Saturday, August 25, 2007

Split my Infinitive, Captain

I've been trying to cut back on shame lately, so I'll just come right out and confess that between the ages of 12 and 14, I was a huge fan of Star Trek TNG. I think in part this was because TNG's vision of the future is so comforting: humankind really has bettered itself, and people are out there trying to do good. Whereas at 13, my vision of the future pretty much amounted to a vague hope I'd make it out of middle school.

In TNG, everyone HAS made it out of middle school (more or less), and adulthood is one big holodeck. Of course, there are problems. Riker's an ass, for one. Also everyone has to wear spandex. And then there's the borg.

The borg (is? are? The confusion between singularity and plurality was really the point, I think) a hive-mind species that incorporates stray humans into itself. I sort of suspect the borg was supposed to be code for Socialism run amok: they even pilot square grey spaceships, as if to echo Soviet-era design.

But that's neither here nor there. The point is that, although I don't think about the borg very often (the world just seems to be filled with more gripping thing to think about, like cheese), I did today. I was driving around in the mid-sized Midwestern city to which I have to move in two months. It's the kind of city that consists almost entirely of sprawl. One strip mall flows into another strip mall, metastasizing out and out and out until you hit the bulldozers on the edge of town. There are places to work, places to park, and places to buy.

I was watching the traffic inch forward and suddenly I thought: all these people think this is life. The working, the driving, the buying: they think this is life.

Because it is. For the family in the Saturn and the woman in the Ford and the guy picking his nose in the Escalade, every minute of it is real, live, technicolor life. How long before I'll think so, too?

I'm taking bets.

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