Careers in Science: Dysteleology

The dysteleologist stands there on the sidewalk, sharing his peanuts with two crows. It turns out crows like honey-roasted peanuts.

The dysteleologist thinks, the chances of crows taking over someday are slim, but if they do, I’ll be in good shape (he shares his sandwiches with them too, in part for this reason and in part because he enjoys their surprised expressions when someone is kind to them).

The dysteleologist has a house and in a rear corner of the yard stands a shed and the neighbor ambushed his wife the other day to complain that the shed was diverting rainwater onto his, the neighbor’s, house and making the walls damp. The dysteleologist does not know if this is true or if the neighbor’s house is just damp because it is a rickety piece of shit, but he resolves to take a look at the situation on the weekend and tear down the shed if necessary, if a gutter won’t fix things. He took a walk through the yard this morning and looked at things and was slightly appalled at the hillbilly look his yard had to it and thought he would have to get this all cleaned up before the neighbor got someone from town hall over to inspect things, because really.

The dysteleologist regrets that he is not wealthy enough to move somewhere without neighbors.

The dysteleologist had a talk with his daughter on a hand-held picture-phone yesterday, too, and for a brief instant it felt as if he were living in the brighter future he and everyone else had once been promised, long ago, back when all this shit going on now was just getting started, invisibly, like a seed buried underground, or mold spores dividing on a sandwich.

A brighter future with picture phones and 3-day work weeks and free health care and leisure and stuff like flying cars.

And of course jet-packs.

The dysteleologist’s daughter was in Glasgow after presenting a paper, preparing to take a night bus to London. He told her if she sees any men with bloody meat cleavers, she should cross the street.

Ach, the future.

Dear Younger Self,

Tuesday 22 January 2013 sounds like the distant future, because of the three at the end, maybe, but it feels like the present – mundane and ordinary; cold (we got a lot of snow), dark right now, a little frustrating, a little disappointing but at the same time surprising, fulfilling and hopeful. I have met a few people, and figured out that people are wonderful in many ways.

Furthermore, future technology makes it possible to share mundane details of strangers’ lives, which makes them seem familiar, almost friend-like sometimes, except when they get excited about spectator sports. I still can’t understand getting excited about spectator sports, with the possible exception of water sports such as diving, swimming, or ice-skating.

Here we are in 2013 and yet the future still has not arrived; we have no jet-packs, flying cars, underwater houses or widespread telepathy. There have been some suprises, on the other hand – above all, telephones, which can be used to take photographs, or watch cats fall off fences, among other things.

Mostly, the present just goes on and on, and the past gets bigger and bigger and bigger. Some diseases are cured, some grow less virulent, some more, and new ones are discovered. Man’s still gotta die, it seems.

Parasites, widely conceived, are fascinating, and you should study them and do something with your life, but you won’t. You will study a variety of things and eventually take two BA degrees in Economics and German just to get things over with, and wander away from academia. This is a mistake from the regular point of view, but: you have a beautiful life here in 2013, and it was created by your mistakes as well as your victories. Your wife and children are beautiful, your house is warm, they just got new machines at the gym, you have a good physical therapist and a good cello teacher.

Yes, you are learning cello! At this age! You might learn wet-plate photography next, who knows. Life remains surprising and often in good ways, but it is always the present, at least so far.

January 23, 2013, though – that’s another thing entirely. That’s the future, I’m sure of it.