This review of Something to be Desired by Veronique Vienne was written in a café in Shin-Urayasu, Tokyo, Japan for the Field-Tested Books collection of essays.
It wouldn't be the last time I'd ask myself, “How did you end up in this situation?”
She was away again for another day at work. I'd come three-quarters of the way to accepting the state of between-us things and she, I'd guess, was seven-eighths. I was halfway through a two-week vacation and one-third of the way through a 200 page escape.
Leave it to Vienne's wry sense of humor to leave me carrying around a book titled Something to be Desired. For two weeks in a Tokyo suburb, I spent most mornings in the same café with a common cup of coffee, an unfamiliar sweet treat, and a paperback collection of essays that ponder the purpose, the poetry, and the ethics of manufactured desire.
The red tabletops matched the Coke machine outside the window perfectly. And I wondered if it was an intentional choice. The adorable girls behind the counter, who politely complimented my butchered “arigato gosaimas,” wore matching bright white paper hats. Were they meant to look silly and cute, or were they symbols of this particular establishment's commitment to proper sanitation? Essay after essay, morning after morning, I was being groomed to question the objects I saw around me. And on it went through the afternoons until around me was the questioned object of my desire.
As the marketers figured out long ago, if my needs are fully satisfied, I've no need to look for more. “In our age of obsolescence, disintegration is not necessarily a ‘bad’ thing. All ‘good’ things, the saying goes, must come to an end,” wrote Vienne. An 18-hour flight left plenty of time to dream.
June 12, 2008Back to Writing