Brian Snuff – Regurgitating yesterday’s troubles for the benefit of future generations
Imagine how a conversation between me and Jeanie might go. Two people who drift between thought lines like two lost clouds searching for their own meaning, yet easily distracted by cat memes. (I didn’t know what a ‘meme’ was until Jeanie told me. This made me feel a) a bit past-it and b) wondering why they bothered to give such a thing, such a name.)
We were mask-building for the Steppenwolf Ball (the novel, not the band). Jeanie is particularly skilled in the papier-mache department. She’s also good with face paint and make-up. We talked as we worked and I let myself get lost in her nonsense, something I’m usually to self-conscious to do in front of the others.
JEANIE: What does being hypnotised feel like?
She is doing some particularly intricate eye-work on the mask, I steal glances a little jealously. She does have tiny fingers.
SNUFTY: I don’t think anyone knows.
SNUFTY: They were in a trance at the time. I think they usually have no memory of it.
JEANIE: Oh. It’s not like mushrooms then.
SNUFTY: I don’t think so. But I haven’t tried either, to-be-fair.
She looks up at me like I’m odd.
SNUFTY: Have you never noticed I’m a bit of a control freak? I mean. I’m not that bad. Just a bit. At least, I hope so…
JEANIE: But everything is chaos. Isn’t it?
SNUFTY: I don’t really like to think of it that way. And even so, why add chaos to chaos? Why relinquish what little control you have on your thoughts?
JEANIE: It’s just like love, really.
She is adding false eyelashes to her mask. I’m trying to make mine’s nose look less broken. I decide maybe it adds character anyway.
SNUFTY (WARILY): What do you mean?
JEANIE: Adding chaos to chaos.
She sets this mask aside to dry and starts another one from scratch. Her tiny nails are covered in glue and grey smears of wet newspaper.
JEANIE: What does love feel like?
I’m concerned about either deteriorating into a soppy heap, or saying something like Slavoj Zizek – painfully, cruelly bitter. Either route will make a squashed papier-mache heap of me on the studio floor. Down-trodden Snufty. Unlucky in love and not very good at making masks either.
SNUFTY: What do you think it feels like?
JEANIE: I’m not sure I’ve ever been in love.
SNUFTY: But you were with that cocksure Neanderthal for three years? The one who used to call you ‘Humpty Numpty’ and leave you locked in his flat with only drugs for company while he was out on the razz, possibly cheating on you?
JEANIE: Yeah, I was weirdly addicted to him. He was in a band though.
SNUFTY: That’s love. A mixture of stupidity, fawning respect for frankly terrible musicianship, addictive tendencies and low self-esteem. I’m not saying all love is like that. But when your rational brain says ‘this is shit’ and you’re heart says ‘but, but, but’, that’s love.
JEANIE: But what does it feel like to you?
I think of Nikita and all the above is virtually true, if you replace ‘terrible musicianship’ with ‘skilled sarcasm’. But then also…
SNUFTY: It’s like you scratch away at your image of this person with a coin and the more you scratch the brighter they become, until it’s so vivid you can barely see anyone else. And you can’t shake it off. It follows you through your dreams and your waking life, like some hungry stray dog.
JEANIE: See. Mushrooms and hypnotism don’t last very long.
SNUFTY: But at least I have a choice with not…
The door swings open and Bane steps in, his masculine presence filling the room. Leon follows, occupied with his phone, chewing on his lip the way he does, as though constantly in the middle of a life-shattering decision.
BANE: Don’t stop on my account. What you nuts rabbiting about?
SNUFTY (QUICKLY): Chaos.
BANE: Fucks sake.
LEON: The spiral?
LEON: The spiral of chaos?
He points to a dried mask that Jeanie made yesterday. It reminds me of Pan’s Labyrinth. There is a black spiral on the forehead.
Leon leans oppressively close and presses his thumb to my forehead as though testing something.
LEON: It’s right there Snufty, you can’t control it…