American Voyeur : A Night Out in a State of Delirium

American Voyeur American Voyeur

The day began before the night. It actually began pretty routinely. With two hours of sleep in me I took a walk down to the nearest coffee shop and spent a few hours watching time pass by on a computer screen alongside all the other early rising time wasters. The first couple of hours are always a complete time waste. It’s in the final twenty minutes of battery life when I get the important work done, the plans for the day. I saw that an American film was playing at Cinema Excentris, being the good American I am, I decided my plans for that night. When I’m on a trip I always want to try something new, so an American film with French subtitles covers it. The day was looking good. With five percent battery life I shut the computer off.

American Voyeur. Cinema Excentris. Photo Nick Janke

American Voyeur. Cinema Excentris. Photo Nick Janke

Hours passed, it was still light out. But night was looming closer than it had all day. I didn’t sleep, I didn’t go for a walk, for the life of me I can’t account for what I did during all those hours. That’s a bad sign. Anyway, it was almost time for my movie so I took a walk to the train. On my short trek, something I’d never felt before came over me. It wasn’t a hallucination, the first thought was delirium. My thoughts were becoming disorganized, for a moment I forgot why I was walking to the train. I quickly put the blame for my cognitive malfunction on my altered sleep cycle. Slowly I came back to my senses and went into the station.

American Voyeur. Photo Nick Janke

American Voyeur. Photo Nick Janke

As I sat on the train, something was happening. The sounds were amplified, the speed of the train seemed unnatural, and the girl across from me had blurry brown hair, then a blurry face, then everything was blurry. Suddenly, it was my stop. I collected myself and quickly got off, paused and observed the train as it roared out of the station in a cacophony of color. I closed my eyes, rubbed them, and opened them wide. It worked.

American Voyeur. Photo Nick Janke.

American Voyeur. Photo Nick Janke.

I walked into the cinema, paid for my ticket, and relaxed in front of a blank screen. I can’t account for what happened in those minutes before the movie started, this was normal for me. But once the music for ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ flooded the theatre I awoke. Two hours passed. I recall those very well. Thank you Jim Jarmush for making me sane again. At least for that moment.

I glided out of the theater on my cinema high and what happened next I can only describe as a sudden withdrawal from the sane world. Like it had on the train, every sound, person, and gesture was amplified and manifested into one large entity. Needless to say that left me confused. I quickly took a seat and rubbed my closed eyes. Slowly, the sounds were diminishing in their intensity so I opened my eyes. Everything’s normal. You would think that these events would make a person worry, I wasn’t worried. I wasn’t on drugs, I hadn’t eaten anything odd, I just thought it was the euphoria of being in a different country. Maybe Montreal transmits signals and I caught them differently than everyone else. Anyway, after I gathered my senses I decided to go for a walk around the neighborhood.

American Voyeur. Photo Nick Janke.

American Voyeur. Photo Nick Janke.

A violin case with a tiny fraction covered in silver and paper money laid in front of the violin player as he played to the crowd of ambivalent passerby who seemed to only recognize him as an ambient sound, not a physical presence. As I watched the musician a few minutes I couldn’t help but notice the amount of kids and young adults that carried their skateboards as if it’s more hip than actually riding. Suddenly, the music stopped. I took my attention off the skateboard holders and looked at the musician hoping that I hadn’t had another mental lapse. He looked up and started talking to me. He spoke french, so I had no idea what he said. I shrugged as he lit his cigarette.

A core feature in my existence is the only vice I can attest to ingesting on an unhealthy level: coffee. Coffee is the fire in the darkness of life, my life especially. Without it, my spark would go out, or at least dim a little. So I went on the lookout for the next coffee shop. I only had to take a few steps and was already in line, paid for, and already drank half of the coffee. That place was crowded.Why would a coffee shop be full of people at that hour of night? I stared at the girl in front of me. It was happening again, her hair, face, then entire body went blurry. Not only her, the people around her formed a weird piece of blurred abstract art where they melded together in fragmented harmony. It was quite beautiful and disconcerting at the same time. Although all of this was a disturbance, it was a welcomed disturbance.

American Voyeur. Photo Nick Janke.

American Voyeur. Photo Nick Janke.

Along with delirium is severe confusion. I still knew my name, what city I was in, what my phone number was, so it wasn’t confusion. I came to describe it as an impairment in awareness. All of the images and sounds fluctuated in my head to a degree that I had become intently aware of my surroundings. Is what I saw how we really see things and our brain just beautifies it up for us into how we normally see them? That state of awareness didn’t make me withdrawal from interacting with the outside world, it heightened my interaction with the world and showed me just how complex existence is and how little we truly understand.I sipped my last bit of coffee, closed and rubbed my eyes a few moments and then opened wide. It didn’t work.

I decided that my night should be over so I backtracked. Drone music poured out from the record store onto the street which gave me a perfect soundtrack for my night alongside the ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ soundtrack that was still floating in my head. As I retraced my steps there was no violin player anymore. I didn’t see any kids or young adults carrying their skateboards. I accepted the fact that it was late and that this is how things really are at this time of night. I’d begun to accept the fact that this state of sight and awareness might be prolonged and was excited at the prospect of learning much more about how we perceive and construct reality.

Sadly it ended. I got on the train and had a direct confrontation with reality. How things really are. Clear and ugly. Everybody was drunk, there were drinks spilled on the train and food just sat there wanting to be thrown in the trash. Normally this would have upset me, but I knew that what I was seeing on that train in that moment in time was not real. It was real for everybody else, but that night I saw the real world. The beautiful world. I can’t wait to see it again.

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