You Ever Feel Like It Means Something?

The Mountain Goats song “Palmcorder Yajna” has this line: “Carpenter ants in the dresser, flies in the screen. It will be too late by the time we learn what these cryptic symbols mean.” And I keep thinking I know that feeling: The delusion that arbitrary events mean something. It happened to me all the time when I was in high school. I’d see dead flies trapped in the window and think OMG this is a metaphor for my life, a sign that I’m trapped! Or I’d burn the toast and stare at it in horror, wondering what the universe was trying to warn me about.

I suppose the narrator of that song is actually suffering from drug-induced psychosis, and I’ve heard you end up with similar (although more pleasantly grandiose) delusions when you develop terminal syphilis. Mine were probably induced by being a hormone-addled teenager with a subscription to “American Poetry Review,” but I guess you pick your poison.

Yajna, by the way, is an ancient Vedic kind of sacrifice involving fire, illustrated here in a television version of the Ramayana:

I haven’t figured out what it has to do with palmcorders, but maybe the universe will reveal that to me once I totally lose my mind.

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