Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

I read parts of that novel over my friend's shoulder while stuck three to a benchseat on a 28 hour drive. Very impolite of me. It was published in 1984, which I do not think is right. That was a year of hairspray and neon and solos played on flying V guitars. I wonder who liked it then: was it just professor-types with tweed and cigarettes or did girls in red plastic earrings sit around and talk about it while listening to tapes of Duran Duran?
And shouldn't everyone have been reading 1984 in 1984? If there was a book written 30-some years ago titled 2011 I guarantee you I would be reading it. There would be a centaur on the cover, a centaur who can teleport. He'd have a teased perm and too much chest hair.
People say that living in The Future isn't what they told us it'd be, but they only point out the fact that they don't own a hovercraft. Somehow everything so incredibly more futuristic is entirely overlooked. I haven't even seen it as a coverspread: there's a machine that can print out 3D human tissue. In fifty years, they say they'll be printing out hearts. The hoverboard can be made from a standard shop vac: the organ printer is made from a converted ink-jet printer. (Maybe replacing the paper feed with a petri dish was one man's desperate attempt to finally solve the paper jam.)
This year also saw the invention of spray-on clothing. Like cheese whiz, yes. It comes out liquid and then dries into a synthetic, which you can stretch and shape to taste, sew a zipper or a button onto, take off, and hang up in your closet.
I learned just a week or two ago how a battery works. Some years back I read a memoir written by a man in prison in Cuba who made homemade batteries to power his homemade radio and I actually cried, thinking about the fact that if I'm imprisoned, I won't be able to make a battery. I was waitressing when I read that book; I walked from table to table in a fog, carrying trays of sushi, giving vacant half-nods, my heart pounding like mad. When does my break come? What will happen to Vallardes? I am so far behind. I only barely understand capacitors.
Vallardes eventually moved to Miami. I lived about an hour north of there, but I was too nervous to try and look him up. I'm not so good with Cuban accents.
Octavius is five months old. He has shiney eyes. He cocks his head to the side when you talk to him and raises a single eyebrow. He looks like the sort of fellow who could stroll down Little Havana wearing a spray-on suit with a copy of 2011 under his arm. I cannot begin to picture the world he'll live in but my boy, I hope it's everything it should be.


erin said...

don't take this the wrong way, i mean it as a compliment.
but sometimes, your writing is so good, i feel like i should stop writing myself; anything i could do, in comparison with yours, is just clutter.
it's breathtaking. simply breathtaking.

You can call me B.... said...

I completely agree with Erin...well said.

The Goodfellas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Me hace a sonreir! El guapo merece todo lo bueno que el mundo tiene, y mas.

Don Omar