That a couch in an average living room faces a television may be an invitation to become what we are watching, namely, a movie — that is, if our couples would just pay attention. Lateral domesticity begs to fall asleep. A man, reduced to emasculated flab, pleads for his unhealthy and coddled relationship to continue; the tacit repose of a couple engaged at their respective laptops seems precious; some bro fantasy of simultaneous bong and munchies with anthropomorphic hump pillow; the platonic diplomacy of former lovers newly registering the full radius between them. The couch may be an obvious place for contemporary dialogue, or its reticence, but there’s something peculiar about the camera choosing the very place of its artifice to peek into these lives, as if these movie directors took for granted — or were even ashamed of — the rectangular boxes in which their creations are manifested. Perhaps we find relief in seeing others situated as us. When a DVD ends, it reverts to the menu page consisting of some thematic snippet which goes onward in an infinite loop. One may lie there out of the remote’s grasp, too tired to hit ■. It is easy to lose track of time in the waiting room of habitual inception, the ▶ untouched. Every disc sheathed inside its tray is a silver sun waiting to rise, spinning out of control. Another reason to sit down, and pretend.
from Naked by Mike Leigh
We are all very busy. We are busy being busy. We worship at the altar and suckle at the teat of busy. When I say we, I mean you, me, us. We are a cult of busy busy people. If you are busy, we will follow you and drink your Kool-Aid. We love to talk about how busy we are. We say I’m busy, I’m busy, I’m busy—an exultation. We say we are busy and feel flushed. We are busy, therefore we are. To be busy is to be important and to be important is everything. We will Twitter and Facebook and blog our busyness and we will do so with the conviction of martyrs. We will bear our busy burden. The burden of busy must be borne because to be busy is to be important and to be important is to matter. We matter and are made of matter which is meta. We have work and school and work and school. We study, we teach, we grade and grade and grade. We live below the poverty line but revel in that poverty because we have a second and third job that keep us busy. We go to mind numbing office jobs where we are busy with boredom. We hold cushy corporate positions we love to talk about because we make so much money being busy we don’t have the time to spend it. We have meetings and sometimes we have meetings within our meetings because we are that damn busy. In our limited free time we edit three magazines and run a small press and we may never respond to you or actually publish anything but we’re on the masthead and we have many official sounding titles so we have proof we are that busy. We get so many emails each day demanding our attention and our time and we try to keep up but we cannot so we are busy stemming the tide of electronic correspondence, sending messages but never reading the responses. We have online presences so we have to visit several sites every few seconds to remind ourselves and everyone we know and love and loathe how busy we are. We write 3,500 words a day and then exhaustively edit those 3,500 words once twice three times and we make sure to mention on Facebook that we’ve done those things, oh yes, we will tell you what we’ve written for the day and how important we are for taking that care with our words despite how busy we are. We will tell you what we are going to write while you idle people are sleeping because we do not sleep, we do not need sleep, we have not the time for sleep. We will go places and meet people while we are there though we won’t spend too long because we are so busy. We’re in four writing groups where we critique the work of our friends and enemies and later talk shit about that writing to other friends and enemies. We read obscure literary texts and think deep thoughts about those obscure literary texts and write things about those obscure literary texts so everyone knows we are reading obscure literary texts despite the fact we are so busy. We curate two reading series and boast about all the Internet Famous writers who will be reading with us. We pretend we don’t watch television but really we do, oh how we do and we spend moments of our precious time thinking about the unbelievable fact that Vanilla Ice has a reality show on DIY and how none of the new TV shows this fall are any good even though we can’t stop watching them. We have kids and those kids never leave us alone when we are busy working on our laptops but the kids are so damn cute so we’ll bitch about how busy they keep us and how much we love them even though they get in the way. We’re married or in relationships and once in a while we have to have sex with our significant others and otherwise give them some attention. We look at our lovers day in and day out and acknowledge that yes, this is really it for the rest of our lives and while we’re so busy, we ignore the nagging feeling we are doing everything yet nothing at all because we are far too busy to do anything well and doing all of that each and every day keeps us extraordinarily busy—it is a vicious cycle.