“life inside the social echo chamber”

bldg - abbey of st denis
(interior photo of the Basilica of Saint Denis, in Saint-Denis, France, now a northern suburb of Paris, completed in 1144)

“Whelpbreath,” Emily mutters to herself, smiling as she replies to PoMo’s text.

Emily Alice Hardy — also known as “Little Gargoyleina” or just “LG” for short — is sitting by herself on the top of a rock outcrop behind the portables at Walker Riley High. She sends: “thr r no m&m’s in hell.”

Stansfield Lansing Nordlin — also known as “Poor Motherfucker” or just “PoMo” for short — is sitting in the cafeteria next to Wedgey Church. In 3rd grade Wedgey achieved some early glory as a boy who outsmarted the bullies on the playground, by undermining their bonding ritual of turning tidy-whities into stainer-thongs.

“And that’s actually working?” PoMo asked him then, on the bus to Elgin Elementary.

“Yep,” Wedgey answered, beaming. “Every weekday morning I leave my clean briefs wadded up and underneath the mattress, so they’ll wrinkle, then put them in the hamper clean at night. Then on the playground the motherfuckers just moved on, dumbfounded that there was nothing there, inside my jeans, to wedge between my cheeks.”

“Cool,” PoMo said. “Ten points for creative,” as they high-five slapped their hands.

PoMo has finished his sack lunch, now — two PBJ sands, an apple, chips, and an 8 oz. carton of free, school milk — and is looking down at the cheap Tracfone cell resting on his leg, as he sends LG the reply: “just a myth invented by the hell haters.”

They’re exchanging ideas now on the food they’d take if and when they go to hell. PoMo originally objected to the texting thesis, saying they could not logically leave here and go to hell, because “hell was a 4-letter word for high school.” LG countered that hell would be more like a continual cruise ship voyage on the “MV Norovirus Diarrhea.” PoMo said continual diarrhea would be more like heaven, compared to non-stop constipation, where the demons from the underworld were alive and cementing-up your colon.

On different buses this morning on the way to school, they were texting about fantasy travel plans after h.s. graduation in June. Last night in their rooms, on a break from writing papers on “Ways to Fix the Current Great Dismality,” the exchange was about how social echo chambers have changed since the Middle Ages.

LG has poster-size photos on her walls of the insides and outsides of Gothic Cathedrals built in Europe, when the images of grotesqueness from the brutal beastie night were put to constructive use as drainage spouts to divert the rivers of rainfall coming off the enormous roofs, away from the mortar of the stone walls.

Those cathedrals created sanctuaries for the ideas of something better, as a life that had the resonance of music, inside — while the Middle Ages’ version of the tribal tooth-and-claw was left cloistered, with the gargoyles, on the outside.

Now that’s reversed as, in an echo of today on PoMo’s walls, his drawings of lines and curves that darken and condense into whirlpools and black-holes, are so dark they consume comparison and contrast, and any light that might survive from difference.

So from then to now, it’s like facing forward on a train that’s going backward, at the moment, for some reason that no one seems inclined to talk about. As both teenage human rooms become two individually-tended galleries, that show the social echo chambers of two different times.

20180510 12:18 Thu (578 words)
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music:
▸ The University of Wisconsin Eau Claire Concert Choir, conducted by Dr. Gary R. Schwartzhoff, performing “Entreat Me Not To Leave You” by Dan Forrest, “Alleluia” by Eric Whitacre, “I Will Lift My Eyes” by Zachary J. Moore, “Vox Populi” by Svilainis, “Pilgrim’s Hymn” by Stephen Paulus, and “Tu Es Petrus” by Palestrina — live inside the Wilwaukee Art Museum 2014
▸ Foreign Slippers performing “Avalanche”, and “It All Starts Now” from “Farewell to the Old Ghosts” 2012

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