Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Road Runner

...an excerpt from...
The Broom of the System
by David Foster Wallace

"Has it occurred to you that 'The Road Runner' is what might aptly be termed an existential program?  That it comments not uninterestingly on the very attitudes that would be implicit in a person's feeling 'upset' over a catastrophic fire in his home?  I see you are puzzled," Fieldbinder said, nothing Dr. J___ frantically scratching his head, a plume of dandruff shooting up into the air of the office only to resettle on the obscene bald spot in the middle of the doctor's skull-shaped head.

Fieldbinder smiled and continued, "I invite you to realize that this program does nothing other than present us with a protagonist, a coyote, functioning within a system interestingly characterized as a malevolent Nature, a protagonist who endlessly, tirelessly, disastrously pursues a thing, a telos--the bird in the title role--a thing and goal far, far less valuable than the effort and resources the protagonist puts into its pursuit."  Fieldbinder grinned wryly.  "The thing pursued--a skinny meatless bird--is far less valuable than the energy and attention and economic resources expended by the coyote on the process of pursuit.  Just as an attachment radiating from the Self outward is worth far less than the price the establishment of such an attachment inevitably exacts."  

Dr. J___ inflated an anatomically correct doll and began to fondle it as it stared blankly.  Fieldbinder smiled patiently.

"A question, doctor," he said.  "Why doesn't the coyote take the money he spends on bird costumes and catapults and radioactive road runner pellets and explosive missiles and simply go eat Chinese?"  He smiled coolly.  "Why doesn't the coyote simply go eat Chinese food?"  Fieldbinder's face assumed a cool, bland, wry expression as he attended to his impeccable slacks.