Thursday, May 10, 2012

Filter

Sang sattawat / Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2006)

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This morning I had my two left wisdom teeth out. At 9 A.M. I walked  into the dentist's office. Quickly, with a heavy sense of impending doom, I  sat in the chair after a rapid, furtive glance around the room for any obvious  instruments of torture such as a pneumatic drill or a gas mask. No such  thing. The doctor pinned the bib around my neck; I was just about prepared  for him to stick an apple in my mouth and strew sprigs of parsley on my  head. But no. All he did was ask, "Gas or novacaine?" (Gas or novacaine. Heh, heh! Would like to see what we have on stock, madam? Death by fire or water, by the bullet or the noose. Anything to please the customer.)  "Gas," I said firmly. The nurse sneaked up behind me, put a rubber oval over my nose, the tubes of it cutting pleasantly into my cheek. "Breathe easily." The gas sifted in, strange and sickeningly sweet. I tried not to fight it. The dentist put something in my mouth, and the gas began to come in big  gulps. I had been staring at the light. It quivered, shook, broke into little pieces. The whole constellation of little iridescent fragments started to swing  in a rhythmic arc, slow at first, then faster, faster. I didn't have to try hard to breathe now; something was pumping at my lungs, giving forth an odd, breathy wheeze as I exhaled. I felt my mouth cracking up into a smile. So that's how it was... so simple, and no one had told me. I had to write it, to describe how it was, before I went under. I fancied my right hand was the tip of the arc, curved up, but just as my hand got into position, the arc would swing the other way, gaining momentum. How clever of them, I thought. They kept the feeling all secret; they wouldn't even let you write it down. And then I was on a pirate ship, the captain's face peering at me from behind the wheel, as he swung it, steering. There were columns of black, and green leaves, and he was saying loudly, "All right, close down easily, easily."  Then the sunlight burst into the room through the venetian blinds; I  breathed hard, filling my lungs with air. I could see my feet, my arms; there I was. I tried hard to get back in my body again... it was such a long way to my feet. I lifted my hands, to my head; they shook. It was all over... till  next Saturday.
- Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath (edited by Karen V. Kukil)

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Filtered through (pop) culture, even something as mundane as a visit to the dentist can become... less mundane.

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