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  • Tuesday, May 01, 2007

    She Dreams of Clip Paths
    By Sean Ripple

    She took the job right out of college — that was 10 years ago. As is the case with almost any job that a person has spent 10 years tending to, the requirements related to her work had become routine. 7 years in, this point provided quite a bit of satisfaction for her. She felt as though she had contributed to conquering a small amount of madness in the world. Just a mere 3 years later however, it seemed pointedly cruel that she could anticipate the requests which poured in every day by simply reading the subject line of an email, or at the very most, reading no more than the subject portion of the first sentence in the body of an email (maybe this was the result of her company’s mandate that employees attend at least one effective writing seminar each year…money well spent if that’s the case). Someone could stop by her cube and she knew what needed to be done before the person even got around to asking. She knew when the window washers were scheduled to hang from their wires to squeegee the windows. The copier rhythms might as well have been beats to played-out hip-hop jams. Typical of one who is subjected to the unrelentingly subtle knuckle tap on the chest that is corporatized existence, she felt trapped.

    The work, editing and retouching images for advertisements, was for her, absurd. “I need the kid on the left in the Special Olympics ad to look a little less special…think you can make something like that happen?” Sadly, this was a common sort of absurdity reserved for an industry committed to idealizing the actual past the point of anything resembling reality. Though to be fair, what is termed reality is itself an idealized concept, and in fact, many of us, through exposure to television and magazines and online media, invite this sort of absurdity into our real lives on a daily basis, allowing it to inform our decisions and lifestyles, effectively dictating that which is real — Sanka anyone?

    Yet, what made the requests all the more strange as a presence within her daily thought pattern, was that these revisionary desires meant to whet consumer appetite had been exposed as operating on a mechanistically routine level rivaling any assembly line Ford unleashed on the worker. The additions and omissions…the virtual surgeries and brushed candied flesh tones, really no different than hold the pickles…hold the lettuce.

    She left work Friday a little later than usual, walking through the front door of her townhome at 9:45, ready to relax for the evening. A few hours later, while she was half-asleep on the couch, the continents repositioned themselves as a contiguous landmass underneath the ocean. The heating effects of the sun ceased immediately, and the ocean impossibly froze to its depth. Earth became Pluto of a new order, suspended as a mirror of the infinity of space.

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