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At The Laundromat: Story



If you don’t tell me a story I will kill you.


If you don’t tell me a story I will die.


Twenty centuries times twenty rotate between those two sentences,

tumbling humanity between them like a load of clothes in the drier.

We are at the Laundromat of Origin, brought here by an imperative

to study the tumbling and the canyons of knowledge we seem to

glimpse between the dainties and the pantaloons. You may think of

this as an idle metaphor, it’s only one of many: few people, except

the young and the poor, go to laundromats anymore; most of us

have washers and driers in our own homes and can watch the

tumbling privately, from the safety of our egg-chairs. For the

purposes of this essay, however let’s imagine a city and a street on

that city where the Laundromat of Origin is open 24 hours, its

tumblers singing to the weary. By the time, the clothes will be dry,

we will have arrived to some tentative ideas about memory and

about forgetting: the drying process has consumed what has fueled

it: water. Or, as we call it, nature. There were stops in-between,

moments of repose when the awareness of what went on came

upon us like a harsh wind of guilt and recognition, beaming from

the eyes of animals and the tips of wheat stalks. We looked for the

eyes of the other tired night-denizens waiting for fresh clothes for

another week of exhausting labor, but none of them looked back,

lost in sections of old newspapers, encased in headphones, or

texting the still-young century. This wind of guilt and recognition

originated in a space within called “mind,” and it blew in with a

form of understanding called “words,” a symbolic communication

that engendered the forward motion and fed on our attention.

Inside the human mind that now picked up speed between the bold


sentences at the beginning of this chapter, there was stillness and

boredom; nature flew by, blurred by speed, easily missed by the

slow vestigial senses that still connected our sleepy eyes with it.

From the windows of  “mind” we looked out bored at the endless

blur that fed it. Boredom started to organize words in games for

passing time. One of those games was called Story. At first, it was

a passtime like any passtime, marbles, cards, or chess, but then it

became quite absorbing because it never seemed to end, not

definitively anyway. Other, more physical games, not made of

words, such as golf or cricket, tried keeping up with Story, but they

couldn’t compete. Story went on long after golf scores were

settled. Story went on so long that the listeners were hypnotized,

and after they were hypnotized they became addicted. After that,

ever time Story stopped to draw a breath, people felt agonizing

pain and demanded that Story resume. In the beginning, if Story

didn’t immediately resume we killed the Storyteller, but then we

quickly realised that this was a stupid thing to do because

Storytellers were slow to be born and hard to maintain, having

delicate natures that fed exclusively on words, unlike everyone else

who ate meat and matter. Storytellers were a different kind of

human than those who had started the journey on the river of

human evolution: they were born in motion from the symbolic

system that was at first utilitarian and then became the chief game

of our passing. Having risen from within the game, Storytellers

owed nothing to our universe of relentless forward motion, except

the little it took to keep their mouths moving from the mind to the

ears of our inevitably conquering conquering speciae. (and with

inevitability came Boredom, whose only known cure was Story.)

When we realised that killing Storytellers would vitiate our

movement all the way to the source (wherever that was), and that

by killing them we’d invalidate the drug that kept us alive i.e., not

bored) we started making war on each other instead, making sure

that no matter how many of each other we killed, the storytellers

would always be spared so that they could go on poviding the drug

of continuity and, if possible, the memory of those killed. For this,

it became necessary to pretend that we were fighting each other for

Story, for the Storytellers without whom we couln’t live. Boredom,

we note, became the engine of the perpetuation of our speciae as

we speeded past nature, and Story became our Supreme

Justification. What did Boredom replace? Everything. Everything,

that is, which was outside of the rushing tumbler, the world we call

“nature,” though it is almost identical to that of humans, with the

notable exception of the something we call “self-awareness,” a

something that causes us to believe that we are different from all

else. We pick up speed to roll faster and faster toward no one

knows what, and we can no longer do this without Story. Story has

become movement itself. The defeat of boredom having become

our greatest imperative, and our success as a rushing body

(meaning “faster” than anything else) we narrated ourselves into

the future until we came up against the wall of writing and then we

slowed down for a minute, and so we are now in another part of

the Story. The dry part.