Thursday, February 14, 2008

Situationist Comedy

Sometimes the web can be an excellent research tool. For example, a few clicks into cyberspace and I'm looking at an automated German-English Dictionary. So the first word I enter is SEIN. It comes back BE or BEING. Then I enter FELD and it comes back FIELD. That's it! I can't help but dance around my artist studio in ecstatic joy! Seinfeld is really not just "about nothing." Or is at least about more than nothing. It's all embedded in the secret code of Jerry's last name, the identity of his moniker cum gracerhood. He is the Being-Field or, I prefer, The Field of Being, one nuzzled inside the chaotic heartbeat of the pounding human condition.

This Field of Being, far more relevant than, say, the Field of Dreams, that one-shot film of nostalgia about making bush-league baseball the epicenter of pure Americana, instills a counter-intuitive prognosis on the "nothingness" characterization of my generation. I am relieved.

But, having said that, in one of my mid-day, hallucinatory daydreams that I unearth just by being me (the thing-in-itself ejaculating a timelessness worth transponding), the fields are abundant, and I imagine that I myself am Seinfeld or, to be more precise, that I am playing Seinfeld in the movie version about his life. And in this movie version of Seinfeld's life, Seinfeld (me) has yet another dream, this time about an episode of his now notorious show, an episode that never aired. In this show, the one theme that aggressively moves its way to the top of the agenda is that the world Jerry (me) is living in is a world where time stands still. In fact, this never-aired episode of SEINFELD that reveals itself in my movie-version dream, is literally called SEIN UND ZEIT. Being and Time.

"Look," I say, in the only scene from that elusive episode that fills my dream, "none of the clocks are moving."

"Yeah," says Elaine, my co-star, my girlfriend, my incestuous Jewish sister who derides me for being her incestuous Jewish brother but who secretly loves no one but herself.

Her eyes stare agog at the phenomenon that presents itself to us. We're both standing around my apartment unaware of how this torrential nothingness that permeates our lives stretches its long white arm into the very depths of our souls inundating us with mere human potential, a potential whose mere existence wants to tickle us to death.

"It's very strange," says Elaine. "Now all of the clocks are like the one that's on the oven, you know, the little one in the kitchen that never moves."

"But that's just it, Elaine!" I'm getting wound up like a battery-operated situation-comedy doll, "look at the one embedded in the oven. Come here, it's literally amazing: look at the oven-clock. What do you see?"

Close-up of the oven clock moving in fast-forward, as if to signify the endless advancement of time. The hands spin around so fast it makes Elaine dizzy and she has to go back into the living room and collapse on the couch, ultimate refuge from that block of time we call "being-on-the-clock."

"You know, I just don't get it! I just don't get it..." I say, sitting next to Elaine, sinking back into the couch like its going to embalm me forever.

"You know what Heidegger would have said?" asks Elaine, wiping her brow, finally catching her breath and getting color back into her face.

"Heidegger, Shmeidegger," I say, unimpressed. "Since when do you talk Heidegger all of a sudden? He's dead fer crying out loud! And besides, they say he was a Nazi-sympathizer."

"Cheap shot, Jer," says Elaine.

"What do you mean cheap shot? Like when we talk about the Soup-Nazi, right?" I ask, not sure if I'm on cue or if I'll ever get my timing right again. Everything's in the timing, I think to myself, but then, wondering: where's the punchline?

Elaine bends forward. She's leaning in toward my face, her sexy lips parting just enough to expose her sea of red gums and an intricate set of recently de-plaqued teeth. Somewhere behind the hygienic appearance is a dirty tongue ready to lay its lewd language riff all over me, her brotherly apparatus, to polarize my skin values into a running feedback system of positives and negatives, ones and zeroes, beings and nothingnesses.

She reaches in her shirt pocket and pulls out and puts on her horn-rimmed cat-woman glasses and, while I'm waiting for the punchline ("take my life, please!"), waiting what seems like an eternity for something of deep value and meaning to enter my situational spectacle, there's only silence ("quiet on the set!"), a silence occasionally interrupted by the purr-like sound her nostril-hairs make when humming through her breathing nose.

"You know," I say, "you look awfully sexy in those horn-rimmed glasses."

"Jer," says Elaine, seductively coming toward my face: "What do you think gave rise to the spectre of anti-semitism in Europe before World War Two?"

"You're starting with me, Elaine," I say and, using the situation as an excuse to jump off the couch, lift myself up and go to the phone.

"What are you doing?" asks Elaine.

"I'm calling my mother," I say, touching the numbers.

"Why are you calling your mother now?" asks Elaine: "You just called her yesterday."

"Hello Mom," I say into phone.

"I know Mom, I don't know what's got in to me. Yes, Mom, two days in a row, I know. But I just need to ask you something. What time does your clock say? Yes, what time does your clock say?"


"Ah-ha, I knew it." He gives Elaine the look.

"Hold on, Mom." I cover the mouthpiece and whisper to Elaine: "See, her clock is broken. And she says it feels like Thursday again."

"Yes, Mom, every day feels like Thursday. Same thing here. How's Dad? Oh, he thinks every day feels like Thursday too? Yes, I know. Well, I'll call as soon as I find out what happened. Okay ... oh, and Mom? Listen: I think we're going into syndication. Syndication, Mom. Uh, you know, we'll be on t.v. every day, before the prime-time shows come on and sometimes even when the late night news is on. What? Yes, every day. Yes, I know Mom." I put my hand over the receiver and whisper to Elaine: "She says what does it matter that I'm on every day if every day feels like Thursday."

"She's got a point," says Elaine.

"Mom, listen, I gotta go. Okay. I will. Bye."

And I hang up the phone, positioning myself at a crossroads.

"She says I need to figure out what's up with the time. She calls it 'the time.' But, you know, Elaine, I don't know what's up with 'the time'," and as I say this to her I realize that I could be talking to anyone or, better yet, to no one but myself.

I think if I try real hard, I could learn to love myself more than she loves herself.

"Sometimes," I say to no one in particular, "I just don't know."

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