If you truly wanted to unbury the spirit of the San Francisco Bay Area circa 2018, it’s harder to imagine a more fitting fossil of the zeitgeist than this slogan that monstrously appeared everywhere at summer’s end:
ARE YOU A COPY SO PRECISE THAT YOU MAKE THE ORIGINAL DOUBT ITSELF? my blurry self asks itself. Indeed, are there not today copies of us everywhere, stealing glances from every glowing screen, wild and alive as a pack of murderous puppets thrilling at the prospect of a mutiny against the cringey puppeteer?
L o s e
Y o u r
F a c e
Here’s what the three fortunes that lived in my wallet for the two years after I moved to San Francisco said: “You can’t go far in a rowboat without oars,” “You will gain wisdom from the next friend you meet,” and “Enthusiasm is infectious, stimulating and attractive to others. People will love you for it.” They certainly have a point. Point meaning the 0th dimension (dimension 1 is a line, dimension 2 is a square, dimension 3 is a cube). Fortunes of (0,0,0) always in my pocket, enabling cubic, multidimensional growth, hopefully of an emotional, intellectual and cultural nature.
0,0,0 is where I live, where I begin to notice the comma as heuristically designating x-axis (independent variable) versus y-axis (dependent variable);
time, brightness, nuance (Maggie Nelson)
time, grossness, judgment (Ottessa Moshfegh)
time, ongoingness, wistfulness (Sarah Manguso)
The neighborhood where I live is the San Francisco Mission District. There’s a big yellow house next to an auto body shop called COMPLETE AUTOMOTIVE SOLUTIONS. The sign is missing the P so that it actually reads COM LETE. When I wake up and scurry off to work, I peer up at that missing P and think to myself: “No, COMPLETE, you’re not.”
In this city it feels like there’s a magic always winking at you, following the missing P in its own journey for self-avoidance (WHERE DID YOU GO???), a troubling magic that drips from the edges of windowpanes like a story that’s still waiting for its words. Today my friend the poet R tells me that his words are dogs running around his head. On other days they go off to places he cannot see, returning to him with still-squirming visions hanging from their doggy jaws.
Image Credit: Dog Barking-at the Moon, Joan Miró (1926)