Archive for December, 2008

the nokia. and life.

Friday, December 5th, 2008

I really hate everything.

It is always magnificently disappointing how the spending frenzy manages to inundate the fairly monumental sentiments of the season. Peace on earth? Good will to men? I feel like I am floating in a dinghy on a sea of oily sewage, and am realizing that under the surface just beneath my tiny boat I can barely–but unmistakably–make out one of the points on the crown of the Statue of Liberty, her entire form completely subsumed by the stinking morass that is deeper than she is tall, and spreads for miles around me, featureless but for a chunk of I-don’t-want-to-know-what-it-is floating here and there. Her arm, probably twisted backward and torn off by the brutal thug of despondency, is missing and is probably now lying on the bottom in the darkness.

I am in withdrawal from my own consumer binge. It was the recent pursuit, courtship, and conquest of a little tiny piece of technology called a Nokia E71. I employed it to seduce me–it had no interest in me. I paid to impose on it my hopes and dreams, I used it in my fantasy, the game of it satisfying my needs and desire. As if such things were not real.

The E71 is a cell phone. And I am fascinated by the fact that a device of connectivity should be so employed in my frantic pursuit of diversion from others. I never even make phone calls. Yet I have the best possible phone. It’s like sex for money. In that exchange, one pays for sex because real touching is your enemy, and you do not want it sneaking up on you. So it is with my pursuit of connectivity devices. I may not want to actually stay in contact, but the best diversion from that fact is having three cell phones, five phone lines, several e-mail accounts and hundreds of instant messenger contacts. And using none.

What makes life worth living? I ask, not because I can’t find it; what makes life worth living is right here with me every single moment. No, I ask because whatever that thing is, it is elusive. It defies putting one’s finger on it. It dwells within moments, yet between them. It is like a bright flash of light, that blinds you for a second, but you can’t find the source. You know it, but can’t name it. Even though you know it is there, you just can’t get a handle on what makes life worth living. Which is a matter of some concern, since, if it gets away…

If we lose track of the thing that makes life worth living, then there’s no telling what else we might lose.

The problem with suicide is that people know about it. It’s like the theology behind Adam and Eve; they didn’t know they were naked until they let the apple juice run down their lips. They were fine until then. And we were fine until we realized not only that we had the ability to commit suicide, but might actually have a reason. Or rather, that we might actually lose track of the reason for living.

I won’t smash my little Nokia into a thousand little formerly-smart pieces. Not right this moment, anyway. True, it didn’t satisfy all my needs and desires like I pretended it would. But then I knew I was pretending. Didn’t I?

When I was in the throes of plotting to own it, and trying to make sure it was the most perfect piece of smartphone on the planet, for a little while then it almost seemed like it was the reason for living. And it seemed that I might actually get a hold of it–the reason for living–tangible and in my hand, unable to get away. I almost, finally, had it.

Cell phones can break, fall in a toilet, get run over by a car. They can get lost under the seat of some car you will never be in again. Or even stolen by people who do not recognize them as a little talisman of protection from giant fears of insecurity, but as commodities to be milked of private information and then resold. And even if none of this happens, the pretty toy will tarnish and will, eventually, cease to fascinate. Whatever the reason for living is, it is not a cell phone. Just as love, whatever it, is not sex in the back seat with a paralyzingly cute hustler picked up and paid for on a hot summer street. The reason for living–even more scandalously–encompasses all these things, and more: the user and the maker, the hustler and the john, the winner and the loser, the giver and the taker, the needer and the satisfier, the mother and the child, the searcher and the saved, the killer and the killed.

Somewhere, and we are not given to know where exactly, but somewhere within these experiences is the reason for living. We know it is there. We sense it from our most ancient origins. We feel it in the marrow of our bones. And within the dust from which we came it resonates. It is not a thing to be possessed, or held, or restrained. And our most perfect way of relating to it, is to acknowledge that it is free at any moment to simply fly away.