Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I remember the pepper trees in downtown San José, how weird they were, totally anachronistic, like something out of Tolkien. I always noticed them best when I was drunk. Inebriation seemed to augment my perception of them. Their anomalous botany. My anomalous condition. It was a marriage.

I have always loved the anomalous. The strange. The bizarre. Some people are like this. Weirdness blossoms in them like Madagascar Jasmine. I don’t know if they are born this way, or the rigors of routine and the drabness of everday life engender a craving for contrariness, but some people expand into Marilyn Manson, others into Wayne Newton. Not so much poles of dissimilarity as flavors of oddness.

There seem to be more weird men then weird women.

Who is the weirdest person you know? Do you like this person? Avoid this person? Feel queasy and uncomfortable around this person? Do you sometimes feel like you are the weirdest person you know?

I am weird about a lot of things. I’m weird about not wanting to get gas at the mini mart. No matter how careful I am, my hands end up smelling of gasoline the rest of the day. I hate that. But is that weird? Probably not.

I think you have to go deeper than a mini mart to get at the truly weird. Though a mini mart might be a good place to begin.

What country has the weirdest people? That would have to be the United States. Hands down.

Is sex weird? Absolutely. Sexual attraction to one’s own sex? Why would it be, given that all sex is weird. Anything that occurs in the sexual arena is automatically assumed to be weird. What two people agree to do to one another elevates perversion to the sublime.

In 2006 the Swiss ichthyologist Maurice Kottelat discovered the tiniest fish in the world, the size of a fingernail clipping, living in the acidic peat swamps of Sumatra. This fish is a mosaic of mature and immature phenotypes: it has juvenile larval body with mature gonads, a unique sexual dimorphism, and bony skull structure around its brain. The males have highly modified pelvic fins, with the first ray terminating with a hook-like projection of keratinized skin, and a pad of keratinized skin in front. It is hypothesized that these modified fins are used to grasp the female during mating, or maintain position over a spawning surface. Evolutionary development biologists love these weird interfaces between homeotic genes, embryogenesis, and species transformations. The weirder, the better.

Is masturbation weird? This would depend on context. You would not want to masturbate at the opera. Or the Laundromat. Or the zoo. Most definitely not the zoo. Unless you happen to be a gorilla. Or a timber wolf. Or a wart hog.

Is hair weird? Hair is intrinsically weird.

Objects, because they’re objects, tend not to be weird. Weirdness seems to be a province of living things. Worms are weird. Bathmats are not.

I take that back. Once I found a very ordinary rock and split it open and found a cavity inside. The walls were crystalline, and twinkled in the light, and myriad hues churned in stellar wizardry. But can I say that was weird, or just plain beautiful?

There is no measure for the weird, because what is weird is a social aberration. It was once considered weird in western society to cover one’s body in tattoos, or insert a bolt in one’s tongue, or shave the head. Norms change. The weird are the avant garde of tomorrow’s norms.

Or not. Sometimes weird is just plain weird.

It is considered normal in our society to obsess about money. Everything in one’s life should be geared toward making money. Happiness depends on money. Success depends on money. Status depends on money. Romance depends on money. Respect depends on money. Survival depends on money. Progress depends on money. Money depends on money. And yet money, which is, at best, a symbol, has no actual reality outside a system of exchange. Tell me this isn’t weird.

People who cannot tolerate anything weird are weird.

People who go to lengths to be weird are sad. Weird is not a goal. It could never be a goal. It has no measure. It is enigmatic. Ineffable. Undefinable. You cannot buy or decorate yourself into weirdness. Weirdness has to come naturally, like Elsa Lanchester’s electric hair in Bride Of Frankenstein, or the shimmering weirdness that is the northern lights.

The word weird, with all its variant spellings (wyrde, werde, veird, weyard, weyward, weer'd, weïrd, weerd.), originally meant “Having the power to control the fate or destiny of human beings, etc.; later, claiming the supernatural power of dealing with fate or destiny.” Hence, in Act 1, scene iii, of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, we have “The weird sisters, hand in hand,” “So withered, and so wild in their attire, / That look not like the inhabitants of the earth, / And yet are on it.”

Poetry is weird because it does not use language to communicate but to hallucinate.

Basements are weird. Garages are just messy.

On our walk to the library I look up to see the steeple of the Methodist church on the corner of 5th Avenue West and Garfield needs painting. Then I look down to see the sign announcing the theme of this week’s sermon: “The Need To Look Up.”


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