Monday, February 21, 2011

My Body, My Butler

We were sitting around talking. The subject was a news account I’d heard on BBC radio courtesy of our Public Radio very late at night, driving home. In that account a BBC reporter had said, talking about one of the Muslim countries, I no longer remember which: “They’re all on the Internet now, but, you see, it’s Facebook. Facebook for them is the Internet.” We were trying to make sense of this, Brigitte and I. The thought occurred that many of these countries have developed late. Large elements of the ordinary population are accustomed to getting their information from others with whom they interact daily—rather than from media. And a leap into the Information Age suddenly provides them with an electronic form of their natural source of information—gossip. And Facebook is the channel. Could that be the reason?

By steps and meanders, we were soon noting our very different kind of upbringing in war-torn Europe. For us the international, the global news always and ever trumped the local. “I was quite ashamed of myself,” Brigitte said. “Monique asked me the other day if I’d listened to the State-of-the-State speech, and I had to confess that I hadn’t. It’s too close to home in a way.” — “Yes,” I said, “and with newspapers too. All we’re interested in is the international coverage.” Then a memory intruded. “I bet,” I said, “I bet we’d feel the same way if we were Danes. You know, I remember my first trip to—what’s the capital of Denmark again?” — “Copenhagen.” — “Yes, right. I remember when I first went to Copenhagen. By that time I’d been a world traveler and kind of accustomed to sizing up a city quickly, you know, just a bus-ride from the airport. And I remember thinking, there, gosh, this is just a small city. But then I thought, can’t be! This is Copenhagen. But then my body, my butler, he said, ‘With all due respect, sir. It’s just a small city.’” I noticed that Brigitte was scribbling something on a sheet of paper. “What are you writing there?” I asked. She was laughing. She looked up. “My body, my butler,” she said. “You do say the oddest things. But that’s a good one.”

Yes. Food for thought. My body, my butler. He keeps the half-dreaming, half-fantastic young nobleman inside this old body firmly grounded in mundane reality…

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