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THAT TELLS YOU SOMETHING

i built around me a house of books—and it did take building, shelves the ultimate investment when room for breathing would have given fascists fits—in a place, and from a bloodline, where there was little reading. the magazine racks of my most impressionable relatives (the branches that pressed into papery skin the most impressions, supremely brutal veins) were too sparse in offerings even for entertaining: the coffee table held a poverty of imagination, holding only coffee. informational offerings from insurance companies, concerned only about your safety in order to reduce their liability; women’s magazines that were never entirely about women but more about the idea of efficiency in the realm that was supposed to be devoid of efficiency (and, therefore, uncompensated): Family Circle implied a cult, a curse, a noose, masthead font reminiscent of pioneer colonialism, not stylized inspirational forward thinking—this wasn’t a sex oval either—rarely left elementary sans serif: that’s the territory of a different kind of manners, that of social climbers. when the middle of nowhere neighborhood of my youth finally pulled its end stages of its opposite-of-gentrification (from bedroom community to bordello), as i knew would happen but still prayed that i would have been able to plot my escape prior to the complete degradation of the stage, the magazines lying in the unisexes and nail salons grew more continental and celebrity-obsessed, less focused on maintaining order in your illegally subdivided rented room: now these were more about "the woman," but really more about the idea of "the woman" being attractive enough to serve others with her presence, keep aesthetics surrounding pleasing via her face, shaven armpits, smooth legs—curtains—or is it drapes?—could gather dust for all anyone cared. still and all, the other day, when i was in walking trance meditating on my newly credentialed uselessness—i had a professional distinction of my dandyism!—i spied through a storefront the same old imperialist monthly—Family Circle, making a brief reappearance in a tract where most families had flow, motivated by their casually-held xenophobia, in a community now known as a transient haven instead of being a sylvan city retreat, a simulacra of suburbia. so much potential perhaps tainted by suboptimal periodicals. one could be almost sure the rag was a mistake there, dull among the glossy fodder; it could have been dug out of the trash, as so many do here for a second income. still, in the uneasy mythology of my family—a narrative informed by something other than literacy—maternal types all down the line, themselves uneven, would have cawed, "that tells you something," always in a derisive tone, never saying what got "told," or what the mystical, omnipresent "you" was supposed to get or take away—"you have to be in it to win it" was, not surprisingly, ever ranked among the favorite household clichés—no, through the downcast verbal forecast, one knew, threshold passed, that the "something" we were witness to & transmitted was about class.

Posted 09/16/10
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