Paul Dundon’s Weblog


A little cheese and a little whine

a mind wanders

The taxi driver’s phone rings. He doesn’t answer, choosing instead to concentrate on driving me to my destination. At least, I assume that is how he thinks. Perhaps, though, he just doesn’t want to answer the call, it is someone he doesn’t want to speak to. I cannot tell. I wonder who it might be. I know nothing of his friends, of his family. What is his life like? How is it different from mine? Does he have children? Was he born here? Does he live with a wife, a mother? It seems absurd; we are sitting just a few feet apart and yet the courses of our lives are almost entirely separate. But for the few minutes of this journey, we stand apart completely. And even these few minutes are governed by silence, not uncomfortable, but part of the form. We might make conversation, of course, but it seems that neither of use would take any great pleasure in it. A transaction, a game in which we are not fully present as people. And a game in which I have the upper hand. Throughout the ages, the customer exploits the artisan. How long have there been taxi drivers? A hundred and fifty years maybe. And in another twenty, perhaps there will be no more. Perhaps they will be replaced by robots, or perhaps society will fall apart, and there will be no cars, no easy journeys. We are playing a game located in a specific place in history. A particular set of economic conditions that mean I sit in silence in the back of a car, part of a tradition that will soon pass away. This is how people of a certain class move from one place to another in my lifetime, in his lifetime, at this point in the story of humanity. Moving from place to place because our world is articulated, broken apart by function. To do this we must be there. So we travel, we move about, we traipse from place to place. And time, too, is articulated: if we want to do this we must do it then. And there is a multitude of thens, a multitude of journeys, taxi drivers for a century carrying me there to do this because it is then. And before that there are other places, other journeys, because that is how the universe is built. Time is what stops everything from happening at once, as Einstein said; and space, I suppose, stops everything from being in the same place. Space makes individuals possible, means that you are not me, that I am not the taxi driver. Space necessitates motion, and motion only makes sense if there is space. Motion, location, neither comprehensible without the other. Here is not there because I have to move from here to get there; I can move to there because there is not here. Two complementary ideas, each dependent on the other for meaning. Or is there some more fundamental thought, some concept that might underpin them both, explaining them, and perhaps illuminating something more profound?

The phone stops ringing.

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My Bookshelf

The Golden Bough
The Value of Nothing
The Fire
A Wolf at the Table
Devil Bones

My links

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