Hi. Sorry I’ve been out of touch. I’ve got to go pick some up at the Touch Mart. You know, it’s funny, but last month, when I was still completely unemployed, apart from the one volunteer kindergarten class I had to teach once a week with my wife (which was like having three full-time jobs in and of itself, believe you me), I had a lot more time and energy with which to generate sedentary dysentery on my other blog. Now I’m marginally employed and it seems I hardly have time to push in my chair when I get up from the breakfast table. It’s also a problem that the coffee I’ve been drinking is weaker than the stuff I’m used to, and I’m also not getting enough exercise, which has resulted in the wrong kind of growth (namely increased flabulosity).
But hey–at least I’ve got a new pair of glasses (drinking glasses, that is–just kidding). And I can see more through them. Last night while I was waiting for the optometrist to realize that the center of the universe had recently entered his shop (believe me, I’m only pulling your leg–but don’t worry–not literally) and wading through Joseph Conrad’s powerfully tedious Heart of Darkness, I put the book down, stood up, and looked out the window without visual aids for a change. I had to admit, it was much prettier–like an impressionist painting with smudges of red, blue, yellow, and green in stripes and blocks against a black background–neon on night.
It reminds me of a trailer I watched earlier tonight for a movie called “City of Dark” (I think that’s the title anyway), a documentary about the spiritual hazards of light pollution. That’s another one of the millions of differences between me and Jinsoo (which isn’t her real name, but a pseudonym; it turns out it’s actually a man’s name, appropriately enough, even though she’s always a woman to me, to quote the insufferable Billy Joel): she likes sleeping in a room with some semblance of light in the air, while I prefer pitch black darkness. I like not being able to see where I’m going if I have to wake up in the middle of the night to take a leak. Of course, it’s nice to make it to the toilet without falling and breaking your neck against the bedside table, but you can’t have everything.
When I was a little boy a few minutes ago, I used to be able to lie down in the grass in my family’s front yard, look up at the sky, and see so many stars it wasn’t funny, especially when one turned out to be an asteroid that flew down and struck me in the chest, knocking the wind out of me.
“Damn! That was a close call,” I distinctly remember saying. Mind you, this happened about six billion years ago, so my memory of the incident’s a little fuzzy.
Still, it was quite an honor to be able to discover the veracity of the line in the Drifters’ song “Up on the Roof,” “At night the stars, they put on a show for free.”
In fact, it’s troubling that these days most of us are more concerned with human “stars” than we are with the ones we used to be able to see when we looked up in the sky at night.
But things could be worse: at least NASA hasn’t caved and decided to let corporations launch those stupid satellites with their logos on them to infect human consciousness that much more and further infiltrate us with their homogenized vocabulary of symbols that lead us away from what’s real and deeper into a kind of bland, antiseptic nightmare narrated by a computerized woman’s voice that sounds as if it could belong to the wife of HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
With light pollution increasing and spreading around the world like a brilliant, twinkling, blinding virus, I guess the only way any of us is going to be able to see the stars again is either by watching science fiction movies, going to a planetarium, or becoming an astronaut.
Meantime, I guess we’d better all start acquiring a taste for Tang (mmmm, as delicious as ground-up aspirin for children).
Finally, to quote Eric Idle in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, “And let’s hope that there’s intelligent life in outer space because there’s bugger-all down here on earth.”