Notes of a Professional Voyeur II

Notes of a Professional Voyeur II

Serial Fiction

Benny Profane

 

 

Read Part One Here
 

Sometimes I get a little bit lonely up in this empty den of mine.

Every now and then, usually during screenings of one of those unnecessarily long and indulged classics which require constant monitoring as well as numerous hefty and perfectly timed reel changes; I feel the cold shadow of solitude envelop me as I sit obediently in my private box.

This sorry mood descends on me with a sure and steady pace. Like an encroaching fog from the sea it begins to engulf my mind until even the lighthouse of my imagination fails to shine through the ether; and passing vessels that might once have brightened up my day float by in rank obscurity.

On these nights the stars lie hidden behind a blanket of cloud and the heavenly light of the moon fails to possess me with its usual inebriating qualities. Instead I wallow in a paralytic stupor of loneliness and dote upon my present circumstances.

In this state of mind, time and space lose all significance; the world is reduced to the confines of these four walls and the monotonous and perpetual rotation of the projector, along with the incessant crank of its operation, induces in me a soporific trance.

The harsh mechanical whirring of the projector pumps out a constant commotion that echoes down the passages of my inner ear. The unending crank and rattle of this machine fills the interior of my skull like the sand that filters through an hour-glass.

I have developed an intimate understanding of this infernal sound. The sound itself is never-changing; but I have learned how to modulate the tone and affect of it on my ear by tilting my head at a specific angle or by changing my position within the room.

The curious change in aspect of this sound that is brought about when I crane my neck in a certain direction is proof of the ultimate inability of man to comprehensively observe in a completely objective manner the natural and unnatural phenomena of this unknowable earth. If such a minute change in perspective can bring about such a distinctive alteration in the thing being observed, how can we ever hope to be completely sure of our calculations and deductions?

The Uncertainty Principal of quantum mechanics states that the closer we investigate into one feature of a particle, the more uncertain we have to be about the nature of its ancillary features. This to me reveals the absurd position that we occupy on this earth.

The fact that the mere practice of observation will directly altar the nature of the thing being observed implies to me that we will forever be chasing after the discovery of some other world; a world that is forever retreating just beyond the horizon of our humble ken.

But this is not to assume that we should simply give up. I have had many opportunities to study the sound generated from my only companion in this insulated booth and I have dissected with precision all of its peculiar characteristics; so much so that I believe I am now capable of reproducing it, internally that is, at will.

If ever I am sitting in complete silence and become conscious of the fact, I will immediately begin to hear the cacophonous romp of a heavy projector and will spontaneously look over my shoulder in order to be sure that one of these machines has not sneaked up on me from behind; only to find, of course, that I am completely alone and that the sound was all-the-time emanating from my own tortured mind.

In other situations my ability to recreate this sound can have some very useful applications.

I have become so familiar with it that I now have it permanently stored away in a little sound-garden in the corner of my head, and if ever I find that I am in a particularly disagreeable or noisy public space, and I feel like escaping from this momentary torment, all I need do is close my eyes and open up the gate to that place where this sound-spirit resides and let the clamour envelop my whole consciousness so that I am immediately transported away from whatever anxious situation I have unwittingly fallen into.

In this instance the sound bestows on me a sort of uncanny comfort and I find all the quirks, contingencies and rudiments of my personality become exploded in the all-consuming nature of this mesmerising sound.

It is as if the world and all of its inhabitants, all the trees, plants and animals; all of the buildings, computers, cars and highways; every blade of grass or speck of dust, every single element on the periodic table and all those not yet discovered; it is as if all of these things are swallowed up in the blind magnificence of this one repetitive sound, until I see myself as a mote floating in the darkness; a small vibrating wave of pure consciousness existing pointlessly in an empty universe, without reason, relevance or point of reference. And in this state of mind I become content.

The constant grind which emanates from the projector is just one of the curiously captivating features of this machine. The circular motion of the projector’s rollers has an equally magical affect if concentrated on for any prolonged period of time. The rotating movement of these mechanical wheels as they feed the film-reel through the machine, coupled with the repetitive sound of its rotation, inevitably contributes to the hypnotic affect already described. I am not the first to comment on the odd mental and physical symptoms that this type of movement can induce; as Hardy points out in a small tangential rumination from Far from the Madding Crowd;

 

The peculiar motion involved in turning a wheel has a wonderful tendency to benumb the mind. It is a sort of attenuated variety of Ixion’s punishment, and contributes a dismal chapter to the history of gaols. The brain gets muddled, the head grows heavy, and the body’s centre of gravity seems to settle by degrees in a leaden lump somewhere between the eyebrows and the crown.
 

This is just a small sample of the numerous esoteric ponderings that occupy my otherwise vacant mind as I sit alone, for hours on end, in my projectionist’s booth.

The irony doesn’t escape me by the way. The possible comparisons that are to be drawn between the affect that the sound and sight of the projector has on me compared to the effect that the film-reel which it diligently pumps through its innards, and shoots out and on to the screen of the cinema has on the punters in the audience. If anything, the completely opposite results of these two sensory excitements only enhances my fascination; one numbs the brain into silence while the other distracts it with a much richer palate of sound, colour and emotion.

But perhaps these two methods are really more similar than is obvious at first glance.

People often complain that cinema and television pollute the minds of the audience; either by dulling it into a state of apoplexy or skewing our aspirations through a proliferation of superficial images and ideologies. But perhaps the entertainment industry isn’t going far enough? Perhaps if they really want to medicate their audience into a perpetual state of dim-wittedness they should just expose them to a movie consisting exclusively of loud repetitive sounds and hypnotic images. And when the slate of our memories has been wiped clean they can project onto our minds whatever spurious message they require in order to achieve their ends. And then we’ll all be happy—vacant, but happy.

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