Sunday, October 3, 2010

"The Beast" is more a Phenomenon than a Physical Being

I tagged along to the Apple N' Pork Festival in nearby Clinton a little bit ago. Naively, I pictured it roughly similar to all of those childhood visitations to New England apple orchards: there would be suburban families, apple donuts, apple cider, trees, a pseudo-idyllic country aesthetic.

It was not that. Or, more precisely: the very heart of the festival, at the Clinton Homestead (a relatively demure Reconstruction-era manor), was dominated by clustering tents and wooden stalls, the promised pork and apple cider and - donuts abiding. Gingerbread men were to be had - at the expense of standing in a line that would make my Soviet forebears proud.

Lest damnation fall upon thee, thou shalt not stray from the festival core. A huge field behind the mansion was dominated by a flea market; along the periphery downtown, a similar bazaar's expansion blanketed the asphalt.

At the risk of sounding like I'm turning the Great White Man's gaze upon subjects of internal colonization, I have to admit there was something about the festival - primarily on those peripheries, but imbuing the whole thing as well - that disturbed, unsettled me. There was a pinched look about everyone's eyes, a look that suggested that as much as this was a people 'on holiday,' what they were experiencing was anything but a joyous occasion. They seemed to be a people unaccustomed to anything but la tendre indifference du monde. The Apple n' Pork Festival was less celebration as it was an easing of that grind upon which they typically found themselves.

Walking back to the car, we passed a whole string of houses, on the porches of which clans, friends, acquaintances were gathering to drink various beverages out of solo cups. Their eyes watched us pass. I wondered what had drawn them to Clinton, Illinois. I wondered what kept them there. I wondered how they experienced their reality. I wondered how I could think that the ways in which I derive pleasure from my existence could seem that much more desirable than the ways in which they did.

One of my Animus's old friends, an Illinois native I'll call a Leaf on the Wind, aggressively told me once: "You might look down on these expanses of corn and soy field, and think that it's nothing but fly-over territory, but it's not. It's not just a wide expanse between the two coasts - people live here, too."

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