Sunday, January 29, 2006

lovely quiet machines

I know there are plenty of people who regard the idea of being machines with a sort of horror, but for me it's a pleasant relief. The feeling I get is much like Doris Lessing's description of modern decor ca. 1940:

The flat was bright, modern, compact. The small living room had striped curtains, pale rugs, light modern furniture. Coming into it was a relief; one enters a strange place feeling, To what must I adapt myself? But there was nothing individual here to claim one's mood, there was no need to submit oneself. In this country, or in England, or in any other country, one enters this flat, is at home at once, with a feeling of peace. Thank God! There are enough claims on us as it is, tugging us this way and that, without considering fittings and furniture. Who used them before? What kind of people were they? What do they demand of us? Ah, the blessed anonymity of the modern flat, that home for nomads who, with no idea of where they are travelling, must travel light, ready for anything.

(That's from Martha Quest.) There's something cheerful, too, even witty, in this bip! Out we go at the end. No mess. No space junk or atmosphere crowded with souls. You only paid for one ride, dearie, come on now, off the horse.

All right, that one's no fun. But I have a New Yorker cover on my wall from Nov. '95, the Angel of Death leading the pack at the NYC marathon. Oh, what a light, jolly soul. In running shoes, with magnificent wings and gray beard, and wiry muscles, a singing heart, and his scythe, hourglass bouncing along at his waist. What fun he has! This happy mower. And everyone behind him straining and panting, eyes bulging, all manner of fat and musclebound and hollow-cheeked.

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