Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Sunday Drive

There is breathtaking news. Driving around, I saw that McRib is back. This is simply great stuff.

Here: read a quote while you absorb the gravity of the situation.
"Nothing worth putting into my journal occurred this day. It passed away imperceptibly, like the whole life of many a human existence." -- James Boswell, London Journal.
That's Boswell, saying that nothing happened, but, man alive, when something did happen, by his reckoning, it was pretty outrageous. London Journal reads like a frat boy with unlimited funds on a year long Spring Break. Can you imagine what Boswell's "worth" is? The man obviously lived in the days before blogs, as they seem to exist precisely for housing the nothing worth putting down.

Boswell took his title and money and went to London and climbed upon everything in a skirt and blamed women for all his medical ailments. However, he also worked with Samuel Johnson on a Tour of the Hebrides. There was a lot of that then, and now: writing travel books. It's all about what the inn is like, who the local lord is, the weather, the character of the people (back when people had characters different from one another), etc. I think perhaps we still read travel books because we hope that there are places with character, that there are nationalities and ethnicities that are 1) different from us, 2) educational for us, 3) home for our moods.

As GloboCultCorp spreads itself evenly and consistently across the whirling face of the deep and dry, we get that ennui of cosmopolitanism. The Hellenes suffered it first. They invented the "citizen of the world," and they invented the problem that comes from knowing that, wherever you go, it's pretty much like being at home. You go from Athens to Alexandria, and you speak Greek, meet Greeks, worship Greek gods, read Greek scrolls, etc. It's a standard side effect of empire. The empire of corporations produces a different problem. Commodity ennui.

So, we read travel books, because on the fringes of Mindanao or Budapest there are people who are different from us. They rinse themselves in salt water. They are sullen. They have three drinks to toast all guests. They paddle around in boats with no keel. They speak slowly. They walk upon their hands. They have their heads in their stomachs. They dance every time the moon is full. They wear elaborate headdresses and share their porridge, which you must never spit out....
McRib, meanwhile, has been voyaging. He had adventures untold, I am sure, on his voyage. He met many unusual people and influenced generations. He is back now, though, and we all welcome him.

I'm joking, of course. A friend of mine tells me that the proper reading for the phrase is not "McRib has returned," but "McRib equals back." Now, of course, the ribs of a hog do go to the back, but it is also possible that McRib is back bacon (or "lardon," apparently).

So, imagine someone reading a travel book somewhere. "There are cultures in America where they have a McRib, and they do not know what it is, except back."

In fact, I have to say that there are some peoples left, some cultures. There is the bored ethnicity, the angry culture, and, my own, the phlegmatic. In fact, I can easily imagine a new product that will match the culture as fittingly as the McRib: the Ford Phlegmatic transmission. It will shift from first to second, but it's not like that's any better.

You see, the nature of commodities in the new world and the New World's new world, is to match up with the culture. You know you are in a cultural group by the goods for sale, not by the characteristics or attitudes of the peoples.

While some things, like bananas, know no season or region, as they are available to the potassium starved subject of the Northern Lights and the salt-poor sweat baron of the American South alike, other products are "special." They, it seems, testify to our uniqueness. We have a unique taste for the McRib, and so the product "demo's" in front of our pot bellies. The lobster roll at McDonalds tells us that we're in Maine. The special DLites fat-free juice bar tells us we're in the ultraswede of midtown Atlanta. Therefore, I think that the Phlegmatic should be introduced.

Think of it: It goes from zero to fast enough. It doesn't get great gas mileage, but who cares? It has four doors, but one of them comes already stuck shut. The windows don't much matter. You see, I have to admit, that what we have around here is not so much culture as humor. Our humor is decidedly black bile and yellow.

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