emma b. says

Friday, June 04, 2004

The Great American Empty

When you fly across the country, you get an idea of land, of space. When you fly in daylight, the landscape yields sulfur, yields crags and pits, yields unruly patches of civilization dotted with swimming pools, but mostly, but mostly, great, haunting swathes of emptiness.

When you fly at night there is an ocean of land, spotty patches of town, concentrated city lights, street lights, head lights, porch lights, a great empty strip mall anchored by a Wal-Mart and a Staples deserted in whatever timezone you are flying over, bathed in the ghostly green of those sky-ward parking-lot angels, their very ghostliness enough to send you shivering to your semi cost efficient SUV, bollocks to the price of gas, purchases in tow, pepper spray in hand. In essence, the picture of the lonely American, in the midst of the Great Empty, trailing debt and the promise of a new credit card at ZERO APR for 24 months....

The Saddest Thing I Ever Saw

Happened shortly after I learned how to read. Naturally, the first book I read was "Green Eggs and Ham", naturally I became a Suess junkie at the very tender age of five. But when one thinks of a sentimental education at such a formulative age, one mightn't think Suess, but parents everywhere, should I succumb to regular bouts of melancholy, I blame the good doctor. More specifically, I blame a particular book and a companion illustration. The book in question is "Do You Know How Lucky You Are" and the image that has been plaguing my dream life and subconscious for nearly three decades is: I cannot remember the text quite precisely...

The sky is yellow and there is a canyon, across the canyon is strung a string, and from the string dangles an empty hanger, and the text is something about loneliness, a hanger without a coat, simply hanging, and gathering rust.

And I am quite sure, there are all kinds of reason Freudian, Jungian et al. to calm my quailing at the sight of that lonesome hanger. And of course, now that I am several years removed from the age of five, there is a whole wasps nest of contextualization and la di da di da that I am simply not going to fucking address.

The Second Saddest Thing I Ever Saw

Happens in the movies and at cross roads, and belongs to the great American pantheon on iconic images of our very vast emptiness. I watched a visually lovely little movie called "Northfork" and there was a 30 second scene in which three cars diverged on a cross road in the middle of the great American empty.

And for those of us who have ever driven in an unfamiliar landscape and watched the car before us turn onto a road seemingly to nowhere and let their imagination flicker, flame and burnout. Driving somewhere, driving nowhere in the great unending emptiness.


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