On the George Washington Bridge Project: A Few Thoughts on Repetition

14Dec08

In which The Gay Recluse becomes increasingly obsessed with the George Washington Bridge.

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For most of us, repetition is an unavoidable facet of modern life; we might even go as far as to say that it’s been like this as long as we have lived in one village or town or city.

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When we were young, we craved the opposite of repetition; we wanted to travel to fifty different countries, to work in multiple professions, to have a different favorite band every week; we made friends and when they displeased us, we cast them aside for new ones.

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But eventually we became disillusioned with this constant quest for change; for one thing, we weren’t making any money — even a base-level amount that would pay for food and rent — and for another, we realized that what we were running from was the thought of spending an entire life in our skin, so to speak. Once acknowledged, it was (relatively) easy to stop. Within a week or two — sufficiently chastened — we interviewed for and obtained our first “real” job.

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These days, of course, we are more resigned to both the tedium and pleasure of repetition; the days and weeks and years meld into one another with barely any change at all, along with the certainty that we are nothing but mindless cogs in a huge capitalistic machine that shows no sign of ever slowing down. All of our food and clothing and toys — by which we obv mean Powerbooks and iPods — are mass-produced and identical. Our cats are both gray, and many people can’t tell them apart.

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We might be more inclined to regret this state of affairs if it weren’t for the certainty that it’s also the foundation of the metropolis; and that if we were still making our clothes and food and laptops with our own hands — the way they used to do 4000 years ago — we probably wouldn’t be alive; we would have been stoned to death for the usual offenses. It’s not that we love repetition per se, but we have learned to live with it; we find interstices within these motifs — the city blocks, the windows of a skyscraper, the boxes of cereal or flocks of circling birds — in which for a few seconds we  slip away. In effect, we become anonymous; we lose all sense of self and feel the dissonant pulse of something unknown and dangerous yet artistic, destructive and creative, humbling and empowering. For these few seconds, we no longer fear death, and on some level — though obv not the most literal — even crave it.

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And then we are woken up by the passage of more time or some practical necessity, at which point we return to daily life and all the longing and torment that implies.

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Sometimes we try to reflect this dissonance here.

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We understand that like all beauty, it’s completely subjective; and if you don’t like it, you’re always free to leave.

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Ladies and gentlemen: tonight we offer you the George Washington Bridge.

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One Response to “On the George Washington Bridge Project: A Few Thoughts on Repetition”

  1. For some reason, I am struck by the image of gray, humorless, mass-produced cats.

    Not every cat is a lolcat!


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