This website has no other purpose than to display Chris Barclay's apparent lack of writing talent.

My Conversation with Christopher

My Conversation with Christopher

Chris and Christopher sit in a room. Dimly lit, a burning fluorescent light. They alone are illuminated, yet there are distant voices and murmurs. It appears to be a math room, but it could just as well be an empty storage facility. 

[Incoherent mumbling]

“. . . and fortunately now I know never to pack anything vital in a suitcase”

“yeah that’s true”

“The reason I checked the bag is because I thought I wanted to take that bag …. I heard the word apologize more than I could believe”

“Is there a god?”

“If there was then would we be here?”

“Good point”

 

You got a . . . 60! On your quiz. But it means nothing! We’re deleting all the scores!

 

“But what does it mean? It’s all so pointless...” [Laughs]

“This is so sad to see”

“I lied and said my birthday was today. It was two days ago. Nobody thus far has commented on that, or the fact that I won the Atlanta Art Exhibition Award. They have commented on basketball, the weather, airplanes, and math quizzes, but not 3 months of work culminating into one final canvas ushering in tears and laughs from the best teachers this school has to offer.”

“yeah.”

“My battery is at 2 percent”

“This story is about to end”

“Is there anything you’d like to say?”

“No...”

“This is some Beckett shit”

“No one’s gonna get what that is. I don’t even get what that is”

“Samuel Beckett wrote a lot of existentialist work after WW1/2? Haha, it’s like 0.5, no, I mean 1 or 2. I forgot.”

“I hate you”

“So does Sammy, sitting in front of me. He is a flickering star, burning shortly, like a firework in an infinite chasm of void. And here I am, in a class learning about . . . there was a dog on the promethean board a second ago”

“Who’s that king. Who’s that king who thought about his death?”

 

Math Problems are handed out in packets of 3 sheets, neatly stapled. Firm paper.

 

“Was it King Lear. We’re all going to die the same way”

“We’re all born fools, and that’s why we cry. Grace told me the quote, it meant a lot to her.”

“Did you laugh when I wrote ‘why was I born?’”

“You mean in this story? I think I did”

“No, on my packet in the ‘Write your questions and thoughts here’ section with the large arrow next to properties of logarithms”

 

A girl blinks

 

“It is 11:58 AM today.”

“Now it’s 11:59”

“My 18th century book says that we don’t know we’re truly alive if we don’t feel whether the time passes fast or slow”

“How can you tell?”

“Right now, is time passing slow or fast? In math class.”

“I’m not sure”

“The clock hesitates before ticking, but in real life time does not hesitate”

“I think time something something”

“I’m having a hard time writing this down. It’s like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead.”

“No one’s gonna get that”
“I know who would get that, and besides, people can just go up and read about it—oh no I’m at 1% battery maybe this is it… the end of the novel or screenplay or play or performance. Maybe I die in real life, or in this world, or what? Should I be afraid? Am I afraid? Maybe I’m so not-in-touch with my emotions I’m so deeply, deeply afraid that one day I will go to sleep.”

 

He scribbles something on his paper, looks up, his eyes gaze towards the board, Chris notices Christopher writing this down.

 

Christopher looks to the clock

 

“This was a flawed problem from the start. We’re cutting our losses here because really it wasn’t working”

 

“That’s deep.”

“Alan Watts talked about how people stress over going to sleep and never waking up. To comprehend this, he says, that your need to have experienced it before. He compares it to waking up after always being asleep, or life...”

“What does that even mean?”

“I am at 0% battery”

“I don’t know what it means—”

 

The next day...

 

Ok this is fifth period which makes absolutely no sense to me 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 ok there we go

If you would like me to re-grade your quiz omitting that word problem hand it back in

So if that is something you want hand it to me now because . . .

 

“Is this yours?”

“I don’t know”

“Great. I have 2 math sheets. At least I got to throw the frisbee for a while before this class”

 

“So day we are going to work more on the properties, so your homework as not to lose the packet”

Ha

“Haha Everyone is a comedian”

 

“Why are you smiling here Christopher?"

“What’s my last name?”

“Does it matter?”

“I have a new pouch to put all the pens that mean things to me. I keep it next to my commonplace book where I write down all of my ideas. The pouch is leather, and I got it for my birthday. Yesterday I went for a run in the woods, listening to a podcast while studying. A girl in my grade saw me and commented about it today. Odd.”

 

Christopher is drawing on his 9.5 Properties of Logarithms worksheet

“I have 5%”

“We did that plot yesterday...”

 

He turns on his computer, which is at 5% battery

 

“I have always love to relive old memories”

“You have to put quotes around your speech if you are going to write here”

“I’m an embarrassment”

“I’m submitting this to lit mag so don’t write anything rash”

“So that means we can’t talk about what we really wanna talk about”

“Wait wouldn’t it be 6 log7 6”

 

“Oh wait yeah, ok hold on. . . so it would in fact be 6 log 7 6 minus 3 log7 5”

 

“There are infinite topics to explore, Christopher, infinite topics to explore. Society, Culture, History, the right-now, Space, Abstract notions of nothingness”

“And what about love? Or you know who?”

 

It was 11:15

It was then 11:16

 

“I do not discuss topics of love in my literary work. Dammit.”

“Have you really never talked about love in writing?”

“I have, but this piece is more of a Beckett piece. Did Beckett talk about love?”

 

He asked, rhetorically

 

“Did Beckett talk about love??”

 

He asked sincerely

 

“I have no idea, I think we talked about Beckett yesterday, I can’t remember.”

“What is the point of it? Logarithms? What do they do?”

 

The minutes tick by

There is no response

 

“Anyways, so I was listening to this podcast and running. I didn’t get running, it felt so wholesome. So normal. So tediously in sync with the rest of the world. I had fun, and it wasn’t boring or dull. Is growing up just finding pleasure in the already done? Am I going to grow boring as I grow older? Am I in my prime right now, and am I withering and wasting it away on math? What’s the sense of that? Trust is a fickle thing, Christopher, and having trust in one’s government is not having trust in one’s society. We are not ruled by a society. Society is the people you know, your friends, your family, your church group, your atheist group, your teachers and associates and principles and Irish cruise-ship relationships. We are being controlled here? But thinking that everything around us is a virtual reality is much different than thinking that our eyes are being controlled. No, I think we aren’t controlled. We have agency, we can love, we choose not to. Why? What’s the point? Writing? Art? To feel in control?”

 

There is still no response. As Christopher reads his laptop he does not see the writing ahead of him. Dazed, he struggles with his own writing, immersed, he struggles with recognizing whether around him time is moving faster or slower. Christopher is not in control.

 

“Did anyone else get 3.7?”

“I did.”

“Are we going #32 as well?”

“MmmHmm”

 

“I don’t really know why we do anything at this point. We just perform and action, then perform another, then perform another, and then die. Then that’s the end. My laptop is about to die. I didn’t finish my chemistry. I think I’m still afraid.

“Well there’s a real struggle with the concept of zero. Whatever that means. What happens when your computer dies?”

“I don’t. . .”

 

Chris deletes his writing

 

“ I guess. . .”

 

Chris deletes his writing

 

“I guess I’ll go and charge it right?”

“I’m at zero, the best laid plans of mice and men.”

“I don’t think they’re going to get that.”

“I don’t think they’re going to read this.”

“I don’t think”

Chris was wrong. He does think. Often.

 

“It was a joke.”

Was it?

“You’re not allowed to talk to yourself this way?”

Why not?

“Christopher has died.”

“His computer has died. It’s practically the same thing nowadays. He is powerless in this virtual world.”

“Wow”

 

Christopher did not write that

 

“Who’s the author, anyways”

 

You

 

“The reader?”

The reader:  “No”

“Oh, me.”

 

Then suddenly it was 9:15pm

 

“Learning all of this . . . but for what?”

 

Then suddenly it was 8:11am, or rather, 9:40pm

 

“It’s like The Seagull, or a book about different pens”

 

“Well for the test it’s more like the equations are on the board and you just gotta know which numbers go where”

 

“Now that’s more like life”

 

[A Piercing Silence]

 

“What if this ends like Cascando? I’ve found easier words to write than lives to live.

Some leitmotifs throughout my life: stars, streetlights, mirrors, books, coffee, flashcards. . . .”

 

“When I get home from school and just. C r a s h down upon the couch and watch a few narcissist cynics make fun of themselves for fun for hours for days”

 

“Well I think that it’s just learning how to live with the people you’re around only temporarily….”

 

“It’s not what you’re writing about  . . . reaching your mathematical peak in your early 20’s your brain just goes downhill by that. Proof is all about intertextuality, and it keeps reoccurring in my life”

“Oh”

“Well it’s kind of hyper-realistic in a way. Or not. I guess um hyperreality is more like virtual reality. In the way that the audience can’t tell what is real or not, fused with postmodernism or something”

He stops to write this down. This.

“No. To answer your question”

"Will the audience have to understand logarithms to appreciate your conversation?"

“It’s just very strange.”

"It seems like you write the script and then you should just start acting it out onstage and see what happens…"

 

“It’s supposed to be realistic, and then expressionistic, and then hyper-realistic, and then something avant-garde. Something new, next, undone, a new word. Yet understandable. Positivist. Analyzable. Maybe critical or beyond relativism.”

 

An idea has reached him

 

“So is beauty.”

 

He was not there, yet his voice was thrown like television static

 

“Say more things.”

“All plots tend to move deathward.”

“You did not say that.”

“I know.”

 

There was a long radio silence

 

“You know I went walking out in this dense dark forest near the river. It was, in fact, still in the middle of Atlanta. This city we live in, a large metropolis with large mirrored skyscrapers and bustling people and many subpar stores with their designs and over-prices. And it still felt exactly like a forest. I went out with binoculars and pens and paper, and I just went there to draw. I found a broken-down school bus, and I walked for 40 minutes just out in this birdwatching nature facility to find a good bird to draw for something to write. I walked down this pathway, and after 10 minutes of walking I heard birds chirping, at odd intervals, and then they began chirping faster and louder and more often until it was like a hum. Then that decreased and I heard the crickets and they made an odd and irritating humming noise more mechanical and technological and radio-like than any non-live machine. It was like around me was purely static and I began to run. The lights went down until it was almost dark, and I arrived at a clear-cut straight path. Decided to walk down this path, and every once in a while there was a stream or a large concrete obelisk for the pipes and people had chiseled their names into them, and there were some streetlamps next to the obelisks but their glass was broken. Anyways, this path was straight. A pure straight ahead, 15 feet or so in width but just straight dead-on for as long as you could see. And above that was a shining light some skyscraper or something. Well as I walked the night turned dark and the trees around me became darker and I imagined this story of a boy on a canal where he was just coasting for infinity and strange things were to occur to him along this path. It was very like my other idea of a boy floating in the middle of the sea, but it had more intention and direction. I drew the path down in pink pen, Christopher, and kept walking and I thought a while about death and my story and avant-gardism but when I almost was back to my car my automobile and way of life I realized I had actually experienced something. That I had had this great idea not because of some text or some screenplay, but because I walked out. And I still rely on others for ideas, but moreso I want to just go out and experience things. Like on my walk, someone in my class of 11th grade had noticed me, noticed me and picked me out from the group while playing tennis—like Wallace—and had tried to reach me. Now I was too enveloped in my History podcast some form of studying to make me feel more assured about my AP US History test tomorrow that I had ignored her inherently I could not hear her. But she told me the other day about that and it was the first time we had talked in this very, very long time. And I admit to you Christopher, I was feeling very self-conscious at that point in time because the room I was in smelled just horridly and she noticed and remarked upon it, and I wanted her to know that it was not me who smelled horribly but the room I was in. I never got the chance to ask her any questions, and maybe I won’t ever. But I still think there’s this notion she thought I smelled bad, and maybe her friends and her believed it so and discussed it. You know Wallace also was very self-conscious about his health and his hygiene. I can never find the time to brush my teeth in the mornings anymore, it’s just go go go and wake up for school time. And so it relies on me to brush my teeth at night, and the times I forget or am too tired from the day are the worst days, because tomorrow I will be self-conscious or worse unself-conscious because then I will forget more often. It’s also peculiar with girls, He, because they must be so terrified of exactly the same thing and yet I never see it on them. I never get the chance to actually listen it’s more like go go go and next class and no talking that when you actually get to talking your mind is all scrambled up like you’ve been watching TV for too long and now you’re sick and tired of yourself”

 

But they were all voyeurs here. Some were more experienced than others, and all writers knew this deep, deep down. Some were special enough to have articulated that, rare was the fact known. And the best voyeurs could never be the best writers, although the best writers were often experienced voyeurs in their own right.

There is a conversation about shoplifting and stealing from Chik-Fil-A

Christopher sits unblinking watching Disney’s Carousel of Progress on Youtube

Chris: “Thus is the Heaven a Vortex pass’d already, and the Earth / A Vortex not yet pass’d by the traveller thro’ Eternity,”


Christopher: “For shame, there is nothing to live for”


 

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