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

Stupid Unsent Belles Lettres Letters

Stupid Unsent Belles Lettres Letters

I'd bet that most of my friends are listening to a comedy-remix at this wild party right now.

Do you wonder who I am?

I am a senior in high-school, a role model, observant and confident. Embodiment of the bashful smile, a liar. I'm not sad—far, far from that! Dog-tired, jaded, and somewhere, on some planet, deeply, deeply alive.

If you perceive the reflection of my phone, and the copy of Catcher in the Rye on my desk in the CD, you've missed the point. Such a brilliant display of light.

How time flies.

Junior year zapped my brain into some static: the entire episode felt like a painful sit-com without any audience. I'll quote the last paragraph of the essay I turned into my AP US History teacher for an extra credit score that, overall, would not be enough to raise my grade for my GPA. I did it because I wanted him to see my writing on television, however bad, however weak. He must think I actually wanted the extra points for a grade. HA! No, I learned too much, and went so far in that class. I wrote because it was the only way I could thank him. 

From technological achievement to political weapon, the television changed the face of America. In the words of David Foster Wallace, “For television’s whole raison is reflecting what people want to see. It’s a mirror . . . like the overlit bathroom mirror before which the teenager monitors his biceps and determines his better profile.” Americans huddled around the TV to view the moon landing, inauguration of presidents, protests for Civil Rights, and horrific images of the Vietnam War. At the end of a hard day’s work, Americans sat back, relaxed, and turned on the TV. Whether TV helps spread awareness of the world or sugar-coats complex socio-political issues is still up to debate, but it remains fact that the progress of television had a heavy impact on the mentality of the growing generation. Television preceded the development of the internet, which allowed information, entertainment, news, and advertisement to be immediately accessible to the individual at all times. Indeed, the development of the television not only paralleled and reflected the development of American politics, values, and society, but molded it into the way it was and will continue to be far, far into the future.
— Chris Barclay, "The Progress of Television as It Changed American Society"

Some brilliant display of light. Maybe Junior Year was just a vibrating bridge through a glass-like medium where at the end my perspective on life has sharpened: it's like my eyes have gone through some version of histogram equalization, but in the meantime I was seeing double.

 http://trueb2.web.engr.illinois.edu/cs445/proj1/laplacian_filtering.jpg

http://trueb2.web.engr.illinois.edu/cs445/proj1/laplacian_filtering.jpg

And I saw a picture changing the color of the sky, a caption: red_tree

More than anything, I've added ashes of burnt matches to my green vase complete with dice and rocks and twigs and all sorts of things. The best birthday present I ever received: matches in a star-themed matchbox. "Like in that scene in Breaking Bad you were telling me about," she said as she gave me my birthday present 6 months after my birthday. Then and there, I beamed; dazed and honored. I lie to people and tell them my birthday is a day after my real birthday, or maybe it's two, or three days! When nobody knows it's your birthday, you can't help but grin. But she didn't care what day it was, and got me matches anyways. 

I poured cough syrup—strawberry pop-tart red, less of a scarlet more of a deep red—over my green vase with the ashes of the matches I'd only burn on special occasions. Why? It was there, and I wanted to see what it would look like. But before I show you, an anecdote: TODAY is my brother's graduation day, where I valet-ed and handed people water with a confident smile, where I stood and clapped proudly for my brother after he played a Jaco Pastorius-esque bass piece, where I talked and laughed with friends, getting coffee and observing the way they seemed to spit out words. The anniversary of my first kiss. A poem written in red ink, the product of my 10th grade math class, sits on my desk, reading:

Her words, fabricate wisps of silver string,

strung and spun by her lips a steadfast spindle

I ponder and listen

Her voice harmonizing with mine

We commit verbal antics: her and i

A thick deep red sap

dribbles off of her tongue

The sweet taste of an ensemble in euphonic harmony

the strum of a cello

plays at the command of her voice

At the strum of a cello the clock strikes 11

The city darkens over the horizon

fading red yet still hung between our sky

but the stars glisten brighter every time I hear her song

Each pluck of string a star

Each strum a blue trail in shimmering contrast

I could watch the night sky forever

At the strum of a cello

I wanted to see what pouring thick, deep red sap—a drug to lull sleep, like some witches curse over an apple—over the green vase would look like. Curious.

Too abstract? The CD from earlier is a playlist for the only person who's playlist I got around to making. Make sense? Somehow I get the sense that I'm not speaking to any particular audience, like an actor shouting a monologue to an empty room. 

How beautiful. Those are the matches I put into the vase, and that red transparent liquid is Nyquil.

I was compelled to dribble it off the top of my favorite chess piece. Something about Foucault and the structure of power and how light bends. Belles Lettres: a French phrase meaning "beautiful" or "fine" writing. 

At the beginning of the year, I wrote my third unsent letter to a senior girl describing myself in great, pathetic detail. I even drew, on the fourth and final page, a graph of what my happiness will look like—spiking at Thescon, going down, then rising and rising past senior year. I realize that I wasn't writing to her, but to me. Later, I decided to write unsent letters to myself over a published website, and now 50 articles have been posted. Maybe I'll obtain a cult following.

Boy oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy I cannot wait for Senior Year: Vice President of Thespians Club, President of Creative Writing Club, and experienced in the ways of high-school. During the summer I will be completing David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest (and school-required reading on the side, I guess.) I've worked on the Oliver Sacks novel "Island of the Colorblind" and I found a metaphor for how I feel in moments like this. 

Many of H. G. Wells’ short stories, it seems to me, fantastical as they are, can be seen as metaphors for certain neurological and psychological realities. One of my favorites is “The Country of the Blind,” in which a lost traveller, stumbling into an isolated valley in South America, is struck by the strange “particoloured” houses that he sees. The men who built these, he thinks, must have been blind as bats—and soon he discovers that this is the case, and indeed that he has come across an entire blind society. He finds that their blindness is due to a disease contracted three hundred years before, and that over the course of time, the very concept of seeing has vanished:
”For fourteen generations these people had been blind and cut off from all the seeing world; the names for all the things of sight had faded and changed.... Much of their imagination had shrivelled with their eyes, and they had made for themselves new imaginations with their ever more sensitive ears and finger-tips.”
Wells’ traveller is at first contemptuous of the blind, seeing them as pitiful, disabled—but soon the tables are reversed, and he finds that they see him as demented, subject to hallucinations produced by the irritable, mobile organs in his face (which the blind, with their atrophied eyes, can conceive only as a source of delusion) When he falls in love with a girl in the valley and wants to stay there and marry her, the elders, after much thought, agree to this, provided he consent to the removal of those irritable organs, his eyes.
— The Valley of the Colorblind, Oliver Sacks

I decided to not rip out my eyeballs, although my short story eloquently has the eyes of my main character pop out and roll around like pool balls. Now I don't mean to suggest that I'm living in the valley of the colorblind here, however please try to understand that I haven't met many other people who express themselves as intimately as I often do. But I did have somewhat of a nervous breakdown the other day, pretty silly. I was studying for the math exam I took today, yesterday, and all of the sudden, once I realized I got three problems wrong, my brain seized my body and I started shaking and yelling. I had a fit—fortunately I was in the back room of the back room of my basement, surrounded by concrete. Once I realized I was staring into a mirror, a horrifying prospect took control of my thoughts and I spoke to it. As a child I was always terrified of mirrors, never daring to look myself in the eyes for fear that a demon would pop out and kill me. Too many horror stories, Bloody Mary, such an active imagination. Of course I had overcome that, but in this moment I reverted back, but instead of fear I felt sublime. A wave of anxiety coaxed itself out of me. I didn't feel like I was looking back at me, I was looking at someone else in the mirror, a thing or creature of some sort, a curious, curious creature. Then I got up and finished studying, took a bath, and listened to rain sounds to fall asleep next to my fan. Nobody wants to admit that they're human, that everyone's flawed and fucking weird in so many ways.

I didn't send her the letter because I was self-conscious. I flipped a coin twice, got heads on both times, and still didn't send it to her. Cheers for stupid unsent Belles Lettres letters. Pretty pretentious, not human enough, or real enough.

What are you going to say at your senior speech, Chris?

It won't matter.

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