Mennonno Sapiens

One Giant Leap For Mankind

Job-hunting and Dream-hopping

I have a lot going on at the moment, although it would look to a casual observer like there’s absolutely nothing happening. (That’s when you know you’re dealing with a true master, though, innit?)

I have a great little support system at home, but I have been taking some heat abroad for my refusal to return to my old job, though it wasn’t much of a job to begin with, if you want to know the truth.

As for lack of funds, I regret having mentioned it at all here.  I’ve been broke before.  There are things I like about it.  You’ve always got plenty of company, first of all.  I mean, most of the planet is poor.  Almost half of the world’s population makes less than $1000 a year.  Compared to that, I’m in the global middle class, easy.  And when you consider that the median per capita annual income, according to the World Bank, is $5,510, I’m filthy rich.

So, it’s not exactly Les Damnés de la Terre we’re talking here.

I’m actually not much more broke jobless than I was when I was working, if you want to know the truth.  That’s the thing.

Somehow rent gets paid.  Bills taken care of.  Beers in the fridge.  What more do you want?  Life is good.

All I can say is I’ve found that only through your staunch refusal to participate any more than you absolutely have to in your own degradation can you expect other people not to pile on, too.  And walking away from a job that pays barely more than minimum but requires daily preparation, and thought, not to mention patience and kindness every minute of the day (teaching, in short), definitely qualifies as a kind of degradation.

In ancient Egypt, China and India teaching was a religious vocation.  Western society traces its roots back to Greece, where teacher-slaves were the norm.  And in America today they still are.

Man is free, but everywhere he is in chains!  You can’t wait for someone to bust you out.  You’ve got to make a break for it.

I mean, you know those dreams–everybody’s had ’em–where you’re like, this is ridiculous–I don’t want to be in this dream anymore.  Get me outta here!  You knew you were dreaming, and all you had to do was wake up.  But those kinds of dreams, it seems they’re always hard to wake up from.  But they’re still just dreams.

That’s what life’s like sometimes.

…toda la vida es sueño,
y los sueños, sueños son.

You’ve got to pinch yourself, wake up to a new dream.

Scenes from somebody else’s dream I’ve been getting tantalizing glimpses of lately appear on utility poles and the backs of street signs, in Cambridge mostly…

Whenever I see one of these little polaroids hidden in plain sight, it’s like a portal to another dream.

There’s nothing quite like a polaroid, is there?

I mean, it has its own immediately recognizable aesthetic.  There’s a whole philosophy of photography embodied in the polaroid, just as digital point-n-click photography is a school unto itself.  Instant film was the original DIY.  Low-cost, and the only processing was flapping it for a minute and pealing back the cover.

And there is something in the trademark off-ness, the distortion of color–like photographic amber–that preserves the moment better than a more “accurate” photo would…

These subjects need polaroid photography.  They exist for polaroid photography, just as polaroid photography exists for them.  There are other ways to capture their form, but there is simply no other way to capture their essence.
Warhol, in his infinite wisdom, saw other applications and their implications…

There is no denying the erotic implications of the polaroid camera. Of course, the story of photography is just a chapter in the history of porn, but the polaroid opened up new possibilities which with digital point-and-click are now infinite.

It’s hard to say whether the fleshiness of polaroids is an illusion of their application or inherent in the process, but Warhol’s polaroids capture that same sinuous, sensuous seediness polaroids seem made for.  You don’t get that with digital, with its sharp focus and white light.

There is something both in the moment and immediately nostalgic about polaroid.  And it says something about how we capture and catalog time.  It’s instant memory, nostalgia for the moment just past.

Anyway, I find myself indentifying directly not only with the aesthetic of those polaroids scattered around town, like pieces of a puzzle, but with the mystery of being and seeing that they’re clues to.

Now if I could just turn “being and seeing” into a viable job description, I’d be sitting pretty.


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