Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Yucatuan

I was thinking about a road I remember from some time not too long ago. A two lane road of blacktop that curls at the edges into the dust. I don’t remember where the road is, so it must be imaginary. I had a dream about this road and I remember being very angry that there was no centre line on the road as I walked down the edge of the blacktop. In the dream a dotted white line had been drawn down the centre of the road. It was erratic, haphazard; with splatters of white paint belched from the sides of curved lines and dripped from an imaginable pan on the back of a careening truck swerving and changing gears too often. Cars drove down the street running orderly lines of tire treads through white paint and leaving ghostly Morse patterns in regular, if slightly different, waves.

That was pretty cool.

I started to think about the limits of self-organization. I imagined a huge highway, eighteen lanes across, without white dotted lines. Nine lanes of traffic either way, with cars with fast drivers and cars with bad transmissions. Giant speeding trailers, houses split in two with incompetent escorts flashing heavy yellow lights, four-foot-tall men driving Oldsmobiles, busses, fruit trucks, businessmen, stoners, businessmen stoners, cops, ambulences, teenagers and mothers. I could imagine orderly traffic without lines. Everybody kept going. Fast cars went fast, slow cars went slow. I didn’t see any wrecks.

Then I saw a one lane road. People drove in both directions. No one would get over to the side. I watched as two boxy grey cars drove towards each other, flashing their lights and honking their horns or feigning getting out of the way. They crunched together, their back ends flew up in the air for a moment, and they bounced to the ground with a good thump and much tinkling of broken glass. It was so quiet after that, the sound deafened the world. It was very interesting to see.