Remember this day
If you have canine instincts, now is the time to piss on the four corners of your life so you can lift your nose and smell this month for the rest of your life.
I babysat my nephew when he was a toddler. It was quite a mission. He loved window ledges and highways during traffic jams. He would start off in the morning, moving slowly. By evening, his body was on fire.
If you did not keep him on a strict diet and timetable, he would wind himself up and by nightfall he would be spinning and gurgling helplessly, his mind shut down, his body unable to stop itself.
There was one way to put a stop to it all. Tell him we are going out. Swoop him up, and carry his squirming body out of the house. You can hear his heart beating and his belly is squeaking with joy. Now he is bouncing up and down on the back seat. You safely belt him, watching out for his jerking elbows.
Sing a song with him so that he does not splinter and fall into pieces of chaos. He mumbles alongside you, you reach your hand back from the driver’s seat and tickle his belly. Not a good idea, but you can’t resist his happy squeals.
His soft hands grip you. They are sticky. The car roars. Gears change. He screams. Vrrrooom. You both laugh. In one minute you are cruising down a hill, the car is humming. You count as you sing, nine, eight, seven. At five, he has fallen sideways. Nothing you do will wake him.
We are told we have eaten and drunk several trillions of dollars we did not have. To ensure that we are never called to account for this by somebody somewhere who we do not know, we shut our common middle-class brains down — and bought and bought and bought.
When 9/11 came, we bought. When oil reached $10, we bought — ever dizzier, more and more forceful and bold. One click. It was clear we would not be audited. Who is the global auditor? Who can call a free market to account if all the citizens of the world are inside it?
We know, somewhere in the niggling back of our heads, that to keep growing we had to stop thinking and keep running. Keep buying, work harder, buy more. Drill, baby, drill. Work harder. Work smarter.
Arrange the whole world so that you do not have to stop to eat — do it on the run. Buy shares on your Blackberry while drinking wheat beer.
But you can swoop down online, to a suburb of Bangalore, and measure in carats the love of a man for his wife; you can measure in international kilograms and sense the exact sum of desire that doctor in Sao Paolo has for that Hummer. You can watch him on Google Earth on a Sunday, screaming out of his driveway and tearing up a hillside, spinning his alloy wheels round and round, as he sips his four shots of black, syrupy Starstrucks™.
Somebody somewhere is blowing a whistle. We can’t hear it.
Our pecs, our abs, our surging buttock muscles are busy pumping and every three minutes is equal to 99 US cents of thumping throbbing surround-sound inside our tiny pretty earphones.
Run. Run. As the whistle blows louder and louder. To the art gallery and spend $100-million on Damien Hirst’s new sculpture copied from a Genyuwyne Real Authentic Certified 19th-century skull — and cast in platinum and covered in 8 601 diamonds. The sculpture speaks to you. It is titled For the Love of God, What Are You Going to Do Next?
Cut all saturated fat, red meat. Buy small organic things, juice all your vegetables. You spend four times what you did before, but you save money in the long, long marathon of life, when you will die of a disease — but won’t diseases disappear because we know everybody’s genes?
Somebody will get into the car and tickle our tight washboard abs and make us giggle and start the flying car, vroom, and we are bouncing up and down on the back seat, our hypermuscles twitching as we head for America.
Soon we are hovering above the voting booth. You lean forward, hands on knees, breathing hard, on November 4. When you lie on the grass, your $3 000 carbon-fibre bicycle thrown carelessly to the side, watching the crowds in every city in America crying or cheering on your iPod, the sun in your eyes. You lean to the side for some shadow.
It will take 10 minutes to feel truly tired and free. You nap under the naked and dangerous sun, the election forgotten, the results not yet out. Your dog runs free in the park.
You walk home slowly, your bicycle a crutch, your iPod shut off, your ears confused by the muffled sounds of suffering life around you.
You are sick to your stomach at what you see. There is rubble and garbage everywhere. And a thug is lurking in the bushes. Bikes are hot property all of a sudden. Hip-hop jars the ears.
All the people in your street are sitting on their stoeps reading books, plaiting hair, sniffing and kissing each one another.
You let the soft body of your son or daughter squirm on your lap and soon he or she falls asleep, free and innocent. Your dog is the only maniac, running around the plot pissing on all corners: remember this day, remember this day.
You close your eyes and watch the buildings fall. Downwards, so cleanly, each storey falls on the one below it, from bottom up. The planes hit the top.
Some guys somewhere in Afghanipakistani somewhere said that the world has three or four simple rules that cannot be changed.
God told them.
Some guys sitting in some central bank somewhere said that the world is made of no rules at all, only a thing called the market which is both an irresistible force and an untouchable object.
It is everywhere and nowhere all at the same time. It has perfect knowledge and can correct itself without any human intervention.
When it seems to be as crazy as a man with a bomb strapped to his waist, it is made clear that it knows what it is doing and what it is doing is good for us all.
Let me sleep on my stoep.
Obama, take some time out and do the same. You have a lot to do. It will take a while before I and the rest of the world believe anything your country demands of us. It may be that we will love you all from afar, if we can find a way to do this.