Monday, April 30, 2012

City on the hill (conversation)

      A filthy living room, beer cans scattered like hell's fallen stars, the amps have been left on and are quietly humming to themselves. None of them can hear the buzz over the magnificent ringing in their ears. The room stinks from sweat and spilled beer and they sit or lie upon 4th hand sofas and rescued rugs. All of them drunk; some ride the last crest of pilfered stimulants.
        "We live in a peaceful time" says Jeff  "It's nice to be an old person, but really? Nothing is happening" He says "happening" with a particular emphasis. Draws out the vowels "There are no wars" he continues, "no revolutions. All the art is so...self-centered. Vanity! Anything remotely "authentic" gets picked up and is farmed out by the...corporations. Look: even selling out has lost all meaning when you have Ozzy Osbourne doing FUCKING bank commercials! The concept simply doesn't exist anymore." He's heated, basking in the glow of his oration. Some around him nod in agreement, others have nodded off.
          "But we are living in a revolution." Seth replies after a beat, speaking in his slightly nasal thoughtful drone. All eyes shift to him. "We were fortunate enough to see the birth of the internet, right? The democratization of information and all that." He says this last line self-consciously, almost ironically.
           "But what has that given us?" Jeff again to many nods "Memes?" The word comes off like a cuss "These little meaningless blips of information that pop up, pass around and disappear like amusing quantum particles in the deep vacuum of contemporary culture? What do they mean? What do they signify? Again: Vanity. Sheer emptiness."
            "Just the random noise muffling the signal of the larger movements." Seth comes back at him quick. Where Jeff's rhetoric becomes more and more heated as he develops his argument where it spins out of control on its own centripetal energy Seth's is a cool steel rod balancing on one end "Memes are fun, they foster creativity. They give us an intimate look into what others are concerned about right now. In real time. They are..." He pauses, looks at the ground. "Signifiers of cultural microclimates. If you will."
           The group falls into silence. This is the lull, the post-coital bliss that is forgotten the next morning. Avalon House is one of the few students houses in Westham lucky enough to enjoy the coincidence of neighbors desperate enough in their desire to appear hip that they ignore the weeknight hardcore shows and location on a street busy enough to drown out the the kick drum and amplified bass. Tonight was a relatively raucous show, three local groups that worked the crowd into such a mess that the free pile late 90's model projection television had its screen kicked in and a fixed lamp has been torn from its housing. In the morning a large paint marker tag will be found in the bathroom which extols the virtue of forcibly raping the local police. The writing is wholly illegible and the meaning of the script and the juxtaposition of the crude illustration will remain a point of heated contention between housemates and hangers on during the months ahead.
            As the night wore on and the last of the bottoms of the last drinks were finished the last few stragglers headed home or crashed in an empty room. Seth, Chan and Olivia remained in the living room. The red christmas lights and jury rigged theater lighting set odd colored shadows around the room, offset geometric patterns bounced off the warped windows and played out in the floor which vibrated when 18 wheelers went by. For at least a quarter hour not a word was spoken. Seth pondered on the floor, Chan stared at the ceiling, lazily looked at a poster, nodded off briefly then awoke. Olivia stared out the window, at one point tears welled up in her eyes.
           "Seth" Olivia said. It was a whisper almost, just audible. She didn't wait for a reply but she knew he heard her.
"Whats the hardest thing for a person to do?"
          "The hardest thing?" He kept staring "The hardest thing... Thehardestthingthehardestthingthehardestthinnnnnng" He smiles "The very hardest thing that a person can do is have a truely, truely original thought."

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