Sunday, December 28, 2008

On "Trauma Plate" by Adam Johnson (5624 words) ****

I don't stay at Motel 6. It's nothing personal. I actually think Motel 6 is a great chain if you're looking to save some dollars. I wish, in fact, that I could stay at Motel 6. I don't stay there, though. I don't stay there because of my mom. I don't stay there because my mom once heard of dangers that lurk at Motel 6's. Someone got robbed or stabbed or beaten, and it was at a Motel 6, and now Motel 6 is banned from my life. It is banned because my mom hounded me until I promised never to stay at a Motel 6 again. So I don't stay at Motel 6's. In the literal letter-of-the-law words of the promise, I could stay at Jo Bob's Country Motel with Color TV for twenty dollars a night, but no Motel 6.

Adam Johnson's story "Trauma Plate" is about a similar kind of irrationalism, the way media and marketers feed on our fear. And fear, fear is a great way to sell things, for if the easiest things to sell are things we need, rather than just desire, than we will do anything to have such things, will spend on money there before we'll by that new pair of Adidas shoes. In Johnson's story, that fear is one of being shot, one that makes people wear Kevlar and other body armor as an everyday accessory. And why not? We'd certainly be safer with it on (though why not just aim for the head if everyone has his or her heart covered?). (Would I too fall into such fear? I sometimes wonder. I can walk a street at night with not too much fear, but were I ever mugged, would my attitude change? Would I insist on driving to destinations at night rather than walking? Would I start carrying maize? One doesn't know until the unfortunate happens to one's self.)

But of course, Johnson's story is about more than literal body armor. It's about the figurative armor we wear around our hearts, the things we do to protect our emotions and ourselves, and what removing such armor suggests about love. Read the story here at the Barcelona Review.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Now why would you resort to carrying corn?