Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch
cbertsch

Conversely

There's a place on my right foot where the little toe rubs against a shoe designed for something more narrow. It's telling me what I did today and the day before and the day before that, performing a ritual I don't fully understand, a promise to myself to remember: the more things change, the more they stay the same. And that's clearly what I'm after, stasis through motion. If I can't stop the tide, I might as well become it. It matters, too, that I'm forsaking my principles along the way. I once insisted we buy a car made by workers who not only made good wages but also received three times the paid vacation of ones in my own country. Now I'm fixated on a brand that burns its betrayal and my own into the flesh of a mind that hasn't been properly hardened to the excess that makes commodities glow like teenagers in love. That mark I see everywhere, aware that it stands for a love divided from me, but still pursuing it with the tenacity of the protagonist who spies muted horns all over California. I'm bound to a post I should probably abandon, sure only that the dampening throb in my foot is a feeling I'm too fearful to forsake.

Last night I watched bits of silent film saved from the ravages of insufficient adoration: a shot tracking for what seems like miles through a factory in Pennsylvania; a preview for the first film based on The Great Gatsby that now serves only to review a loss we can't make good; and dark-skinned men and women from far below the Mason-Dixon Line, recorded by the camera of a graduate student named Zora Neale Hurston. The only link between the items in this collection is that they survived a tide that washed most things out to sea. But I see everything fitting together in an implacable grid. The factory has moved to China. The newly rich spend their money taking the depth out of their lives, buying up everything from flat-panel televisions to fatless portable music players. And the young people smiling in a semi-circle, diffused by the dust of a South covered by the kudzu of Wal-Mart and Nascar but still living a deathly existence beneath it, are wearing the same sneakers you can purchase off the Converse website, the distinctive shape burnished with the blister-making pressure of nostalgia. I am well-versed in this con game, seeking myself in the labor of others. I know that I'm being played. But I stay on the court anyway.
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