Other Titles > Disciple of the Dog

Disciple Mixtape: Track Three



Disciple is great for the laughs but as I continue reading for this little side project, I remember again my assertions that Disciple’s memory serves as narrative cipher for aspects of the Second Apocalypse: Kellhus and the Nonmen, for instance. Disciple’s story also serves as a vehicle for Bakker's witty cynicism and human notation.

If you forgot this was a Bakker novel, let Disciple remind you. Chapter 3 starts off with a bang (pun intended):

--- Quote from: ”DOTD, p20, 2010 Canadian paperback” ---After the Bonjours left, I had sex with Kimberly in the copy room -  or as I had devilishly dubbed it, the copy-feely room.
--- End quote ---

Kimberly apparently doubles as a stripper and Disciple reminisces on other secretaries he’s hired from the Zinger Club (get it… it’s a zinger ;)).

Disciple thinks she is falling in love with him as she’s passed the usual expiry date for his secretaries and she has ceased taking him seriously. A couple jokes later and our boy is off to his favorite coffee shop to review. It's called "Jitters" :).

--- Quote from: ”p21” ---I had to start working on Dead Jennifer.
--- End quote ---

Some commentary on the “ebbs and flows” of the coffee shop world. I’m almost positive that Bakker is using a haunt of his as a model. I can easily see these same conversations going down about the novels Bakker writes, instead of the case Disciple’s working.

The girls grill our plucky hero and we find out that Disciple gives names to his cases.

--- Quote from: ”p22” ---I would give them names just to crack them up. Sir Conan Doyle meets porno.
--- End quote ---

But this one is serious and he dubs it: “How about The Girl Who Died at the End of the World?”

The girls are taken aback momentary and Bakker offers some noteworthy commentary:

--- Quote ---One of the perils of constantly playing the comedian, I’ve found, is that when the laugh track finally pops its spool – and it always does – people don’t know how to take you.
--- End quote ---

Truth, Diss.

Taking his coffee and retreating to the corner of the coffee shop, Disciple explains that he usually takes cases he can’t fuck up. Again, he’s telling this story from a unknown future vantage so maybe the consequences of his cases have changed. But up until this point:

--- Quote from: ”p23” ---No consequences means no responsibilities. And that’s the way I like to ride.
--- End quote ---

Disciple offers some fitting analogies.

There is a noteworthy instance of “Fawk.” I should probably start counting.

--- Quote ---So, for the first time in my oh so sketchy career, I made what my first shrink, Martin, used to call an “implementation intention.”

I’m not a big believer in change, as you might imagine. Even so, I sat at my table, took a deep breath, and resolved not to fuck this one up. That meant doing things by the numbers.
--- End quote ---

The implementation intention is real terminology; if you vocalize or subvocalize, visualize, write down, etc, in detail something you wish to do in the future, you are more likely to both remember to do it and actually do it.

Disciple moves on to one of my favorite passage in the book:

--- Quote ---Ever been in a car accident? If so, then you know: life is quick – too quick.

The thing you realize is that every moment is a car accident; it only seems otherwise because the apparent regularity of things fools us into thinking we can intervene and take some measure of control. We have this abiding I-could-if-I-really-wanted-to feeling. And since we’re out-and-out addicted to this feeling, the true brevity of things tends to drop out of the stories we like to tell.

If you think about it, either we’re just grabbing away on automatic or we’re perpetually one step behind, fencing with the vague bewilderment of receiving change in a foreign country. The reason we think we have so much time, I’m convinced, has to do with the way we blur our after-the-fact reflections on given events into the events themselves. Considered from this standpoint, it really does seem that everything we do is fraught with decisions, as if every moment was a window onto thousands of future possibilities, instead of automatic and obscure.
--- End quote ---

This is excellent commentary in and of itself but specifically; it can read as insight into a character like Kellhus who can actually assess a given circumstance from a number of perspectives in the matter of heartbeats (harnessing what is an actually studied phenomenon whereby people seem to actionably experience a much longer period of time than passes for an observer).

However, Disciple (and Kellhus) are not limited like the rest of us.

Disciple continues to highlight an analogy from his grade-school, where a teacher, Mr. Marcus, repeated a punch-line a little too often for young Disciple’s liking.

--- Quote from: ”p25” ---Marcus graced her with one of his eye-twinkling smiles. That was another strike against him: there’s nothing I hate quiet so much as twinkling eyes. Save it for the cartoons, motherfucker.
--- End quote ---


--- Quote ---And then he had to say it: “Coming to class doesn’t make you classy.”

Me? I was disgusted. I felt everything go smooth, the way it always does when something gets me pissed. Suddenly, snotty little Tommy Bridgman seemed like my kind of people, and Mr. Marcus’s joke became an outrage to the Geek Nation.

“Yes, Mr. Manning?”

Without even realizing it, my hand had shot up.

“Um, Mr. Marcus, why do you think that was so funny?”

“I’m not sure what you mean, Mr. Manning.”

“Well, you’ve said that same thing now, like, twenty-three times so far this semester.”

I grit my teeth in joy sometimes, remembering the things I’ve said.
--- End quote ---

Mr. Marcus goes on to be incredulous and Disciple performs a neat trick, which is probably dramatically inventive on Bakker’s part:

--- Quote from: ”p26” ---And that’s when I started, working my way backward from snotty little Tommy Bridgeman. I just hit replay in my psyche and it all came out, down to the cadences of the voices and the looks on the faces. Twenty-three of them in a row.
--- End quote ---

I think it would take a particularly talented child to do the vocals and expression; little doubt about the content of what was said though.

Disciple turns a chanting class against Mr. Marcus. And gets himself expelled:

--- Quote ---February 22, 1982. A bad day.

But still, pretty cool.
--- End quote ---

Disciple skips to giving us a quick breakdown on his “hyperthymestic syndrome.” There are something like 20 documented individuals with this in the real world; Disciple makes 21ish ;).

I’ve only read a few of their case studies but Bakker isn’t necessarily far out on Disciple’s perspective. His reactionary cynicism isn’t inevitable, however; but the amalgamation of memories is often disturbing.

--- Quote from: ”p27” ---Hyperthymestic syndrome is simply irritable bowl syndrome of the head: where my dad can’t dump his dumps properly, me, I can’t dump my memories properly.

I retain all the crap.
--- End quote ---

And so Disciple’s offering of example and definition aside: shit kicks off. These are some of the meatiest part of the novel for me; where Disciple uses his narrative anomaly towards actually solving a crime. Like a real detective novel does.

I’m really still on this Disciple does absolutely nothing in this book. Just like Indiana Jones in Raider’s ;).

Returning to Jitter’s after the above daydreaming. Disciple usually has a paper but today he does his thing while staring into his coffee. Full-on dazed.

--- Quote from: ”p27” ---I stared, and it all came back to me with the ease of a daydream.

”She’s not a runaway,” I had said, looking up to meet the Bonjours’ gaze.

“What is she? Nineteen? Twenty in this photo?”

“Nineteen” Amanda replied in a small voice.

“And that would make her?”

“Twenty-one. She’s twenty-one now.”

I paused to take a sip. I notice the deliberate way her voice walked around “would be” language when she talked about her daughter.
--- End quote ---

And it continues on…

They talk about the Framer’s. Disciple thinks about how he doesn’t catch his own nuances because he knows himself so well – like normal people, us, think we do.

Jonathan Bonjour isn’t religious. His wife is.

The Framer’s believe that the world is much older than we believe it to be. Their leader is Xenophon Baars. They believe the sun isn’t halfway through its life cycle. It’s at its end.

And that is pretty much the take away from initial review so far.

--- Quote from: ”p29” ---These people believed the world was five billion years older than it was – who could say what kinds of crazy acts would fit the mad puzzle of their beliefs? Who could say what they considered sinful?

Or how they punished sinners.
--- End quote ---

Disciple is the segue king but I’m not sure whether or not to do sections (because some of them are so short and it’s an extra piece of formatting).

Anyhow, he jumps to how an old girlfriend used to accuse him of thinking himself an evolution:

--- Quote ---If anything, I think I’m an evolutionary throwback, proof positive that all humans have the capacity to remember most everything, a capacity that evolution has since shut down. Too many hominid suicides, perhaps. Either that or too many hominid arguments with hominid girlfriends – who knows?
--- End quote ---

They break up.

Back to analyzing the Bonjours:

The relationship with dear Jennifer was troubled… and how Mr. Bonjour is hiding something.

--- Quote from: ”p30” ---And just like that, I realized how anxious he was to police his wife’s responses.

I paused, trying to get a fix on her expression. It would be wrong to think of these rehearsals like video replays, because they aren’t. In fact, they’re impossible to describe. It’s not like there’s a little me reviewing it all in a little theatre in my head – how could there be when I’m both the screen and the audience? I mean, the memories are imagistic in a sense, a very fleeting sense – but they’re more like a kind of raw knowledge, things I just know.

The voices, though, they almost seem like sounds.
--- End quote ---

Apparently, Daddy Bonjour slapped Jennifer around before she ran away to join the Framer’s. Disciple is all conciliatory but slips in a pertinent question about Mr. Bonjour’s law firm employing private investigators.

--- Quote from: ”p32” ---”I’m not sure I understand.” I had registered his shock the first time, the squint as he tried to remember whether he had told me he was a lawyer. What I had missed was the hunted look in his eye – the apprehension. He had come to me thinking I was a nickel-and-dime hack, that much was clear. But this… this made me think he needed me to be a fool.
--- End quote ---

Does our boy have a suspicion?

Mrs. Bonjour admits to wanting to hire Disciple. Mr. Bonjour is jaded about PIs.

Then Mrs. Bonjour suggests that the people where the Framer’s are, are more like Disciple.

--- Quote from: ”p33” ---”Like me?” As was so often the case during these rehearsals, I felt my face take on my past expression: a rueful smile. Apparently this was what had sparked the several complaints Michelle had received over the years: a crazy man making faces at his coffee cup. “You mean socio-economically disadvantaged.”
--- End quote ---

Disciple decides that their conversation with him had been rehearsed by the Bonjours.


--- Quote ---If I knew you well, I quite literally would know you better than you know yourself. I could go on for days telling you stuff that you had forgotten about yourself. And I could make you cry with my observations.
--- End quote ---

Shades of Kellhus; I can hear Eleazaras telling Iyokus how Kellhus catching the buried moments of his soul.


--- Quote ---And this is the thing: where you see acts, I see repititons, and where you see people – yourself included – I see repeaters. You really have no idea how much we repeat. Even when we manage to defy expectations, we’re like children: unpredictable in unsurprising ways. Those repetitions you’re aware of you call habits or routines, very human-sounding terms, connoting warmth and security, and in no way, shape, or form contradicting agency, the possibility of breaking free. But this is simply a trick of your limited perspective. Everything looks like insects if you pan back far enough – people included.

And you wonder why I’m cynical. I’ve literally “seen it all before.” The truth is we all have, every single one of us past the age of, say, twenty-five. The only difference is that I remember.

This is probably why the hook set so deep – why I fell in love with Dead Jennifer. This case was unlike anything I had seen. And like all addictive drugs, it promised something more profound than bliss…

--- End quote ---

I can’t read this and help but think of the Nonmen. Obviously, italicized “remember” has been burned into our heads as a Nonman saying.

But the whole inversion of the immortality problem. Disciple lives for new experiences, those variations of circumstance he’s never lived before. The Nonmen live for old memories invoked by new experiences, variations of circumstance most like those lived before.


And segue leaving Jitters.

Disciple makes it outside.

--- Quote from: ”p34” ---I paused outside the entrance, imagined what the sky would look like if all you could see was bloated sun. I grabbed my Zippo, lit a cigarette. I savoured the smoke: blue slipping in, grey piling out. I wondered at that, the change in colour. I thought of the blue soaking into my lungs, swirling into my bloodstream, saturating my brain.

Beautiful blue. Like  a second lens, it always had a way of drawing things into sharper focus.
--- End quote ---

Lol, Bakker used to be quite the smoker apparently. Disciple offers some final notation for the chapter.

Bonjours are fishy. And he suspects the Mr. Bonjour.

--- Quote from: ”p35” ---Or maybe it was just an excuse to light another smoke. I slipped on my shades and began walking. It made me feel smart, wringing the blue out of the smoke.

I was just a few packs away from one hundred thousand cigarettes. Happy times.
--- End quote ---

I really like the breadth of writing a detective character offers an author. Bakker gets to play with aphorisms and, hands down, this book has some of the best analogies, metaphors, and one-liners he has to offer.

Also, we get the sense of the detective narrative, though I await a traditional skewing.

- Missing Person: check.
- Distraught parentals hiring a PI: check.
- Detective with a twist: check.

What happens when the detective enters the game and inevitably precipitates events in the very puzzle he seeks to solve, motivating the players to act in ways they wouldn’t have otherwise, should the detective have remained absent?

What impact will Disciple have?

A great summary, as always. Makes me want to go back and read it again. I probably would start right now if I knew who I gave the book too last.

Thanks, buddy.

I don't know if Jitters is supposed to be real place or not, perhaps it is a famous coffee chain? I was out in Amish country for a job and I went to a place called Jitters several times. It was a tiny coffee shop (they had good lunch for pretty cheap). Hilariously, I just went to their website:


Though I didn't get that feeling much when I was there, I laughed when I thought about Bakker, or Disciple, sitting in that place.
(not nearly as good as Tim Hortons).

I'm fairly sure it's a coffee shop near Bakker's that he attends pretty regularly. And it's not a Tim Horton's (you're right about this apostrophe, btw; bad habit on my part).


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