Gregg Williard, 10/15/2012
Current Occupation: English as a Second Language Instructor
Former Occupation: Art Therapist
Contact Information: I was born in Columbus Ohio, lived in New York to pursue a painting career and now live in Madison Wisconsin, writing and drawing.
Be Part of Him
You get an e-mail from Disney.com: “Be part of Mickey.” You don’t open it. You try not to think about it. You are at work and should be thinking about other things. You should certainly not be writing about this unopened e-mail at work. However, there is enough ethical, psychological and behavioral ambiguity about the subject of goofing off on line at work for you to condone it in yourself and others to a large extent every day. You’ve heard arguments that such goofing off can actually promote creativity, and even productivity (though the latter concept is so abstract at your job that it might as well not exist). The creativity part seems credible, especially in light of other articles you’ve read that day-dreaming has a very positive effect, emotionally and intellectually, on the day-dreamer. This appeals to you as well. Anything that shines an approving light on goofing off, day-dreaming, wasting time, hanging out, free-associating, doodling, bullshitting, embroidering the truth, stretching the truth, staring out the window, being by yourself, wandering around, getting lost, not answering your cell-phone or not keeping it charged or forgetting to carry it or not having one at all appeals to you. And to some extent trivial or bizarre or inane questions, like what “Being Part of Mickey” could possibly involve. The internet has been described as an “interruption machine.” I agree with this. But there are all kinds of interruptions. There’s TV and answering the phone and doing the dishes. That stuff you don’t care for very much. The stuff that Buddhist self-help books say is as worthy of mindfulness as “important” things like art and sex and happiness and chocolate. You watch yourself edging toward the tricky proposition that day-dreaming isn’t being distracted, and that being taken away from day-dreaming is the distraction. But that’s not the same thing as suddenly realizing that you’ve spent all day online and have accomplished or learned exactly nothing. You kick around a troublesome question: how is wandering around and wasting time by yourself, either outside or in a dark movie theater or a quiet used bookstore or sitting in front of a window watching the rain or the wind in the tops of the trees different that wandering through websites and links, wading through YouTube videos and movie clips, playing games and sims and songs? At the same time at work, in the culture at large you abhor what seems to you a cult of I.T., the spread sheet as Shroud of Turin, the latest voodoo management mumbo-jumbo jizz. As you are writing this your supervisor sits down to chat. His latest enthusiasm is “Logic Models.” The chair is positioned on the other side of your laptop screen. He’s “checking in.” You briefly consider a world where you could say to your supervisor, “I’m working on that Being Part of Mickey problem.” Down the hall laptops are firing up with the windows reveille-welcome chime. Is it true that Brian Eno composed that sound? Maybe our morning call to prayer, our Tibetan gongs and horns. But back to Be Part of Mickey. You latch onto this imperative because it speaks to that part of you suggestive of concrete thinking and autism. The Amelia Bedelia syndrome, so that Be Part of Mickey evokes images of an enormous cybernetic mouse controlled by hundreds of individual Mouseketoids, Mickey-Mandelbrot Fractal Friends, each of them, and you, representing all of Mickey in each part. Synecdoche Mickey: Be Mickey’s ear. Be Mickey’s glove. Be Mickey’s nose. Be Mickey’s eye. You gravitate to the glove, that curious three-fingered hand, over the years evolving from an all black appendage growing from his black arm to an elastic covering, sensuously bulging outside lip like a gasket of Goodyear rubber, with three vertical lines down the back of his hand like some Masonic sign or rank. You consider opening Be Part of Mickey one more time before leaving, and getting back to work.
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