Wednesday, March 3

answer me why?

morning commutes into the City can be annoying, tiring, aggravating, angering, etc. For instance, yesterday i got onto the smelliest E train at 42nd Street. i mean, i've been in smelly cars before: sometimes it's pungent food or (usually) the noxious smell of pee. This time though, the smell was reedonkulous. it was a very smack-you-in-the-face body odor and it was unbearable. when riding on NYC subway cars, you can usually tell the NYers from the non because they have stoic faces in the face of the unusual. in the face of panhandlers, kids peddling candy, fights breaking out, NYers keep completely straight faces as if nothing happened. however, on this particular day, about 80% of the car had their noses buried into their jacket collars or scarves; and about 25% of the people were having physical reactions to the odor. it was so offensive that even when i stepped off the train and got to work i still had the feeling of being dirty, as if the smell had somehow attached itself to me like a thin layer on top of my skin. ::shiver:: even now, the memory haunts me...

Sometimes, on those rare occasions, the commute can also be entertaining. for instance, a few days ago i had missed my initial bus to work and was waiting for the next one. my bus stop is right outside of a 7-Eleven and is a high traffic area for kids on their way to the middle and high school. i also happened to be wearing jeans to work that day. as i waited, a yellow school bus stopped in front of me and opened it's doors. i was confused for a moment until i realized: the driver thought i was a student waiting for the school bus. not bad for a 27 year old i guess. or is it?

i've recently been reading the book Eating a Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman. i had NO IDEA what the book was about when i picked it up at the library. i just thought the cover was interesting and then i read the inside jacket and my interest was piqued enough to at least check the book out from the library. i figured if it sucked i'd just stop reading it.

the 1st chapter entitled "Something Instead of Nothing", asking the question "why do people feel the need to answer questions?" was mildly interesting. there was one part that i found particularly interesting:
"I'm not sure that we aren't seeing the emergence of
a society in which almost everyone who isn't famous
considers themselves cruelly and unfairly unheard.
As though being famous, and the subject of wide attention,
is considered to be a fulfilled human being's natural
state-and so, as a corollary, the cruelly unheard millions
are perpetually primed and fired up to answer any and
all questions in order to redress this awful imbalance"
-quote from Chris Heath in Eating the Dinosaur
this concept feels true. look at this blog for instance, and all the millions of other blogs out there. everyone's just spilling over to share their opinions, their ideas, their voice. hence the appeal of appearing on reality television.

i had no idea when i started to read it, that the book is a collection of essays. which was a pleasant surprise because i don't know if i could a read an entire book about interviewing and why people answer questions. i haven't finished the book yet (i'm currently on the chapter about ABBA) but i heartily recommend it. the topics are entertaining and completely relatable. they're relatable because they feel true. his topics have a very Murphy's-Law-feel to them and often they're concepts you've discussed yourself with friends or had fleetingly thought about at one time or another.

my favorite essay is "Tomorrow Rarely Knows" which discusses time travel. it touches upon every concept you've ever discussed or thought about time travel and then explores it a little more. but that's not why i like it. for me personally, was extremely relatable. at one point, Klosterman talks about having the fantasy of reliving his entire life while still possessing his present-day mind. and i have that fantasy ALL THE TIME. okay, all the time is exaggerating it a little. but i do think about it on more than one occassion. it's just such an appealing idea to me but i never delved into exactly why, aside from the obvious. but Klosterman provided a motivation that, while not a great revelation about me, still seems pretty spot on:
"I used to have a fantasy about reliving my entire
life with my present-day mind...I imagine the bizarre
things I would have said to teachers in junior high.
I think about women I would have pursued and stories I
could have written better and about how interesting it
would have been to be a genius four-year-old. At its
nucleus, this fantasy is about never having to
learn anything. The defining line from Frank Herbert's
Dune argues that the mystery of life 'is not a question
to be answered but a reality to be experienced.' My
fantasy offers the opposite. Nothing would be
experienced. Nothing would feel new or unknown or
jarring. It's a fantasy for people who want to solve
life's mysteries without having to do the work...

The desire to travel through time is electrifying and
rational, but it's a desire of weakness... People who
want to travel through time are both (a)unhappy
and (b) unwilling to compromise anything about who
they are. They would rather change every element of
society except themselves...

It takes a flexible mind to imagine how time travel
might work, but only an inflexible spirit would
actually want to do it. It's the desire of the depressed
and lazy."-excerpt from Eating the Dinosaur
...and cue the choir of angels and the light bulb suddenly lighting up above my head. while i've had the fantasy plenty of times, it's Klosterman that revealed why. hmm, i don't feel depressed, but lazy? spot on. i admit it, i have an i-wish-everything-would-just-fall-into-place attitude about life most of the time. kudos to you for revealing my inner psyche Chuck Klosterman!

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