Monday, July 14, 2014

Tourist Trap

Boredom is more than a state of being; it is a tangible country, a place where inertia and expectation are placed in quarantine promptly on entry.

To gain entry into this state, you are required to declare all desire and agenda, then leave them at the border.  The principal activity here is lack of movement, a condition prized among its locals, often represented in their crafts as ennui, lethargy, and languor.

The major crop here is passivity.  To even think of that quality as a religion would be an anomaly. No matter what you think of religion, it often embodies such qualities as zeal, conviction, certainty, and faith, all of which require a large footprint of action.

The State of Boredom attract numerous tourists, who are drawn here by the shrewdness of an advertising campaign promising inactivity and assurances of no choice whatsoever being required from them during their stay.  Some find this irresistible and, were some activity and research necessary, would file for permanent resident state.

Waitpersons in the local restaurants present meals as soon as customers appear, removing any need for menus, thus nipping existential choices in the bud.  The one movie house always plays the same feature, a French cinema realatie presentation of a blank screen.  

At first blush, the library would seem to offer more variety and, thus, choice, but, you see, in the country of Boredom, everything has been thought through with mischievous care.  The library's collection of fiction consists of self-published first novels; its nonfiction holdings are the proceedings of sociology symposia.

You do not want to be here, which is the first step in leaving Boredom behind you.  A desire is in effect a grapefruit seed or avocado seed stuck in a pot of coffee grounds to provide a sense of growth and adventure within a room.  While you are here, experiencing the products of Boredom, you can feel your brain and body parts, experiencing the after effects of spending too much time in the sun, drinking that one-too-many rum punches, allowing the waiter at Sly's of 686 Linden Avenue, Carpinteria, CA, ("Just blocks from the World's safest beach") to talk you into the affogato desert.

The things to be learned here are, thus, leaden, weighting-down things, acceptance-of-things things as opposed to the risky business of telling stories in your own voice, in a world where there were and are now so many men and women with such excellent voices.  There is the daily chill of discovery among the small things and large monuments about you.  There is the nightly parade of surreal dream images that come crashing into your sensitivities, reminding you how you are in ways not at all clear to you enhancing the muscle memory of taking chances, conflating seemingly dissimilar things, starting off on quests or missions.

In dreams, remembered or not, you are always embarked on some mission, sometimes wearing strange uniforms or, in some cases, being fully clothed except perhaps for a shoe or two, or some other anomalous configuration known to your subconscious, which is not speaking to inform but to connect disparate themes.  Consequently, you are never bored in your dreams.

Which raises a subtle-yet-telling point about dreams.  Why do so many critics warn us about the potential for boring others with our own dreams?  A strong candidate for an answer emerges here, particularly in the face of dreams being a process shared by most-if-not-all humans share.  Dreams are the process whereby we function as individuals.  

Dreams are explanations, footnotes, if you will, of us, striving to be our self.  It is one thing to say of Gregor Samsa that he awoke from fitful, uneasy dreams to discover his transmogrification; it is yet another to cause us to have to wade through the dream.  Kafka knew.  

Even before you'd given this some deep thought, you knew Kafka was right to withhold the process, allowing the story to stand as a magnet of ambiguity, drawing implications, conclusions, and interpretations.

At times, when you were studying his story, you wondered what your own dreams would be like if they were advance scouts, warning you that you would soon become a bug.

You remember separate times when Elmore Leonard told you how important it is to ignore the temptation to relate dreams in detail, which was enough to get you thinking.  But he also said, "Dreams are not stories.  Dreams are only drafts of stories."

This was advice you could relate to, coming from the place where you believed details were as much a part of story as activity.  The spilled milk of no crying fame is merely a detail, giving some setting a shot at personality.  Someone trying with some desperation to clean up the traces of the spilled milk bring story into the picture.  Someone trying to clean the traces of spilled milk before the spill is noted by a specific individual, who is likely to be pissed, gives that burgeoning story a kick in the narrative pants.

Action is the wake-up call, the place story gets a toe-hold.  Action is the note in a bottle, tossed over the wall.  Help, help, I'm being held captive in Boredom.


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