Saturday, February 02, 2008

Not synaesthesia

Being a rumination on memory, human nature and the collecting of junk

Acting on a strange impulse I bought a incense-stick-holder-falling-ash-tray thingy and some sticks of Frankincense in the Weihnachtsmarkt here last Christmas, and incensing the apartment has become something of a weekend almost-ritual. (I was possibly inspired by seeing and smelling Sis do it in her home in October.)

It's very difficult to judge how something will smell while burning from the way it smells in a closed packet, and frankincense is not quite the smell I was after. But how to describe a smell so that someone else, for instance the friendly neighbourhood hippie-goods emporium, might point me in the right direction? It occurred to me to try to identify what frankincense smells like to me, as a step to defining what the as-yet-unknown other smell I had in mind might be.

Frankincense has a somewhat chilly smell; it smells of grey and still and quiet, of soft voices in large rooms, of ancient wood stained dark by many hands, of great age.

I was somewhat surprised to come up with this description and immediately thought of synaesthesia, where impulses in one sense trigger other senses, but realized recently that it is actually just the surfacing of a complex of memories. These associations are my impressions of the churches we visited in England and Europe when I was a child, where frankincense was burned, and which actually were chilly, grey, still, quiet and very large.

I don't know whether I shall bother to find a different kind of incense now; having identified the source of my associations I like the smell much better.

Lioness called me today after leaving a comment on the last post, to say that I should see this as a positive event: the chance to make a new start. I think she's right, this is the ideal impulse and situation for a complete change. I have to admit that working at home has not worked for me, I don't have the discipline to maintain a clean and efficient environment when only I ever see it, and the quality and quantity of my work both decreased as the squalor of my surroundings increased. I will move my office out to Rose Street, and I will get a smaller apartment, and I will keep that one clean and well-lighted. And I will get the post regularly, and I will actually open letters and bills promptly, and read them, and pay them.

I realize that I have been living a deeply strange life for the last year or so, behaving quite bizarrely in certain regards. This behaviour is what has caused all of my current problems opportunities. It's time to change, and life has presented me with the chance to do so.

As a first step, I have already been cleaning up and throwing away boxes of trash, mostly paper: three wine-bottle cartons full of paper from the surface of my desk alone! Lioness asked at one point how it would feel to have a perfectly clean and orderly apartment at my fiftieth birthday, and I nearly cried. It would be the best present anyone could give me. And just think: it is within my power to give.

(And as a second step, I spent only one hour in SL this morning, and shall go to bed after posting this without logging in there again.)

I did indeed buy a KVM adaptor (a kind of Y-switch, it lets you connect two computers to the same keyboard, monitor and mouse rather than filling your desk with duplicated items) as I mentioned yesterday. Took it back to the office, and discovered a serious problem, a show-stopper: The KVM adaptor and my Mac Mini both have DVI connectors, whereas the older monitor in question has an ADC connector. Can't attach it to the KVM! What to do, what to do? Went online and discovered that I could buy an ADC-to-DVI converter for 100 Euros—or a brand-new 22 inch widescreen TFT monitor for 250 Euros. I looked at the older computer (i.e. G and U's office computer that sits in my space) and discovered that it has both DVI and ADC ports. Aha!

So I bought the 22 inch etc, and installed it in the office this afternoon. It works perfectly, of course: plug it in—at one remove, through the KVM—and the Mac just automatically throws the right signal at it. No drivers to install or update, no settings to configure: genuine real-world plug-and-play compatibility. I am saddened to say that it's not even that much uglier than the Apple monitors—from the front; the rear view is a miserably bodged disaster, but the user never sees that.

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6 Comments:

Blogger Lioness said...

I'm so proud of you, I am! And it is, it very much is within your power.

Smooches and Portie hugs, bloody well done!

February 2, 2008 at 11:40:00 PM GMT+1  
Blogger Dale said...

Do give yourself that present! I'm trying to do that same.

February 2, 2008 at 11:40:00 PM GMT+1  
Blogger Dale said...

(oops. I was trying to say either "the same" or "that same thing," but managed to say neither. Your choice :->)

February 2, 2008 at 11:42:00 PM GMT+1  
Blogger zhoen said...

I love Japanese incense, because it smells a milder (more tolerable in a home) version of church incense. Shoyeido.com has quite a selection.

I've been watching the BBC How Clean Is Your House? as inspiration to deep clean instead of just surface management. Good luck, keep a diary, post progress. We'll cheer you on, you know.

February 3, 2008 at 12:54:00 AM GMT+1  
Blogger JoeinVegas said...

I too remember that incense, from when I was an alter boy waving the censor in church. Cold, grey, yes.
Please, maintain the office hours, probably the best start.

February 3, 2008 at 6:27:00 AM GMT+1  
Blogger Udge said...

thank you my dears, your comments and cheers mean a great deal to me right now.

February 4, 2008 at 10:10:00 AM GMT+1  

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