If you think of events or people, or parts of events and parts of people, as little baby building blocks almost like Lego pieces, you start to see that there is a finite amount of things you can do with these pieces. You can only assemble them into so many combinations and press play and expect so many outcomes from these combinations (at least in this universe / dimension). Which is not to say that there aren’t a lot of combinations. There are tons of combinations. But there is a reason that after being here for so long you start to see patterns in human behavior, or meet people who are just like 20 other motherfuckers you’ve already met, or notice that trends and stories and news reports start to repeat themselves, and so on.
People are always asking me if I “heard the news” or “did you see what happened in [some town].” I try not to be a jerk about it so I don’t say what I want to say, which is that I have stopped reading the news and never will again. Seriously: I am never going to look at that stuff again. Is it really so surprising to you that a guy took a machine gun into an elementary school or a mall or an old folks’ home or a movie theater or whatever? Is it surprising that there was an explosion in a public place that killed a lot of innocent people? Or that a millionaire athlete was doping? Or that a politician slept with a bunch of prostitutes? I don’t know, man. I’m not saying it’s not important to be aware of these things, and I’m definitely not advocating that everyone shut down and stop paying attention to the world, but as for me I’m done with it. I have seen the most popular combinations of events and people take place over and over and over. There are so many combinations but it always seems like the events are the same, and the people perpetrating them are the same too. Those kinds of people love those kinds of events. Which is to say psychopathic murderers love mass murder. Which is to say people with a lot of money have easy access to drugs and the kind of sex you pay for.
And even in an intangible / not-overtly-scary way, the internet has shown us many combinations of events and people too. We are tired of the combinations. We have seen too many of them. Do you ever see anything that genuinely shocks you anymore? Or see someone’s creation and are genuinely moved by it? If you consider that a lot of people under 30 have Tumblrs, and primarily use these Tumblrs to curate their own tastes or store things they want to look at later, and it’s all on one page, all these beautiful and interesting things . . . and after awhile doesn’t it seem like these things are not so beautiful and interesting anymore? You have turned your life into a cork board, and have decorated it with nice little things that make you feel something (for however long, maybe just seconds), and you want to hang them all up on your wall so you can look at them whenever you want. Except there are thousands of things on this cork board, soon to be tens of thousands of things, and they are half the size of a postage stamp. They blend together, no one thing unique and alone anymore, and it all becomes so dull.
(Am I making a metaphor about life??? Or is one making itself for me???)
I remember when I worked at the donut shop in Oakland, it was mostly staffed by women. For a long time I was the only guy. So these vegan twerps would come in and hit on the girls working there, and bring them gifts and stuff like that. There were these guys who came in every Saturday and they would flirt with my friend Rachel. They did this for months. One Saturday they came in and presented her with a mix tape. After work we went to her house and listened to it. As mix tapes Tend To Be, it has a mixture of a lot of different things. There were scratchy old songs from the 60s and 70s, old radio commercials, children talking about life and death, spooky instrumental stuff, and so on. She was giving me a haircut and we were listening to this. I remember she made a face and turned it off. I said: “Man. Even randomness is boring now.” And she said, “Yeah.”
EVEN RANDOMNESS IS BORING NOW
We had no idea what would happen from one second to the next, but the tape was predictably “weird” and “quirky.” You knew that there was a 1 in 10,000 chance that you were going to hear a Count Chocula ad from 1973 or whatever, and there it was, and it wasn’t funny or interesting or “This is so crazy!!!” at all. It flatlined before it ever emerged.
We had been, for many years, inundated by randomness, and exposed to new things that flashed on our computer screens, and in our minds we had collected them all until they were meaningless. We had arrived at a point where even though we had not, of course, seen every combination there was to see . . . but we had seen all the Lego bricks scattered there on the carpet, and could imagine all the events and people those little pieces could potentially be.