Monday, July 12, 2021

Feather Pillows

My mother insisted on feather pillows. A feature of our lives growing up was to have pillows restuffed, cleaned, or otherwise adjusted. I inherited two such pillows, more recently purchased from some online presence, which was likely a catalog presence for Mom. None available or serviceable locally. The piles the piles of catalogs when we moved her out from her last home. 

I've traipsed these pillows back and forth across the land, feeling vaguely concerned that they would concentrate my personal smell, and never quite dry as I packed them away with the bedding each day. A still more vague concern that I myself would stop being able to smell them.

I've since determined that these are not good summer pillows, damp as they are each morning, and so I decided to wash them, having my choice of daughters' washer-dryers. It has been a week since and I still feel as though the inside moisture content/ratio exceeds the ambient. Remembering that when Mom would shutter their house for the move across the border to now still-banned Canada, the furniture in the winter house would moulder. There was some destruction. And so I am uncertain about the hydrophilic qualities of goose feathers, mixed with some down. But I've stowed them anyhow. 

The polyester alternative seems hardly absorbent at all. Better for summer usage.

Yesterday's surprise trip to near-outer-space (it was a surprise to me) now feels, in briefest retrospect, like nothing very different from a monstrous slingshot launch of the sort you can experience at the county fair. Or a bungee jump. These afford, for me, thrills far in deficit from the charge to have them. 

Some $250,000 for the bungee shot to space. An amount not dissimilar to what I shall have to live out the rest of my life. But insignificant against earthly lodging costs for those who would take the flight. I doubt it will balance the books though, without some occult subsidy, in which I also, no doubt, unwittingly conspire.

I well know how lucky I am, born with sufficient social capital that if such things were measured, I would easily make the one-percent. Certainly if the planet is the ground. Of course I consider every possible livelihood to have been robbed from me by obligations. Who even feels those anymore? I am white and therefore noticed as an individual and evaluated as such. I have never liked attention.

The gradient of life between that below Earth's atmosphere and that beyond it is far more stark than that within me and that without. Our quest for individual recognition must still crave such launching, as though we could contain within ourselves such thrills of autonomy. I truly cannot understand it.

And so it does strike me that all of our economic arrangements now are calibrated around maximizing each our sense of individuality, without which we have no economic valence. And I find my connection between how tech has evolved and warfare. How we, this vaunted democracy, are the most imperialistic force still in the history of the planet. And Rumsfeld and his ilk are mostly gone.

This is hardly an original observation, but it does hit me with the force of, well, obviousness. Through the neoconservatism that brought endless war and the encampment of hoards, to neoliberalism and the end of history, our economy has transformed and perfected to something still more efficient than the Chinese surveillance megalopolis. Where I might feel more at home. But would not, thankfully really, ever be welcomed as such. A homelander there, in China.

China's rule still feels more common-directed. I'm sure that's illusion, but we treat our store of prisoners so abominably that it would be hard to imagine China doing even worse. Judge us by our lowest acts.

So I am forced to make the best of it here. 

For some reason I awake today - not really awake, since I never did sleep - with the memory of being lost in a fog on the way out into Long Island Sound from Mystic Seaport. Such a poetic sound. I was aware that I had never acquired the bell I needed, stolen perhaps by a previous owner for his kitchen. All that was left was the mount, low on the mast. Accessible by way of the hatch from the cabin, down below.

There were boats aground, and I had no electronics, but we did navigate to a marked buoy, and dropped anchor near its bell, not able even to see those other boats whose bells we could hear. I remember terror.

We heard a shout "man overboard" and realized that none of us, good enough swimmers all, would have been able to swim against the receding tidal current which left a wake abaft. Why not swim? There was nothing else to do while waiting out the fog. We could make no sense of any swimming sounds, nor find any place to throw a lifering, though the call had seemed to come upstream from us. I projected a more real terror, even than my own at being lost. Though we kept our mark.

I remember being sodden, it was that warm. It was drier below. Dryer is the machine. Spelling is so frivolous. Dryer hardly touches feather pillows. Days of fluffing by hand and those days have been damp. I was sodden because there was no more room in the air.

Now my brain is fogged by GPS. Could be just age, but I once had what friends and family saw as a near magical sense of direction. GPS is designed, of course, for targeting and ultimately for targeting ourselves as individuals. We may find ourselves on a digitally completed and overlaid earth. 

We imagine our minds to be contained by our brains, and now we imagine our brains to be extended by technology, forgetting that they were already enmeshed in the entirely of our mental, and especially in our physical scope. Which has been diminished and not enlarged by our martial technologies. Though we may designate and target any enemy to whatever degree of precision we may wish. We will recognize him autonomously.

Technology of the sort we now deploy cannot but destroy our minds, and render them crazed with lack of solid anything.

And yet it was a concession to we the people to open up that military tech for our personal enhancement. How quickly it all became an economic imperative. Was that its purpose all along?

Did that boat ever cast off anchor to follow their lost man? If so, we never heard about it. It haunts me still, somehow.

And where will the currents carry us now, utterly lost in space, with no anchor in meaning beyond the natural law, which has been reduced to facial recognition and a statistical match to profile? The bell tolls for thee, if it tolls at all.

At least I shall have a clean place to rest my head come winter, assuming the fog clears by then.

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