I was watching a phenomenal documentary on the manufacturing and consumption of hotdogs when I had a mild epiphany. With the help of others, we’ve built cookie cutter personas for ourselves and allowed even the most interesting of us to become boring and vapid. Documenting every insignificant detail of our lives makes us all seem terrifyingly redundant. For whatever reason, my generation has decided to forego causes or movements and proclaim absolutely nothing as loudly and boldly as it dares. I am occasionally taken form my apathy and manipulated into thinking that the whole object of life is to seek beauty and encourage its development. I know we aren’t all supremely uninteresting and self absorbed, I know many wonderful people capable of marvelous deeds.
Then things go back to normal as I fall back in with the rest of the herd. I suppose that rose colored glasses don’t always fit and, to me, the past seems as ridiculous as any hypothetical future that I could imagine. History is more easily digested as a novelty but I have a bad habit of being sucked into a time and a place. Perhaps this is why I am a storyteller and not a poet or novelist. For years I have scribbled down anything that felt worthy of remembering, or sharing, and placed these little scraps of importance into a yellow box. My pockets are always full of jokes, stories, drawings and spells. They are me as much as anything else ever could be and I wish people would choose to share things of that nature with me instead of what television program they are enjoying or how much they love that it’s Friday again.
Here is a piece of personal history, an expanded scrap from years ago. I hope it will be of some marginal consequence to some of you.
As I pass through the industrial heart of a worn and broken city I am sullenly drunk on my memories. They press heavily on my chest and cut sharp against the back of my brainstem. Under-lit by orange and platinum electronic light, I wrestle with ugly thoughts and mourn past joys as massive black stacks shove flame and smoke into the night sky above me. I feel like a criminal and, like most criminals, I proclaimed reformation and begged forgiveness. My transgressions, intensely personal, were committed against those I have loved and promised to protect. I cannot punish myself enough to satisfy my guilt or remove the stains upon my mind left by my own record. I have intentionally suffered in order to be deemed worthy of absolution.
But a cry for mercy is a proclamation of weakness and I am not weak as I was before. I do not beg for pity, I ask for the attention to detail an artisan would give their finest works. I request the sort of understanding that I have so effectively avoided for the majority of my life and have rarely received as a result. I wish to be far away from this misery and I want to take the best of people with me as more than just a memory. I was fabulously mistaken to think that suffering would ever earn me clemency. Sometimes iniquity is a fabrication by the dull and dreary to condemn that which they find alluring but dangerous. I may be a little corrupt and even treacherous, but I am vastly enthralling. I know better than most that the most attractive things in life are also the most vexing.
I leave a bar, annoyed and half-full of drink. An hour earlier, I was hearing awful things from some people that I normally respect and many that I never could. Tales of romantic woe, general stupidity and oneupsmanship seemed to be the theme for the night. I have absolutely no desire to listen for another second of someone telling me the intimate details of their life that they’ve deem unique or important. I never requested a dissertation on the banal minutia of a life that I’ve never once cared about. I want a conversation about philosophy, art, anthropology, ethics or politics. I am tired of seeing people force a swagger and spout ignorance and monotony. I should never have to see another guy in a white baseball cap tell his friends all about the woman that he spent the night with or hear the drunken bragging of a full-grown child on her twenty-first birthday.
Outside, the night air is cool and my chest hurts. A coughing fit begins and hold a hand to my mouth as a meaningless courtesy to the drunks. I check my palm for blood and find none on this particular occasion, so I go for a stroll while my body absorbs some ethanol. There is a little relief before more pain returns to my trunk and I feel compelled to clutch my ribs as I walk back to my motorcycle. I bump into an old acquaintance well before I get there. She stops me in the middle of the street and asks me where I am going and compliments me on my hair. I imagine a truck hitting us.
Some schlub that vaguely resembles Fred Mertz approaches us and engages her in conversation; I use the opportunity to make my escape. As I continue my walk, I look through the scraps of paper in my pockets. They are covered with the notes I’ve written over the past week. I crumple up half of them and toss them into the trash; they were ideas not worth pursuing and thoughts not worth expressing. They seemed pretty good at the time though. I think a lot of things are like that. Maybe they’ll be good again, someday.
But I guess that doesn’t make for a tidy and concise status update. Let me see if I can work it into something simple and easy to digest. “Today was a weird day.”
For my more humorous takes on technology and the communications gap, please enjoy my next post or read An Unusual Flattering Remark on my Posterior (nice and short about twitter), Technology and the Ruination of Humanity, The Remedy to Small Talk: Experimental Communication and Getting Weird or Being Right, Finding Yourself and Other Things that Don’t Matter Much.