Stream of Consciousness
I have literally run out things to talk about. I have also figuratively run out of things to talk about. The truth is I cannot remember the difference between literally and figuratively so I am using both here to let you know I have seriously run out things to talk about.
Thank God for my higher education, that allows me to tap into the ideas I learned at school, while trying to get the girl in the third row to notice me. My accidental participation in an American Literature class many years ago saved me today. For the Phys. Ed majors out there, I will attempt to put this in perspective. While you were in class perfecting your free throws, the Arts majors were being forced to read very well written classic novels. I thought I was out of my element until one of my professors introduced a William Faulkner novel to read. After that I knew I was out of my element. It seems the literary idea of “stream of consciousness” was all the rage while Mr. Faulkner was writing his novels. This new technique allowed a one-page plot point to extend to a fifteen page plot point, as the author explored the internal psyche of the character.
For example, if during a meal, the mother of a novel’s lead character asked the son to pass the salt, the son would ruminate for hours on how salt had turned his life into the disaster he was currently experiencing. This reflection on salt, and its implications on the world, would span for hundreds of paragraphs while mother’s meal was getting cold.
I have had the privilege of being given a teaching role at a few Fortune 500 companies and this position has allowed me to learn so many things. I will condense this down to three key lessons.
Lesson one is I am a dreadful teacher. Lesson two is every student I ever taught was a dreadful student, lets just call this the greatest coincidence ever. This deadly combination brings us to lesson three. Lesson three is, when teaching the unteachable, remember to always add a very confusing example to make your point even more incomprehensible. This approach virtually guarantees students don’t learn a thing on your watch. Technically we call this approach “modelling.”
To demonstrate my consistency in modeling, allow me to demonstrate this technique as you still seem a little unclear about literary term “stream of consciousness”. Imagine you are reading a book. To help you with that image, picture yourself in a den with one of those nice green shaded lights and behind you, are shelves filled with books that you have never read. Okay now imagine yourself in a very comfortable expensive black leather chair behind an antique desk. Okay you are almost there. Now imagine you are sitting in that chair, and you have a hardcover book in your hands opened at page 243. Okay you are now ready for my example of stream of consciousness.
Let us assume the book is pretty good, and that is how you got to page 243. The two main characters are a husband and wife. To spice this up, they are also international spies who are at home packing their suitcases with designer clothes, sunglasses and many guns. Before they embark on their mission, they want to have one last home cooked meal, to give their relationship a sense of normality before the inevitable car chase that never translates well on paper. In their perfectly remodelled (I can’t stress enough that modelling is important) kitchen the wife notices they are out of milk, so she asks her very handsome husband to nip to the store to grab a carton of milk, so they can have a romantic candle lit dinner of their favourite cereal. This begins your lesson of stream of consciousness.
As he got in his sexy sports car, he thought about milk for longer than one should. He thought how the bible preferred wine to milk in most of its stories, and concluded if they had just chosen milk over wine there would have been much less fighting and wars to follow.
He thought about milk producing cows and how ugly these creatures truly are. He felt sorry for bulls who had to choose the most attractive cow for its mate, and how difficult a task that must be. He thought of the word utter, though he did not utter a word on his trip to the grocery store. He remembered that many primitive cultures preferred goat’s milk and how trendy goat cheese was these days.
He had very little experience with goats, though he did remember going to a petting zoo as a wee youth, where a goat bit him. He reminisced about his unsuccessful, awkward petting attempts at drive in movies, during his underperforming teenage years. He thought of drive ins and the logic of starting the movies after sundown so the foggy viewers in their station wagons could better see the images on a screen the size of Cleveland.
As he thought about Cleveland he wondered how the hell that city got the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, when Buffalo was so much closer to his hometown. As he thought about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he got angry realizing his favourite band, The Partridge Family, would probably never get in that hall. As he thought about this unappreciated band, he started thinking about tambourines, and his inability to understand the lyrics of Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man.”
Thinking about Bob Dylan led him to thinking about funny hats, and that always made him smile. He thought of the fedora his grandfather had willed him, while other family members got all the money. The hat had a lovely silk ribbon and as he longedly remembered the soft feel of the silk, he started challenging himself on words that rhyme with silk. He had great difficulty with this game and almost gave up, until he remembered his wife had sent him out to get a carton of milk.
As he entered the store, he walked immediately to the refrigerated section as he thought that is probably where they keep the milk. He was right, and after staring at the chocolate milk container for longer than the lady behind him could tolerate, he grabbed a carton of 2% homogenized milk, even though his wife had not added that kind of specificity to the order. He thought about stealing the milk, but did not and went to the counter to pay. To celebrate his impressive legal stance of paying for his purchase, he grabbed a Snicker’s bar and some licorice to help vindicate the retail theory of impulse buying.
This ends your lesson on stream of consciousness. Next week I will educate you on the magic of using similies in every day conversation… “As if you care?”, or is that “Like you care?”
Cue the Blong: This song title pretty well describes how most feel after chatting with me…
I Just Don’t Understand.