The lamest of all days
It was raining cats and dogs. I wanted to hop on a bus but I didn’t have a bus pass. I had barely made myself visible to the driver through the rushing crowd, and poked my head in to ask, “May I get in? I don’t have a pass.”
He replied, “Give the money to a passenger and use their pass.” Everyone was busy getting on the bus and nobody could pay attention to me. I was about to leave but the driver called me, “Come back. Somebody used their pass for you.”
I made my way to the woman who used her card for me and asked, “How much do I owe you?” She told me, “Nothing.”
I’m sure you have also had this experience - receiving a gift from someone you don’t know and will probably never see again. Gifts are normally on a reciprocal basis in modern societies. You buy someone something, then that person buys you something. You do a favor for someone, then that person does a favor for you - that’s the arrangement.
When I receive a present from someone – a gift, a meal or a drink – I want to reciprocate soon afterward because I feel that present as if it is a burden, a load. I don’t want to owe something to anybody or be grateful to anybody.
This does not mean that I expect a response when I give someone a gift, but frankly I do not want anybody to feel grateful to me for this or that reason.
What’s more, in today’s world gifts do not have a “soul” as people believed in ancient times, nor are they hand-made. They are standard, uniform objects bought in exchange for money.
Like Adorno said, “a wrong life cannot be lived rightly.” An order that makes people addicted to objects does not allow gift exchanges to be anything other than commodity exchanges.
Maybe because of this, I like the fact that somebody I don’t know gives me the gift of a bus ride, without expecting anything in return, just as I like giving gifts to someone I will never meet again.
Maybe I am protesting this in my own way, by not letting gifts bought in a world where people have been downgraded to consumers be too involved in my relationships.
However, I am aware that by thinking of owing something to somebody as a burden, I am still staying within the behavioral module that this order imposes on me. Yes, this is a contradiction.
Today is Valentine’s Day, when the exchange of goods peaks.
It is also the lamest of all special days.
It is the day when a gift is bought obligatorily for a lover, when the price of one rose is multiplied by five, when shops are decorated with the most untasteful ornaments, when red takes over all other colors, when at least one couple quarrels on those compulsory dinners out, and the day when you wish the heart design disappeared forever.
I am talking about the “love sector,” where goods aimed for profit are consumed as a as a matter of course.
This is such a special sector that it does not contain anything real in it at all. Substance is replaced by appearances, existence is replaced by ownership, simple images serve an empty cause and a passive acceptance walks in at the same time as one is distanced from oneself, estranged from one’s relationship.
What is the point of getting even lamer in today’s word, where fake needs are constantly produced and where we are full of the feeling of deprivation, despite living in abundance?
Please, I beg you; don’t do this to yourself…
You can have all the New Year’s Eves, Mother’s Days, Father’s Days… Take all of them…
But, at least, don’t observe Valentine’s Day.