Thursday, November 19, 2009


I've been snookered. By a lot of things, actually, including book jackets, course descriptions, and that dastardly catalog advertising fruits of the month sold in conjunction with summer sausage. (The cheese-and-pear basket looked SO much more delectable under studio lights.) Probably the most thorough snookerer was, and continues to be, my own frontal lobe, which puts about that it is the boss of me when it is, in fact, only a puppet of the hindbrain's regime.

The most recent snookering comes at the hands of Google, which offers a list of "themes," or ways to customize the backdrop of your gmail. I bit: the default gmail background was mighty boring. I tried mountains for a while, and then a lonely, rain-ravaged tree. Then I checked the box marked "teahouse" and was immediately enslaved by a pixilated, anthropomorphic fox in a pagoda hat.

The fox lives at the bottom of my screen. He has a whole little life down there, complete with a home, a garden, cleaning supplies, and a birdbath. In the morning he does tai chi on the front steps. In the evening he sweeps the floor. Sometimes he picks flowers or lunches with friends. At night, he sleeps.

I find this egregiously compelling. By compelling I mean fascinating, but also soothing: How reassuring -and yet how simultaneously agitating- to peer into someone else's everyday. You glimpse, in snatches, life running on parallel tracks. It's one of the juicier privileges of reading -though reading, in turn, privileges narrative over the slow accretion of minutes that is life up close.

Only you no longer need books to be a voyeur of the mundane. Thanks to technology, we're awash in snatches of other people's lives. I splash! I wade! I dunk! Yes I DO desperately want to know what you're eating and if you took your umbrella. I want to know when you're bored and what you're staring at and how long you sat at the red light! The boringer the better, folks: I'll bite!

Oh God, I'll bite. Even if the snatches of life are subjected to various degrees of self-editing, a la Facebook. Even if they are drab or awkward or sad. And, yes, even if the life in question belongs to a fake fox with bad taste in headwear.

Dude: get a snood!

That is, after you've finished pouring the tea you're currently pouring.

Not that I'm watching, or anything.

1 comment:

wombat said...

I think perhaps "Dude: Get a Snood" could be a good tagline for your blog.