Saturday, October 31, 2009
“Alors,” I hear her through the vent between the rooms. She punctuates her speech with Alors, the voice so shrill and ebullient that I’m grateful for this stabilizing sound. Alors. In my technical cave I am out of sight. I hear their maladroit stutters in French, their scribbling in notebooks, pro forma. But they cannot see me. They are playing a song, once, twice, five times. The tune catches and my eye is now grabbing through the vent, trying to see the name of the song. Is it written anywhere? I listen to the lyrics: la liste des choses que je veux faire avec toi. Google is my friend. Thirty seconds and I have it, playing silently in my Youtube. Je sais je suis trop naïve... La-la-la. I’ve a new obsession. I play on repeat until my shift is over.
A screen is all I know. The world becomes a display that flickers, a skirmish between eye and fancy. You should get out more, I tell myself half-heartedly. But it’s just like Bill’s plans, Bill’s myriad plans that are consummate chimeras, theoretical unlikelyhoods. So I sit here and build platonic solids out of white card, stick the tape on the inside for neat effect, and I think of all the stuff I’d do if I were not pinned, by noxious infrastructure, to this chair. How I wish that we were given education for the body as we are given education for the mind. It seems to be education for the butt, actually. An endurance test. How many hours can we sit down and listen. How many years. I am being schooled in liberal arts and I think that what I am performing best at is Sitting. My diploma will attest that I graduated summa cum sitting, which is to say that I’ve spent so much time fastened to a chair that I deserve to be praised.
And they ask why I will not hear of grad school.
Stories are fugitive, skeletal. They shine for a moment and then leave me, inchoate, and I unable to keep up with the pace of reality I wither in my cocoon and go back to the computer, where all my work is. Work that others give me to do. How much more work is there to do in the world? If I stay up all night, will I finish it? Will I be free then from this enslavement to the screen? I feel myself softening, caving in like a paper in water. Detrition builds. When this extrinsic reduction becomes intolerable there will be fracture and depression and drama. Then, I will start up again. My story is in want of moderation. But there can be no temperance in a world where there is so much sitting. Have a seat, she says, and breathlessly I retort that I would rather stand, so she looks at me as if she finds me odd. How could she guess that I am going mad. How could anyone.