11 January 2011


I'm sure we've all had times in our lives when a certain word or phrase seems to be following us. Like when you learn a new word while listening to a radio interview and then hear the same word three times in the next two days despite never having heard it before. Or like that time you couldn't stop yelling 'trousers' while you were supposed to be giving the valedictory address.

I've been going through one such experience recently, except it has been going on for two and a half months now. In some ways I brought it on myself; living the lifestyle I live in the questionable linguistic environments I do I suppose it was only a matter of time before I attracted the attention of some of the less reputable lexemes around me. But I never believed it would come to this.

I'm being stalked by the word 'conduit'.

It started back in November while I was writing that crazy Nanawrimo project. In the course of focussing on nothing but a single science fiction story for a whole month it was inevitable that some words would pop up repetitively; words like 'Cavalier' 'calibre' and 'lizardy'. But I was utterly unprepared for the frequency with which 'conduit' jumped in to fill the void whenever I needed a spaceshipy sounding noun.

I realise this doesn't really count as stalking. It's just me taking the lazy, uncreative route around writer's block and not having the time or inclination to go back and fix it.

Furthermore I think I've figured out where it came from. Last week I got in one of my 'bored with the world so I'll lose myself in an entire series or two of some escapist American television program' moods. Unfortunately the season of Boston Legal I'm up to wasn't available at the DVD shop, so I diverted to another old favourite of mine: Star Trek Voyager.

Yes. I have diverse, eccentric and obsolete taste in conduits. I mean TV shows. God damn it.

The thing is while I might have overused the word 'conduit' in my writing, those Voyager crewmen had conduits coming out of their ears. Power conduits; energy conduits; subspace conduits. If there's a made up physical phenomenon, it's got a conduit. But I'm sorry. Even if you live on a spaceship on the other side of the galaxy in a universe that includes telepathic two year olds, sentient nebulae and omnipotent continua with suicidal tendencies, there is no referential framework in which 'temporal conduit' could possibly mean anything sensible.

If all that wasn't enough (and I can see how you might be of that opinion, come to think of it) the next encounter came from a source completely disconnected from science fiction. My old friends the Newsboys put out their first post-Peter Furler album last year and I recently picked up a copy. Imagine my surprise at hearing the Newsboys - now fronted by Michael Tait - sing the following lyrics:

What will people think when they hear that I'm a Jesus Freak? What will people do when they find that it's true?

This has nothing to do with conduits. I just need to get this off my chest. There are some songs that you just shouldn't cover because they can't be improved upon. This goes double for a band that already has several perfectly smash hits of its own.

There again, if we're talking about a vessel, substance or catalyst through which another substance or energy flows, then I suppose you could think of the whole universe as being one big temporal conduit. But it still doesn't make sense in the context of just one localised spaceship.

Meanwhile, in a different song on the same album:

When the 'boys light up you know
Who gets the praise. Who owns the show.
When the 'boys light up it's on
And we ain't stopping 'til we're done.
We ain't nothing but the conduits
He's got the power. He'll flip the switch.
Leaving the dark behind
Light up and let it shine.

See? It's everwhere I tell you. And ... Because... I...

Okay, look. I know this one's not very funny. To be honest I'm struggling to come up with a punchline as I watch extended news coverage of South East Queensland slowly going under water. My phone beeps periodically as my friends in Brisbane let me know they're alright.

I considered not posting this at all on grounds of lameness, but let's be frank. No one other than my family and maybe K.Kim is going to read this far anyway. I'm too distracted to self-censor at the moment, so I guess I'll keep typing and wait to see what tomorrow brings as I use Blogger as a nervous energy conduit.

God damn it.

Garry with 2 Rs
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