Nocturnal drift


Excerpt from Applied Ballardianism: A Theory of Nothing

“On those nocturnal drifts, a strange feeling enveloped me, the likes of which I had not experienced since that extraordinary night in Den Haag. It happened only at a precise moment, as I neared the completion of my walk, rounding the bend that took me back into my street, at the point where I could see my apartment block faintly illuminated by a row of four sodium street lights. As I walked past the lights, they would extinguish one by one, and then switch back on, each in turn, once I’d passed. This happened on three separate occasions, but only under certain conditions: I had to be thinking about my paper, but if I consciously thought about it, with the explicit aim of triggering the phenomenon, it would not work.

When it happened, and the sodium lights winked off and on, I felt intense pleasure, almost a sense of achievement that I had the power to trigger it, although the elation never lasted and was swiftly followed by a crippling pain in the back of my head that lasted for the rest of the night, rendering sleep impossible. I did not know what this phenomenon entailed, if indeed it was an actual observable incident. Were the street lights faulty? If so, what were the odds of that happening on three separate occasions?

Across the next few weeks, I had little recollection of my daily activities, only the remembrance of the street light interference and the dull throb of my aching head, and with two days to go before I was due to fly to England, I flew into a panic, believing I had wasted my time with nothing to show for it, until I discovered the completed paper on my computer, of which I had absolutely no memory of writing. Nor did I have any recollection of arriving at the airport, although that moment, too, came from out of nowhere, as if I had conjured it into being.”