WORDS: CHRIS GORTMAKER '17
IMAGE: THE INTERNET
It’s another night on the Internet, another succession of loading icons, each one leading to epiphany. Google Chrome’s looping blue arc gives way to pulsing, incrementally creeping bars and percentages that increase in stuttering fits and bursts. YouTube’s white dot chases itself in a circle, its trail receding in a circle of diminishing shades of gray. Adjusting my headphones, I close my eyes.
A synthesizer blossoms, curling toward me out of the darkness. It ricochets between octaves with the lithe power of a wild stallion, or a dolphin, perhaps, streaking across the stereo range in a halo of perfectly engineered reverb. A golden crush of distorted electric guitar builds in swells that wash over my quickly fading ego. I’ve never heard anything like this before. Strange lights begin to glimmer deep in the warm darkness of my closed eyelids. The space between my ears begins to swim, and my mind grows cavernous. I’ve never felt anything like this before.
When I hear her, my mind nearly folds under the onslaught of a roaring wave of adrenaline. Soaring up through the crystalline haze of throbbing synths, her voice surges through the corridors of my reeling cochlea
Although I’ve heard melodies like it in hundreds of pop songs, there’s something more here. Something greater than melody. Repeating in graceful strokes of sublime expression, the “ohs” and “yeas” begin to transcend language.
They transcend even sound. I feel the “yeas” surging through all of my senses at once, reverberating together to form a synesthetic whirlpool, a swirling bowl of sensory cereal. My future, past, and present fetal-curl into each auto-tuned note. I’m utterly outside of myself, adrift in an aqueous cavern of coursing musical energy. Time has lost its meaning. Each “ooh” and “yeah” feels like my own birth and death condensed into a monosyllabic point of ultimate certainty that bursts about my head in the cacophonous splendor of a metaphysical fireworks display.
I can’t feel my body. A garbled, reflexive “yeah” leaks from my stupefied mind to sputter out from between my slack lips. Rising from my parched throat, this meaningless syllable momentarily shatters the transcendence gripping my entire being by the ears. The sensation wrenches my ego violently back from its drift. I remember what and who I am. Seized by a loathing for my own mortality and material existence, my soul cowers and recedes into the shadow of this music’s brilliance. How can I exist in the presence of such perfection? Who am I to experience this song’s unfathomable beauty? What is the internet?
My jaw hangs open and a trickle of drool runs down my cheek. Limp arms hang off the sides of my chair, dangling white-knuckled fists near the floor. The crushingly profound philosophy of the lyric spurs my ego to depart once again. I’m left with nothing but a sublime, vacant space were my mind used to be. The metaphysical mouth of oblivion yawns wide, enveloping my entire being from the inside out, and then the kick drum hits. With the force of a depth charge, or a volcano, it blasts me beyond the reach of oblivion’s grip.
“Seven AM wakin’ up in the morning, gotta be fresh gotta go downstairs. Gotta have my bowl gotta have cereal.”
Rebecca Black starts her day, and I feel as if I’ve started a new life. It’s been 16 seconds, but it feels like an eternity has passed. I feel as innocent and impressionable as a newborn child.
I realize that I’d also like some cereal, so I pause the video and walk downstairs.
I open the door of the refrigerator and my heart nearly stops. Shimmering mountains of Tupperware, juice cartons, and vegetables recede into a divine white distance. My entire body resonates with the space opened before it, keening for immersion in its blinding, climate-controlled perfection. The glassy, sensual contours of each shelf swing in arcs of icy precision to cradle my family’s foodstuffs. I’ve never seen such order, such aesthetic purity. The air sparkles and lays itself flush against my lusting skin. Its touch lances through me, searing the deepest recesses of my mind with cathartic chill. Why isn’t everything in my life like this?
Milk in hand, I close the fridge and open the dishwasher to find my bowl.