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Lava lamps are cool, you stupid jerks

February 02, 2014|By Stephen Markley, @stephenmarkley | RedEye

I write this column in defense of the lava lamp.

You might ask, "Wait, why do we need a column in defense of the lava lamp? You mean the decorative novelty item that uses an incandescent bulb to heat colored wax within a clear or translucent fluid thus producing mildly interesting psychedelic shapes? Why? Isn't there a polar vortex or a Syrian civil war that requires attention?"

However, I feel as though it's imperative that I come to the defense of the lava lamp because I recently brought my lava lamp back from my childhood bedroom to my highly adult apartment, and upon discovering this, my friends commented, and I quote: "Bwahahahaha."

Apparently, at some point the unelected arbiters of cool decided that lava lamps are stupid, and I'm here to say that those people don't know their ass from their lava lamps. Because lava lamps are cool. They've never stopped being cool. Ever since the British accountant Edward Craven Walker first concocted the technological wizardry that produced the lava lamp in 1963 (that is a for-real researched fact, by the way), lava lamps have been on one solid, uninterrupted ride of cool.

Did I say to myself when I was in sixth grade and just taking my first hesitant steps into pubescence, "Mom, if you buy me this jet black lava lamp with maroon blobs contorting in enchanting randomized choreographies, the girls will think I'm rad"?

Yes. I did.

Did I also think to myself, "And then when I'm 30 and single and making just enough money to not qualify for food stamps and Medicaid, I'll discover this lava lamp because my mom will say to me, `You're 30. Get your lava lamp out of my house,' and I'll return that lava lamp to its proper place, creating captivating shadows in the dark, oracular corners of my soul, and it'll be raining babes once again"?

Of course. Obviously.

Because I don't need to defend the lava lamp. The lava lamp defends itself. The lava lamp is not mood-setting -- it's mood-defining. It's the atavistic, super-sensory, transcendental apparatus cutting through the gossamer night of our purposeless blink of existence. It's the respite from the cold, bleak winter of our minutes and hours, the rescue within the kingdoms of post-industrial ennui, the necromantic revitalization of eras lost, solace vaporized, forked paths of the multiverse rendered mute, inert, leaden, decimated by the woebegone decisions of purposeless human flux. It is the roaming, the rapture, the renaissance -- the moment of dread unraveled. The lava lamp resuscitates the burning synaptic fire so irresponsibly designated a soul and resets the neurons, rekindles the axons, sends those filaments of protoplasm to heights conquered only in the exulting flight of dreams, that sacred tick when earthbound observation recedes, replaced by the retrieved sentience of the womb, of amniotic asylum, of sanctuary from dread, drift and lust, and in its place you find yourself in your becoming, in your dimethyltryptamine trance, converging on the accretion of all hope, sorrow and love, wandering in wonder at the dark caverns of the heart.

Also, they look pretty sweet when you're stoned.

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