Michael over at a Nadder indirectly tagged me with this meme. The meme concept has been a pretty popular thing with bloggers recently, getting more popular all the time. For those that have no idea what a meme is, here’s a definiton for you:

a cultural unit (an idea or value or pattern of behavior) that is passed from one person to another by non-genetic means (as by imitation); “memes are the cultural counterpart of genes”

Or, to put it another way, meme is a fancy word for “stupid viral idea propogated deliberately by bored bloggers and their ilk”. But some of them are quite entertaining. Michael didn’t even bother to tag people directly, just pointing out to anyone with a blog to consider themselves tagged once they’d read his post. How lazy is that?

Anyway, this particular meme is an old one, but it’s also quite a good one. And it’s book/story related, so I thought I’d include it here on The Word. It goes like this:

1. Pick up the nearest book;
2. Go to page 123;
3. Post sentences 6 to 8;
4. Tag 5 others.

Obviously, point 4 is the viral aspect of these things, but at least it doesn’t promise that my wildest dreams will come true if I do tag others or that I’ll die a horrible venereal disease related death if I don’t. As this particular meme is so old, I’m not going to bother tagging anyone, but you can always have a go yourself if you’re interested, and post your results if you have a blog to post them on. And yes, that approach does make me even lazier than Michael.

So, what are sentences 6 to 8 on page 123 of the nearest book to me? Well, the nearest book was The Doll’s House, which is volume two of the Sandman graphic novel by Neil Gaiman, that I’m reading again. You know what? These Sandman stories are still bloody brilliant. Neil is going to be in Sydney tonight and I’m going to see him at a Q & A session in the city. I think I’ll get him to sign volume one of the Sandman books if the chance presents itself.

But I digress. Page 123 of The Doll’s House only had one panel with dialogue and two lines of it, so there was no sentence 6 to 8. Trust me to find a way to upset this meme. So I reached for the next nearest book.

That turned out to be We Can Remember It For You Wholesale by Philip K Dick. This book is a collection of short stories by Dick, being “Volume Five of The Collected Stories”.

Page 123 of this volume occurs during a story called Your Appointment Will Be Yesterday, a truly bizarre tale of time. The story talks of an invention that created two times, Hobart Time and Standard Time, with half the world running forwards on Standard Time and half running backwards on Hobart Time (no jokes about Hobart and going backwards in time, please.) It’s a story that is really hard to get your head around, as with many of Dick’s yarns, but it’s a brilliant piece with some truly inspired ideas in it. Well worth a read. Here are lines 6 to 8 of page 123:

“Your Mightiness, this man is the inventor of the swabble.”

“What’s that?” The boy glanced from one of them to the other, scowling with suspicion.

What’s the swabble? You’ll have to read Your Appointment Will Be Yesterday to find out.