Saturday, May 21, 2011

After the end of the world

I hope I wasn't the only one who thought they wouldn't have to go to work this morning because of the scheduled  Rapture, but here we all are, at our ritual stations, drinking coffee and scanning the  Internet and papers for clues about why we continue to arise each day , shrug off the sleep and commence toward a day of being productive . And self supporting.  So what would it be like to wander the streets after all the good and righteous people have been raptured and taken to the righteous side of God's throne? This strays into Rod Serling territory; in  Twilight Zone the episode titled "Time Enough At Last" episode I found a especially pleasing , actor Burgess Meredith played a cranky, near sighted misanthrope who would like nothing better than to have everyone on earth vanish as if into dust so he can be left alone to read his stacks of beloved books. A bank employee, the diminutive grump steals away into an unattended vault and , for reasons I can't recall right now, is rendered unconscious.

When he comes to, he is alone, the people of the city have disappeared, there is only him and the empty streets of what we presume to be New York City, no crying children, no loud teenagers, jackhammers, telephones, car horns, miserable bosses, whiny customers, it's just him and the unscathed material things of the city. The character is, of course, overjoyed, as he had no use for people anyway and wanted only to eat and sleep and read his precious books. He was, at face value, an unsympathetic goon, for what is the point of reading books if not to find some metaphorical context of yourself in the world full of other people. More simply, what is the point of reading if  it doesn't occur to you that what you've just read would be a more pleasurable experience by talking to others about it? The bookish troll played supremely well by Meredith, though, has no such inclination, his readings are only bricks in the wall he has constructed around the scant remains of his humanity; he wanders around the empty city, he finds a library, and we finally see him on the disheveled library steps with the tomes he has stacked high because now he has "all  the time in the world" to read without the annoying habits of people.

Tired from his gathering and stacking of books , he sits down, he takes off his thick -lensed glasses and  rests them precariously on one of his stacks so he may rub his  sore eyes. The  glasses, in turn, slip off the stack and onto the cement steps , where they shatter and otherwise slip from his grasp. The curmudgeon is finally viewed, as the camera pulls back, feeling is way around the steps amid his assumed bounty of books, looking for his glasses., doomed to severely blurred world where there is no one to help him.

Sartre's play "No Exit" contains the famous line "Hell is other people".  Presented with the light irony of  Serling's scenario, I would venture that there's no greater hell than being a man who is fervidly creating the engine of his  own permanent unhappiness. Can any of us imagine having a grandly tragic tale to tell but without one receptive ear to tell it to?  Hell is a dead microphone in an empty theatre. I will finish my coffee, turn off my computer and go to work, somewhat relieved that the Rapture has at last been delayed. It is of critical importance that I discuss all the unimportant things I've done and said in the last 24 hours with friends and associates who, as well, have their items of  trivial yet utterly crucial things to discuss over coffee, a cigarette, a burrito during a lunch break.

1 comment:

  1. "Hell is a dead microphone in an empty theatre..."

    As the rappers say, "word."

    ReplyDelete

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