Neon Codex

Where digital meets classical.

A Sketch of a Young Man in a Single Unbroken Block


Shiloh Promme would lay on his bed at night and stare at the ceiling, the light from the cracked bathroom door shining dimly across the impressions on the textured plaster. It looked almost like a lunar landscape in that light. At seventeen years old he was still scared of the dark. He would do this very early in the morning, after he had put aside whatever novel he was reading at the moment, usually something by Philip Dick or Haruki Murakami, or masturbating over any one of the many girls at his school who happened to pique his decidedly hormone-addled interest. It used to frighten him when he was little, being the only person in the house, or on the block even, who was awake. But now, in his adolescence, with the constant hum of insecurity and the impending incomprehensibility of the adult world rearing in on him from all sides, he found it to be very peaceful, even comforting. He coveted this little bubble of serene light in the dark of crowded and silent suburbia, if he wanted to he could crack his blinds and peer out, at the world dreaming. The quiet planes and inert geometries of his upper-middle class subdivision, kissed by moonlight into a sweet, grey state of crystalline purity. A blissful period of lifelessness, of suspended animation, before the chatter came back into effect. Before the school buses began running again and the classrooms were filled with students and teachers. He closed his eyes and fantasized about walking through the empty school building at night, not to be destructive or mischievous, but simply to observe. To see the hallways and corridors devoid of life, to capture that singular inaccessible moment before the storm of people and grades and obligations and judgements and to just bask in it. His dreams and fantasies usually seemed to be made from these familiar architectures, from all across his life, but mashed together into new configurations. They formed labyrinths and elaborate palaces. The places he wanted to be most and the things that he couldn’t bear to look at. Curtis, Texas was a young town but it’s growth over the past few years had been exponential, it was a time in Texas where there were boatloads of money and the local government seemed to have no clear idea of what exactly to do with them. The school was massive, the size of most college campuses, complete with a stadium that had cost upwards to sixty-million dollars. It sprawled across the massive plot of Texan real-estate that the district had acquired some decades before. So after the fundamentals were out of the way, education, public safety, natural resources, they just tossed it all around at various vanity projects. The subdivision that Shiloh lived in was apart of the growing town’s west-side, where some of the nicest upper-middle class homes were located. The homes of doctors and lawyers and local business people, professionals and specialists all specializing in something very especially lucrative. Though the houses looked very beautiful, and were in a very safe, uneventful area with regular police patrols and neighborhood crime watches, they were all slightly different variations on the same design. Even the alternative designs were in themselves only alternative in the sense that they were designed as reactions to the original, the end result of which was yet another rearrangement of the same building plan. Shiloh opened his eyes and glanced at his wall, hanging there was a poster for David Lynch’s 1997 film Lost Highway. It was an eerily minimal image of two headlights cast across a dark road, a blur of yellow lane lines shooting between them into the foreground. It echoed of the unknown, of the strange and nocturnal worlds outside of those very direct and immediate beams of light. The dream world, the mystery world. Next to it was another poster, it was for the Japanese release of Star Wars. There were the classic hand drawn images of the various characters and spaceships from the film on the poster with the title in giant yellow Japanese characters, accompanied by smaller white and yellow script sprawling all across it. He liked how kitschy it was. And he also liked that it was something almost immediately familiar to most people, but was translated with into something cryptic, something that would be near gibberish to most western eyes. There was something extremely comforting in that, he supposed it was the effect of the unconscious mind, to take familiar elements and to scattershot them into murky disarray. Like David Lynch, like Federico Fellini, whose 8 ½ captivated him in his Sophomore year of high school, and of course Murakami, Kafka, Dick. This may have even been the entire allure of foreign films for him, of silent films, and better yet the crosses between the two, like The Blood of a Poet by Jean Cocteau or Murnau’s Nosferatu. And in this silence, this void space of disparate parts and riddles, there was room for unimpeded possibility. It was this open void that extended out from the confines of his high school career, after which this new world would be open to him, this cosmic field which he could fall into and float inside of. He imagined becoming a successful artist, wearing vintage Prada sunglasses and chic suits like the Italian director in 8 ½ , he imagined travel to exotic environments and new and unimagined places where his mind could engage in endless creative play. He saw love affairs glittering in the dark of this endless area of possibility, adventures with a comparable soul who wanted to share in his world, with wide sweeping stories which would unfold before them, which they would take part in and experience in an ecstatic movement, in apart of the arc of his trajectory through time. He closed his eyes and imagined all sorts of different things that would fill his life, things which he hoped would spill out from the pressure cooker of his imagination at the first opportunity, once he was finally free. Shiloh laid there in bed and waited, and finally, after a few minutes, fell asleep to dream. And in his dreams all of his imagined and half-remembered architectures stretched out before him; childhood homes, schools, shopping malls, parks, friend’s houses, movie theaters, and art galleries, in a ceaseless interlinking whole, extending through time, through space, to some distant sphere where they would make something wholly new.