I'm personally confused by what happens to us. We make a terrible agreement when we are in subways together, out in traffic or on bicycles, going to work, tending to our children. I try to catch the sales job as it hits us, but I miss it. Everyone in this city feels the sensation of the lie. It makes us world-weary and knowing -- but we are dealt into a vast postcard called New York and in this sea of intricately woven cuss-words and iPod noddings and shoulder-bumpings, how would we pause?
We read the Times because we believe that the person writing the story about the mayor spending a quarter of a billion dollars running for office -- we believe that this writer has paused the way that we cannot. We believe that the writer got paid to sit at a desk and let the facts completely engulf him. We can say, "Did you see in the Times that..." And then we wave and run, disappearing into the blur of millions of men and women rushing through doorways, down hallways, dedicated to nuanced, professional corruption, covered and protected with a thin veneer of constantly adjusting Times Roman rhetoric. We disappear into our own physicalization of the mayor's money.
We let ourselves float on the flood of corrupt energy for one more day, because we have crowded schedules. We're busy. And then somewhere in the course of that ordinariness, it all flips over. The whole thing flips over and all the meanings of the words we thought we knew -- they all change. Did we notice? "Corruption" now means "Democracy." "Affordable housing" means "Eviction." And New York City's imitation Greatness is polished by words fired at it from the finger-tips of those who abandoned the honest meaning of their words long ago.
Corruption -- it has its "opportunity cost," as they say. Walking around in the weather system of the ambient lie, after a while we can't ask pointed questions. What is it that we are giving up? What is the clarity of that civic conversation we can't have, and what is the nature of public hope when it isn't an advertisement? No, we are inside the spin, multi-tasking over the pavement, absorbing a lie every few seconds like billboards coming at us like bullets, little jets of lies like invisible toxins rising from the stopped citizens at the entrance to the Holland Tunnel, lies like the broken words in the litter on the sides of this old mountain range of a city.
Finally night fell a long time ago, and finally we do pause. We are alone in our apartment and we turn to each other to actually make love. We blurt out, "What could we do? What could we possibly do?"