High Street of the Unexamined Life

I had a walk today. I went down the High Street in the early morning cool. I’m reading In Parenthesis by David Jones and nearing one of the last remaining Caribou’s I got a suggestion for a story. So I stopped in and to the sound of gormless cady-cane pop consumed a latte while doing what nobody else around me was doing: I used pen and paper most conspicuously.

This is an age of surfaces. Notice how superficial even the depths of computing are getting. Progress, that blind worm, gnaws and consumes indiscriminately, its crystal teeth swirling with images of our time like monitors. I have to wonder at how small the devices that hold people’s attention nowadays can be.

Continuing down the High Street I stopped at one of the last remaining book stores–not a chain, not organized, not spacious, and with excellent shelves when you can get to them. I doubt moderns have the patience of purchasing at Karen Wycliffe’s where they only take cash and write out your receipt, but that is another good reason to go. And you will never be affronted there by gormless candy-cane pop.

Then on to McDonald’s where they had quit serving breakfast, unfortunately. I listened to a group of atheists talk with gentle condescension about believers and the Bible. They were old guys all with long beards, like a collection of dwarves. In spite of myself, I listened to them, what they had to say. I’ve been there before and so have they.

And then on down in the warming day. There are bands of better and worse traversing the long stretch of High Street. The neighborhood is iffy after McDonald’s, then after that it is just the neglect of transience unloved places gather to themselves approaching the OSU campus. The modern university surrounds itself by the kind of decay it stands for, I guess. Minerva is not often found dwelling nearby nowadays. Then High Street perks up a bit on the southern end where they’ve restored a thing or two and brought in the proud suburban chains that cater to the broadly undiscriminating. They are set in architecture that is a monument to banality on the less modest scale and which stands for the conviction that there is nothing really worth fighting for ever.

Then follows a dodgier part (at least here, the sign of entry is in every case a Taco Bell) until you get to the short north to which the adjective ‘classy’ with and without irony can be applied. It is where you have dens of alternative smoking, fancier restaurants not in chains, galleries and what not. Also better architecture–compared to the rest of High Street. It can almost feel sophisticated (for Columbus) and they do have a good store for art supplies. Lots of white people go to that part, you know, men have intimate lunches together and all the pets are well-behaved. It culminates downtown, but I turned back at the edge of the Victorian village.

And then I came back for an inordinate hot bath and gunpowder green tea.

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