November 22, 2009

If You Gaze Too Long Into The Bathroom, The Bathroom Gazes Also Into You

Filed under: interfaces,lunacy — mhoye @ 10:30 pm

Grabbing The Spotlight

I realize that not everybody shares my particular brain damage, but that doesn’t mean I can’t share mine with everyone else.

“Architecture, said Hegel, is frozen music… Donald Swann’s music has often been compared with defrosted architecture.” – Michael Flanders of Flanders & Swann.

Some relatives of mine up in Richmond Hill have, like many of us here in this wondrous modern civilization, a bathroom. Unlike most of us this particular bathroom is a cavern of stark terror, a carnival of non-euclidean horrors and crushing existential doubt. I don’t know what brought some previous owner to design it like that, but I can certainly see why they would look at it later and say to themselves, yeah, we probably shouldn’t do that again.

I refer to it as the Bathroom To Infinity, and this is a warning. If you walk into a room like this unprepared it’s the mental equivalent of jogging into a pole on a curb; some part of your esprit goes klonk and you hear a hollow ringing sound as you clutch your head in agony and stumble blindly into traffic.

All the fixtures are a glossy ceramic black. The floor is black marble with a hint of veined crystal in it.

Every other surface is a mirror. The walls, the roof, the back of the door, all of it. The light switches, the trim, everything. And not all at right angles. So you sit down on the can, look left, look right, and an infinite number of you is there with you, stretched out in every direction and staring back at you. Sitting on the can, pants down and looking kind of shocked.

“What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: “This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence – even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!”

“Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to crave nothing more fervently than this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal?”

– Friedrich Nietzsche, “The Gay Science”

It really depends on when he gets here, Friedrich! If this moment will repeat itself innumerable times more, then maybe your demon could wait outside with his crushing existential crisis for five damn minutes instead splashing the eternal recurrence of my trip to the washroom on every flat surface available? Can my long dark night of the soul wait ’til I’ve zipped up? That’d be great! But no, you’ve just got to deal. It feels like you’re giving in somehow to just close your eyes, but what else can you do? It’s a bathroom, for crying out loud! Since when does confronting a bathroom threaten the core of your psyche? That’s barely even a sentence!

The last time I was in there it occurred to me to prick my index finger and write “DO NOT FORGET TO WASH YOUR HANDS OF THE MATTER” over the sink as a message for the next wayward victim. Which would be an aesthetically coherent way to address the situation, I think! But which also might be sign I should just use the washroom downstairs instead.


  1. What? There’s another washroom? Go. There.

    Oh, and don’t get lost on the way … out.

    Comment by janice — November 22, 2009 @ 11:03 pm

  2. The picture you chose for this one is, in my experience, the only sane and productive way to experience such bathrooms, that is, as and with a child:

    Comment by David Humphrey — November 22, 2009 @ 11:06 pm

  3. Are you kidding me? That bathroom sounds awesome.

    Comment by Jamie — November 23, 2009 @ 8:13 am

  4. First, that is a fantastic photograph.

    Second, oh dear little fishes, re: that bathroom. It sounds awesome to stand in the middle and stare around in awe. To have, as you alluded to, a long dark night of the soul in… not so much.

    Comment by Zeynep — November 23, 2009 @ 10:29 am

  5. The next time they go on vacation you should redecorate it such that instead of mirrors it’s giant LCD screens, with hidden cameras pointing out of them, so that it looks like a mirror. Except you should add a slight time delay.

    Comment by Ted Mielczarek — November 25, 2009 @ 12:17 pm

  6. !

    Comment by gnomon — November 25, 2009 @ 2:45 pm

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