Nemo’s Nic-Nac Emporium: Ch 1. Purple

 

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{Chapter 1: Purple}

“Why purple?” I asked.

Because it is the shade of royalty.”

“How do you mean?”

Are you familiar with the tropical mollusk ‘murex’? It is a predatory sea snail. The mucus glands of murices can be used to create a purple dye—‘Tyrian purple’. That’s where it first came from.”

My befuddlement at this explanation must have translated to my face, because Mr. Nemo stopped tinkering with the tiny clock in his hand when he looked up at me. He smirked (as subtly as he could manage to) and continued:

“It was extraordinarily rare and difficult to produce. Tens of thousands of murices, in addition to a considerable amount of labor, were required to create this dye. It was, therefore, notably valued in its rarity. Only esteemed members of nobility could afford such a luxury. So you see, purple is the shade of royalty.”

“And that’s why it’s your favorite color, is it? Isn’t that sort of twisted, being drawn to something because of its exclusivity? Don’t you think color is the sort of universal pleasure that everyone, regardless of class or ranking, should have access to?”

The clockmaker chuckled and resumed his work. I felt my cheeks growing red, his laugh, whether or not it was meant to be, seemed patronizing to me. After a few more minutes of fiddling with his clock, he seemed to finish up with whatever it was he was doing with it. He set it aside and looked up at me once more.

Do you think me a callous man, Arthur?” he asked, quite genuinely it seemed.

“I think it’s awfully cruel and regressive to reinforce or romanticize any sort of hierarchical system in the modern day, whether or not that reinforcement take as simple a form as the preference of a color.” I felt strongly about this, and attempted to convey my words with a degree of intensity that would not be lost on Mr. Nemo. He considered my words as he took off his eyeglasses and rubbed the lenses clean with his shirt.

Perhaps. And yet, is it not equally cruel to deny a man the power of indulging in extravagance? Is it not also regressive to discount the possibility of growth? He will never aspire for greatness, who has nothing to aspire to, my boy.”

“I don’t know if I value indulgence and extravagance the way you seem to. ‘Greatness’, as you describe it, seems to be an elaborate mask of a term used to disguise vanity. In a similar vein, ‘aspiration’ can be equated with a fruitless endeavor to prove one’s superiority to others. It is not so much callousness I identify you with, Mr. Nemo, but an alarming inclination to tend towards conceit.”

“Aha! But, Arthur, my dear boy, do you derive no pleasure in differentiating yourself from me? Do you find no sense of delight, not the slightest, in distinguishing yourself as the antithesis of a sybarite such as myself? Are you not, in the satisfaction you achieve in drawing the distinction between your morals and my own, putting yourself in a position, be it one relating to a spectrum of ethical righteousness, of superiority?”

Preposterous! No. Of course I was not putting myself in a position of superiority. Yes, I was glad that I didn’t share Mr. Nemo’s demented outlook on luxury, that I didn’t agree that some are more deserving of it than others. But does that mean I am no better than he is? How could that be? Does my overwhelming discomfort at being likened to someone like Mr. Nemo support his assertion? Am I indeed, in my evident need to see myself as someone entirely separate from him, just like Mr. Nemo? Are we all?

While I sat in silence and considered his peculiar convictions, Mr. Nemo found another clock to tend to; this one was rather large with a brass mantel.

“Mine’s yellow.” I said after a while. It was all that I could manage to say, because, at the moment, it was the only thing I was absolutely sure of. It was the only contribution I could make to the furthering of this conversation that had not been tainted by the seed of doubt that Mr. Nemo had so unperturbedly planted in my mind. He put down the crown wheel in his hand and looked up. “My favorite color,” I added, “it’s yellow.”

He smiled in a way that I can only describe as quaint, and softly asked, “Why yellow?

 

 

 

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Arboretum of Afterthoughts 

Like hash and cigarette ash 
He had a way about him

Something new   

But familiar too

There was a green dragon 

Sitting on his forearm 

Not a force to be reckoned with 

Nor a reason to be intrigued,

Left as quickly as he came

Silhouette outlined by the remains of his scent

A thought maintained, lingering in my brain 

Gone like the dream that never was 

Remembered like the thought that never left 

Who he was, was who I am?

Were neither a thing of trueness? 

The Voyage of Our Youth

It’s been a great couple of days. I’m starting to remember how I used to be, what I used to want, what I used to crave with all that I was. I’m making an effort to retrace my steps, to unravel this caricature of my previous self and find some genuineness hidden at the center. I do miss myself, I do mourn who I could’ve become.

Why do we dismiss the dreams of our youth as foolish impulses, naive trivialities, as though they didn’t once mean the world to us? How do we so easily forget that time, in which we pondered endlessly the universe we live in presently? Aren’t we disappointed, that of the millions of wondrous ways we imagined this very moment, it turned out this way– rather mundane and unbecoming.

I want to protect that train of thought. I want to sit there and enjoy the journey for as long as I am able to, for I have tasted the destination, and it isn’t all that I made it out to be when I set out to find glory.

 

Sway of the Pendulum 

Forgetting what it feels like to believe in magic 

To have hope 

To have faith 

To have the will to continue to live 

For the sake of it 

Because the beauty in that is evident

Because we have the ability to 

Forgetting what it feels like to want to 

To have aspirations beyond what is necessary 

Beyond what is plain 

Beyond what is easy

I am crumbling 

From the inside out 

I am perishing 

What I was is not what I am 

What I am 

Is gone 

The Reluctant Existenialist Δ

It was almost as if it didn’t matter– yes and no began to mean the same thing. A nod in approval or a shake in denial, a smile in favor or a creased forehead in strain…each of these gestures were useless and of equal importance in their rivaling inadequacy. I suppose some humor may be extracted from this instance of absolute irony. 

Whichever decision is made, however much time is taken to make it, whoever is involved in such a process, what does it really matter? In the end, the outcome shall be. And while it may be different from any other that might’ve occurred had there been a slight alteration in the sequence of events that preceded its birth, worrying about what might be seems as fruitless as dawdling on what could’ve been. 

Tainted Looking Glass 

Swampy puddles

Muddled pasts

Look me in the eyes

Drowning in thoughts past

Reflections in a looking glass

As I wonder, “Who am I?”

Sinking deeper into myself

But I don’t know who that is

Almost feels like drowning now

Less a curse, oblivion feels more like a gift

Lost now, within this maze

Don’t remember where it began

But I suppose that’s the point

What does it matter, who I really am?

Enduring Loyalty, Wavering Sanity 

I wanted to tell you about the kind of music I’ve been listening to, how much it reminds me of you. You were right, the words are hardly as important as the melody and the way it makes me feel.

I wanted to let you know that I’ve been feeling less anxious about doing things I like, that I took your advice about doing shit just because I wanted to, because I can.

I wanted to say that I fucking miss you and that there isn’t a moment where your absence doesn’t gnaw at me from somewhere inside, I’m not quite sure where.

I wanted to tell you that things are different now and that although different might not necessarily be better, I’m not who I used to be. I guess I’m thankful for that.

I would’ve really liked for you to have known this new me, since you are largely responsible for her. I like to think that you are always with me, always watching, always smiling in that knowing way, always protecting.

I wanted to let you know that I love you, and that I know now what that means. I don’t ever want to treat you like a memory, because a memory has little place in the present beyond momentary acknowledgement. I’m realizing that a bond like ours doesn’t unravel in the face of something as meager as distance or time or reality.

I wanted to tell you that I’ll always be yours, whether or not you existed.