Communication in the Vast Wasteland

I do not live in a painting by Magritte or by De Chirico or even by Carmen Cicero—no, really, I don’t, honest, scout’s honor, no kidding—but sometimes I get the creepy sensation that I do.  That sinking feeling is an identifiable vertigo not caused by imposing stimuli, such as intimidating heights, but by lesser, humdrum disconnects, such as standing by a door or in a parking lot or walking on the sidewalk and hearing a conversational tone from a stranger addressing the void with a Nokia cellphone in his hand.  It is the tone of voice, private in public, that seems surreal, I suppose.  But then, there is the compensatory emergence from dissociation as cognition gathers through the recognition of the banalities that are uttered: “Yeah? . . . I dunno . . . Me neither . . . What you wanna do?  I dunno.  Whatever.”  There somehow seems a discrepancy between the inanities transmitted and the pretentious medium of transmission, the vehicle of which is, unlike much else except vodka, imported from Finland.  The big deal is to some degree lessened through its ubiquity, but, make no mistake, in its unmistakable vacuity, the phenomenon is a big deal.  The appurtenances of contemporary existence don’t offer much in the way of excitement or in the regeneration or life department, but the hype is relentless.

The gap between the promise and the humdrum reality...

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