A Gallery of Absolutes

Contrary to the prevailing opinion of modern, post-modern, and whatever is post-that academics, there are absolutes. I know that term is becoming difficult to deal with, especially if you’ve spent any time considering the ramifications of the Higgs-Boson particle (“It exists! Er. . .well, it KIND of exists. That is, it’s in and out of existence so fast we can’t actually show it to you, or even show you a blip on a graph where it was, but math promises it exists.”) you know that something like corporeal existence itself is not exactly a given. And for those of you suffering from the intellectual torpor that can result from a “Definitely! But then again. . .” discussion, take heart! I have examples of absolutes you can hold close to your chest in the cold, hard, intellectual winter. I’ll dole them out a few at a time.

Absolute #1: Techno played at apocalyptically loud volume will not please the members of a retirement home.

See what I mean? Can you refute this? You could take any senior citizens on the planet, from any culture or period in history, even the previous heads of the record companies which once popularized techno, place them in front of a block of speakers, crank the volume, and none of them would start pogo-ing about the room. Not a one. (As a tangential point, I’ve always found it hard to believe that anyone, of any age group, could possibly enjoy techno at any volume, but we won’t get into that here.) This is absolute. And yet for whatever reason, this morning while waking up, I heard quite clearly, through two panes of glass, exactly that. I looked out my window and noticed that the doors to the big retirement home (or rather “retirement facility,” since it’s really too cold and uncomfortable-looking to count as a “home”) next door were flanked by rows of huge potted plants and two HUGE speakers. A red carpet was rolled down the steps and out about ten meters as well. Clear signs that some kind of important visitor was coming.

But really. . .who cares? Can you conceive of any visitor so massively important that the only way to properly celebrate is with throbbing club music at 8:00 in the morning, especially when said music is GUARANTEED to properly infuriate everyone in the facility said visitor is going to be visiting? Sadly, people in China have simply become accustomed to things happening without their say-so or approval, especially the elderly. As I scanned the facility courtyard, I noticed a very old woman sitting on a bench, hunched over her cane and watching the workers set up for Emperor Qin Shihuang’s visit from beyond the grave, or whatever could have necessitated such ghastly preparations, with an expression so weary and removed from daily life that it bordered on the transcendental. No other people were out and about. Smart, too. I know I didn’t want to go outside.


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