It is true that when working nights, I have plenty of time to think about what I want to do when I'm not at work. It turns out that things here have taken a turn towards constant activity, so this thinking about is typically as far as I get, as the hours stumble by and things start to slip in and out of memory. While I am sometimes able to steal moments for my own projects, most often this is the exception to the rule that reads: No, you can't.
After a couple of weeks hurling myself against the rocks, I hit on the idea of bringing in my iPod and using it to listen to audio books while I work. I could manage that easily enough while my hands and eyes are engaged in legitimate, paying tasks. If anyone were to come over and bother me about it, I could quick-switch to a dummy Chingy/FiddyCent/Nick Carter playlist, which would save me from having to sit there and listen to them try to pronounce Sartre (they've mostly learned not to ask me about my books, as I tend to bend their ear for longer than they'd like -- but music is something they can identify with, and thus would be much less willing to 'let slide' as casually as they dismiss printed matter).
When I went out to find some audio books to listen to, however, I had a hard time locating complete sets to download. Most books on the P2P networks are broken up into numerous small pieces, to ease the transfer of what would otherwise be very large files. Then, a chance packet of junkmail in my post office box alerted me to the existence of The Teaching Company and their selection of professionally recorded college lectures. Now, I'd already amassed a reasonable assortment of academic material in mp3 format (mostly physics courses, it must be admitted), but the notion of such a broad base of subject matter appealed to me greatly. Armed with this more specific set of search phrases, I was able to narrow my P2P inquiries down to specific enough criteria that sifting some value out out of the search results was plausible. I copied these to the iPod and now make my way through several hours of audio every night. Over all, a better tarp to hang on my petrifying intellect than the normal mess of songs-I've-heard-too-often or the nattering of my co-workers about their television crushes. On the playlist Friday night/Saturday morning was John Searle on the philosophy of mind; Momus' Otto Spooky; and various other odds, ends, stuff and nonsense.
Generating a new sigil: I admit that I've already forgotten what went into 'The Chinese Room'. The carnal details are hidden behind a series of dark red curtains, separating the weeks -- even for me! I do know that the constituent parts include, but are not limited to: the chiming of Tibetan prayer bells; sub-second samples from a field recording found on the Internet, loaded as an instrument into a software sequencer and bent into a melody; a recording of the President of the United States saying 'I've heard there are rumors on the, uh, Internets, that there's gonna be a draft; we're not going to have a draft, period'; other things, all suitably hacked up, sanded down, repainted and repackaged into what we have before us today, but I suppose I should have started writing all of this down sooner, so as not to have made my promises of explanation and expansion upon the creation of this specific piece into common lies.
Such disappointment seems to be my lot!
Let us assume then that the work emerged fully formed from the rolling waves of chaotic, quantum foam that serve as ballast in my daily thinking, simply burst forth 'like a watermelon dropped from four stories up' -- I must admit, this is a compelling hypothesis, and is rather how I would prefer to remember the scenario, given my druthers.
That is, if I could remember the scenario at all, which, I will swear up and down, under pain of American torture, that I cannot.
The Chinese Room
5:06 minutes, 7mb