Friday, October 15, 2004
Living in an art film
It's insanely hot in my office. My officemates are smarter than me and left early. I worked on my paper until I ran out of brain and coherent sentences, played some Minesweeper to cleanse the mental palate, and headed for the Blue Line for a relaxing half hour of The Golden Compass. But the moment the train ducked into the tunnel under Halsted, I realized my horrible mistake: there were no lights on my car. I could see the car ahead gleaming with festive fluorescence, but I and my fellow travelers were plunged into surreal darkness. I attempted to read at the stops, tilting the book to catch the dim station light, but it took me so long to just find where I left off that I didn't make much progress. The story, reaching a particularly exciting climax, kept dancing out of my reach.
So I resigned myself to the ride. Most interesting was the fact that nobody on the car complained or flounced through the door to the next car in irritation. We all rode quietly together in the dark, without fear of each other or resentment towards the transit gods. It was Friday afternoon, dark and untroubled, and we knew we would return to the sunlight soon enough. I watched the flickers and shadows on the walls as the lights in the tunnel zipped by; the strobe effect made the steel poles and window frames shift rapidly back and forth in space. And everything was black and white and gray, except for the occasional soft orange light from a fixture in the tunnel, and the bright yellow fleece worn by the man standing in the center of the car. It was like a black and white art film where the filmmaker has hand-colored one significant object in order to make a statement about...well, something. Like the girl in the red coat in Schindler's List. I'm not sure what the yellow-fleeced guy symbolized. Perhaps the sun.