Magical Realism, Writing, Fiction, Politics, Haiku, Books

viernes, junio 24, 2011

Being What They Aren't

According to the blue screen, I am now 1090 miles from my destination. Until then I remain one of many anonymous small anchovies inside a shiny, cold beer can with a long, mostly flat trajectory. The order of the moment is sleep. Or distraction. Or thinking. Or reading. It remains too early to contemplate the various useful forms of available intoxication. And so it comes as a surprise amidst the boredom to discover in Julio Cortazar’s collection, “Acerca de Lucas,” the following short piece, which I reproduce in its entirety (in English), “Love 77”:

And after doing everything they do, they get up, they bathe, they powder themselves, they perfume themselves, the comb their hair, they get dressed, and so, progressively, they go about going back to being what they aren’t.

What they aren’t.

Yesterday, I was informed (a special thank you) that in the centuries long battle to extirpate boredom, digital devices of various kinds are on the brink of delivering an outright victory. It appears that persistent distraction has venerable boredom locked in a small, tight, lead box, and has just swallowed the key. It refuses to let a single yawn or eye roll emerge. Let alone a sigh. Just look at all the screens. All the ear buds. The typing. The clicking. The apparatus before me is an example. There is no longer any reason, one thinks, to be bored to death on a long flight. There is, for example, the possibility of perpetual Solitaire. Is there something wrong with boredom on long flights? Apparently. Apparently, people demand freedom from boredom. Or maybe people demand constant distraction.

Unfortunately, the impending victory over boredom should not be applauded. Dread might be more appropriate. This is not the end of some dreaded psychological malaise. Far from it. It’s more an embargo on a precursor of creativity, of invention, of expression, of art. It’s this century’s Rip Van Winkle. You get distracted. You don’t have to think. You don’t have to read. You don’t have to figure anything out or make anything or do anything. You don’t have to think. Or wonder about anything. Why should you? You can distract yourself. That’s ok. There’s nobody there to tell you to find something to do. And, I fear, you wake up forty years later and wonder what happened. As the song says, who knows where the time goes?

I prefer in this moment instead to think about “what they aren’t”. There really isn’t anything else I’d rather do while we anchovies hurtle southward. I wonder whether thinking about these kinds of things will be on the chopping block right after boredom leaves our active vocabulary. And after that?

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