I have been sitting at this desk for five hours, and every minute has been wasted. I’ve checked Facebook almost a thousand times. I’ve read twelve articles on Cracked.com. I’ve scrolled through hundreds of stories on the guardian‘s website.
I never set out to do any of those things. I didn’t care that Ben Gray went back to sleep as soon as he woke up. I didn’t want to see what the twelve most ridiculous old-timey inventions were. And I didn’t need to click on a headline entitled “Everything you need to know about the skydive from space” to realise that nobody needs to know anything about the skydive from space. Except perhaps the skydiver. But I clicked the headline anyway. And then I saw more things to click on. And I clicked on them. And further passages of pointless investigation opened up before me. I had gone down the rabbit hole, and I’ve been wandering through this burrow for five hours. I’m more tired, I have more gunk clogging up my head, and I’m five hours closer to the grave.
I’m here to write a play. I’ve plotted the whole story on a pad of paper. I’ve written the first four scenes. I’ve even written the ending. This should be the easiest job in the world. If I had a brain I’d be hammering this script out like a coked up woodpecker tapping out an angry telegraph. But I can’t do that because someone stole my brain. My question is; who?
The most obvious suspect is modern technology. After all, if it weren’t for the internet I would never have been able to distract myself with the useless observations of people I don’t know on Facebook. I wouldn’t have to tear myself away from Cracked‘s enticing lists of “five of the most hilariously awful/awesome reasons” for everything in this strange world. But there they are, floating behind my screen, beckoning me to go to them like some lazy horror movie villain. And I always go to them. I’ve gorged myself on the cyberspace buffet so thoroughly I’ve became a fact fatty.
But I’m not actually a fact fatty. When it comes to pub quiz machines, I’m the lemon who tries to conceal his surprise when he is informed that Britain’s Prime Minister is not called Davy Cameroon or Dated Cameraman. So looking at all this pointless information hasn’t made me any more informed. Maybe technology didn’t steal my brain. Maybe I never had a brain.
That makes this easy. My investigation is moot. No-one can steal something if it never existed. I was a mindless drone all along. Plodding about like those lobotomised zombies who complain that women aren’t interested in nice guys like them with no discernible personality. It’s such a convincing theory, that I never had a brain. I don’t need one for everything. I certainly don’t think when I’m jogging. Nothing more than “Breathe, keep moving, don’t fall over, embrace the pain”. I survived school days that started at eight thirty and didn’t finish until four o’clock in the afternoon. Surely no-one with a brain could do that?
But there are so many things I had to have a brain to do. After all, I got halfway through writing a play. And I wrote three other plays earlier this year. And then there’s a dream I had, in which after I ran out of credit, I topped up by stuffing pound coins in my ears. That’s a sign of a brain. Not a good brain. If it were a car, it would probably have three wheels and a propeller, and be held together with rubber bands. I must have had some kind of a brain though, because I’ve done so many things that needed a brain. The no brain theory isn’t quite the no brainer it first appeared to be.
Perhaps my brain was tired from overuse. A morning spent rehearsing and remembering lines. Yesterday was sweated away in a script writing marathon. I read the first thirty four pages of Dune at lunch.
But I’ve read more than thirty four pages in one sitting before. The rehearsal was just one run through, less than two hours in length. Plus, I slept the night through, quieter than a hibernating alcoholic bear.
Suddenly, like a flash of lightning hitting a baseball batter, it strikes me. My play stole my brain. I wasn’t at the easy part. There is no easy part in crafting a story. I had believed that once I had an outline, a destination, and a collection of unique and emotionally driven characters, the script would write itself. Or if not that, inspiration would leap out at me like an aggressively loveable kitten.
Since inspiration kept her tiny claws withdrawn, my brain must have been left – stranded and alone. The play had found my brain, taken it in hand, and then strolled down the information highway in search of something they could hitch a narrative ride from. Perhaps there was a pile-up somewhere along the way, a heap of angry opinions colliding in a fiery explosion of passive-aggressive defensiveness and patronising moral snobbery.
I don’t begrudge my brain for wanting to surf the crashing waves of great nothings that make up the internet. We all need to escape and have fun sometimes. I just wish I could say one thing to my brain. “If you’re there. If you’re getting this message. Please come home soon.”