Andrew James Paterson

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Symptoms of Whatever
(performance voice-over script)

Presented by 7a*11d Performance Festival and FADO, Fall 1998.

An addiction to weather forecasts is definitely a Symptom Of Whatever. I will admit that weather forecasts can be useful when outdoor activities or travel plans are concerned. But a need to absorb weather forecasts simply for their own sake is a clear-cut example of Information Not Required. One can always look out the window and observe the cloud formations.

When I was a child I had a system of predicting the weather. I could predict the weather by the dates of the year. For three or four consecutive years, there was always a thunderstorm on day 242-August 30th except for leap years on which this date would be August 29th. One year, on Year Date 242, there wasn't a single cloud in the sky all day and I insisted that there would be a severe thunderstorm at a later point on the day. Of course, this projected storm did not occur on that day.

I find it amusing that so many individuals who present a neo-pacifist demeanor to the world-at-large are enamored of cats. There are even vegetarians who will address the contradiction of being cat 'owners' by referring to their animal-companions' diet as not being comprised of 'real meat.' Whatever cats do eat; it certainly is not a vegetarian diet.

A very local TV news-director recently stated, on the basis of his station's presumably systematic research, that the prime reason most viewers have to watch the news is to register and then digest the weather forecast. This is simultaneously absurd and believable. Everybody talks about the weather-strangers, neighbours, lovers. Everybody talks about the weather both for its own sake and to avoid talking about other subjects. Is the weather some sort of front or code for less socially-acceptable subjects; such as emotions or personal finances in relation to global finances or whatever? Yes and no. The weather is loaded with contradictions far beyond the oxymoronic-it is simultaneously majestic and banal. And it can be unpredictable.

Majestic wild animals and raging weather phenomena are both classical examples of sublimity or the sublime. They form images that humans can only marvel at; or, so was once thought. Some time ago, colonists and other hunters stopped marveling at the tiger and its feline cousins and began either shooting them for the sport or for their value to humanity. Humans can shoot wild animals with the correct ammunition but can they shoot at hurricanes and tornadoes? Not yet, they can't. But I strongly suspect that people living in tropical storm zones and tornado belts would not resent any miraculous scientific invention capable of preventing property and people-damaging storms. And, if such a scientific miracle is indeed invented, patented, and then applied; then I would no longer have the pleasure of observing such divine meteorological phenomena on television.

An upscale heterosexual college couple driving a rather posh convertible went to African Lion Safari the other day and refused to put their convertible top up. Despite the copious amount of Obvious Warning Signs, the two lovebirds drove on. Alas, their car was swarmed by a posse of five tigers and four lions. One tiger managed to climb onto the hood of the car and then gouge open the male driver's face before authorities rushed to the scene. The tiger was later corralled and then taken to an animal psychiatrist, who attempted to come up with an explanation for the animal's aggressive behavior.

When the weather conditions are inappropriate in relation to the calendar, people working in both the meteorological sciences and in the general mass-media are always quick to pursue explanations. El Nino, Chernobyl, whatever. Global Warming is a culprit, all right. But, where did Global Warming come from? Industrial pollution perhaps? Car exhaust? Unrelexive Futurism? Take your pick, folks. There was no snow in February. Does anybody else think this was unusual weather?

I love it when there is a raging storm occurring right in front of the Canada Life tower when the tower's forecast indicator is flashing all clear. I love it when there is a violent squall on one side of the street and not on the other. These meteorological divisions rupture insidious notions of universalism and global unity. The weather in such glorious instances is being vindictive and it is making points that need to be made time and time again. The weather destroys illusions of pseudo-harmony while remaining independent of fixed geographical boundaries.

The man-eating tiger is a myth-it is a staple of colonialist literature and multi-nationalist cinema like Kipling and Disney. Tigers rarely eat humans-they aren't as tasty as deer or pigs but, in a pinch, they might have to suffice. Tigers and other big cats fear humans. Humans frequently carry guns, But, on the day when I authorized my veterinarian to put my cat to sleep, I secretly hoped my cat would morph into a tiger and then bite the vet's arm off. I like the vet and his gorgeous assistant; but I prefer my cat. I had consented to his euthanization; and now I wished for my cat to prevent it by taking other lives.

Shortly after midnight, I became aware of the unusually high winds outside. I could see scrap paper and other garbage blowing around quite wildly so I made the decision that I needed fresh air. Ominous clouds were moving closer rapidly from the west and I had momentary hopes that extremely severe weather of some sort might help blow myself and my neighbours right out of our miserable existences... Unfortunately, this did not happen.

Photos by Amy Wilson