by Kleitia Vaso
  1. The Powerless Click

“I’d rather go blind,” sings Etta James but, in my case, this preference has little to do with love. It is too bad that I have to use her palpable pain for something  much lesser but, somehow, this incongruence fits the current emotional scale and intensity.

Too often, I misread the real world or the world and whatever real remains of it. I view certain things through a skewed perspective obstructed by a stumbling block which I imagine as a really thick wooden board which prevents the incoming flow of certain knowledge. Usually, information that dampens my desire to go on. Yet, I should clarify things before the reader anticipates that something dramatic will follow. Ridiculous yes, dramatic, not really.

The last time I felt naïve and unworldly was very recently. I wish I could supplement  this description of my epiphany with the foolish facial expression that surely accompanied it but, alas, I cannot. I posted a small part of an essay on a social medium, a sharing which is more of a personal test than an ambitious spreading of the message. Certainly, some sense of ambition exists but it does so in a deeper sense that has little to do with the activity at hand. Once posted, someone who I know only virtually – therefore, a stranger  – expressed the desire to read more, a request which would be flattering if not written in one terse line which excluded any apparently time-wasting pleases and thank yous. Time is money, the motto of our world, visibly and invisibly stamped everywhere we turn. Yet, I never liked frugality, in terms of money or time, and even less so in emotions and their expression. But, as with every major and minor sin, the one most harmed is the one plagued by it, a lesson Dante taught me and one I will never forget. Consequently, I concluded that the person in question would be sufficiently punished by his own shortcomings and I simply redirected him to a website in which the entire text was available. The second response was as curt as the first. My unpleasant interlocutor more or less informed me that he would not “give away” clicks for something the quality of which was unchecked. I’m assuming it should somehow be checked before this valuable and much anticipated click. A click imbued with so much power made me want to laugh hysterically and I would have but the entire exchange and its unpleasantness had zapped all my morning energy. With a slightly bitter taste in my mouth and heart, in my mind, I ran through all the words that rhymed with click. Then, I sought help outside. I was clarified that the commenter had assumed two things that had not occurred to me, nor would they ever: that I was trying to market something profitable and that, henceforth, his click had some influence on the actions of an unknown, distant person. The notion of profitability would seem beyond ridiculous had he read even one sentence of my aimless and utterly unprofitable experiments. The other notion – a click as power, as something offered or held over you – assumed tragic tones in my already dramatic mind. “What have we become” I wondered “when a grown man holds a little click over you?”

Needlessly to say, I couldn’t care less about clicks and only slightly more about profit, since that, at least, is connected to survival. Yet, I resolved then and there that pettiness should be included in the list of deadly sins.

  1. Image and Content

Being in a new place with a different climate and therefore new light, sun, sea and everything else has pushed me to photograph things, something which I have almost entirely neglected before. I suppose that the unknown and often overwhelming beauty demands that I at least pretend to freeze it in an image which, ultimately, never does it justice. The photos are average, at best, yet the results interest me less than the extra incentive this process provides in urging me to see the same scenery again and again, each time under a new light. The response of other people is also unimportant although not entirely insignificant. I feel satisfied if somebody appreciates the images but a lack of reaction would not alter my course. I had not paid much attention to this aspect until the day I posted what to me was a neutral photo of a work-related event. I did it to reassure my family and friends as it testified to my actually doing work rather than just photographing the sea. The photo had a bland background – the white or off-white of an office – and I did not look particularly great or joyful. Yet, more people responded to it with greater enthusiasm than all of the other photos combined. “Are they happy that I am working? Does this signify some kind of achievement? Are they glad that I am encaged, too?” I wondered. The response seemed well-meaning and congratulatory but I could not help but compare how little emotion went into that photo as opposed to the other ones, the ones indirectly showing my wonder at witnessing color combinations I had not seen before. I suppose that the “official” photo conveyed something concrete, a landmark of some sort, one which orients the viewer and the traveler, one that can be easily read and interpreted. Then, I recalled countless conversation of asking and answering questions about actual places, schools, topics and the like. I recalled a thousand mentions of office jobs, titles, activities that are paid in some sort of currency, even when not specifically monetary. I remembered hearing of ambitions which to me seemed petty yet, which I could never reach or fulfill as the mere imagining them tires me: a government job that no one likes but pays well, involvement in political parties or social causes, participation in  events that are only beneficial for one’s CV, an endless list of titles and names that give a recognizable value to one’s experience. The beautiful mysterious sea defeated by a sterile office wall. All that power, ours at birth, forgotten for the sake of clarity, efficiency, pragmatism. It should be punishable and I suppose it is.

by Kleitia Vaso