The landlord chuckled again with his lean chuckle, and seemed to be mightily tickled at something beyond my comprehension. “No,” he answered, “generally he’s an early bird – airley to bed and airley to rise – yes, he’s the bird what catches the worm. – But to-night he went out a peddling, you see, and I don’t see what on airth keeps him so late, unless, may be, he can’t sell his head.”
“Can’t sell his head? – What sort of a bamboozingly story is this you are telling me?” getting into a towering rage. “Do you pretend to say, landlord, that this harpooneer is actually engaged this blessed Saturday night, or rather Sunday morning, in peddling his head around this town?”
“That’s precisely it,” said the landlord, “and I told him he couldn’t sell it here, the market’s overstocked.”
“With what?” shouted I.
“With heads to be sure; ain’t there too many heads in the world?”
Chapter 3, The Spouter-Inn
Rewards are promised to me left and right–if I would just follow Pepsi or friend Quiznos. I feel so cheap. In place of an in-depth personality, I am a palate of what I consume. And not even that—but of what I will whore my appearance of loyalty out to. How cheaply can I be bought?
Apparently $1.98 Amazon MP4 credit is not enough to get me to follow Pepsi on twitter, so there is some good news. We have not yet hit the low bar and my battered soul finds this reassuring. I have a twitter account, but not having a smart phone or the ability to confine my thoughts to 48 characters or whatever god forsaken abandonment of the English language is required, I do not ever use the account. I think I opened it to follow Moby-Dick which was being tweeted 34 characters at a time. I was promptly contacted by the administrator or whatever those twitter heads are called who asked rather brusquely if I had any idea what the Moby-Dick twitter was about. You have to understand for a fanatic like myself this is akin to the hair-raising wilting glances I am subjected to when entering a used bookstore and asking if they have a copy of Philbrick’s Why Read Moby Dick.
“Why read Moby-Dick?” Is spat back at me with the eye roll “Only because it’s the greatest American novel ever written—(understood ‘duh’)”
Can you picture how I react to this statement?
Can you fathom the inner workings of my boiling temperament as I restrain from launching into a verbatim recital of the entirety of Chapter 23? As I hold back from spitting out that I am not posing the question, I am requesting they use their untrimmed nails to type a BOOK TITLE into their damned computer. If I wanted snide comments from someone who hasn’t washed their hair in six months I’ll talk to my own pre-teen son thank you very much.
So yes, some overprotective twit was screening all those who might want to, god forbid, with good intention or not—follow Herman Melville’s novel 37 characters at a time. I think I did respond to the Melville posting cyber snob, but if I was permitted to continue “following” them after that, I have no idea, seeing as how I don’t really understand how to access my Twitter account.
OK—so you don’t really use it, go ahead and abuse it. Right? It’s a sham account anyhow—let Ishamaella follow Pepsi and get your MP4 credit—to hell with it. Friend Pringles and Follow McDonalds—why the hell does it matter—it isn’t as if you don’t put your private rantings out on WordPress for the entire world to see—why does it matter?
But it does.
I think the marketing geniuses of the past few decades have made an art form out deluding us all into believing that life’s solutions are one purchase away. The soda company, Mountain Dew, began a campaign a couple of years ago where in return for people posting videos of their obsession with the soft drink onto You-Tube they might get a split second appearance in a national commercial. “Volunteers” were recruited to create teams for newly proposed flavors and house parties were organized. Local news stations covered street events and happenings held by these unpaid advocates. I’m thinking this probably holds the same romance as the anti-war movement of the 60’s—but it’s centered on marketing a sugary caffeinated beverage with no nutritional value. My god—what hope there would be for the future of the endangered Orangutan if we could rally such passion in the preservation of one of our closest relatives?
We sit idling on gridlocked six lane freeways under neon signs flashing “Ozone Alert: Level Orange. Limit Outdoor Activity” and do . . . nothing.
We sit at the stoplight and turn our heads casually as if we suddenly had something so very urgent to attend to over our right shoulder as the man carrying a signs saying “Homeless. Hungry. Vet” limps up to our car window.
I read that 49 headless bodies were dumped—in a region of this earth that is closer to where I now sit than no small portion of people reading this blog. That should concern me. The power of the executioners is fed by the American market. The American demand for drugs and is perpetrated with weapons sold on the American free market.
I have some issue with the power of the American market. So, Pepsi is not Smith and Wesson, surely, and Quiznos is not the undying demand for heroin– but somewhere along the way we jumped the track. We forgot that the solutions are not something we purchase, that
is between human beings who have shared history and experience—and the word does not describe my relationship with a sandwich chain from which I want to procure a buy one get one free coupon .
someone is to open our minds and souls to their words or to walk at their side as they go out into the community because we want to help them extend the wisdom or aid they provide to others. To follow someone should not clutter up our days with a thousand commercial mass mailing of 42 characters.
Somewhere we need to remember the value of experience, of the moment, of the one thing we can never return or exchange or go back and get later—and that is the here and now.
What are the sounds around you,
the color of the walls,
where is the light entering the room
—exhale and ask yourself
is there one person I can reach out to go hug or say “let me fix your hair,” or “how about a game of cards?”
— or one living creature who would burst with joy if we stood up and said “Let’s go find your ball.” My little dog jumps at the words and, having instantaneously completed a happy lap around the downstairs has returned with a fuzzy green tennis ball clutched in her tiny jaw. The wag of her tail can hardly contain her excitement of this moment.
So, if you will excuse us—I have an appointment with life.