December 3, 2023 | Rome, Italy


By |2018-03-21T19:07:12+01:00August 23rd, 2015|Area 51|
Welcome to the world of the jaded and damaged nerve.

hen eye’s cameras wither the world turns to butter and the mannerisms of sight melt away. The culprit is optic nerve, the brain’s image projector, or so you’re told. It can no longer see what you have in mind, offering a more indolent version instead.

Your eyes become like lazy cows that mope from one green patch to the next obsessed only with looking down and chewing. They don’t see the truck. They can’t make out the farmer. The only clarity is the next blurred clump of food.

My life as a cow has begun. My optic nerve prefers cud and blur to my orders. Lazy, it approximates words, signs, and colors, shifting the once lucid distinctions between them into a state of constant maybe-ness. The word before you might be this one or it might be that one but the jaded and bored nerve is no longer particularly interested in knowing which. The eye’s projectionist fumbles with the reels. The gumption of accuracy bores my broken biology. My eyes feel like underpaid migrants charged with parking cars; they don’t speak the local language; they don’t care; they want to go home.

Age has always opened into a closet of complaints entered into by dissipated middle age humans who then gab to each other about their real or imagined decay. The fountain of youth isn’t available on the Internet, but lists of symptoms and maladies are, encouraging anxiety to take root and flourish, the accretion of worries about decay made into an industry, a cash cow.

Cows again.

Followed by more ocular mischief. At night trees swish while hoarding flashes of strange chemical light that emanate not from fireflies but from sparks the branches produce at the behest of the agitated nerve, which wants you to see a different show from the wind in the willows. The nerve is mad for kaleidoscopes, for refraction, for flickering unrelated to what the brain has on its mind, let alone what’s before it.

Broken eyes are distracted adolescents. They’re seduced by the latest blurs and craving more like it. The meal that is the larger, clearer picture no longer matters.

My eyes have a disease, or so I’ve been told, and as a result have been rendered unto lasers that have injected their malfunctioning membranes with platefuls of saturated light. But nothing changes when the light is removed. The eyes and their conspiratorial optics return to the same pasture. The cud chewing begins again, along with the lolling and grazing. I squint. I enlarge type size. I admonish my nerve: don’t let me down; this is my time of need, I tell it.

But the loitering nerve has heard all this before — so has the lung, or the breast, or the brain, or the pancreas, all veterans of commonplace adult recession. The nerve of course hears me out; it has no choice. But when it answers, through deeds, it’s clear it hasn’t been listening, or had already forgotten what I said: as a result my world grows less precise by the month, the cow pasture and the grass thickening, so much so that I have no choice but to chew.

About the Author:

Christopher P. Winner is a veteran American journalist and essayist who was born in Paris in 1953 and has lived in Europe for more than 30 years.