bed at night, maybe the night after he told me but I have no way of cheking the chronology, crying and repeating aloud to myself and who else might be listening: Why my dad? Why my dad? Why my dad? Why my dad? Why my dad? Why my dad? Why my dad? Why my dad? Why my dad?
I don’t remember him comforting me. I think I had an understanding of why he could have had trouble comforting me: that he was the cause of my sadness. I also remember him telling me that he had bought life insurance.
I believe he was announced CURED when I was thirteen. I don’t remember the occasion, but I remember thinking that it made him seem immortal. That I felt it was his super power.
That is a drawing someone did of my father in november 1952, when he was 5. I will probably post a clearer one later, when I have access to a good scanner and the time to archive his photos and drawings.
I am 28 now and am as I said sitting at his desk in his apartment, which is on the first floor. It is across the street from a school and a park — I never before thought about how nice it must have been for him to not have people keeping an eye on him. From where I sit I can see to the right: out the window of his living room: the windows of the school building. It’s a pretty okay building. Not very elegant, but not ugly, and it looks like it does the job of housing teachers and students well. It’s a public school. I have a friend who went there. He was the Casanova of my high school, laid back on a chair and strumming his spanish guitar in the cafeteria after school with a circle of girls closing in on him, drooling. Going for the kill.
There’s lots more stuff on his desk than I mentioned and drew. Left of it is a shelf, fixed on the wall about two inches above the surface of the desk, containing all his favourite spiritual books, and some on psychology and philosophy as well. There are the great works of Kant: Critique of Pure Reason and Critique of Jugdement, books by R. D. Laing, Stanislav Grof, Jung, Plato, Kierkegaard. There is a beautiful copy of The Bible, in a bound pocket-size copy with the title: THE BIBLE in a large but nice and simple typography with hits of serif feet (but not too much, it looks great) on a background of black imitated leather material. There is also, among other “spiritual” books, a whole series of similar looking volumes by an author called Alice A. Bailey. The Wikipedia article on her begins with a large table of warnings. I quote from it’s introduction: Her works, written between 1919 and 1949, describe a wide-ranging system of esoteric thought covering such topics as how spirituality relates to the solar system, meditation, healing, spiritual psychology, the destiny of nations, and prescriptions for society in general. Right up my father’s ally. Not mine.
I accidentally made the above in Photoshop and saved a copy. I want a scanner and time to have fun with it.
Earlier today I was out for lunch and then dinner with my girlfriend. We had croque monsieurs for lunch at this French place we’ve been to before. The guy who runs the place is nice, but this time he served us our croques in croissants because his sandwich bread had gotten old. The croissant was too light for a croque monsieur, my girlfriend thought, and I definetely also felt it did not satisfy my hunger. So on we went to this Indian place. Turns out she’s been there before. It was her ex’s favourite restaurant. The world is tiny. And I have no idea why I wanted to tell you that, but I know it was supposed to lead me to somewhere relevant.
I remember, when I was a small child, my father used to like boiled wiener sausages. I have always found such boiled wiener sausages to be disgusting. I like them fried, but better grilled. Maybe he did as well. He was nok a good cook, not really a cook at all actually. In my opinion. When the microwave oven was introduced to the masses, he instantly bought one. He exchanged it at some point, and soon I will be the owner of it. It’s main function for the last few years has been, both for me and him, to serve as the kitchen clock.
I have never before thought seriously about the use of microwave ovens as something that could contribute to the outbreaks of cancer and/or Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis. But I think I will stop using them now. Not that I consider my hunch-like thought conjunction to be either true or false. It could be interesting to have a look at what kind of research has been done, because it surely must have been done. But I don’t think I will bother.
So I will eat my biryani left overs cold. So I did. It was delicious.
On his desk are several solid brass cubes. I think he must have used them for paper weights when he drew houses with pen and paper as an architect in his 30s and 40s. In the 70s and 80s. If he drew that much. They don’t really draw that much, architects, do they? I think he also liked them as objects. They are also quite beatiful, and heavy. It would hurt if you dropped them on your feet. I think the two of them must be 1½”x1½”x1½”, the others 1″x1″x2″.
The thought of drawing something just occurred to me and made my happy. There are tools for drawing everywhere here. Let me find some stuff. Puff, puff.
I looked through his drawers and found in the fourth I looked in (there are about 50 drawers in all) a large array of Winsor & Newton inks in different colours. They are beautiful. There is a nice white feather in the drawer, but I prefer the simple fountain pen point bamboo pen I found in a glass on his small table in front of the sofa. In the drawer was also a small “astrological computer” called astro made by a company called KOSMOS. Here is a link I found on it. I have also found a lamp with a daylight bulb in it, which my girlfriend and I when he got it mistook for a “sunshine machine”. Like the big lamps Phillips makes, they are meant for people who can’t handle the darkness of winter. I have brought it to his desk, plugged and turned it on, have found a sketchpad and a green soft plastic/hard rubber cover to put it on and will now begin drawing.
And also I took my white jeans which I bought for and wore at my father’s funeral off and put on a pair of his Adidas sweat pants.
Then I ruined three pages in one of his notebooks. I used a lot of colours. I’ll let you see the first one, the others are too embarassingly bad:
In the letter he left me with instructions on his funeral and the things I will inherit, he instructed me to fill the unused pages of his sketch books up with my notes.
There are so many things to say that saying them is difficult.
I have a life. My father had his life. You have your life. We all have one life each. We are members of the human species, a truly amazing animal. Humans are the most intelligent being in the universe that we know of. Hopefully there are others out there who tackle life in a less destructive way than we do.