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  • Harry Jensen

March 28, 2020

Hulu keeps being wonky on me. This afternoon, when I sought after its powers to watch The Eric Andre Show, Hulu offered up to me instead the audio of a documentary about a formerly(!) orphaned man seeking out the identity of his dead father, and suddenly my room filled with the awkwardly staggered echoing of dueling identical narrators baring their souls.

“If if you you can’t can’t love your love yourself self, how is how is anyone anyone going to going to love love you you?”

I woke up late today, as I do every day. Cecilia slept in as well, so the running hypothesis is that my attic room, being for the most part devoid of morning’s natural light, prevents me from tapping into my sun-fed Circadian rhythms. It is a much more flattering theory than my own standbys, namely that I am either clinically depressed or pathologically lazy.

During a heart helpy breakfast of coffee and oatmeal, Cecilia instructed me to turn the “z” sound at the end of plurals into “s,” the “b” sound at the end of words into a “p” sound, do the same with “d” to “t,” and to over-pronounce the “v” sounds in English words as “w,” though the converse is stereotypical in mimicking German accents. For example, you would say “all the boyS at the cluP came back to my beT.” This lesson followed last night’s events, a fun step towards perfecting my perverse and decadent German accent. Cecilia mapped my vocal space after I read a list of 100 words into her voice recorder, and we watched a Werner Herzog documentary about a man who lives with grizzly bears for thirteen summers before he is eaten by a bear he named “Mr. Chocolate.” I want to emulate Werner’s voice, mimicking his continental timbre with the hopes of capturing the awful wonder that gives birth to evocative questions, such as, “Dr. Ingrid, can a penguin become insane?”

Since I am studying two new alphabets, it is a good time to learn accents, when I already stressing my brain’s capabilities to recognize and produce phonemes that I am not accustomed to hearing, or differentiating at least. Humans are, until 18-months of age, able to differentiate all phonemes across all languages, as determined by a test which correlates the subject’s rate of nipple sucking cognizance with the subject’s cognizance of a novel stimuli, in this case a distinct aural sensation. But I am well over 250 months old at this point, and my meager suckling mechanism is limited to the 20 or so English phonemes I have become accustomed to. Distinguishing let alone replicating the clicky “k” sound in Amharic is about impossible, the same being true for the “lr” sound in Urdu. Soon, as the language center in my brain begins to bloom into reinstated infancy, I will give to the world the dulcet rhythms of Werner Herzog reciting Ethiopian Scripture and Urdu poetry.

I don’t know if this is the right climate for a strong German voice, especially with the fascist turns some of my roommates are taking.

“If I were the emperor of America,” Zilch began, “I’d abolish the electoral college, give everyone UBI, put Elon Musk in my cabinet as the head of the Department of Technology, establish the Department of Technology, and take away everyone’s guns.”

Though he had the scrutiny to see some possible backlash from the gun wielders among us, I still don’t think I’d vote for Zilch to be totalitarian megalord of the United States of America, and I had to agree when Atéha pointed out that we might have to kill him if such tragic circumstances were to occur. I said that I would dissolve the Union and remove the overpinnings of Federal governance, and settle down as the humble Czar of Minnesota. Zilch insisted that there would be trouble if the United States dissembled itself into 50 city-states, at home and abroad.

“I’m more scared of China than Russia, actually,” he said. “And who gets all the tanks, did you think of that?”

During today’s hour of solitude in my bedroom, I began the diary of Samuel Pepys and skimmed through June and July of 1665 wherein he describes — between or after recounting of his outfits, his lunch, his lunch companions, his walking companions, his lettering companions, and his bed companions — living through the Great Plague of London. The bubonic plague was a recurring disease of the second millennium AD, and it’s final sweep through England killed an estimated 100,000 people in London alone, an unfortunate quarter of the city’s population perishing in the eighteen months before the outbreak was extinguished.

Pepys’s diary made me a bit jealous, because he seems to have a stalwart faith that what shall be done is God’s will on Earth. I believe in viruses, the coronavirus, the microscopic golfball organisms with a thousand teeny tiny tees stuck out of it like a corona, a crown. But I can’t find myself reaching for God right now. Meditation seems to me like a striving to be more than alone, but maybe in there I can find something.


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