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16 January 2001


close your eyes and make a wish.

It will take longer for you to read this brief story than it took for me to experience it. The entire episode lasted five, maybe ten, seconds.

I was at a local fast-food establishment, trying for a second time to get through Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. I first bought the book when the hardcover had been recently released, and I bought it on 2 strengths: first, it was by Neal Stephenson, whose book Snow Crash made its way to my sci-fi top-10; second, it was long. Very much so. The better part of 900 pages long. The first time I tried to get through it, I stalled out at about 500 pages, for a reason I could not remember. When I picked it up again a few days back, I got to page 11 and wondered what the hell I was thinking when I stalled out. But now I've gotten near page 200 and am beginning to understand why... Unfortunately, one of its subplots (it has numerous) doesn't interest me much. However, I've resolved to finish it, and, as an encore, decided to read and finish The Lord of the Rings, at the behest of Dr. Bruce. But I digress.

I was trying, not very successfully, to lose myself in the book, to not think of work, to not permit any fraction of the physical world to intrude upon my repose. As I periodically glanced up from the book, I took minimal notice of the several homeless, or ostensibly homeless, people in the restaurant (Santa Monica, the home of the homeless), but one woman stood from her table to throw some trash through the swinging pet-door chute. When she turned, I saw that her face, ruddy, fat, and more than a little dirty, had an apparently permanent frown, as she showed no visible sense of anger or frustration. Just one of those people who, when they smile, still look as though it is an unfamiliar gesture, or smile slowly, their face brightening in fractions and regions, as though they were trying to reconstruct the emotion from an abstract blueprint.

I remembered many other people I've known, people whose faces by default are gravitationally drawn into a frown, and thought about loneliness. This woman, straw-like hair unkempt and jutting at improbable angles from under her hat, was alone. The frown indicated something. Or perhaps, it meant nothing except by my interpretation. Regardless, it threw a switch in my head, and the registers began blinking in a sequence at once meaningful and repellent.

Loneliness is a symptom of a sense of disconnection. Loneliness I'm familiar with. I just don't want to be a forty-year-old man, balding and fat, with that frown on my face. I've sought many cures for loneliness, sought it in romantic relationships, sought it in praying to God, but always found the potentiality of disconnection to be as strong as the reality. Being in love, being with someone beautiful, does not cure it. The love, or codependence, or oxytocin, or whatever you want to call it, starts as a shout, it cannot be ignored. But eventually, it becomes a whisper, and the steady current of loneliness and disconnection supercedes.

It has found me even sitting across the table of a woman whom I loved. I've made many jokes about the quote from American Beauty, "Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world I feel like I can't take it, like my heart's going to cave in," but all along I knew the real answer to why that is true: it hurts because I see it all around me, the abstraction of love, even the tangible reality of it, in friends, in memories of loves, in properly-clouded sunsets, in wafting low-density polyethylene grocery bags, and I do not see it within myself. There are hints, shards of something which was once beautiful, something turned on its side, and that is a harder accusation than friends around me who I see are happy. Or maybe they just say they're happy like I do.

alpha channel tending toward zero.

from stacey:

The scene is the foyer. I see you standing, facing out toward the entrance and you slowly coalesce with the wall. Not very interesting but, it's not just a fade to black thing. You take on the properties and patterns of the wood and wallpaper. Becoming blended into it. Even that is not what is most unusual about it.

There is no sound, not even silence (which has a sensation of its own). It was absent. Likewise, the image was in grayscale. I cannot recall, an event of the likes, where colors were nonpresent. The whole thing was very aposiopetic and abbreviated.

I got the feeling that it was only I that could no longer perceive you. Not that there were others around, specifically, but that the event was unique and singular, for/to me.

Tt had a very apathetic or indifferent feel about it. It had a cool, sensation to it. More hollow than sorrowful.

musings of señor prod.

The Revolution will not be televised.

I sat down in an armchair in front of a keyboard and monitor. When I stood up I was sixty.

 

©2001 Timothy A. Clark -|-