I shouldn’t be writing right now. I should be reading. I have time away from my apartment, the limbo between a day off and a day on, waiting for our debate event tonight and hoping that my absentee landlord is deciding to fix the drip in the kitchen sink that’s become a stream verging on a river, hoping he’s decided to do what he said he would do, something that seems to be so problematic for so many people on the eve of this presidential election in America.
I’m writing instead of reading perhaps because I feel moved to be, but mostly because I can haul my computer around and write from most anywhere on the globe, transporting my thoughts instantly to whoever might choose to put in the little code called a URL and access them. It’s an unprofound element of life that we take for granted these days, though trying to explain it to a contemporary of my youth would be as fruitless as my father found explaining the value of FAX machines to most of his contemporaries circa the same time. I’m sitting amongst an endless array of colorful bound tomes whose demise has been predicted far longer ago than the advent of my ability to convey thoughts to you through this medium. And yet they persist, overlooking the windblown leaf-strewn streets of New Brunswick like a challenge to all the unpublished, unheard-of students who duck in out of the cold. What we say matters. What you say doesn’t, not yet.
Right now, you pay money for the right to speak, the right to write. When someone pays you, you have made it. You are doing something. Not yet, young ones, not yet.
The ambulances race in sirened slow-motion down the streets, just a pace ahead of the t-shirted runners who seem to hear the wailing reminder of the fragility of life, to heed its warning in the hopes that by outrunning an ambulance we too can outrun death itself. Outrun death not only of body but of spirit and legacy and all the other deaths we die over the course of a lifetime or just beyond it. Death of relationship, death of friendship, death of the very notions of ourselves that made all our selfish hedonism seem so warranted and vital before the realizations that came to stamp on prior identities like the youngest of our species, curiously, on a wayward beetle. Just to see what parts, like the misgivings that haunt our every decision and misstep, would spill out, half-squashed, revealing hidden inner-workings only imagined before the catastrophic collision of shoe on bug, awakening on assumption. It is through trauma that we learn most swiftly, most thoroughly.
And yet these halls of learning would no more offer a major in trauma than they would routinely call their classroom masters and mistresses, dubbed as professors and mostly refusing to dress up, to trod on their students with steel toes in the hopes that an organ would pop out of place and induce the better informed glances of their peers. No doubt many of them feel this is the level of disruption required to get the students to look up from their laptops (on which they might be reading these very words right now) and pay attention, but what course is required to learn to connect to the internet? Auto-didacticism has always been the religion of the fringe malcontents and non-conformists, but now they have an intangible series of temples arising, plenty of non-believers nonetheless carrying their holy book whose colors and shapes change with the whims of forces unseen.
We are all made no more of mere flesh, blood, bone, soft tissue, and brain (or mind). We are also comprised of the infinite unseen channels of wavelength that eviscerate us, bisect and dissect us, travel as easily through us as a ghost, en route to the next sacred portal of distraction, absorption, communication. We could be no more intertwined and strung together were we bound by physical ropes and chains. I am you and you are he and we are all together. A series of invisible tubes, coursing their way instantaneously to their recipients.
Has there ever been a time when it made less sense for the hubristic educated class to stand up and shout about their refusal to believe in that which they cannot see? Which they cannot feel or directly interact with? Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, and yet there has never been a larger portion of those who believe in the cold emptiness of the universe, the uncaring unfeeling nature of its interrelation, the sheer vast imperviousness which we, as the rational, are up against. No serious conversation can elude this defiant yet bedeviling conclusion. And yet, how? How, when our lives are set and beset by the endless suspension of disbelief? When we make ourselves worshipful servants to money that exists only as a wispy figment of mental framework and electronic fragment? When we dictate our lives by an atomically distributed time that is the mere invention of prior people, flawed and fungible and arbitrary? When artificial structures like borders and laws and governments and corporations and militaries make millions of people do things they would otherwise consider unspeakable outside those structures’ confines every day?
Show me a border. Make manifest the rule of law in front of my eyes. Pull the strand of this blog post being ported to the computer before you from the side of your abdomen and behold it, photograph it, and send it back my way.
The world is a metaphor, and only becoming more so.
I can see my reflection now in the glass beside me, product of greater light within the building than without. Spotlights and neon blaze directly at me through the shadowy visage of self, beacons of comfort against the rising wind and failing sun. Soon it will be time to depart from this hall of type-ridden silence, to help provide insight about an event in Florida considered significant to the future of the nation which is no more visible than God itself. We choose what to believe. We craft an image of what we want to see and pretend that we see it. This works as long as we can elude the giant feet of the universe waiting to rain down on our heads to expose the parts of ourselves we’d rather not imagine.