Sunday, November 13, 2016

All our conversations compete

I don't know how to say what I have to say to you. If I say, "I find that my choice is whether to not be or to be," it'll worry you. I could maybe say, "My choice is how to be," but that leaves so much unsaid.

When a robot vacuum cleaner hits the sofa leg, it might veer left, might go right. Is that choice? I don't know yet which way I'll veer.

The time I'm talking about is just before you got that last text from me, to which you didn't immediately reply, because it was in the middle of the night and it made no sense. I know later you came to my ruined house and couldn't get in, and no one could find me. I got your messages, but I couldn't answer. I saw how you all looked.

How do I tell this?

It's hard to think sometimes amid the clamor of argument. The politics of objects. All our conversations compete.

YouTube videos might be conversing among themselves — their lists and references and cuts parts of their dialect. When we bounce from song to nonsense to meme, we might be eavesdropping on arguments between images. It might be none of it's for us at all, any more than it's for us when we sit on a stool and intrude on the interactions of angles of furniture, or when we see a washing line bend under the weight of the wind or a big cloud of starlings and act like we get to be pleased.
— from "The Dusty Hat," in Three Moments of an Explosion, by China Miéville.

Conversations in the world that have nothing to do with you are suddenly meaningful. Everything is suddenly loaded with meaning.

I'm restless this week, and so is my reading. I can't seem to settle on anything, or see anything through.

I've been dipping into this volume of Miéville's short stories for well over a year now. I have a difficult time appreciating short stories in general. Maybe not unexpectedly, short stories feel just right at a time like now.

Some of these are brilliant, others less so. (Every reviewer has a different favourite; I'll keep you posted on mine.) But all of them are suddenly loaded with meaning.

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