Thursday, February 24, 2011

Anti-Social? I'm all apologies...

Above the coffee station in the 7-11 there now hangs a huge flat screen TV running adverts for all the little toxic goodies you can buy for what one almost wants to say is cheap (until the actual cost of the destruction of your body is considered). And its loud. Bright and loud. And I'm like a mosquito or a fly with one of these things. It just becomes light and humming and I am sucked into the mind-zapper. I stood underneath that damn TV for like five minutes until I became self-conscious, afraid drool would start slipping out of the crease of my gaping, dumb-struck mouth. The TV is really scary. So is the Redbox station outside the 7-11. (When did 7-11 become purveyors of the most junky crap ever?).

When I finally peeled myself away from the TV I was offered a .50cent (BANG! BANG!) sausage biscuit. I giggled and politely declined, but really, how freakish! I say to the guy behind the counter, "You must hate these things! How long before you just wanna..." and I pantomime pump-loading a shotgun before desperately shooting the screens. He sorta lets a queasy smile flicker across his face, and I say, "Because it must play the same stuff again and again!" "And it's loud..." he mutters. "It IS loud!" I say. I break out my miming skills again but his smile doesn't get any less queasy. Now my smile is queasy, too. Or at least limp. So I thank him, sorta pissed at the whole fucking experience. And as I walked out there was the manager, not in uniform or anything, doing the books. He'd been hidden from sight behind a register, hunched over his invoices.

Well, that at least explained the poor bastard's queasy smile. "Please don't say you want to explode the bosses new TVs--he's RIGHT THERE!" That's what his smile was saying... hahaha how ridiculous. I can't imagine the boss really wanted those TVs either, though: they are loud. (Well, maybe he does, but not in order to play these fucking advert loops. Maybe a film or satellite-beamed TV show from home. It's funny to think that people wouldn't want to see a movie from another country in a 7-11--why not? How else would you see cinema from X country?) And I only stayed for part of the loop--I can't imagine how horrible it must be to listen to the damn thing again and again and again. It's a sort of neoliberal torture.

And that's why I when I finally put my headphones back on, as if to break the spell of the TV, I had to dance a bit, to get myself back into my body. And if I am always losing my body and needing to catch it. I suppose I am, in some strange sense, feeling my body escape me. But most of the time it feels like my body is being snatched away. I feel robbed. But that's silly, because it's like a seduction scene. An abduction! (Cf. Araki's "Mysterious Skin" for the ways trauma can manifest itself literally. Still--thinking of Delezue on Klein in "Nomad Thought": give me your intense, lived experiences, and i will translate them in to fantasy--the psychoanalytic contract, and why Freudianism is still a bourgeoisie ideology--even the great Klein, theorist of the partial object, succumbs.) Wickedly difficult to think through. Taxing. Unjustly so. I want to pantomime a shotgun and make the TV screen in my brain cower a bit. No such luck. I grimace, and then dance again, and greet the guy behind the counter with a smile, my coffee cup in hand. "Sausage biscuit for only .50cent more," he says to me.

(Has the light gone out for you? Because the light's gone out for me... It's the 21 century. It can follow you like a dog. It brought me to my knees.)

So I have less patience with those kids who start to shoot their mouths about us anti-social kids who sit on the train with their headphones on listening to music, totally zoned out. Like, what, paying attention to you is better?

I'm trying to learn a new style. Take this example as a case in point: At Irving Park and Clark there is no bus shelter, despite this being a major intersection. Even if it isn't a major intersection, its far more major than the bus stop half a block down the street--the one in front of the retirement home. So the geezers get a shelter while the rest of us freeze and get rained on or snowed on. But, of course, if you're gonna catch the Clark bus going south, you just walk down to this shelter to catch the bus there. This is the practical thing to do. I'm the sort, though, who will bitch about corrupt Aldermen and the undue influence the elderly exert on politics, especially at the expense of the (racialized) poor. But J. doesn't do this. He just writes "poop" in the snow in front of the shelter.

Kids these days! But what else were we to do? The thing is the way it is, and no amount of bitching would change it. So, here we were confronted with privilege, and we made it suffer our little spectacle. "Hey, Gramps! This is what we think of you getting a shelter when no one else does: POOP!" Not that anyone asked, and not that it will ultimately change something. But we laughed, and in the face of freezing and feeling like no one gives a shit about kids like us needing to get to a pervy public sex show, it was enough, and more than that, too.

I've been seeing J. more regularly again, and it's unsettling. I feel out of place with him. I need to find a new sense of familiarity with him. I think I've been confusing comfortability with familiarity. My dear friend turned 29 yesterday, and she is advancing admirably on her dissertation, working on Cicero. She's deep in "On Friendship." "You must read this!" she says to me, "because he is challenging the Platonic notion of desire as lack." It sounds promising. We will see. Still, the idea of loving what is common, or the same, is part of Bersani's project in Homos and I'm into it. He even went to the Phaedrus, which is the least Platonic account of desire Plato gives for precisely this reason: you fall in love with what is properly speaking your own in some weird way, and not what you lack. I think J. and I have been figuring out what it's like to be ourselves again, but there is a lack that compounds this: I miss him, and he misses me. It is not an intrinsic lack, of course, but it is hard to feel self-sufficient when these impulses confront and must negotiate the longing for companionship that he provided. But not well enough--that's the point, I suppose. I wasn't a friend enough to myself to be sensitive to the ways he was friendly. Still, in it's ideal rhythms, the temporal prioritization of self/other dissolves, and the boundary of I/You really is just a practical convenience.

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