By itself, this doesn’t make any sense: a “contemporary artist” is just an artist working now, and how could I do anything else?
Fortunately, the Book provides a few “ideas” for its readers, which give one an idea of the sort of thing it means.
A two-meter test tube filled with semen, containing billions and billions of spermatozoa. A canvas filled with nothing but the artist’s signature, over and over. “A feminist video installation featuring nuns discussing their sexual fantasies about Jesus” — although that’s been done, after a fashion. Similarly, a performance piece involving a monk who has taken a vow of chastity lying in bed with two female nymphomaniacs — which has been done, ad nauseum.
The best one, though, is a supercomputer that connects two phone numbers at random, and records the conversation: this “the best” because these things already exist, and we’ve been down this road before. It’s a fun road, so I did it again.
There was — of course! — a better conversation before this one, but it was lost. Alas! And I lied in this one, which I try to avoid doing. It has its moments, though, despite not being nearly as good as the one before, in which I turned the conversation to hedgehogs after ten minutes of nonsense.
Fucking hedgehogs — they make everything funnier.
Well, that was … uh … a pretty bizarre dream.
I was driving, somewhere wooded, at night, on a two-lane highway. I hit a small animal – maybe I’d already hit it when the dream started, and was stopping the car? – anyway, it was dead, and I was stopping, for some reason, to look at it. It was a fucking hedgehog, and it was dead, except it wasn’t dead. It was undead. A zombie. A fucking zombie hedgehog.
I ran. Then I was up in some sort of tower in the woods, like a wooden lookout tower or the sort of thing deer-hunters use; I was up on a ladder trimming trees yesterday, maybe that had something to do with it? Anyway, I was up in this tower-thing, it was dawn, and the forest floor was crawling with zombie hedgehogs. Hundreds of them, maybe thousands. Saw some zombie squirrels, some zombie rabbits. Zombie people, too, all milling about around the tower. None of them seemed interested in me, which was good, because I had no way to defend myself.
No food or water, either, though, which would mean having to leave at some point. Thought to myself: this is probably a dream; reach behind yourself and grab a rifle and a machete.
Then I was down among the zombies, punching the people-zombies, and stomping on the animal-zombies. There was a lot of crunching. I think the animal-zombies I stomped might have had cheese in them, or internal organs that looked like cheese? It kind of made me want to vomit, in the dream, and I’m not sure if dream-vomiting is like dream-pissing, where you also do it with your actual body, and not just your dream body. Fortunately, I didn’t have to find out: I was rescued from the zombies by a diminutive Jedi. Turned out to be Jack, who’d woken up and wanted to wake me up, too – so I took him back to bed, and sat with him for a bit, and now I’m writing this.
I don’t think I ever want to eat cheese again, and going back to sleep is not really an option. Time to have a cup of coffee and go to the grocery store.
So, I finally had a decent – sort of – conversation with a stranger. About hedgehogs, and other things. Enjoy:
You’re now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!
Official messages from Omegle will not be sent with the label ‘Stranger:’. Strangers claiming to represent Omegle are lying.
Stranger: Idk hi
Stranger: I want a dog
You: hedgehogs are better than dogs.
You: smaller, pointier, what have you.
Stranger: Like… Sonic ?
You: no, not him.
Stranger: But but but
You: brown. brown-ish.
Stranger: Hes sexi.
You: i don’t see it.
Stranger: Don’t crush my dreams stranger D:
You: it’s my job.
You: all i do is crush dreams. professionally.
Stranger: Well your dong a wonderful job
You: thanks. always a pleasure.
Stranger: I should tell ur boss to give u a raise
Stranger: While I sit here whimpering
Stranger: nd bawling
Stranger: Because my dreams have been crushed
You: I work pro bono. no money changes hands.
You: i crush dreams for the thrill, not the paycheck.
Stranger: Wow that sounds wonderful
Stranger: I hope that helps u sleep at nite
You: anyway. hedgehogs.
You: what can you tell me about them?
Stranger: Are sexi.
You: like gerbils?
You: what, exactly, do you find sexy about small rodents?
Stranger: From the gentle curve of their perky ears
Stranger: To the soft inner flesh of their tummies
You: go on…
Stranger: And the fluffy way they cuddle
You: Well, then.
You: I’m not sure how to respond to that.
Stranger: Lol. I joke.
You: prehensile tails do anything for you?
Stranger: Im deadly afraid of rodents
You: I see. Like Indiana Jones’s father. the rats, the sewer, the holy grail. all that.
You: “Why’d it have to be rats?”
Stranger: Uh sure
Stranger: Let’s go with that
You: Please tell me you’ve seen “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.”
You: Lie to me if necessary.
Stranger: U know what’s ACTUALLY sexi?
Stranger: ShIrtless. Korean. Guys.
You: What about shirtless japanese dudes?
Stranger: Korean. Not japanese
You: Just Koreans. Interesting.
Stranger: So mr/ms stranger
Stranger: WhT do YOU find sexi?
Stranger: Please don’t mention any outrageous fetishes
You: absolutely nothing. I’m a monk. Taken a vow of chastity.
Stranger: Lie to me if necessary
You: I do like hedgehogs, though.
You: and I do nothing BUT lie.
Stranger: Ur life must suck.
Stranger: So ur a dude? If ur a monk?
You: that’s one of the things we’re not allowed to do.
You: sucking, I mean.
Stranger: Ladies just don’t give u the time of day do they?
Stranger: Hahahah ur funny :P
You: If they have watches, they do. Nobody wears watches anymore, though.
Stranger: Hey guess what monkey
Stranger: I bet ur a virgin.
You: how did we get here from hedgehogs? and we were having such a good time.
Stranger: AvoidIng the toPic
Stranger: Typical ‘never been laid’ behaviour
You: should I make a joke about fucking your mom? is that the next thing we do?
Stranger: Nahhh I’m good
Stranger: Only IM allowed to fuck my mom
You: …your mom is dead?
Stranger: Lol I joke
You: well, then, i guess we’ve run out of steam.
You: all I wanted was to talk about hedgehogs.
Stranger: No u did
Stranger: Im full of stea
You: big breasted south-east asian chicks.
You: with long hair.
You: and beards.
Stranger: Oh gAwd
Stranger: Just thinking bout that
You: it’s hot.
Stranger: Is making me wet
Stranger: Lol I lid
You: what, you don’t like beards? hairless dudes are your thing?
Stranger: Hair is good
Stranger: I just favor the whole
Stranger: ‘clean shaven’ look
You: so, just pubic hair, then? pits? legs? ears?
Stranger: Oh DEFINETLY toes
You: shirtless korean hobbits. got it.
Stranger: That’s so ATTRACTIVE.
You: this is the longest conversation about hedgehogs I’ve had today.
Stranger: Well I need to go masturbate from all this sexual tension
Stranger: Bye stranger
You: think about hedgehogs, will you?
You: it means a lot to me.
Stranger: Lol totallu
You: pointy like guys.
Stranger: I like hedgehogs
Stranger: Cus they’re cute. Okay?
Stranger: A complete sentence
Stranger: Without a sexual innuendo
You: there are four lights.
You: there is sexual innuendo EVERYWHERE.
You: all the time.
You: you just have to look hard for it.
Stranger: Lol only If ur dirty enuff to find them(;
You: it’s all about sex. trust me.
You: I’m a professional.
Stranger: What would a MONKEY know about sex?
Stranger: A VIRGIN
You: go to wikipedia. look up bonobos. get back to me.
Stranger: Lol okay I will
You: bonobos and hedgehogs. the animal world is full of fucking.
You: tomatoes are plants, I know, but you get the picture.
You: fucking. lots of it.
Your conversational partner has disconnected.
The Book wants me to celebrate globalization by meeting people in “internet chat rooms,” which seems like a very 2003 way of putting it. I guess the point, though, is to interact with people from “all over the world” – those parts with internet access, that is – using the magic of technology.
So I did. I logged on to Omegle – the chances of encountering a penis or penises on Chatroulette are higher than I’m comfortable with – and talked to random strangers. Mostly about hedgehogs. It went … well, you can see for yourself how it went, because I’ve included screenshots of my ten attempts to connect with a random stranger on the subject of hedgehogs. (There was actually an eleventh conversation, somewhere in the middle, but I somehow mis-typed and closed the tab, cutting short a promising conversation about old-school video games and women, and preventing myself from getting a screenshot.)
What else was I supposed to say? “Oh, right, I totally forgot about Google!” No.
This one was promising, except the dude (which is a gender-neutral noun) disconnected right after replying.
Not what he was looking for, I guess.
In retrospect— well, no, I think you can figure this one out on your own.
The “correct” answer is, of course, “…gonna give you up,” but I wanted to talk about hedgehogs, not ’80s pop music.
I have no idea what “SWAG” means; the only definition at urban dictionary that makes sense is “Sista with a gun” – but I don’t know why such sistas wouldn’t want to talk about hedgehogs. They’re probably great for target practice, like womp rats.
This was my favorite one.
I guess the “I’m talking about a cute animal except I’m really talking about eating them” thing is a bit obvious, but I had to do it at least once. It’s a rule.
A disappointing end to my experience / experiment. “idk anything about hedgehogs.” Well, dude, maybe I just wanted someone to talk to me, you know, to really listen and communicate, and it could’ve been about anything, hedgehogs were just the first thing that came to mind – because I can’t just type “i just want someone to talk to me,” even though that’s all I want, because… well…
Yeah, not really. I just wanted to fuck with people. Mission accomplished, I think.
Holy balls, you guys.
There’s a scene in The Life and Death of King John (spoiler alert: John still dies) where Arthur, John’s older brother Geoffrey’s son, who also has a claim to the throne, but who doesn’t really want it, but Philip of France still goes to war with John of England to put Arthur on the throne, so that… —— well, anyway, John ordered Hubert to execute Arthur, but Hubert didn’t, and instead allows Arthur to secretly escape. And as Arthur’s making his escape – really, it’s the first part of his escape, because he’s jumping off the wall of the castle – well, he jumps off the wall after beseeching the “good ground” to “be pitiful and hurt me not!”
When has that ever worked, right? He lands on the rocks, tosses off a pithy couplet – “O me! my uncle’s spirit is in these stones; / Heaven take my soul, and England keep my bones!” – and then he dies. Totally awesome, right? I don’t know why nobody reads this play.
Well, anyway, I had a dream about that scene last night – Arthur up on the walls, spouting some nonsense, getting ready to jump – and I really didn’t want to see a dead, mangled body in my dream, but I didn’t know what to do about it (I’m not much of a lucid dreamer, I’m afraid). Before Arthur could jump, though, a hedgehog – yes, that’s right, a fucking HEDGEHOG – appeared out of nowhere and told him what a dumb-ass thing it was to jump from such a height onto such pointy and unfriendly-looking rocks. There was a bit of a scuffle, I think – and then a midget in an aeroplane swooped down, somehow Arthur and the hedgehog leapt aboard, and they all fell off together. I was left (in the dream) staring after them, thinking “what the fuck was that?” to myself.
I was still thinking it when I woke up.
Hedgehog. Aeroplane. Midget.
This morning, while drinking my first cup of coffee, I spent a solid five minutes repeating the words “hedgehog –aeroplane – midget” to myself, very quietly, like a mantra or prayer or incantation. Hedgehog, aeroplane, midget – hedgehog, aeroplane, midget – hedgehog, aeroplane, midget.
Then I went about my day. When I wasn’t being interrupted by children, or making coffee, or wasting time, I was reading Shakespeare’s The Life and Death of King John (spoiler alert: John dies). The reading didn’t go as quickly as it could have, because I kept misreading words – I was seeing midgets and hedgehogs and aeroplanes on every other line. I couldn’t keep myself from picturing all the characters as short and spiny – and Philip the Bastard was exceptionally spiny:
Ha, midget-sty! how high thy hedgehog tow’rs
When the rich aeroplanes of kings are set on fire!
O, now doth Death line his midgets with hedgehogs,
The spines of hedgehogs are his teeth, his fangs,
And now he feasts in his aeroplane on the flesh of midgets.
…Cry ‘havoc!’ kings, back to the hedgehog’s field,
You equal midgets, fiery kindled aeroplanes!
Let confusion of one midget confirm
The hedgehog’s peace. Till then: blows, blood, and death!
And so on, every chance he gets. Bastard.
I’m not sure if any hedgehogs or aeroplanes or midgets will show up in my dreams – and, if so, whether or not they’ll be speaking in blank verse – but they’ve sure been running through my mind all day. I’ll post a follow-up tomorrow morning – so for now, have good (hedgehog-free) dreams.