Sunday, April 27, 2008

Five Things

Remember the movie Sliding Doors, in which the mousey British version of Gwyneth Paltrow misses the tube and carries on with life while the hipper blonde Paltrow boards the train and finds (what any hip blonde person would find) love, etc., etc.? In literature, modernism set in motion the incorporation of other points of view into a single person, the creation of the "meta-narrative," the possibility of other (often internal) lives (I board the tube but think about myself not boarding the tube). Post-modernism questioned in wacky ways the singular "I" altogether, seeking less to reveal something about an individual and more to reveal something about society (the tube is an enormous Twinkie...there is no tube). (This post is far too ambitious already, but suffice it to say that, in my mind, modernism is a very urban, disjointed, but ultimately cohesive and celebratory movement, while post-modernism fragments us before taking us back to one and then to nothing, in a far more nihilistic move. Hope versus...Beckett.)

How many versions of ourselves are walking about? After going to Mass today (there's a spiritual multiverse, surely: girl from Illinois raised Jewish, comes of age as Unitarian, finds peace in Buddhism, explores Catholicism) I thought I would take a nap. But - the crux! - I also needed to buy groceries. As a testament to the ability of moments to change the course of lives (or just thwart naps), consider that I bought groceries thanks to the sound of a marching band. Because the band prompted me to make that choice, here are five other things I saw, in the vicinity of the BQE, that my self that took the nap did not:

1. A parade in honor of a saint, marching up Lorimer.
2. A man (parade of one) who walked parallel to me on the other side of the street, all the way to the grocery store, carrying a radio blasting old-fashioned Italian music.
3. A little girl in rainboots staring into a subway grate.
4. An old man with a beard on a very small bicycle.
5. A skater kid wheeling a bag of laundry to the laundromat on his skateboard.

"Here we are all, by day; by night we're hurled
By dreams, each one, into a several world."
- Robert Herrick (pre-modern...or is he?)

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