Storytime: Neurozoic.

February 25th, 2015

Consider dinosaurs.
Lord knows I can’t stop.

Morning. Noon. Night. Breakfast lunch dinner/supper (snack?). Dusk to dawn and back again through the darkness and daylight. And every hour of every minute of every day, there they are again, larger than life and sitting inside my skull.


It’s no joke I’m telling you, living life with five-ton lizards (not lizards, they’re very different) bouncing around your head. You can’t get a break, you can’t sleep, you can’t focus. A man asked for change and I gave him Deinonychus. Now there’s an energetic surprise! Have you ever tried to write a paper with an Acrocanthrosaurus breathing in your ear from the wrong side out, with a Dromaeosaurus winking at you from your monitor whenever you stop to click click click your way to wordcount? It’s not funny.

You can spew out those syllables and watch the names flow like ripples in puddles of Greek. Throw some Latin in there too and watch the splash of clotted-up dead language – oh, and Chinese too, musn’t forget the Chinese nowadays, and the Mongolian, and oh, and oh, and oh, so many more! Careful… mixing languages is like mixing chemicals: you should leave it to experts. Wear glasses on your brain and don’t step in a nomen dubium; they’re everywhere most days.

Terrible lizards but I’m telling you they really aren’t. Lizards, I mean. They were terrible surely and I mean that in the older sense of the word which is ‘awful’ which is ‘awe-ful.’ Producing awe.
Awesome. Woah.
Still everybody liked to make them lizards for a while. Big lizards stomping in jungles and wallowing in marshes and roaring across that one Arizonan wasteland that was the evil twin of the place Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner always hung out.
I’ve got those up there and let me tell you they make an awful fuss. And they slouch something fierce. Look at those bloated pot bellies and saggy hips, marvel at those poor limp lifeless tails. No wonder they went extinct without cardigans to hide all those varicose veins. What dinosaurs. Can’t hardly pull them out of their bogs to save a scale.
Nowadays we all know better thanks to Jurassic Park. Dinosaurs are found in forests, not swamps, and they run around really fast and hunt you through redwoods and ginkgoes.
Man it’s going to take a lot of hard work to put feathers on all those leathery hides a few generations down the line. I hope Stephen Spielberg’s willing to put up the bill. Lots of imaginations out there need new wallpaper. I wonder where they’ll be this time?

Talking of where…
Everywhere’s got a dinosaur. Everyone’s got a dinosaur. Leaellynasaura – now THERE’S a lucky paleontologists’ daughter! And Drinker. And Othnielia.
(What a peaceable pair those two, what a shock to find two mild-as-milk herbivores gifted with the names of those bunch)
Find a bone or know someone who finds a bone and all of a sudden a (once)living, (formerly)breathing, (no-longer)walking animal is suddenly named! A consolation prize for going extinct!
It’s no consolation to know that you can’t ever see them again, of course. You can’t meet a
in the woods and you’re out of luck for
and as for
we’re fresh out and we’ll never be in stock again.
It’s a tough time to like dinosaurs. All we’ve got are pictures in our heads and oh Christ did I mention that mine is full? Full to heaving, full to bursting. Ferns and fronds and feathers and scales all squirming out through my earlobes wanting to run riot and show the furry little gerbils they were never gone just hiding.
They’re all fakes, of course. Nothing but phony fantasies and cheesy action scenes from bad sequels here. Not proper fake dinosaurs like we have in museums or in journals, made of skeletons or skeletons covered with skin. Those are REAL fakes, and that’s even better than real. All I have are my fake fakes. There’s Camptosaurus stacking rocks and rocks to make cities; there’s lush woodlands filled with hidden teeth and eyes; there’s a thunder lizard that spits thunder and I think I can see a silent forest where the trees are shattered and the small things are dead and there’s always a tyrant watching you.

Tyrannosaurus rex.
Tyrant (libellous?).
Lizard (no she isn’t).
King (sovereign).
No wonder she’s still popular even now that her weight class is getting crowded: Giganatosaurus is never going to be as easy to say, and Spinosaurus doesn’t have the panache. How can you beat a tyrant king, even if she isn’t a lizard?
Carcharodontosaurus nearly pulls it off, but she’s too big a mouthful conceptually and physically. Great-white-shark-toothed-lizard. No. That’s too much.

Brachiosaurus and a tree.
(It’s Giraffatitan now, and Brachiosaurus no longer exists as you thought you knew you thought you knew it.)
Diplodocus and a watering hole.
Camarasaurus and a cliff-side migration.
They’re all so picturesque, aren’t they? They come prepackaged with scenery and actually they really ARE scenery. Landscapes. Walking landscapes. Not at all terrible. Quite awesome though.
But they don’t stick inside like the predators do. God what a bunch of narcissists. Show us some fangs and we’re ready to hop onto them and scream bloody murder. Pull out the knives and the guns and the heavy rocks with pointy edges! We will phony-triumph over this thing we have created in our heads, no matter how many fake dead men the road to bogus-glory takes!

Then again, how do you not do that?
It’s easy to put people on paper. Harder for animals. Harderer for animals that are too dead to protest. There’s nowhere you can check this sort of thing, you can only get informed uninformed guesstimates. And that’s a painful thing to hear when you’re trying to imagine what sort of temple a Dilophosaurus would build, or what kind of gods would haunt it. You’ve got to think of a thing that you can’t think of. There’s hospitals for that sort of thing. That’s not a good track record and that’s not a good sign of a good future, trying to imagine the past before pasts happened.
Just let it go. Admit what’s gone is gone. Face the skeletons and tell them they’re missing the good stuff.
Better a headful of terrible lizards than a head without any awe at all.

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