Die Hard and the anti-narrative narrative [Issue 4]

…an anti-narrative narrative that links, briefly, to Die Hard before turning on itself and its anti-narration narrator[no room for pictures, sorry].


                                                Written by Lawrence Gray


It is Christmas the time of many things that have lots of tinsel and stuff. It is a red sock with an orange, a chestnut, and snow, even when it is hot. The universal truth has all the trappings of a cold climate, so obviously doesn’t count in the tropics.

Let us start the Christmas story then.

The story begins, but where, way back before it starts. One can never tell when things start. So I am choosing an arbitrary point to start this thing.

Out of Ireland, green and pleasant, a peasant comes with a vision, or not, but probably not, seeking gold in the hills of California which of course have none, or not so much, or if they do guys with guns got there first. But with the railroads and the farms and the growth of cities and schools, a pencil in hand making marks, to make his mark, the man began eventually, after being born to the Irishmen and the whatevers that came before and got it on and got together in the gold fields.  The point being, beyond the individual is America! And every success story is an American success. America only claims its successes. Every country only claims its successes. So, not just Disney is this all about, but America. And not just America but the southwest and so the song was born, the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe!

Yes, Santa Fe will slay all in his way. It’s a rappers song for the charts. You gotta have your Christmas single though nobody buys them any more so what does that mean? Christmas download. How dull. You cannot wrap a download. No excitement.

Remember it’s for the kids but whose, not mine, but that which was me: a link to the youth of oneself. It seems a better time, full of hope and energy and excitement at simpler things, though if you really recall it, it was no great shakes. Plenty of misery in the ups and downs of childhood and for some it never ends. The future is all the hope you have and when you know it sucks, worse, sucked, there is nothing left. Except but to pretend. And one should, for everything is pretending, as time is pretending. It exists but not as you know it, though as you know it the very thing that is more complicated than you know for you measure it by relating it to absolutes that turn out to be relative.

So this is not about America where every success is an American success, it is about England, where a perpetual autumn on burning leaves, drizzle, mist and thick coats were a long way from the gold fields, more the coal fields, and no sun ever. Mickey made his mark but it meant something entirely different. Context is what it is about. So there are levels here, the reader, the writer, the memories, the references, the multiplicity of cultures all addressed and seeing nothing universal in the universal stories, except perhaps simple deeply programmed elements that shine through and are worthless, utterly worthless but they exploit us and put us in our place, make us work for the man, make us strive for the status, make us structure our lives so that we can be part of the story that is spun by the leaders, the philosophers, the politicians, the writers, the writers with the egos that demand we immerse ourselves in their stories, follow their logic, proceed along their lines of thought and all that can be done as an antidote, as there is, is cut it up, make it bite sized, reduce it to nothingness, information and clips, bits and pieces, a click away, and if we make it our own story it has no depth, just the momentary meanderings of our individual thought through gleanings captured from collective thoughts and not thought through.  I deny my own position for there is no position, just incoherent ramblings, like all the blogs, like all the twitterings, all the social networks, rambling, and filling the space in our minds and freeing us by confusing us.

I digress. Where was I?

I am tired. There is a typhoon blowing. And I’m inside a plastic bag. It will get hot in here I know. But what else should I expect other than air conditioning and a nubile nymphomaniac in here with me. Screw the plastic bag. It was a bad idea. It’s a wok. That is what it is because we are in China and it is raining and so a wok is handy. If it gets wet it rusts and if it is tipped over your head with the boiling oil, it will keep the head dry. The wok is a bad idea too. For that matter the only good idea is the typhoon and I like the typhoon. It is cozy. It reminds me of all the rain of my childhood. I liked the rain and the howling wind about the doors. There was something comforting about wooden windowsills shaking and leaking and a candle blowing; which all sounds a million digressions from now.

It is context that is the king and when the context is distorted as it is with air miles, as it is with time, as it is with changing societies and education and the death of an era, then what story are we telling and do we care about a story? Fragments. Clicking through the links. Another fragment of thought, disconnected with where one is, with whom one is speaking to, if anyone, if anyone with the same language, if any one has the same language any more. A tower is built and in punishment for such hard work and creativity, we are plunged into a Babel of tongues and will either go our own ways, when there is no where else to go, or will turn everything into a mass of mushy translations until it is all one.

And so I am typing.  I am Oswald the Rabbit. I should be looking under the bed for something or other but I would fall out. There you have a reference.  Look it up if you must. Another book on my bookshelf that once meant something but it was read a long time ago and now, I could throw it away. I have no interest. It means nothing. Everything moves on and disappears. There is no point to this or anything for that matter. But I am happy doing this. I have been asked to come up with something about Disney, Walt I assume. And so I am inside a Mickey Mouse costume. It is hot and soggy. The typhoon says it all. Note it is still Oswald the Rabbit.  Google it up. There should be footnotes or hyperlinks. Let us hyperlink everything and just hit a link for that will be enough. Hit a link but never read the result, just hit a link. That’s what I am doing in my head. Here, on paper, is my head.

I digressed. Where was I?

I digress. Where am I?

Tense and tension must be related. I should google it out.

I was then asked to come up with something else, another Hollywood theme, a theme of Die Hard meets Christmas, a change of direction, another contextual shift, another meaning to layer in, another reader to confuse. Let us follow that thought, or not, remember the book it originated in, the obscure series, the years of option money, the attempted scripts, the sudden casting of the man right for the moment, or both cheap and celebrated, a unique connection that sets a franchise going for Hollywood getting more expensive and less interesting as they go. The tip of the iceberg is all we see though time has brought to us global warning or just plain climate change as it inevitably would and always has. Little ice ages. Great stinks. Long droughts. Floods. These have all happened within life times and generations and to discover they continue to do so seems surprising. No matter, we will all live in Disney Land, or Las Vegas, take your pick. A big shopping mall will be erected and as long as the power plants keep the air conditioning going and the desalination plants pump us full of mountain streams, we will survive. Good tidings and happiness and joy. End of public service announcement. Your Christmas Kindle will make these announcements, slip them into the text, without you knowing. The product placement novel is already with us.

And so… back to the narrative because we all like a good story. Though the good ones are all taken so we prefer a new story, but most of those are not much good, which is why we like to watch things exploding: destructively or prettily. Whoosh! There goes a supernova, what a push over!

Where was I? Stopping one in three…

I am waiting for a part in a Walt Disney pageant: the crystal parade or something. I am supposed to be happy about this. I am a part in a story because that’s what Walt loved, stories for the kids, for the family, to make them happy. I’m not against that. I like people to be happy. Stupid films about stupid stuff are just the thing to make people happy. What else is there? Be miserable? Why? Be miserable and good? Why not happy and good and in fact happy people are for the most part good except those that like to kill and maim others because that makes them happy. That’s not so good and I think they are rare people. Miserable people who like to kill and maim others are not so rare. They are usually very devout.

And so I digress again. I cannot hold a single thought in my head for they all lead to others and others and diverge from the point, which I do not think exists because everything diverges, everything moves in a chaotic progression, never as predicted, always as expected, if you expect merely the probable, which offers up a multitude of possibilities which are unpredictable.

You are lost. But who is not? One pretends to know, pretends to enjoy, pretends to take the upbeat line no matter what, or becomes a bore. There’s nothing duller than telling it how it is, or at least telling it without a story to gloss things over. But worse, it is neither, good bad or indifferent. Misery is illusory. Happiness is illusory. All is pretence. Switch off the machine and one ticks over happily unconscious most of the time anyway. But one is, which makes one wonder, but one is tied to the timeline, to the life cycle.

Why, one might ask, does one fill one’s mind with urges to slap a naked rump and make a girl squeal? It never gets old. It’s a program. Nothing profound. And you of the other persuasion like to get slapped. Somewhere in there is some programme to regenenerate but it is largely buried beneath the pornographic gloss: as everything is.

The heat of this Mickey head is going to my brain. Why did I think I was in a plastic bag with a nymphomaniac? I don’t know. You see I’m trying to tell a story here but the only person listening is me and I don’t give a monkey’s. I said so on the radio. I’m famous you know. Or at least a little bit as I get on the radio to say things. Come buy this, come buy that. This is another advert. It is all an advert. We must consume. That is what we must do to save the economy though not necessarily the world but then that only matters if I will live long enough for global warming to be really bad news.  The death of the dollar is probably more pertinent. Buy gold.

It must be delirium that I suffer from. In the heat. In the Hong Kong Christmas, with the artificial snow swirling about me and the fireworks firing, and the Carols of the northern hemisphere ringing out in the tropics where I live, where I try to communicate, and there you have a point of contact, a reality that may not be yours, probably will be understood by you for you want a beginning, a middle, an end with all the fixings. You want to Die Hard, get the hero up and running and killing all the bad guys and rescuing you, as a child, in the nick of time. Your great big daddy with a big fat gun who sweeps in and rescues you from all things bad and reeks revenge for you.  The symbolism and iconography are obvious. The dream is of superman, of cargo, of riches raining down from the heavens, of rescue, of revenge. It is so primitive as to make one wonder why the mass of people respond so well in this modern, nanotechnical quantum leaped flat screened world but there you have it in our genes, the programme, though maybe not because there are other programmes, as seductive, as trivial, and the best we can do as an answer is to not tell a story, to rip them up, to cut them into bits, and bytes, and click from one headline, one aphorism to another, and thus spake Zarathustra, half read, not understood, half baked, and mad and here is another reference, a point in time, in literature, in philosophy for someone to grab hold of in recognition but is but a book on a shelf in a student’s bedroom and if you have never had a book on a shelf in a student’s bedroom then it is meaningless and most of this world have no books on shelves and they work in the sweat shops, in the slums, or roam the mountains with their guns ignorant and angry.

I have another story that comes to mind.

[Delete. Forget. Skip forward. Skip to the point.]

I will get to a point in the end I suppose. But probably not. So why should I expect you out there to listen to me? Especially as I am saying this under my breath. The situation is everything but it changes. In my mind it changes. There is a mind so I understand but it seems to be in bits and pieces and depends a lot upon where sugar reaches at various times. I suppose this is tired mind, sugarless mind, typhoon blown mind. Is there a typhoon? Is it late? I made that up.

Christmas returns with the hope of getting it back. New year. Everyone has them. But the year is arbitrary. It is all arbitrary. The illusion of need is surpassed by those who no longer need or have desire or desire not to have desire or do not desire not to have it but simply let it all pass for in there is not happiness but just another doctrine. They matter not a jot. And we have cycled through all beliefs now, reduced to nothing much, referring to the cycle of thought that we cycle through in our life cycle, in our season, in the ebb and flow of the climate ringing the changes.

It is dark inside the Mickey head. I am not inside the Mickey head. I am not at a wake at Disney Land. I was there once. I dreamt upon a star. It was great. Loved it. Had just enough money to appreciate it. I was whisked away into some hopeful fantasy and hoped somehow to get to where I wanted or at least away from where I was, which was not a good place. Sometimes Mickey is all one has, and there is another reference: Sullivan’s Travels. Google it up. I don’t need to explain myself any more. Just stick in the hyperlink. You can work it out yourself.

Now there’s a reminiscence here about miserable years in a bed sit struggling to write something people wanted to read. Couldn’t do it. Nobody wants to read anymore and they do not read this sort of stuff. So what am I trying to communicate to you, to anyone? Nothing. Does not matter.

The ramblings of the fingernails on the keyboard tap out words that might flow, might be difficult to follow, but one can be sure of one things that nobody is reading and nobody is there and nobody is typing and nobody should care and it is all quite glorious because it is all just a game and we like playing games but there is no we who like. So here I sit along in the middle of the night unable to sleep for the thoughts whirling about my head like the typhoon, like the perennial dance, the forever dance, of the objects at the heart of it all, the pluses and the negatives, the uppers and the downers, the antis and the actuals, chasing each other away, joining each other up, evolving through energy fields and strings and vibrations and numbers crunching till minds are set alight and it all comes into focus. And in a flash it is gone.

I have other things to do. I do speak to others. I do communicate. I like playing with the toys of today. I have Facebook. I have Twitter. No need for footnotes yet. I point cameras and record things and make things up and have others play around in front of the camera and I edit it. Unlike this. This is unedited. I lie. But there is no system here. There is no routine. There is no story. There is nothing by way of a character. They are artifacts. They are cultural icons. I have no culture. I am between them all. I have no generation. I left that all behind. I have no ego either and hate sentences about I and hate the miserable sound of all that introspection. I do introspection but I do not inflict it on you, or at least I do not inflict it deliberately, I do not entice or seduce, not here, I alienate, which was once fashionable. I assume I’m making a reference to Brecht now. Google it up. Others get off on inflicting this misery on others. But my introspection is not misery. It is much more fun and I aint giving it away.  If you’ve got this far, you know I aint making it easy. I should charge but you wouldn’t pay. I do all the paying. You merely sit the exam. Explain with examples various uses of the concept of point of view.

Listen to the ego talking. Another sign of the times. It cannot be escaped from. Cut it up and it still arrives. Cut up the opinions and cut through the worlds and the word lines and now we have another reference, and I will point it out for there are many references. There should be a reading list at the end of this. Hunt it down. The Ticket that Exploded.  Google it out. If you wish. Crazy ideas seeking the programme, looking for a way of reprogramming. You could form a religion about all this, in fact it’s been done Mr. Hubbard has it not? I won’t be obscure here. I am talking Scientology. It is of no interest to me. You can Wikipedia everything and get a gleaning and another story another way of trying to make sense of something but there are other ways that are real, that are without process, without exhortation, without statement for the Universe has no statement for it speaks to no-one but itself and it simply knows for that is what it is, information, largely unknown.

This is just me rambling in the night. Just me typing. My fingers are just hammering on the keyboard while the rain blows and the typhoon passes over and before I go to bed. And I am going to bed now. And Disney… I like Disney. I like Walt. I like Mickey. The world needs more of them. And less of so much else. I am a happy man in a plastic bag and the rain is pouring. The happiest place on earth. I’ve been sold the ticket by the man. And why not?

Flash back from the happiest man to the man waiting to be rescued, the kidnapped child, as we all once were, alone in the dark, nothing but enemies and the unknown about us, and some how the great man in the red coat would give us gifts, or swing through the windows and break us out, take us in his space ship to a land beyond the clouds where we would be honoured, feted, and handed all that we desired…

Rolling. Action!

In the black room, the black walls depressed him. He sat with the three-legged table before him rocking to the rhythm of his typing. Another page. Another word. Another day, trying to get heard. There was a moment when distracted and requested to celebrate. Come up stairs said the neighbour. Come upstairs. It is Christmas. And up stairs in a dirty mug, some beer. Talk much of the time before when the other neighbour slept all day with the radio on loud. What a laugh! And of the job in the brewery, the dream job, filling the barrels. All the beer you could drink. Nice.

Didn’t last long. Too many hangover days. Got the cards and that was that. Another dream job come and gone. But it is Christmas. And the key to the room downstairs was left inside when going up stairs to drink the toast, hear the stories, meet the neighbours, so when the door locked, there was no return. And it was Christmas and the landlord was away so no way of getting the keys to the room. 

All this is overheard in a noisy bar. The camera is dollying from one conversation to another. Fragments. A Greek Chorus of exchanges to bring one up to date of what is going on in the world of the story.

Cut to:

On the streets in the plimsols, in the snow, roaming around in the cold, wondering how to break in without destroying the door, and then how to explain that to the landlord. That would not be a good situation. And just that slip could last forever. Walking the streets forever. That one last slip could leave the hero on the streets forever with the tramps with the street sleeper in the cold, in the shop front doorways. That was then.

Found the landlord and he brought a key and let him in. That was the end of another Christmas story. Nobody swung through the air on the end of a rope dangled from a helicopter. No fat man brought a sack of goodies. One just wandered about, got desperate, all night, waiting to find a connection, a way of getting in touch and it came but it could just as well not have done so.

A little wintry reminiscence. The stories are gone. The people are all mingling together as one, one face, not even one’s own. It is a strange death but it doesn’t, couldn’t, as if you were never alive in the first pace, whatever that means. In the winter that was always winter it does not matter but later with things changing with moving to the tropic to the summer to the light, which is another story, about the migration of this typist, another context to read into all this, another filter, a piece of gauze obscuring the underlying essence that is not there, most likely not for all I know, all that becomes without meaning, without any means of communicating to those who might want to read about it, a story for Christmas, in a world where there should be no Christmas for the consolations it affords are a heavy price for the pain it all causes, but there is no pain, there is no gain, for it is a world without clichés, without breathing points, without full stops, without stories, no structure, the thought just a rambling moment, a motion, a ripple in the ocean that has no depth, as all is surface, all is but surface and the bubble pops and there is nothing…

And that is OK.

And all the lights go on and twinkle in the sky. Ooooh! The end. The beginning.

  1. Every real writer today feels this pinch: that there is no mind out there to read our work. The minds that do read these days are often the mind that behaves like a skipping stone across the top surface of a story. It’s not funny. I am of an age when I read stories they took me to another life, a better understanding of my fellow man or of the world and culture in which I live. It’s MELD now. A blink and a pause with no lasting effect. Lawrence Gray is a gifted and brilliant author to write this essay. I recommend it to the individual who believe they are not but in truth are truly shallow. Where is the deepness that once was here?

  2. I have to agree with RD because people don’t even want to read a whole paragraph now. They want the first couple of sentences and then decide if it’s worth reading. I found this article a little too egotistical, but aren’t all bloggers that way? He does digress quite a bit and I found myself asking why am I reading this? Even now I’m not sure exactly what I read and why I read it, but there is a lot of truth in this article. Just not sure of where Die Hard fits in it.:) Unless Lawrence Gray imagines himself in a situation where he is Bruce Willis and the rest of the world are the corporate creeps who want to destroy him and another corporation. Only one bone to pick with you, Lawrence, if it’s related to Die Hard where was the violence? Where were the explosions and the machine gun volleys? Or was the howling of the wind supposed to be those?

    As a blogger I meander, in fact my blog is called, Barbara’s Meanderings, but this is a giant digression and meanders like an old river.

  3. Well the brief was Disney Die Hard Christmas… so I thought what are the essential myths linking them all? Obviously Santa! And then one finds Walt Disney, a myth maker not unassociated with modern Christmas, heading West, the Santa Fe railroad opening up the south west, and the peculiar interplay of cultures that forged Disney, invaded my English childhood, and a world that puts me in China where all the Western myths, ancient and modern, are given an even more radically digressive spin than the English absorption and distortion of American frontier culture. So a theme of “contexts” is woven in where I jump from one context to another cutting away the supposed meaning established in one context when viewing something from an alien context. As for the explosions and guns, I use the words like machine gun bullets spewing them out in all directions.

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