Saturday XXXXIII: Invading the Inner Sanctum • 1 March 2008

My beautiful little office is a secret. Hidden behind one and then a second heavy oaken door in the corner of a first-floor suite, with a 15-foot window opening out over the heavy red California-gothic Royce Hall and the glowing-green upper quad. The office is “off-master,” so no janitors or building staff have the key; and it's off-limits in casual conversation so’s not to arouse jealosy in the other grads who huddle in the basement in cold little plastic carrels. Carlos Castaneda, when he was writing his dissertation here, hatched Don Juan in that basement—Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 in the building just across the lawn—and I can feel these and the detritus of far better, more difficult discoveries and creations pressing in. It’s like practicing at Eddie’s in NY or at the LA Center for Yoga: years of sweat and shakti hanging from the rafters, if you love your history enough to tap it.

I stayed in the office late on Thursday, but sometime before I slipped back in Friday morning, there was a visitor. Someone with a copy of my special key, a screwdriver, and a roll of electrical tape. 

They stole my lightswitch! And replaced it with an evil motion-sensor light! Curses! Sensate technology invading my space. I thought I was off the grid, but now I’m caught in a new game.

The massive window is all the light I could ever want before 5 pm, and a Japanese paper lamp picks up after that. I never even touch the two gaudy fluorescents in the ceiling panels.

But now they trip on with any sudden movement. Toss my hair, twitch a little too much in working out a thought, or even just recross the chair-lotus too quickly, and bling. Friday I was pushing away from the heavy desk, walking the 14 steps to the switch and back, and re-establishing, about every 8 minutes.

It’s going to change me one way or another, this fucking light. Create a stealth within stealth—dodging the colleagues on the way in, and outsmarting the machine once I’ve conquered the outer labyrinth.

I’d smash the infernal mechanism to bits, but the new Mission: Impossible element is just as sexy as it is stupid. There’s always a blind digital sentry of lasers and motion sensors guarding the big jewel in the inner sanctum. This is essential to the M:I narrative.

And in this zone I guess I’ll take any epic narrative I find.

Saturday links.

● The outer extremes of self-regulation: Listen to this NPR story: a modern nightmare. Preschool children forced to plan and document their playtime. Foucault told us this shit was coming. Who wants to write on Foucaldian dynamics as they apply—and can be avoided in—the teaching of yoga? Guest blogger applications welcome.

● A bunch of Japanese people like to film owls inside their houses? Wow. This one’s the best. (No, you wiseasses: I did not find this by auto-google.)

● Montana Diary in The Economist. Whores, strip mines, threats of secession, and wide open spaces.

[T]he scenery—and its emptiness—require no overstatement. I saw more grazing cows than people in the vast flats, and those humans I did see were in a small number of tiny towns abutting the road. The towns usually consisted of little more than a post office, a general store, a saloon and, of course, a video-poker casino. People live out there to be autonomous, perhaps even alone.

● Social networks are like the eye.