Eye of the Story

The Evergreen State College

Author: Cooper Rickards

And Homage to the Old World – 3.3.16 – Cooper Rickards

The Holy Roman Empire may be the invention of Irony.                                                                                                                         

I respect Charles V, because he is the only Holy Roman Emperor’s name that I remember. That has to count for something. 

I’ve seen the massive maps from the middle ages plastered over the Vatican’s walls. They almost got Europe right. Pay an indulgence to the church, save your loved one’s from an eternity of purgatory. God needs to hire more paper pushers. 

Imagine if Carthage had sacked Rome, instead of the other way around. Hannibal had three chances. He  poisoned himself in a cave, kind of like Socrates.  

What if Hector had slain Achilles? There are more editions of the Iliad published than the Bible. Virgil’s not as good, but he got paid. 

The Thracian Horseman inspired the image of St. George. I think Charle’s V won a lot of battles. I know he wore golden armor.

Nobody knows how Alexander the Great died.  

A Monkey Ate My Sunglasses – 2.25.16 – Cooper Rickards

A monkey ate my sunglasses. First, he stole them. Then he proceeded to eat them. It was a shitty day. He didn’t eat them right away, first he played with them a bit. He looked at them from all angles, the way monkey’s do. He made some monkey sounds as put them on his forehead. They didn’t fit right; he made some more monkey noises, and then he ate them. I had to run and find somebody that resembled a zookeeper, because they were some hefty, metallic sunglasses. I found some guy I thought was a zookeeper, and he ran over looking all worried. I walked away. I wondered, would they pump the monkey’s stomach? I don’t know how monkeys do with sunglasses. He just reached his little hands through the bars and took them right off my face!

I was taking a personal day at the zoo, because why not. The zoo would have been cool if I was with somebody to see the whole monkey thing. It would be a funny story, but now it’s just a weird shitty thing that happened to me at the zoo. It’s not funny. I think I paid forty bucks for that pair of sunglasses. I wonder how much a zoo pays for a monkey. This monkey was a chimpanzee. 

I left the zoo and lit up a cigarette. Three left. Monkey’s can’t smoke. Good for them. They are smart though, everybody knows that. Planet of the Apes smart though? Not likely. You blew it up! Exhale. God damn you all to hell! Inhale. The monkeys in those movies never wore sunglasses.

The bus is arriving but I’m still smoking, so I’ll walk. I spent the rest of the day furiously comparing myself to monkeys. Monkey’s can’t cook! A hearty, hot meal off the happy hour menu. A beer too. Monkey’s will seek out and eat fermented fruit, however. I bet I could get drunk better than a chimpanzee could.

I was alone at the bar. My girlfriend and I just broke up. She hated the zoo. I loved it. Monkey’s live in large groups. They are seldom totally isolated. 

“You want another one?” the bartender asked.

“Yeah.” I pursed my lip under the last sip of beer. “Hey do you know if a monkey eat’s a pair of sunglasses, do you think they would pump his stomach?” 

“I have no idea man.” He set the new beer on the bar next to the empty basket of fries and walked away, slipping out of sight. 

“Me niether.” 


35 Shots of Rum – Moving Foreword – Cooper Rickards – 2.17.16

In the Film 35 Shots of Rum, directed by Claire Denis, there is an heir of mystery around each character. Each character is carefully constructed to build their unique slice of Paris, coming together to form a small community. Lionel is a train conductor and a father. The viewer has to make their own decisions about his past. His job is an important part of his character. All day long he moves foreword, continuously, on the tracks laid before him. Throughout the film he is featured consistently driving trains, starring blankly ahead. He rides his motorbike home at the end of the work day. The only time the viewer actually sees Lionel riding his motorbike, he picks up his daughter from work and she rides home with him. She says “I like riding like this.” He replies, “me too.”

The film is a constant struggle for Lionel. He has always been moving foreword. He struggles to accept and adjust to the upcoming changes in his life. His daughter cannot stay at home forever. At the beginning of the film, Jo, his daughter, purchases a rice cooker. She looks happy buying it. When she arrives home, the rice cooker is hidden away. Maybe she was waiting for Lionel to get home to surprise him, however he walks in the door with a rice cooker of his own. She is pleased, saying “so great you remembered.” The audience does not see the original rice cooker until the very end of the film, when Lionel arranges both rice cookers side by side. The image of the rice cooker is a strong one, and is central to this film.

The rice cooker is Jo’s self sufficiency. By buying it, she is effectively one upping her dad, expecting him not too. She anticipates Lionel forgetting, and so she takes matters into her own hands. When he arrives home with one as well, she never reveals her own device. At the end of the film, after she marries, Lionel takes the second rice cooker out of hiding and places it next to his. He fiddles with the lid, stripping off the wrapping. The film ends leaving the viewer looking hard at these rice cookers, begging an inquiry. Lionel can finally accept his daughter moving on in the world, moving foreword. Throughout the film Lionel struggles to grapple with life moving foreword. He fantasizes about moving freely throughout time and life.

While driving his train, he says “when I have dark thoughts, I think of my daughter.” There is a brief image of him and his daughter riding a horse on the train tracks. The camera is boisterous, bouncing over the horse’s head. The smile on Lionel’s face is radiant as Jo clutches to him and they ride all over the tracks. To the left, to the right, foreword in whatever manner they please. This is a crafted image to depict Lionel’s wish, his urge to take life on his own time. But this is not the reality. The ‘dream state’ he imagines is a direct contrast to the regular. The camera follows Lionel down the tracks continuously throughout the film. Long, continued shots fly down the tracks as the trains truck away. This is his life, moving foreword, forever and ever.

His work is a contrast to Gabrielle, his neighbor and who knows what else. She is a major part of Lionel and Jo’s lives, although the context of their relationship is never stated. She drives a taxi cab. This is a artistic choice to compare to Lionel, driving trains. She is a minor control freak, and the taxi can go wherever she pleases. She drives left, right, forewords and back. She constantly has a new destination. While she runs around the city frantically, her life moves forewords in a slower, confused mess of traffic. Lionel’s train keeps rolling on, endlessly forewords.

The rice cookers at the end of the film represent his acceptance of where his life is and where it will be going. He is sad to loose the company of his daughter, but he is glad for the progression of her life. This is the movement of life that cannot be stopped, and it’s inevitability is what makes it acceptable to Lionel. These are how the tracks are laid, and he must drive the train.

The Y Pipe – Cooper Rickards – 2.13.16

When I was very young, I hung out with Pajama Sam. There were three different disks that I would feed into the clunky desktop throughout the day. One disks held the entire world of “You are what you eat” (2000).  There was also “No need to hide when it’s dark outside” (1996), and of course, my all time favorite, “Thunder and Lightning aren’t so frightening.” (1998) It was in this last installment in the Pajama Sam series that I met the Y-pipe. 

Pajama Sam was my introduction into the world of computer games. I would lead the little animated kid with blue hair around these fictional animated worlds, trying to solve a global crisis of some kind. The Y-pipe is a very important piece.  He is one of the four missing pieces that are needed to fix the world’s weather machine. The weather has gone haywire. Where did I find him? Stuck in the vending machine.  

I will always remember the Y-pipe. He is the only piece that does not help you help him! He sits in the vending machine, watching you struggle to get him out. Other pieces talk to you, they tell you about how you could get them out of their predicaments. Not the Y-pipe. He just sits there, smiling, responding to everything you ask with “why?” He drove me crazy. I was too young to look on the internet for a walkthrough, that wasn’t exactly a thing in 2002. I would spend hours starring at this confounded animated piece of metal in the vending machine, pondering how to get him out and fix the weather. He just kept asking me “why?”

I eventually got him out, although I can’t remember how. I put him in place with all the other pieces and the worlds weather improves drastically. Pajama Sam has done it again. Almost in tribute to the devilish Y-pipe, I would mock my dad. “Why?” Anything he said was countered with, “Yeah dad but like, why?” And then he would explain whatever it was. This never really stopped happening. Anytime he would say, “Shall we?” I would quote from ‘You are what you eat’ (2000), pretending I was Pajama Sam sitting on his talking donut, and retort; “Let’s shall.” 

The Montage – 2.7.16 – Cooper Rickards

The montage starts right now. The water is boiling. The pot rattles. She likes the sound of the bubbles. It complements the rain. She adds the pasta.

The computer screen stares back blankly.  Another hit from the bong. She stirs the pasta with a cheap fork. A sigh. Stomach flab and clean running shoes. The computer screen stares back. Another hit from the bong.

She strains the noodles. Salt and olive oil. The rain lets up. Clean running shoes. The mind wanders. The computer screen stares back. Another hit form the bong. A sigh.

The sky is blue. Curtains close. The montage starts right now. 

Two men in a hallway – 2.5.16 – Cooper Rickards

“How long?” He choked

“Five minutes.” He gasped.

“Five fucking minutes Jesus Christ!” His hand tightened around the harpoon gun in his hand. The man in front of him leaned against the glass siding, clutching his side. 

“Just enough time to -” The assailant said, glancing behind the man with the harpoon at the submersible airlock.  

“Not enough for you!” The man in the lab coat was sweating. He unlocked the firing chamber on the harpoon. 

“It’s a two seater, you know, I reprogrammed the launch codes when I landed.” The wounded man blurted out through bleeding teeth. How long had they been standing there? A minute? Three minutes? More like thirty seconds. Already too long. The nervous technician holding his weapon to the wounded assassin stopped. The launch codes.

“You’re bluffing. You didn’t have time” He stated, his voice lacking resolve. There was no way this man had the time to reprogram anything when he landed. There was also no way he had time to reprogram anything now. Fuck! Three minutes! “Fuck you you’re bluffing!” shouted the scientist who’s name was Gary. This man would not be the death of him, no sir! This infiltrator, this murderous scum, this extremist product of military brainwashing, he would not be the end of Gary. 

“I was bluffing.” Conceded Evo, the saboteur who had rigged this submarine base to explode and was bleeding from a gunshot to his left side. “you’ve got two fucking minutes.” He growled at Gary as he attempted to stand. It was nice, Evo thought, that there were lights around the outside of this transparent hallway. Through the glass Evo could see an increadible number of brightly colored fish, the likes of which he had never before encountered. Evo leaned his head on the glass, gazing deeply at one purple and yellow fish. He admired the fluid transitioning of color and – 

“Fuck you!” Screamed Gary as he fired the harpoon. It flew cleanly through Evo’s torso and embedded in the security door behind him. Gary dropped the weapon in recoil and turned towards the airlock. “Oh my god one minute one minute one minute” Gary yelled at himself as he climbed into the submersible. He had shot the man with a harpoon! What the actual fuck had just happened? The submersible powered on. One minute. Gary pushed the right buttons and he was away. Thirty seconds. “Oh Fuck!” Gary let out to himself. He thought of the surface, of the sunlight, of how close he had just came to death! He had killed a man! He had avenged his friends and colleagues! Gary swelled with pride and adrenaline as he navigated upwards.

Zero seconds. The facility sitting on the bottom of the ocean exploded in a torrent of debris and bubbling shockwaves. Gary is directly above the explosion and is consumed by the deep. 

The Medical Institution (Mrs. Dalloway), Jan 19th, Cooper Rickards

The institution that is the medical industry is a prevalent theme throughout Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. Septimus is a veteran of World War One, and suffers from extreme post traumatic stress disorder. He claims that he cannot escape ‘human nature’, which he experienced at it’s full capacity during the war. The phrase ‘human nature’ is repeated over and over. To Septimus, human nature represents malice. During the war he was exposed to violent, physical expressions of human nature. Now at home, he battles it again through the institution of medical doctors.

The doctors Septimus encounters in Mrs. Dalloway embody everything Septimus cannot stand in the world. His general practitioner, Dr. Holmes gives the reader a glimpse into his second fight with human nature. Dr. Holmes comes to call on Septimus every day of the week, and his coming is seen as a crisis. “You brute! You brute! Cried Septimus, seeing human nature, that is Dr. Holmes, enter the room.” (91) Dr. Holmes views Septimus as a lost cause. He does not see any true medical issue with his patient, and makes his opinion clear. He approaches Septimus’s treatment in a cavalier manor, and expresses that if Septimus and his wife were richer, they could afford superior medical treatment. “Now what’s all this about” said Dr. Holmes in the most amiable way in the world. “Talking non-sense to frighten your wife?” But he would give him something to make him sleep. And if they were rich people, said Dr. Holmes, looking ironically round the room, by all means let them go to Harley Street; if they had no confidence in him, said Dr. Holmes, looking not quite so kind.” (91)

The malice implied through this exchange is in Holme’s impersonality. He brushes aside Septimus’s complaints as ‘non-sense’, and gives him ‘something to make him sleep’. He exploits the medical situation he is exposed to. Septimus can see through the facade of this medical professional and it sickens him. This writing is set at a time when the medical industry began to make massive bounds into established society. Doctors climb the ranks of society and their patients follow their advice without second thought. There is even an allusion to the medical institution surpassing the church in terms of public prowess on page 92. Sir William Bradshaw is a noted mental health professional among the higher rungs of English society. His wife photographs decaying and dilapidated churches and frames them in gold.

Sir Bradshaw is clearly wealthy, and his material possessions are referenced prior to meeting his character. “Probably, Rezia thought, that was Sir Wlliam Bradshaw’s house with the grey motor car in front of it. Indeed it was – Sir William Bradshaw’s motor car; low, powerful, grey with plain initials interlocked on the pannel, as if the pomps of heraldry were incongruous, this man being the ghostly helper, the priest of science.” (92) Septimus’s wife recognized Bradshaw’s house by the elegant car out front. It is described as powerful, giving Bradshaw a mirage. The fact that his house is identified by his car is a signal that medical doctors are a part of the elite.

Bradshaw deals with Septimus in a very similar manner as Dr. Holmes. “It was a case of complete breakdown, with every symptom in an advanced stage, he ascertained in two or three minutes (writing answers to questions, murmured discreetly, on a pink card.)” (93) Sir Bradshaw is an extension of Holmes. He is what Holmes aspires to be. He has been knighted, the highest honor a person could be given in their society, do dictate his treatments upon his patients. “For often Sir William would travel sixty miles or more down into the country to visit the rich, the afflicted, who could afford the very large fee which Sir William very properly charged for his advice.” (92) The diction in this sentence reveals much. The pairing of ‘rich’ and ‘afflicted’ is ironic in intention. Implying the good doctors services are not truly required. In that vein, the phrase ‘properly charged’ implies that it is very reasonable the good doctor makes an increadible amount of money for his advice. This embodies the malice that is Septimus’s struggle with human nature.

Septimus recognizes his doctors for what they were, an extension of human nature. He cannot escape them, and despairs. Even his wife thinks that Dr. Holmes is a nice man, a good man. “Dr. Holmes was such a kind man. He was so interested in Septimus. He only wanted to help them, he said. So he was deserted.” (90) Septimus will eventually commit suicide rather than suffer any more exposure to human nature.

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The Evergreen State College
Olympia, Washington

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