Thursday, February 22, 2007

Tales of the City

Headlines about a mummified body found in front of a blaring TV set seemed to be everywhere I looked earlier this week. Just a few days ago Pravda--now as tabloidesque as any Western paper-- reported a similar case.

The New York man was elderly with health problems while the Russian was an alcoholic despondent over his mother's death.

Both of those lonely men, far from unusual really, seem to be instances of sad isolation and alienation.

Harlan Ellison once wrote a tale—collected in Alone Against Tomorrow-- called "Are You Listening?" in which a man becomes so insignificant he cannot be seen or heard and pleads to be noticed so that he will not cease to exist.

It seems to be made real in the two news accounts, cases of sociological science fiction being proven real in the way we usually think about technology catching up with the pages of Amazing Stories.

I've been saddened by those people passing in obscurity because I think I empathize. A few different twists in my journey and I could have been they.

Or I could be the neighbor failing to notice the absence, thinking sometime while I was not looking the person moved to hospital or home.

Wayne wrote of stopping to give a homeless man a fiver and Charles tells a story of wondering today.

It makes me contemplate how isolated we really are or can become and reminds me of a quote I encountered in school that I'll have to set down to "Anonymous" because I can't resolve the origin on Google or MSN. I suspect it was one German rationalist philosopher or another because those were the ones the fundamentalists were always concerned about us studying.

"We live in a lonely place on the far side of the love we have known."

May those lonely men rest in peace.


etain_lavena said...

How sad it is Sid, when tecnology became big and the internet the gateway to the world, we have just forced ourselves into a lonely desolate world where there is no touch, no breath. It's sad to think some ppl have no one that wonder how they are to check up on them...

Charles Gramlich said...

In death these men have become thought of. If only it had been so in life.

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